Marans originated from a landrace around the La Rochelle area in Southwestern France. Locally they were called “Swamp Chickens” because the country was low and marshy. Over time they were crossed with barnyard hens and game cocks brought in by local sailors. These crosses came to be called Marandaise Fowl. Later on these crosses were bred to Croad Langshans, Brahmas, Coucou de Malines, Coucou de Rennes and Gatinsise to produce the modern day ancestors of our beloved Marans. In 1930 were officially named Marans after the French port where they originated from.
They were first well known throughout France for their beautiful russet colored eggs. Their feather colors were all over the place, so they didn’t really have a true color at first. They also make for a great dual purpose bird.
In 1932 there were 6 recognized varieties named.
- Silver cuckoo
- Black copper
- Golden cuckoo
Marans almost went extinct during WWII but fortunately for us the French Department of Agriculture worked hard to bring them back to their glory with much needed improvements. One of the biggest improvements was their egg production. Bu 1952 Marans were bred to lay around 200 eggs a year.
In the United Kingdom the breed standard calls for cleaned shanks and feet but in the United States and France ALL varieties are to have feathered shanks and lightly feathered outer toe. Marans have single combs. Their beaks are a horn color with a slight hook. Eyes are orange colored. Shanks and feet are or pink with the soles being white.
Marans are quite and gentle birds. Cocks can sometimes be confrontational if they feel like their flock is being threatened. They are active birds and enjoy being able to forage for food but they handle confinement well. They are winter hardy as well but will require a draft and moisture free coop due to their large comb and wattles. Hens make great setters and wonderful mothers.
Marans hens that lay darker eggs will not be the best layers, but that beautiful dark russet and chocolate eggs make it worth it. Not all of our hens carry the genes for eggs that lay 6-8 on the color scale but we promise you will get 4-5 grades to ensure they are true Marans. And keep in mind not all varieties are genetically there to even be able to produce those super dark eggs, but keep in mind many of us breeders are working hard to get there! And like all colored & tinted egg layers, color will fade throughout their laying cycles so it is common and completely normal for your hens to lay eggs without any type of coloring on them. After molting the pigments typically start to come back. Older hens may lose their ability to produce pigment all together.
Marans lay around 200 large eggs a year.
Cocks weigh 7-8 pounds
Hens weigh 6.5 pounds
As with all of our colored layers, there is no guarantee on intensity of egg colors as it’s a lottery to what genetics you will get.