Discover the Marans: Chickens That Lay Delectable Chocolate Eggs

If you’re on the hunt for stunningly beautiful dark chocolate brown eggs, look no further than the Black Copper Marans. These charming, midsized dual-purpose chickens are the perfect addition to any backyard flock. Originating from France, Marans were developed from feral chickens left behind by seafarers in the 1800s. The primary aim was to create a bird that produced eggs with a deep brown hue, and they certainly succeeded.

Although Black Copper Marans only gained popularity in America during the ’90s, they remain highly sought after today. Due to their limited availability, they tend to sell out quickly and can be more expensive than other common breeds. It’s worth noting that the American Standard of Perfection only recognized them in 2011, so they were absent from earlier versions.

In the United States, four color patterns are officially acknowledged: Black, Black Copper, Wheaten, and White. However, in France, there are ten recognized color variations.

The Appearance of Marans

Marans chickens, often referred to as “chunky mamas,” have a fluffy build similar to Welsummers. Their bodies are broader, with stockier frames and medium single combs. With their orange eyes and white skin, Marans are mid-sized birds. Adult hens typically weigh around 6.5 pounds, while roosters reach approximately 7 pounds. Their size falls between that of Wyandottes and Rocks. Interestingly, Marans grow quickly, making them well-suited for both egg and meat production.

When it comes to strains or lines of Marans, there may be some variability in the number of eggs produced and the depth of the eggshell color. “Production Strains” have been specially bred to lay more eggs. However, as the season progresses, the color of the eggs lightens. In general, Marans aren’t known for exceptional egg-laying, with hens averaging around 180-200 large eggs per year. These eggs boast thicker and harder shells compared to other varieties, which can make them slightly challenging to peel when hard-boiled.

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Marans chickens are known for their calm personalities and inquisitive nature. They are not aggressive, although broody hens can exhibit defensive behavior — a feature that adds to their appeal. While I have never personally had a Marans rooster, I can vouch for the fact that the hens make wonderful additions to any backyard flock. They are also excellent mothers, with a track record of successfully hatching and raising chicks.

The Enchanting Marans Eggs

While Marans chickens themselves are visually captivating, it’s the eggs that truly steal the show. Marans eggs are a rich, deep shade of brown, ranging from chocolate to nearly black in well-bred birds. Interestingly, brown eggs are essentially white eggs with an “over spray” of pigment that gives them their distinctive color. When you crack open a brown egg, you’ll discover a white shell beneath the surface.

In reality, there are only two base colors for eggs: blue and white. Other colors, including various shades of brown, are achieved by introducing brown pigments. For instance, green eggs are produced by adding brown pigment to blue eggs, while dark brown pigment creates olive eggs. The variability in the amount of pigment hens deposit on their eggs leads to a range of brown shades. The darkest eggs typically appear at the beginning of the laying season in the spring. Some eggs may even exhibit dark speckles or an ombre effect due to uneven pigment distribution.

Exploring the Marans Varieties

When it comes to building your flock of Marans chickens, there are a few options to consider. For instance, if you’re seeking the darkest eggs possible, go for the French Marans, particularly the French Black Copper Marans. These striking birds have black feathers with an iridescent green sheen on their bodies. Reddish-gold feathers adorn their heads and necks, while their legs display sparse black feathering.

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French Cuckoo Marans are another popular variety. They sport a black, white, and grey barred pattern on their feathers, reminiscent of barred rocks and Dominiques. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the cuckoo pattern differs slightly from the barred pattern. The lines are more irregular, giving the birds a distinct blurry appearance. Reports suggest that both barred and cuckoo patterns are advantageous for free-ranging birds, as their irregular patterns act as camouflage in tall grasses or weeds.

If you prefer a more uniform feathering color but still desire dark brown eggs, consider the French Wheaten Marans. These delightful chickens possess a beautiful buff feather color, with darker feathers around the head and tail. I had a personal experience with a remarkable French Wheaten Maran that made a nest in the rafters and successfully raised her chicks.

It’s worth mentioning that there is also a subset of Marans known as English Marans. These birds closely resemble French Marans, with the notable exception of their clean legs. Unlike French Marans, which have minimal leg feathering, English Marans have completely clean legs. For those concerned about mud-related issues, the clean-legged English Marans are worth considering. While they lay eggs that are lighter in color than their French counterparts, they still produce a lovely tan shade.

Conclusion

The Marans breed offers chicken enthusiasts the opportunity to marvel at not only their captivating appearance but also the extraordinary eggs they produce. Black Copper Marans, in particular, have gained acclaim for their exquisite deep brown eggs. Whether you choose French or English Marans, these chickens are sure to bring joy to any flock. To learn more about Marans and explore other chicken topics, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.

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