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French Marans Chickens | Dark Brown Egg Layers

French  Marans lay some of the darkest brown eggs in the chicken kingdom. They look like chocolate! But they are also a fascinating breed, eggs notwithstanding.

French Marans chickens are the official "dark chocolate brown egg" layers of the chicken world.

They lay those super deep dark brown eggs that you might have seen gracing Instagram on various backyard chicken keepers accounts.

But did you know that the French breed of chicken called the Marans (named after the French town  of Marans where they  originated) lays some of the darkest eggs of any chicken breed?

Here are some other things you might not know about the French Copper Marans Chickens

French Marans Chickens | Dark Brown Egg Layers

One Marans, Two Marans

Did you know that the word "Marans" is always plural (and always should be capitalized) since its the name of the French town where the breed originated? It is incorrect to refer to a single chicken as a Maran.

So one chicken is a Marans, and two chickens are two Marans...

What Makes Marans Chicken Eggs Different

Dark Eggshell Color

Like all other eggs, a Marans egg starts out white. Then during the laying process, the hen deposits brown pigment onto the surface, making the egg that nice deep chocolate brown color.

Marans breeders are careful to keep soft bedding in the nesting boxes because the pigment will scrape off, especially when the egg is freshly laid. You can scrape it off with your fingernail actually.

Superior Marans Quality Egg?

Did you know that some French chefs are reputed to ONLY cook with Marans eggs, claiming they are superior in taste and quality?

They actually might be onto something because according to the French Ministry of Agriculture, Marans eggshells have smaller pores than the shells of other breeds and thicker shells and inner membranes, making them far less likely to contain salmonella and allowing the Marans eggs to stay fresher longer.

Note: This thicker outer layer coupled with the dark shell that candling hard can make hatching Marans eggs a bit challenging, with a lower success rate than other breeds.

In general, an egg's taste is dictated by how fresh an egg is and the overall diet of the hen that laid it, but who are we to argue with French chefs?)

Marans Eggs were the Preferred Breakfast of James Bond

An interesting bit of literary trivia: the fictional character James Bond actually requested a Marans egg for breakfast each morning in the original series of books written by Ian Fleming boiled for precisely three and a third minutes and was filmed eating one in the movie From Russia with Love

“The single egg, in the dark blue egg cup with a gold ring around the top, was boiled for three and a third minutes. It was a very fresh, speckled brown egg from French Marans hens owned by some friend of May in the country.  (Bond disliked white eggs and, faddish as he was in many small things, it amused him to maintain that there was such a thing as the perfect boiled egg.)” From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming

About the Marans Breed of Chicken

Marans originated in French and were brought to England in the 1930's, but not available in the US until 2000.

The French Marans have feathered feet which makes them kind of unique in the chicken world. There are only a handful of breeds of chickens with feathered feet besides the Marans, including Faverolles,  Cochins, Sultans, Brahmas and Silkies.

The English Marans, however, are clean legged. Both varieties can be found in the US currently.

Marans are generally friendly and docile. They aren't terribly broody, but are good foragers and a nice, hardy breed. They are decent layers, producing 150-200 eggs per year on average.

They have a single comb, orange eyes and yellow legs.

The French Marans breed comes in several colors including Black Copper, Birchen, Cuckoo (barred black and white feathers), Golden, White, and Wheaten. Other non-recognized colors include Blue, Blue Copper and Splash.

Black Copper Marans Chickens

These are Black Copper Marans.  Black is probably the most common color of Marans chicken.

Blue Copper Marans

This is a Blue  Copper Marans. I find the Blues to be more friendly than the Blacks for some reason.

Blue Marans

This is a Blue Marans. Notice she doesn't have the copper on her neck like the hen in the previous photo.

Splash Marans

This is a Splash Marans.  "Splash refers to the mottled feather pattern. My Splash are some of my friendliest and most affectionate hens - and also some of the prettiest! I really love the Splash variety of the Marans breed. Their eggs might not be quite as dark as the Black French Marans, but the trade-off to have such sweet and gorgeous hens is well worth it.

Dark Chocolate Brown Marans Chicken Eggs

Likely the darkest eggs you will get from you Marans will be the very first she lays.

For one thing, those eggs tend to be smaller, so the same amount of pigment that will eventually need to cover a larger shell surface will be covering a smaller one, resulting in a darker shade.

In fact, the French Marans breeders don't even start to grade the color of a Marans eggs until a pullet has laid a dozen eggs - since the first few eggs can sometimes be a darker color that she won't be able to reproduce again in her laying life.

This is the official Marans Egg Color Chart from the Marans of America Club. I aspire to achieve the darkest shade of Marans eggs! Maybe one day...

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