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French Black Copper Marans are some of the most beautiful and unique birds you can add to your flock.
If you are looking to expand your flock with some interesting breeds of chickens then keep reading. The Black Copper Marans is special in just about every way.
You want impressive plumage? Check!
Feathered legs? Check!
Dark, chocolate colored eggs? Check, check, and check!
Everything About Black Copper Marans
Maybe you’ve heard of Black Copper Marans before. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, I bet you didn’t know about their rich history.
Origin And History
Before we dive into how to recognize and care for a Black Copper Marans, let’s learn a little about where they came from.
The Marans breed has been around since at least the early 1900’s. They are believed to have originated in the La Rochelle region of southwest France.
Back then, they were not the breed that we recognize today. But, they started to co-mingle and breed with some of the hens and gamecocks brought back from seaman from places like India and Indonesia.
It was at this point that the breed became more popular and widespread and started to be crossed/mated with even more breeds of chicken. Breeds like:
- Croad Langshan
- Coucou de Malines
- Coucou de Rennes
These sporadic breedings caused, as you can imagine, a whole cavalcade of different colors, feather types, patterns, etc. It was a chaotic mess and people lost interest in the breed to the extent that they almost went extinct.
However, thanks to the French Department of Agriculture, the breed was able to be saved just after World War II. They instituted a new breeding program with an emphasis on increasing egg production.
The program was such a success that by 1952, the average Marans was laying about 200 eggs a year. Once the program officially ended, the breed was popular enough that amateur breeding was able to continue the work and keep the breed thriving.
Now that you know some of the history of the Black Copper Marans, let’s get into some of their more prominent traits.
Color & Feathering
Obviously, from their name, you can assume a bit about their coloring. They do have black and copper feathers. They also have some dark reds and, at the right angle, the black feathers can give off an iridescent, green hue.
The hens are not quite as impressive as the roosters. They are mostly covered in black feathers with a hint of reddish copper.
Roosters have a cascading waterfall of red and copper hackle feathers that flow seamlessly into their equally bright red and copper saddle feathers. This is topped off with a vibrant tail boasting black and translucent green feathers.
Both hens and roosters have black feathering that goes all the way down their legs and onto their feet.
Black Copper Marans are considered a medium to large size breed. Some of the larger roosters can grow over 8 lbs. For the most part they stay in the 7 to 8 lb range, though. The hens are a good bit smaller, tipping the scales at around 6 ½ lbs.
Comb & Wattles
Marans, like many other chickens, have a bright red single comb. You can recognize a single comb by it’s distinct ridges, or spikes, that run from the tip of the beak all the way to the back of the head
Just beneath their beak, they also have bright red wattles. The wattles will run the length of the jawline and just under their ears.
The comb and wattles are a vital part of a chicken’s regulatory system. Blood will run through them, heating or cooling as needed and then circulate through the rest of their body.
Marans were officially welcomed as a recognized breed by the Pultry Club of Great Britain back in 1935. It took the American Poultry Association (APA) all the way up until 2011 to finally accept them as a standard breed.
As such, they have to fit a specific breed profile to maintain their credentials. Some of these features include red plumage with no yellow or mahogany. They must have a black body and stern with no lacing of the feathers. Their eye color can only be a red/bay blend.
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What Are They Like?
If you keep chickens in your backyard you, no doubt, want to know what their behavior will be like.
Black Copper Marans are a great backyard breed. They are a pretty gentle and docile breed. Marans tend to enjoy free ranging and are good at foraging for themselves.
They are not particularly aggressive towards children or pets. They can get a bit aggressive towards other roosters if they feel like their territory/hen flock is being threatened.
They do well in both the heat and the cold. We have not noticed a significant drop in egg production even during the coldest months.
What Is Their Purpose?
Most likely if you own chickens you want one or a combination of three things; eggs, meat, or pets. Marans are capable of meeting all three of those needs (although we do not advocate eating your pets).
We’ll start with the easiest one first; pets.
