All about Marans

Your Chickens - - Charlotte’s Chickens -

English ships sail­ing into Marans, near La Rochelle in France in the 1800s used to carry hens and fight­ing cocks. These were ex­changed with fresh hens from Marans and the re­gion be­came the birth­place of a par­tic­u­lar breed of poul­try, orig­i­nally called the Marandaise, later to be­come the Marans.

Around 1880 two poul­try mer­chant broth­ers from Lon­don were re­spon­si­ble for spread­ing knowl­edge of the Marans hens. One of them was a whole­saler of white Rus­sian eggs (Rus­sia was at this time an im­por­tant poul­try pro­duc­ing coun­try). The other brother, whose ships docked at Marans, had the idea of com­pet­ing with the white Rus­sian egg trade by sell­ing the dark brown eggs of Marans hens which were big­ger and fresher. Thus the eggs soon be­came pop­u­lar in the Lon­don mar­kets.

Maranses were crossed with Brah­mas and Lang­shans in or­der to make the eggs browner. Brah­mas were used for their egg lay­ing abil­i­ties and the Lang­shans for the dark brown colour of their eggs.

Maranses - there are two types: French Marans and English Marans - weren’t ac­tu­ally in­tro­duced to Bri­tain un­til 1929. The English are cuckoo and clean legged (they look sim­i­lar to barred Ply­mouth Rocks), while the French can be wheaten, cop­per black, black, white or Colom­bian and have feath­ered legs. Classed as a heavy breed, the Marans is the one pure breed where it is rel­a­tively easy to dis­tin­guish male and fe­male chicks. The males have a white spot on the top of their heads, while the fe­males have a darker one. They are a good choice of breed for free range as they are good for­agers. Ban­tams are avail­able as minia­tures of their large fowl coun­ter­part.

The Marans’ eggs are so spe­cial that in France com­pe­ti­tions are held to judge the size, shape, tex­ture and dark colour of the eggs. The colour ranges from brown to a dark choco­late. Ban­tams are usu­ally not that tame and not par­tic­u­larly keen on be­ing touched. They can be un­re­li­able lay­ers, but are worth keep­ing just for the colour of the eggs.

TOP: A mag­nif­i­cent Marans ABOVE: Marans are good for­agers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.