French Wheaten Marans
Origin of the breed
The Marans, is a breed of chicken from the port town of Marans in France. It was created with the local feral chickens descended from fighting game chickens carried from Indonesia and India. Those original Marandaise fowl were "improved" for the table through recombination with imported Croad Langshans. It is a dual purpose fowl known both for its extremely dark eggs and fine meat qualities.
Characteristics of the breed
Marans are generally quiet and docile; but they are quite active, taking well to free ranging in rough terrain and are also tough and disease-resistant.
Marans are historically a dual-purpose bird, prized not only for their dark eggs but for their table qualities as well.
Marans lay around 150-200 dark brown eggs each year depending on the variety.
They should have orange eyes. The shanks are usually slate or pink, the soles of the feet should always be white as Marans have white skin, not yellow. Though the original Marans could also be feather legged birds, British breeders preferred the clean legged version, and thus feathered legged Marans are now mainly found in France. The Australian Poultry Standard recognises both feathered and clean-legged.
Like so many of the breeds we have chosen for our Chook Shed, we discovered the French Wheaten on one of our google quests in search of something else. Our jaws dropped when we saw their plumage, those beautiful tonnes and then the colour of that egg, wow. We were hooked. The Marans lay the darkest egg colour of any chicken and is an essential addition to anyone wanting a colourful egg basket.
Egg color does vary from bird to bird, the time of the year, their diet and whether they are free ranging on green grass or confined to a coop. The eggs from Marans average around 5 or 6 in Australia due to our limited gene pool however overseas some birds lay as dark as a 9 on the Marans colour scale.
Your marans wont provide you with a dark egg all year long. We occasionally get a 6, and usually happens in early Spring or late Autumn when birds are just coming into lay.
Egg colour Chicks are easily sexed at around 3 weeks of age. Females (chicks pictured on the right, have a light brown/carmel coloured feather whereas the males will have the darker feathers.