I have the rare, large and well feathered French Black Copper Marans. An import ban reduced the genetic diversity of the French Black Copper Marans and flocks of this chicken are therefore hard to find. Genetic diversity and good breeding has been my goal to improve and advance the health of these wonderful chickens. My chickens come from award winning stock. My rooster is a mix of the Wade Jeane, Bev Davis and Grisham lines. My hens are the Wade Jeane and Bev Davis lines. I have Blue Copper Marans and Splash Copper Marans as well. They are from excellent lines being from the Wade Jeane and Cottage Hill lines. All have excellent conformation and good leg feathering.
They are hardy birds with a calm and quiet personality. I have found they bear confinement well and are good foragers when free ranging. The roosters are vigilant and protective of the hens.
French Black Copper Marans eggs are highly sought after by all the major Chefs in France and now around the world for their flavor. They are generally recognized as having the darkest egg of any chicken in the world. I have found the Blue and Splash Copper Marans egg to be a rich dark terracotta brown. The hens are good layers of very rich, chocolate brown eggs averaging 150-200 dark brown eggs each year depending on the variety.. They lay extra large to Jumbo eggs under USDA egg sizing standards. My eggs average 2 5/8” long by 1 ¾” wide. They average a weight of 70 grams (8 oz) falling in the USDA Jumbo egg size.
The Maran is a dual purpose fowl. They are well known both for their extremely dark chocolate brown eggs and fine meat qualities.
My French Black, Blue and Splash Copper Marans are happy chickens. They are housed together at all times in their own separate coop and run. I let them free range every 3-4 days alternating between the different breeds that I have so they don’t get mixed up. I feed them organic layer feed with free access along with daily cracked corn and wheat. My coops are cleaned daily to make sure they have a clean environment.
Characteristics: Marans were approved and accepted into the American Poultry Association in the Continental Class in April 2011. They were developed in France and are known for their famous, chocolate brown egg. The English standard calls for clean legs, the French standard calls for feathered legs. I breed to the French standard.
I have French Black Copper Marans, Blue Copper Marans and Splash Copper Marans. The Black Copper variety is the most common variety in France and is generally believed to have the darkest egg color of all the varieties. The Blue and Splash Copper variety has not yet been adopted by the American Poultry Association. They have a striking color combination with all the traits Black Copper Marans are famous for.
The French Marans website acknowledges that Blue Copper Marans, although rare and not a recognized variety, have been around as long as the Black Copper variety. You can run the Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans together and still get purebred Black Copper Marans and purebred Blue Copper Marans. The blue color gene is a variant of the black color gene, they occupy the same loci on the chromosome. Think of the blue color gene as a dilution gene. It dilutes out the black color. Blue Copper Marans do not breed true to color but will give you a comination of 50% blue, 25% black and 25% splash chicks. The Splash Copper Marans do breed true to color.
Egg color will vary by the individual bird, the time of the year, and depending on their diet and management (free range on green pasture vs. confinement). It is unrealistic to expect every bird in your flock to lay a dark egg all year long. Egg color does not work like that. The dark egg color reduces the lay rate because they pass thru the oviduct more slowly receiving additional coats of color. Brown egg color is controlled by at least 14 genes and is not well understood. The rich chocolate color is a coating over a brown egg. The darkest color will usually be seen in early spring or late fall when birds are just coming on line. As the bird lays, the egg may lighten, but goes back to being dark after a rest. Generally speaking, the eggs from my birds average around 7 with some 8 and some 6, on the French 1-9 color scale. We occasionally get a 9, but it is the exception.
There are 9 recognized Marans colors 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 and the United States. The Australian Poultry Standard recognises both feathered and clean-legged. The American Poultry Association only recognizes feathered legged.
Marans are generally quiet and docile with gentle temperaments. They are quite active and take well to free ranging. Marans are a hardy breed doing well in the cold and being disease-resistant. They do well in a mixed flock. Marans are considered a dual purpose fowl known both for its extremely dark eggs and fine meat qualities for the table.
The French Black Copper Marans originated and named after the town of Marans on the Atlantic coast, near La Rochelle (France).
In the 12th century, Eleanor of Aquitaine was married to Henri of Plantagenet, Duke of Anjou, who became Henri II of England. She brought to England a dowry consisting of a part of South-west France. The English domination lasted for two centuries. During this time, English ships often stopped over at La Rochelle (near Marans) and unloaded gamecocks from Indonesia and Asia, which had survived the on-ship cockfights. They took on local landrace hens in return which furnished fresh food and eggs.
The gamecocks were naturally crossed with local landrace hens. The products born of these crossings had a more stocky figure and laid darker colored eggs. The fighting cocks, of many varied colors, are the origin of various present Marans varieties. The French breeds that played a part in the development of the Marans included the feather legged Cocou de Malines including the pea combed ‘turkey head’, the clean legged Cocou de Rennes, & the Gatinese. During the second half of the 19th century, the Brahma and Langhans were introduced by Mr Geoffrey Saint Hilaire and Mr Foucault. This set the main characteristic of the breed, big red eggs.
The First Marans Presentation took place in 1914, at the national exhibition in La Rochelle, under the name of "a country hen". Selection continued seriously selecting the future Marans for the size and the colour of its egg. In 1929, in order to protect the breed qualities, a "Marans" section was created within the Aunis Saintonge poultry farmer society, and the Marans hen was accepted at the local poultry exhibitions. The Marans Club Français was created in September 1929.
In 1931, the Marans a standard, which called for a feathered shanked bird, was produced. From that moment on, the Marans breed spread through out France and especially in the Nord Pas de Calais department, which sent eggs to England, and in the Seine, & Oise regions. By 1934, the Marans were in decline in France. The German occupation of the Marans area during the Second World War restricted movements and farming was almost reduced to nothing, marketing was impossible. In 1946, just after the war, the situation of the Marans in its birthplace was the same as it had been in 1929.
In 1950, a cooperative poultry-farming centre for the Marans breed was created to try to remedy the situation. (Faubourg of La Rochelle) with the Marans club, the SCAF and the regional poultry farming organizations functioning under the direction of the Departmental of Agricultural Services. They practised selection by a hatched-nest system, birth records by individual pedigree, & the systematic study of the genetic factors. It furnished eggs for settings, and chicks to the agricultual cooperative members. Ups and downs were experienced in the development of the Marans breed in the next two centuries, however the Marans continued to decline.
Fortunately, some amateurs carried on, in obscurity, taking an interest in the Marans and especially of the Black Copper-neck Marans. Some farmers specialized in the production of exhibition subjects, developing both separate cockerel and pullet breeding lines. Others solely dedicated themselves to the extra large reddish-brown egg production, and thus ignoring all the improvements of the type characteristics of the Marans. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the Marans breed, supported by a hundred or so of selector farmers spread all over France and Belgium. From there the Marans have spread to England, Australia and the United States.