The Maran chicken breed was prominently used for utility, hybrid production. Their origin can traced back to France. They are hybrid of Faverolles and Langshan, English Games and Coucou De Malines.
Marans made their official debut as “Country Hen” at 1914 national exhibition in La Rochelle, France. Madam Rousseau in 1920’s gave Marans their dark brown eggs and standard form. Originally they have light feathered legs similar to that of French birds. One of their main attractions is the dark brown color of their eggs.
Marans are great for beginners to raise in the backyard. They are pretty robust and docile, interact well with people and considered as great layers but not very good at laying. They are tough birds and immune to diseases. Marans are pretty active and enjoys free ranging.
Historically they were dual purpose bird with not only dark chocolate brown eggs but table qualities too. They are nice tempered and fit well with other breeds of chickens. They thrive in damp wet climate but may have some behavioral and physical problems in high-temperature areas.
Cuckoo variation is the most recognized Marans with light background and dark color of irregular bands. Other color variation includes golden, black, silver, copper, wheat and white. There are four standard colors Marans varieties in UK, four in Germany, ,whereas, in France, a standard of nine colors are recognized: Black tailed Buff, Cuckoo (Black feather with speckled black and white appearance), Black, Golden Cuckoo, Wheaten, Colombian and White and Black Copper are most common.
Others which are not much recognized such as Splash, Blue Copper, and Blue also exist. Maran Club of America only recognizes feather legged Marans whereas Australian Poultry recognizes both clean and feathered legged bird. Marans are recognized as standardized breed in the UK, with cuckoo Marans the most popular chicken breed.
In France Marans still carry feathered legs inherited from their ancestors. While outside in UK and US, breeders prefer clean legged version of Marans. There is another breed of Marans named Bantam which was developed in 1950, although it is not accepted as pure by many poultry associations. Marans were standardized in 1930 with Wheaten or copper black being most popular variation of color. Marans usually have orange eyes with shanks that are pink or slate.
The soles of their feet are always white as they have white skin. Black Maran rooster originally have big black breast that complies with French birds but this is expanded recently and include red-breasted Maran roosters. The average weight of an adult Marans ranges between 3.5-4 kg whereas female weights 2.5-3 kg.
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1) Marans usually lays 150 eggs in a year
2) Marans lay dark brown eggs, but the taste of their egg is similar to that of white or other brown eggs.
3) French stain of Marans lays dark eggs than their UK version.
4) The black copper variation Marans is rare and their eggs are darkest when compared to other breeds. They are highly prioritized by French chefs.
Egg Selection Advice
Good Marans eggs have deep dark brown color; the presence of color is due to brown pigment named Protoporphyrin. Greater the amount of pigment, darker the color of eggs shell. Selecting only deep brown eggs to hatch improves the offspring and further improves the color of eggs of future mother. Breeding from Marans that hatch from dark colored eggs will ensure the smooth transfer of hereditary traits.
Darkest Marans eggs are laid in early season toward the start of lay and the hormonal levels are believed to be responsible for that although not clearly understood. Selecting the best layers in flock of Marans without trap nesting is a difficult task; this task can be overcome by hatching eggs that are laid early and late in their season. To lay more and more eggs in a year, hens extend their laying season, so Marans laying late and early eggs are usually best layers in a flock.
Finally, Marans are the breed perfect for both Meat and egg production and do not ask for much care as compared to other breeds of chickens. The size of their eggs is large, a normal Margans hens lays about 150 eggs every year that may go upto 200 a year so great for the production of eggs.