One of the most sought after breeds in the US at this time is the French Black Copper Marans. Popular for the dark chocolate egg they produce. Black Copper Marans are said to lay the darkest egg of all the Marans breeds. The only Marans I have are the Black and the Blues so I can't judge them against any other Marans. I will say the Blue and Black Marans both lay a wonderful dark egg. The French standard for this bird calls for feathered shanks, the English standard calls for a clean leg. We breed to the French standard.
Marans egg color is a very misunderstood topic. Egg color can vary by individual bird, time of the year, diet, and free range versus confinement. Many things can effect egg color. Something as simple as all hens wanting to use the same laying box can effect the color of the egg. If the hen is being rushed to lay an egg the color of the egg will be lighter. The color on the Marans egg is painted on the egg the last 10 centimeters as it passes slowly down the oviduct. If the hen is rushed at this point in laying, the egg will not have the nice dark paint. This paint dries quickly and becomes part of the shell. It can be smeared or rubbed off before it dries. Once the paint is applied to the egg and is dry, it has a very slick non porous surface and believed to keep harmful bacteria out of the egg.
Keep in mind it is unrealistic to expect every Marans in your flock to lay a dark egg at all times. There is an official Marans egg color chart to judge the egg color you are getting from your hens. Our hens lay anywhere from 4 to 7 on the chart. You will rarely ever find a Marans that can lay a 9 on the chart. They are good layers and will produce approximately 150 eggs per year. Our Marans are good winter time layers and non broody. They are cold hardy and also do well in the heat.
The standards for this breed are strict, we've bred The French Black Copper Marans and Blue Coppers for about 7 years now and it's not a easy bird to achieve those high standards with. Many people think they can order 16 chicks and then they will have a breeding flock, it doesn't work that way. It takes breeding hundreds of birds to get those that fit the standard and are worthy of breeding. Which is the one basic reason I hate to see the big hatcheries start offering this breed. They breed for mass production and not quality.
Like I mentioned earlier the Blue Copper Marans is a very overlooked breed. There has been so much hype about the Black Copper that not to many people consider the Blue, what a mistake that is. I have found I much prefer the Blues, they seem just a bit more friendly, not sure why and so much more beautiful!
If you happen to order some French Black Copper Marans this year from us, have us put in a few Blues also I promise you wont' be sorry.
Here on the farm we breed our Blues and Blacks in separate pens and don't run them together. When we breed Blue Marans to Blue Marans in each hatch we get a few birds that are called Splash Marans, which is another over looked beautiful bird. The Blue gene is a dilution gene in that it dilutes the blue out to a white. So we hatch a couple of splash chicks in each hatch. A splash bird is white in color and has blue and copper splash markings. They also lay a dark chocolate egg. Another interesting breeding tip is that if you breed a splash Marans rooster to Black copper Marans hens you will hatch 100% blue chicks.
One of the large hatcheries just recently started offering the French Black Copper Marans, like I've mentioned before about other rare breeds they get their hands on, I really HATE to see this happen. The Black Copper Marans is a bit of a tricky bird to breed and strive to keep the standards correct on them. This is not a breed that can be mass produced and end up with good standards. Once again buyers beware!! Find a reputable breeder not someone who is into mass production.
Here's a funny little story. A man called the farm one day and said "I'm looking for the bird that lays the egg James Bond orders in the movie." I said "excuse me, I'm not sure I understand what your asking for." He said "you know in the movie he orders an egg." I said "a Marans egg?" He said "yeah I need some of those birds." Apparently even the fictional character James Bond knows the most incredible edible egg.
Have a great weekend!!
Have a great weekend!!