Our Heritage Breed Poultry - Marans
MARANS - THE CHOCOLATE EGG LAYER
The Marans, French: Poule de Marans, is a breed of chicken from the port town of Marans, in the département of Charente-Maritime, in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. It was created with the local feral chickens descended from fighting game chickens carried from Indonesia and India. Those original Marandaise fowl were "improved" for the table through recombination with imported Croad Langshans. A favourite at poultry shows, it is a dual purpose fowl known both for its extremely dark eggs and fine meat qualities.
Marans are a great all rounder, with superb eggs. Marans are still very much a rare breed in Australia. In my opinion they will remain a rare breed as they can often be difficult to hatch given the pigment depth. the darker the eggs, often the harder to hatch and this obviously becomes a vicious circle given everyone strives for that extra dark egg! Many breeders become frustrated with the breed due to a small genetic pool in Australia and hatchability. With those things aside, in my opinion, it is all worthwhile! A quality incubator is a MUST for this breed. Humidity is vitaly important to a successful hatch and ambient humidity (and how eggs are stored prior to hatch) can also impact hatchability greatly with this breed. I have not experienced these things with any other breed in the 30 years of breeding. To me, Marans are a true challenge, and one I adore.
In thirty years of breeding, after experiencing most other breeds that Australia has to offer, I have now forgone most of my previous kept breeds to just keep Marans (and silkies) to specialise in the breed exclusively. I am truly passionate about this breed and all it has to offer.
Current colours I am working on are: black copper, blue copper. As part of the blue genetics, there is also splash of course. We no longer keep french wheaton or gold cuckoo - I will be working on both the genetics of the birds and enriching the colour of the eggs.
(pictured above: My ultimate love - the Blue Copper Marans!)
I am very proud of what I have achieved with my blue coppers. They are nicely shaped with lovely dark eggs. The temperament of the birds is fantastic.
Our marans are fed a superior quality diet that consists of Laucke Showbird Breeder MP, green Valley Grains Premium Layer Mix, and a host of supplements such as Livamol, Anitone, Fancy Feathers supplement, Apple Cider Vinegar, together with purposely organically grown green source.
Our egg laying colour is currently between 4 - 7 on the Marans colour chart. Most eggs laid are between 4 -5; at times we get darker, diet plays a large part in egg colour along with genetics. We keep multiple pens of both Black Copper Marans, Blue Copper Marans and a combination of Black and Blue.
picture above: some of our blue copper eggs from last season
History of Marans
The Marans originated in Marans, France, and were imported into the United Kingdom in the 1930s.
There are 9 recognized colours in the French Standard: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaten, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian. Black Copper (black with copper feathers on the neck) and Cuckoo (barred feathers, giving a black and white speckled appearance) are the most common of these. Other colors not officially recognized (such as Blue Copper, Blue, and Splash) also exist.
Marans should have orange eyes. The shanks are usually slate or pink, the soles of the feet should always be white as Marans have white skin, not yellow. Though the original Marans could also be feather legged birds, British breeders preferred the clean legged version, and thus feathered legged Marans are now mainly found in France. The Australian Poultry Standard recognises both feathered and clean-legged and the Marans Club of America only recognizes feather-legged birds.
Marans are generally quiet and docile; but they are quite active, taking well to free ranging in rough terrain and are also tough and disease-resistant. Their gentle temperaments and quiet demeanor makes them ideal for suburban backyard chicken keepers, as well as any assorted farm flock as they rarely bully smaller breeds.
Marans lay around 150-200 dark brown eggs each year depending on the variety. Marans are historically a dual-purpose bird, prized not only for their dark eggs but for their table qualities as well. Eggs are considerably lighter in birds available in Australia than the eggs pictured and available in America and Europe.
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