Breed Profile: Marans Chicken

Black Marans Chickens and Other Varieties Provide Beautiful Russet Brown Eggs

Promoted by Greenfire Farms

Breed: Marans chicken

Origin: In Marans, France, about 240 miles southwest from Paris, and 100 miles from wine country, and according to the American Poultry Association, the evolution of the Marans chicken is said to have begun as early as the 13th century. We do know a strain close to the modern breed left the country in the 1930s and was common aboard maritime trade routes, which delivered them around the world. Quickly, Marans grew famous for their colored eggs, which to this day remains the primary reason for their backyard popularity. When pronouncing “Marans,” make sure to keep the “s” silent, according to French rules. And if you can, roll the “r.”

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Varieties: Cuckoo (most common): Silver Cuckoo, Gold Cuckoo, Black Copper (Brown Red), Blue Copper, Splash Copper, Wheaten, Black-Tailed Buff, White, Black, Blue, Splash, Birchen (Silver Black) and Columbian.

Temperament: Docile, tidy

Egg Color: Russet brown

Egg Size: Large

Laying Habits: 150-200 eggs would make a good year

Skin Color: White

Weight: Rooster, 8 pounds; hen, 6.5 pounds; Cockerel, 7 pounds; Pullet, 5.5 pounds


Standard Description: Marans chickens are best known for their large, russet brown eggs. This is a defining characteristic of the Marans chicken breed, so selection for egg color and size should never be neglected. The Marans chicken is a medium-sized bird with the character of a rustic farm hen, giving an impression of solidity and strength without being coarse. The legs are lightly feathered, but leg feathering should never be excessively heavy. Eye color is bright and clear in all varieties, never darkening into brown, nor paling into yellow or pearl. The Marans chicken is a general purpose fowl for production of both meat and eggs. The breed is most famous for being a brown egg layer of large, dark, chocolate-russet eggs, but it is also known for the fine flavor of its meat.

Comb: Male: Single, moderately large, straight, upright, evenly serrated with five points; the blade not touching the neck; Female: Single, smaller than a male’s; straight and upright, evenly serrated with five points and fine in texture. No female in or near production with the rear portion of the comb lopped should be discriminated against.

Popular Use: Eggs and meat

Black birchen Marans – photo from

It really isn’t a Marans chicken if it is: One of these varieties, Blue Copper, Splash Copper, Blue, and Splash, which are not part of the official French standard. Also, any hens who lay light-colored eggs.

James Bond: “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.)”— Ian Fleming, From Russia with Love

Owner quote:  “One of my Blue Copper Marans roosters is so friendly, he’ll hop on your lap and ask for potato chips! My Blue Copper Marans are the showstoppers of my backyard flock with gorgeous plumage that has shades of grey, red, and gold. Their dark brown eggs are certainly the most striking in my egg basket, and they’re consistent layers with wonderful temperaments. Although each chicken has its own temperament, they’re friendly members of the flock that are good foragers and easy to get along with. They’re less heat-tolerant than other breeds, but if offered cool treats, they still lay well during the long days of our Southern summers.” – From Maat Van Uitert of

Learn about other chicken breeds from Backyard Poultry, including Orpington chickens, Wyandotte chickens, and Brahma chickens.

Presented by: Greenfire Farms


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