marans chicken breed
steve p2008 / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Eggs
  • Eggs: Dark -Chocolate Brown
  • Egg Size: Large
  • Color: Black, White, Golden
  • Comb Type: Single

If all you’ve ever seen is the predictable chalky-white eggs that might be found at a supermarket, prepared to be amazed at the glossy, chocolate-dark eggs of a Marans hen! These French fowl entered the poultry scene in the early 1930s and have been adored ever since.

The marketability of Marans eggs is certainly in their novelty. Folks looking to sell eggs at their local farmer’s market will be sure to turn heads and make sales with an attractive carton of these dark eggs. You could build up a veritable painter’s palette of egg hues by raising a flock of Marans, Welsummers, Olive Eggers, Ameraucanas, and Croad Langshans. Your market patrons will stand in awe of some of the most beautiful and interesting eggs they’ve ever seen.

Characteristics

There is more to a Marans than just its eggs, though. Personality-wise, Marans hens are calm and gentle birds. In his article on the future of the breeds, Marans-keeper William Morrow says, “Of all the different breeds of chickens I’ve raised, Marans chickens are the cleanest and most docile. They rarely soil their nesting boxes. Rooster behavior for Marans chickens is excellent. I have never had an aggressive Marans rooster.”

If you want to be part of helping to preserve a breed, Marans should be one of the first you consider. The historical exploitation of these unique egg-layers means that the breed needs a helping hand in restoring its former glory. And you can have some fun, too — there are plenty of different colorations to play with. For example, breed a Cuckoo Marans hen to an unbarred cock, and you’ll end up with sex-linked chicks.

The Quest for a Real Marans

Of course, getting some quality Marans chickens will prove to be a challenge. This breed’s claim to fame was very nearly the source of its demise. The undeniable allure of such deep brown eggs led to high demand for the breed.

And any time there is high demand for a novelty product, you can be sure that there are unscrupulous individuals circling like vultures, looking to make a quick buck. Indiscriminate breeding, falsified genetic claims, and the sale of poorly-conformed individuals led to a breakdown of many of the breed’s strengths. To breed the best Marans you can, try to contact reputable breeders. Many will even send an eggshell sample to prove their birds.

Marans aren’t particularly heat-hardy or cold-hardy, but they are content to be confined. If you live in areas with extreme climates, you’ll have to give your chocolate-egg layers some extra love and attention to make sure they have what they need.

As a side note, if it is simply dark eggs you want, it may be worthwhile to also consider the Welsummer breed! They’re a little hardier, and though their eggs are potentially lighter than the Marans, they’re still undoubtedly beautiful.

What’s the Yield?

Historically, Marans chickens were used as dual-purpose birds. They have a rather large body and were once a desirable table bird. Healthy roosters can usually reach at least 8 pounds, and your friendly hens will mature to around 6.5 pounds.

When the breed debuted, Marans would consistently lay 200 eggs a year. Now, because of the breeding issues, it’ll be hard to say for sure how many eggs you’ll get in your nesting boxes. Depending on the strain of the breed your bird belongs to, you may be able to to get a decent three large eggs a week.

In addition to using the birds for shows, the eggs themselves offer opportunities to enter the exhibition ring. Marans eggs are ranked on a scale of 1-9, with the elusive 9 being the darkest and most desirable.

Of course, part of the challenge of responsibly breeding a Marans with the best egg color is also to try to create a wholly healthy version of the bird. The intrepid chocolate egg maker can find many resources to help, so check out the Marans of America website for more helpful information.

The Breakfast of 007

For all you spy-novel nerds, the egg of a Marans hen was the favorite type of egg, and the only type of egg, that the fictional and undeniably finicky James Bond would eat for breakfast.

And finally, as with other origin-named French breeds like the Faverolles, it’s actually correct to use the term Marans in the singular.

Photos of Marans Chickens

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One of the hardest parts of breeding is having to choose the breeders to keep and those cull(remove from the breeding pen). I had to give Jacque and a couple other roosters away this week simply because they do not have a place in the breeding pens. Jacque was a stunner, but he had many “flaws”. His tail was too high, his back was waytoo short, his comb was too big, and his hackle color was not even. In contrast, his son has a long back, a low tail, even hackle colors, and a much smaller comb while maintaining the same sweet disposition. Jacque sure was a poser for the camera though. His son… not so much a fan of the camera!😂🐓 • • • • #chicken #chickens #rooster #goodrooster #friendlyrooster #roostersofinstagram #chickensofinstagram #poultryofinstagram #maransofinstagram #marans #bluecoppermarans #blackcoppermarans #featheredfeet #chocolateeggs #backyardchickens #backyardpoultry #backyardpoultrymag #rarebreed #backyardpoultrymag #iamcountryside #lovemychickens #maranschickenclubusa #mccusaphotooftheday #hirzelfarmspoultry

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