Marans Chickens

Marans Chickens

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Marans Chicken
No. of Eggs
Easy to Keep?

Uses: Utility. Dark egg-laying sex-linked hybrid production.
Origin: Marans, France. 
 160 – 210 Dark Brown.
Weight: Cock: 3.6 Kg. Hen: 3.2Kg.
Bantam Cock: 500 – 550g, Hen: 400 – 450g.
Colours: Black, Dark Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Silver Cuckoo (Standardised), Black-Tailed Buff, Brown Red (Copper Black), Copper Blue, Silver Black (Birchen), White, Wheaten, and Columbian (Ermine) (non-standardised).
Useful to Know: Cuckoo Marans hens can be mated with an unbarred cock to produce sex-linked hybrid offspring.

The Marans was developed during the 1920s near the town of Marans, North of La Rochelle in Poitou Charente, France. The original Marans had lightly feathered legs, something that can still be seen in French birds. Many strains of Copper Black Marans (non-standard in the UK) still have reasonable amounts of feathering on the legs and are often referred to as ‘French Copper Black Marans’ because of this.

The British Poultry Standards lists feathered shanks as a serious defect. As with many utility type breeds around this time, there was great pressure to export the Marans before the type was properly fixed (which took longer due to the number of breeds that were used to create it). The original birds were producing many variations from the standard type but when it was brought to England in 1929, the type was fixed and by the mid 1930’s, the first Cuckoo Marans entered the British Poultry Standards.

The Marans are thought to be made up from quite a number of very old breeds: Barred Plymouth Rock, Coucou de Malines, Croad Langshan, and Faverolles but also some Rennes (this is a place in Brittany and thought to be a cuckoo breed), Gatinaise and possibly Brakel depending on who you speak to.

There are 4 standard colour varieties in the UK, 9 in France, and 4 in Germany. The American Poultry Association has stated that if a Marans is accepted to their standard, it will no doubt have feathered shanks and a cleaned shanked bird will not be accepted (source Marans of America Website).

Breeding hints

To improve the colour of Marans eggs, you should only select the darkest brown eggs to hatch, although I've spoken with breeders who say these are harder to hatch than lighter coloured eggs. Breeding from hens (and Cocks) that come from dark brown eggs themselves will ensure that you concentrate this gene in your strain and get more of the same thing.



The following books are available. Links take you to the Amazon or other sellers’ pages for the books.

Breed clubs

These are the breed clubs for Marans:

Further Reading

  • Breeding Tips for Marans - As a utility bird, both the colour and the number of eggs are important, and it is relatively easy to select for both of these things with a little care.

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4 Responses

  1. I have a Copper Marans chick, it is about 13 weeks old but I have lots of different opinions on whether it is a hen or cockerel? How can I tell?

    1. I believe this is a male Gemma- due to the tail feathers which are long and thin and because of the size of the comb / wattles. Adult hens can have fairly large comb / wattles but at this age, they are usually very small. Here is a photo of some young pullets for comparison.

  2. I have 6 black hens which were sold at a local Rural King farm store as Black Majestic Marans (can’t find that on Google??). All are solid black – some with feathered legs, some clean, some with large combs, some small. They are laying now, and there’s no crowing so I’m pretty sure they are all girls. I keep looking at pix of Marans, but there doesn’t seem to be any pure black roosters to be seen, and I would rather not buy any of the ones with brown/red head feathering. I’d like to know if there is such a thing as a pitch black rooster, and if so, where would I find one (or eggs I could put under a clucky hen). I’d like to be able to breed my hens to carry on the Black Marans in our mixed flock, as the store told me it was a one time thing. We have no interest in show birds, contests, ribbons, prizes etc., we just like to eat the egg and meat birds, (they’re also good at keeping down the ticks).
    Any info would be welcome.


    1. They are probably a cross (hybrid) so you would need the original parent flocks to produce more from the same cross.
      Often breeders will create interesting names for their crosses to make them ‘unique’ and interesting 🙂

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