The Marans chicken is one of the most unique and rare breeds of chicken on the market. They’re known best for their deep, beautiful, chocolate colored eggs. Marans originated in France in the port city of Marans. Their beautiful plumage makes them a highly sought after show bird, while their dual-purpose qualities make them equally as useful for the farm.
As of right now, there are 9 different color variations of the Marans chicken: the Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaten, Black-tailed Buff, White and the Columbia. The most common of those two are the Black Copper and Cuckoo. Marans usually have pink or greyish shanks and white skin. Depending on what type of Marans chicken you have, they may or may not have feathered or clean legs. Traditionally, the original French Marans all had feathered legs.
For the most part, these birds are gentle and soft-spoken. Given their quiet attitude, these birds are great for backyard farms and suburban farmers. Despite this laid back personality, they are a more active breed, meaning they prefer free ranging. This sporty disposition has also made them a hardy and disease-resistant bird. While they are for the most part a gentle breed, some roosters can always be aggressive, especially during mating. That being said, experienced raisers will tell you that the breed is more relaxed than most.
As we mentioned earlier, this bird is beautiful and provides fine, tender, juicy meat. They are perhaps best known for their deep chocolate colored eggs, of which they can lay anywhere between 150 and 200 in a year. Fun fact: Ian Fleming, author of the famous James Bond series, made Marans Eggs James’ favorite of all to eat.
These birds are considered heavy and are very desirable for use as table birds. The larger and more docile a hen is, the less productive it usually is as an egg-layer. Your more active and “high-strung” hens will be better layers. This is something to consider when deciding who to raise as a layers and what birds to use for their meat.
These birds typically handle confinement quite well despite their active tendencies. They will also occasionally go broody, but don’t tend to as much as some other breeds. They also get along well with others. Many owners have made note of their ability to introduce new Marans chicks or chickens to the flock with little to no disruption in the mood or stability of the rest of the flock. Though this has been noted by owners, it shouldn’t be taken as a standard. Every chick or chicken is different and will have a different disposition and personality. Marans are also good foragers.
Almost all breeders and farmers who own Marans will tell you that they’re one of the favorite breeds on the farm.