The first thing that comes to mind about Marans chickens is their beautiful brown eggs. Nonetheless, these fowls are also sought for their pleasant and calm temperament. That said, Marans should be at the top of the list for farmers eager to keep the dual purpose and ornamental chicken species.
However, before investing in this rare bird, there is so much you need to learn about them. For instance, are you aware that not all Marans hens produce brown eggs? Also, do you know that the feather-legged variety requires special housing in contrast to the rest? Keep following as we put to light vital characteristics and requirements about this exceptional poultry.
Marans Chicken History
Marans birds originated from a tiny village in France that shares the same name back in the 1800s. The village was used as a port center that hosted several trade ships. It was common for these ships to bring over a variety of poultry which were later interbred with local fowls. As a result, the interbreeding brought forth various Marans chickens.
Although it is not entirely clear on the chicken’s varieties used in the process, there is a high possibility that Langshans birds were part of it. It is worth pointing out that even Marans are increasing over time; they are still classified as rare breeds in the US.
The main reason behind this is because of a controversy between imports from France and the UK. Note that while the UK appreciates clean shanks, France prefers scarcely feathered ones. The difference makes it nearly impossible for the American Poultry Association Standards of Perfection to accept some Marans varieties.
At the moment, the Cuckoo remains the most popular Marans chicken in the US. Thanks to dedicated breeders, you can find various Marans combinations in the market. Some of the approved Marans varieties are Columbian, Silver Cuckoo, Black-tailed buff, Golden Cuckoo, Wheaten, White, and Black.
Still, there are some unapproved varieties such as Splash, Silver Salmon, Golden Salmon, Silver Blue, and Golden Blue. In addition, some breeders produce Bantam Marans, although in rare cases.
Marans Chicken Characteristics
Marans are famous for their tight-looking plumage, similar to game birds. In short, the feathers are narrow, rigid, and lack fluff. Moreover, they have a large single comb that stands upright. In some females, the combs flop partly to one side. They also have red medium-sized wattles and earlobes. As mentioned earlier, French Marans have thin feathers around their legs.
On the other hand, English Marans are all bare and have no leg covering. Given that there are several approved and non-approved Marans chickens, you can spot them in diverse patterns and shades. Popular Maran colors include Black, Blue, White, and Wheaten. Below are other traits that differentiate Marans from the rest.
– Size and Weight
The American Poultry Association classifies Marans as a large, fast-growing bird. If fed well, the chicken can attain up to eight pounds. The females are slightly smaller and tip the scales at an average of six to seven pounds. For this reason, they make excellent table birds because of their ideal dead weight.
The best thing about Marans chickens is that they are hardy and thrive in nearly all environments. Furthermore, they are resilient to most poultry diseases and enjoy a longer lifespan as a result. Even with their tough character, Marans are generally calm to human beings and other breeds.
As a matter of fact, rarely would you find roosters wreaking havoc in the coop like other breeds. What’s more, Maran thrives better in a free-range setting compared to confinement. Most impressive is that the hens are excellent mothers that go broody quickly.
The standard lifespan for Marans chickens is approximately eight years. However, they can enjoy a longer natural life if raised in optimal conditions. Besides, your birds would appreciate a healthy diet and a clean, warm environment. During warm months allow them to roam around the yard and scavenge.
This approach guarantees additional nutrition and prevents boredom. Remember that bored chickens may attack or peck each other to death. Do not forget to add calcium and protein supplements to keep them healthy and enhance quality egg production.
– Egg Production
Raising Marans for eggs production is never a wrong decision. After all, healthy hens can give you up to 150 eggs annually. Impressively, there are selected cases in France where hens produced an averagely, 200 eggs annually. All in all, the theory behind Maran’s egg color is least understood by many. The egg color differs depending on diet, management, bird’s health, and time of the year.
Usually, hens that start laying eggs in spring will most likely produce dark brown eggs. The egg color tends to fade as summer approaches, with the cycle starting all over again. Thus, you either collect light brown, chocolate brown, stippled, or spotted eggs.
The brown or reddish color on Marans eggs is made up of pigments known as Porphyrins which come from the blood (hemoglobin). If you remember your biology classes, iron gives blood the red color. Therefore, if Marans egg gets exposed to bright light for long periods, the pigments oxidize to a dark brown.
This explains why farmers collect more brown eggs during the hot, sunny summer months.
– Meat Production
Thanks to their sturdy, well-built bodies, Marans are ideal for meat. With proper care, the birds reach maturity as early as six months. You might realize that the growth takes slightly longer compared to broiler chicken. Nonetheless, the extended rearing period produces firmer meat ideal for slower cooking.
Compared to other breeds, Marans meat has a stronger and sumptuous flavor. Poultry allowed to roam around have a slight difference in taste and texture because of the exercise. The best approach is to allow your chickens to free-range and consume a high grain diet for five months.
Then 21 days to harvesting day, confine them indoors and offer grains and mash only. Bear in mind that reduced exercise encourages intramuscular fats leading to more flavorful and tender meat.
Marans Chicken Care
Even if Marans are categorized as a hardy breed, you still have to care for them well. One main thing you should consider is investing in a spacious coop because of its bustier physique. Below are other care requirements you should keep in mind.
– Feeding and Nutrition
The best diet to start is Marans chicks are growers mash because it has high protein content and is easy on digestion. Soon after your chicks attain six weeks switch to pellets mash that contains not less than 16% protein. From 18 weeks, pellets may require more calcium and protein intake because of egg production.
When you feel that your birds are ready for egg layering, introduce calcium supplements for nutritious and hard-shelled eggs. Due to their larger body size, adult Maran chickens may feed more than average birds. Generally, they require 5 to 7 ounces of a balanced diet daily. On some occasions, throw in bugs, grains, fruits, and green veggies to supplement the required intake.
Above all, please do not give them raw beans or avocados because it can lead to fatal reactions. More so, avoid giving your Marans moldy food because it can easily make them sick. Beyond anything else, Marans require a steady supply of clean water. Keep the water at room temperature but slightly colder during warmer months.
A sizable coop of about four square feet is ideal for fully grown Marans Chickens. Marans love roosting at least two or four feet above the ground. Therefore install durable roosting perches and nesting boxes for the hens. If possible, use a thick pole of about 1.5 inches for comfort. Then add some warm, dry bedding to stimulate egg-laying.
Mainly, English varieties prefer old newspapers, hay, and straw to sleep on. Contrarily, French Marans prefer warm sand. The good news is that Maran’s hardy nature enables them to thrive in freezing and warm temperatures. Keep light to the minimum because it affects egg-laying abilities. Finally, make a spacious outdoor enclosure for your birds to forage.
Breeding Marans Chickens
Breeding Marans is never complicated because the hens become broody quickly. Similar to other chicken breeds, it takes roughly 21 days to get your new chicks.
However, you may consider using incubators to reduce the number of unfertilized eggs. Take note that the eggshell often translates to your chick’s lineage. Therefore, if you use chocolate brown eggs, most likely, the offspring will produce the same.
Nevertheless, some experts recommend breeders use roosters born from brown eggs for better results. Whatever option you use, ensure that both parents are healthy and the eggs have thick, shiny shells.
Marans are a valuable addition to any poultry keeper because of their over-average egg-laying and delicious meat. It would be unfortunate and inhuman to squeeze a large bird in tiny enclosures. Hence, before bringing a Maran home, consider their burly size and invest in a suitable enclosure.
Something else, French Marans, requires occasional pedicure, which can be strenuous to novice keepers. Therefore, weigh your options on whether a French or English Marans would be your ideal choice.Chickens