“Marans” or “French Marans”? Is There a Difference?
The Marans chicken originated in the small port town of Marans, France.
The very existence of the breed is due firstly to the major historical events in France from 1152 on, and secondly to the countrymen who kept selecting for a perfect dual purpose fowl over several centuries.
Considering France is their Motherland, what’s the difference between a French Marans and a Marans? Did another Marans originate someplace else?
Shortly following their approval to the French Standard as a breed in the 1930’s, a traveling Englisman fell in love with the Marans at a poultry show and acquired several varieties to take back home with him. It was then in England that he raised his own flock, but found here personally preferred the clean shanks over the lightly feathered shanks the French standard called for. The remarkable dark eggs were a sensation in England, and shortly after a breed club was born for the Marans there as well. The importer shared his flock with others - and in 1950 the English standard was born - with clean legged Marans. It is the only one in the world that allows for featherless shanks. Everywhere else the feathered shanks are an important Breed characteristic, and without it they are disqualified at shows.
In the early days of the Marans History in the USA, Marans were imported from France and England alike. This caused a lot of confusion because some had feathered shanks and some did not. Which was correct? As quickly as the breed was gaining in popularity, people began to differentiate the 2 apart by calling feather shanked Marans “French Marans”, and the clean legged ones simply “Marans”. This worked for several years until a decision needed to be made so a proposed standard could be submitted to the American Poultry Association. The breeders on the committee decided that Marans here in the States ought to reflect identically to those from their homeland - France - and be feather legged.
In 2011, the Marans became an accepted breed in the United States, and referred to as “Marans”. There was no need to call them anything more or less. Marans are what they are called in France. That is what they will be here as well.
However, then became the confusion. The majority of Marans enthusiasts in the US now had it in their mind that a bird simply called a Marans without the “French” are clean legged. This mishap has been a very difficult concept to squealsh out. Even Hatcheries still carry both “Marans” and “French Marans”.
But with all that said, the bottom line is that since they have been an accepted breed, and the standard is set, all genuine enthusiasts, breeders, exhibitors, experts, as well as the APA committee simply refer to them as the Marans.
And now you know the rest of the Story!