Good Eggs

Andy Cawthray looks at pure breeds de­vel­oped for egg lay­ing. This month: The Marans

Your Chickens - - Contents -

The Marans


The Marans is prob­a­bly the most well-known breed of chicken to come from France. This is pri­mar­ily be­cause of its abil­ity to lay in­cred­i­bly dark brown eggs. It also how­ever car­ries some use­ful ta­ble prop­er­ties and is widely used for both meat and eggs in some re­gions of its coun­try of ori­gin. It is how­ever for the egg colour though that many peo­ple keep Marans. This is re­flected in the show scene, where the breed is not widely ex­hib­ited for their looks and in­stead the eggs be­ing the com­pe­ti­tion that breed­ers look to win.


The Marans takes its name from the town of the same name on the mid west coast of France. Its an­ces­try lies with a num­ber of breeds rang­ing through Faverolles, Croad Lang­shans, Coucou de Ma­lines and Ply­mouth Rocks to name but a few.


In their na­tive coun­try, Marans with feath­ered legs are favoured whereas in other coun­tries such as the UK, feath­er­less legs are se­lected for within the breed. De­pend­ing upon which coun­tries stan­dards of per­fec­tion are used as ref­er­ence, var­i­ous plumage types can be seen, with black, dark cuckoo, sil­ver cuckoo and golden cuckoo be­ing the more com­mon.


The Marans hen weighs 7lb (3.2kg). As with the male she has white legs, red or bright orange eyes and a medium sized white or horn coloured beak. She has a com­pact stance with neat medium sized wat­tles and sin­gle comb.


The Marans cock has an ac­tive look­ing pos­ture. Weigh­ing 8lb (3.6kg) he has a medium sized solid look­ing body, strong neck and rel­a­tive long, up­right tail. With the rea­son­able sized width and depth in the frame of the male it is pos­si­ble to see the un­der­ly­ing ta­ble qual­i­ties of the breed.


The Marans egg is ex­tremely dark brown, and its ac­tual colour qual­ity can be as­sessed us­ing an agreed and ac­cepted points scale. The pores on the egg sur­face are smaller than the eggs of other breeds plus the mem­brane of the egg can be very thick par­tic­u­larly in the darker eggs. This can re­sult in breed­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hatch­ing prob­lems.


As a breed the Marans ex­hibit a high level of cu­rios­ity and will ac­tively seek out their keeper. They do how­ever rarely be­come tame pre­fer­ring in­stead to re­main at arm’s length. They are friendly amongst them­selves and with most other breeds, sel­dom show­ing ag­gres­sion.


Marans are well suited to a free range en­vi­ron­ment be­ing ef­fec­tive for­agers; how­ever they will also per­form well in a more con­fined run. They are a vig­or­ous breed ca­pa­ble of cop­ing with any cli­mate. The feath­er­ing on the legs of the French strains of the breed is less pro­fuse than most other feath­ered legged breeds so they cope suf­fi­ciently well in wet or muddy con­di­tions with­out need for spe­cial care.


Marans are a pop­u­lar breed be­cause of the egg shell colour and are usu­ally quite freely avail­able. A breeder who prizes the dark shell colour might charge £40-£50 for a hen. Some­one who sim­ply likes brown eg­gers but with a less in­tense brown shell colour may charge only £15-£20.

ABOVE: The Marans: BE­LOW: Marans eggs

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