Legends of their own kind…
Marans are unique.
They are beauty, grace, purpose, and figures of strength all
wrapped in one productive package. Combine this with their
usually friendly temperaments and you have the perfect
chicken. Their title of being the darkest egg-laying breed of
chicken in the world is the icing on the cake.
Marans are vigorous and active foragers.
Always performing better when allowed to have large spaces to free-range where they may seek out alternative food sources. Such as vegetation, insects, or scraps. They enjoy scratching in soil or bedding as ways to care for themselves and stay busy.
Marans are friendly.
Temperament is hereditary and an attribute serious breeders work towards. They should be calm, mellow, curious, and easy to handle. So much a child can care for them. While there are always exceptions to the rule, this is a trait of the Marans that should be looked after as much as physique and egg color.
Marans are balanced.
There are no extreme traits to their body. They are neither small nor large. Tall nor short. They should appear very well proportioned at every angle with the legs perfectly centered on the body. Bearing in mind they are to be figures of solidity and strength.
Marans have a breed standard.
This standard which is set by the American Poultry Association reflects the original French standard written nearly 100 years ago. It describes in detail how a Marans is to look from head to toe. From the color of their eyes, to the amount of feathers on the shanks. Without it, the Marans would have no real structure or organization to its appearance. It is a very important factor to strive for in a breeding program. To understand a Marans, one must have a copy of it’s standard.
Marans are dual-purpose.
Meaning they were designed for both meat and egg production. Their body style is longer in the back, but wide and well filled out. Giving both the males and females a full, well-rounded look in the breast. The males should mature rather quickly, dressing well for table use by 6 months. Their fine texture and flavor of meat were what made them very popular in France – who have a flair for finer qualities in life. Females begin laying later than most other breeds, however, once they begin they should lay steadily for several years.
Marans lay brown eggs.
While the Marans hold the world record for the darkest laying breed of chicken, egg color within all the Marans varieties greatly vary depending upon genetics, stress levels, and laying cycles. You can get variances from more of a tan, to terra-cotta, to chocolate to a deep russet red. They can be solid, or covered in darker spots. Matte to glossy. Some have more of a frosted “bloom” giving them a purplish appearance. All the above are common. The ultimate Marans egg that we all strive for however is the deep, dark, solid, chocolaty-red. These are the “Holy-Grail” of eggs that are constantly being sought for by beginning enthusiasts, but few people have ever seen. Even with years of breeding experience. It must be constantly bred and selected for, or the genetics to make it possible are completely lost.
All these attributes combined make a Marans a Marans. The French coined the Marans almost 100 years ago as “The Ideal Rustic Farm Hen”. They have come a long way from where they started. As a rough-hewn crossbred from the marshy French countryside to becoming one of the world’s most popular breeds of poultry. Their success today is due to a series of dedicated breeders for the last 100 years. They are a labor of love, passed down like a living heirloom from one breeder to the next. Perfecting them more each generation to become the birds we love today.
For this reason, The Marans Club was founded to promote the breed in all its unique attributes – beyond the dark eggs. We understand what it took for the Marans to be what they are today, and feel it imperative to preserve these qualities for the future. Through education and the promotion of responsible breeding practices. Together as a community from the small-scale homesteaders to the fine poultry exhibitor, we can continue the legend of the Marans as one of the most perfect breeds of all time.
The full, detailed description for Marans and all other accepted, standardized breeds is in the American Standard of Perfection which may be purchased on the APA website: http://amerpoultryassn.com/sample-page/apa-store/