As we’ve already mentioned above, Black Copper Marans are a pretty laid back, docile breed of chicken. They make a great backyard companion. If you want a pet, they make a good candidate.
They aren’t so friendly that you can pick them up and carry them around, but they will come greet you at the door (especially if you have food).
Since Marans grow so large (the roosters can hit 8+ lbs), they technically qualify as a dual purpose chicken. So, you can raise Black Copper Marans chickens as meat birds and have plenty to go around.
However, at the time of this writing, they are still pretty rare in the US and can cost quite a bit of money to add them to your flock. There are much cheaper routes you can go if you want strictly meat birds.
Their eggs are likely the most famous trait that the Marans possess. We’ll address why in a moment. First, let’s go over their production levels.
Because of the French Department of Agriculture’s efforts way back in the 1930’s, the Marans breed became a pretty high producing egg layer.
Like most chickens, they will start laying between 18 to 24 months and have be most productive for the following 2 years. You can expect the get around 3 eggs a week from a healthy hen. That is around 150 to 200 eggs per year. Just a handful of these birds can easily feed your entire family.
Now, why are they famous for their eggs?
Obviously, they don’t lay actual chocolate eggs. They do, however, lay eggs that have a deep, dark, chocolate brown color. In the image below, you can see how they stand out from white and even other brown eggs.
What’s really interesting is, unlike most eggs that have a colored shell, the dark color is added after the shell has formed.
The dark coloring is actually a brown pigment that gets deposited into the shell (which is actually a white shell) when the hen lays the egg. It actually comes out wet. You could wipe some of the coloring off if you get a freshly laid egg.
The brown pigment starts off very dark and will get lighter as the hen goes further into her cycle. After molt, the pigment usually comes back darker again.
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Here are some of the more common questions we came across while researching this topic.
Are Marans friendly?
While they are not exactly “pick up and carry around like a baby” friendly, they are pretty mild mannered and docile.
What age do Black Copper Marans start laying?
Most hens will start laying around 18 months of age. There are some signs you can look for to tell when your chicken is about to start laying eggs.
Can one chicken lay 2 eggs a day?
It is technically possible, but not common AT ALL. It takes more than a day, typically, for a hen to produce an egg, so it’s unlikely for them to lay two eggs in one 24 hour period. You are much more likely to see a double yolk in a single egg.
Are Black Copper Marans dual purpose?
They do technically qualify because they are medium to high production layers and the roosters get up to 8 lbs. However, at least in the US, Marans are still kind of rare and, thus, expensive. If you want to raise dual purpose chickens there are other better and cheaper candidates, like the Rhode Island Red.
What color eggs do Marans lay?
As we stated above, Black Copper Marans lay a deep chocolate brown egg.
Do Maran eggs taste different?
Unfortunately, the chocolate similarities stop at the color. Marans eggs taste just like any other chicken’s eggs.
What breed of chicken lays the darkest eggs?
The French Black Copper Marans lays the darkest eggs. However, some will claim the Penedesenca, which lays a dark reddish brown egg, is darker.
What chicken lays purple eggs?
There are some Araucanas that lay blue eggs with a slight lavender hue to them. But there are no chickens that lay specifically purple eggs. In addition to blue, white, and brown, there are also chickens that lay green eggs, if you want some color variety.
Do black eggs exist?
There are no known chickens that lay black eggs. There may be some out there but none that have been discovered yet.
Are There Other Types Of Marans Chickens?
Yes. There are 9 different varieties of Marans chickens recognized by the APA.
- Birchen Marans
- Black Marans
- (French) Black Copper Marans
- Black Tailed Buff Marans
- Columbian Marans
- Cuckoo Marans
- Golden Cuckoo Marans
- Wheaten Marans
- White Marans
Are Black Copper Marans Cold Hardy?
Yes. They do very well in both hot and cold climates. Take the typical precautions for whichever environment you live and they will do just fine.
French Black Copper Marans are definitely an eye catching addition to your flock. So, what do you think? Will you be including Marans the next time you get more chickens? Let us know in the comment section below.
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.