Marans 101

Carolyn Shafer
Sumrall, MS

with permission from
SPPA Bulletin, 2001, 6(2):3

In recent years, many of the serious Marans breeders have become connected through the Internet. This has led to discussions of the problems associated with the breed and the correction of some of those problems. Through this network of breeders, Marans production has increased, more chicks have been hatched and more birds put into the hands of individuals interested in the breed. Once a breeder has Marans, the added dimension of egg color keeps the breeder working not only for Marans that look nice, but that also lay the richest egg color. Each breeder tries to impress the other breeders with the egg color of his birds. ╩This healthy competition has led to continuing discussions on how to achieve the deepest of egg color through proper breeding techniques.

When people think of Marans, the first thing they think of is the large, rich looking chocolate eggs. Marans also make very nice dual purpose birds. They are active foragers and work well in a free range setting. There are two distinct strains of the breed. Some strains are better egg layers and some are better as meat birds. The egg laying strain is the more active of the two strains, but the meat birds are the most broody and make the best mothers. Most of the Marans in North America are of the meat strain, which do not lay as well as the egg laying strains. The meat of the breed is reportedly tender and flavorful.

Marans are becoming increasingly easy to acquire. ╩While not plentiful, they are obtainable with patience and perseverance. Currently there are a few Golden Cuckoos (Crele) in the Northwest part of the US and in Western Canada. There are also some Black Coppers in Canada. A few Whites as well as some Blacks exist in both countries. A few Silver Cuckoos have found their way to US breeders and there is even one Salmon Cockerel. ╩There are breeders currently working on Silvers, Blacks and Whites. However, most Marans in the US and Canada are what is referred to as Light or Dark Cuckoo depending on what the breeder chooses to call them. ╩In France there is no difference in these color variations. It is simply referred to as Cuckoo. ╩Most of the breeders here prefer to keep light colored males and the darker females. This is the color that hopefully will be admitted to the Standard in two years.

The French currently have twelve colors of Marans in their Standard and an additional color is being developed. This does not include the Bantam varieties. The colors are Black, Black Copper, Cuckoo, Silver, Crele, Salmon, 2 colors of Red, White and Columbian. The Blue Marans should be admitted within two years. All of these colors were represented at the Marans Exhibition in France last November. Several colors were purchased in France for importation to the U.S. during the Exhibition, but importation is impossible now due to the Livestock Ban on European livestock currently in effect in the U.S. The birds are safe on a commercial Marans Egg Farm in Marans, France, where they will remain as long as the ban is in effect.

The North American Marans Club agreed to adopt the French Standard as the Standard we would like to achieve. ╩Most members have no strong feelings concerning the differences in the French and the English Standards. ╩However, since the breed originated in Marans, France, the members feel that the French Standard should be adhered to if at all possible. ╩Admittedly most of the Marans in North America are clean legged, but the sparse leg feathering of the French Standard can be achieved in a relatively short time.



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