The Marans were once one of the most popular pure breeds of fowl in the country due to their great appearance, good utility qualities and their marvellous dark brown eggs.
While once they would have been as popular as Light Sussex and Rhode Island Reds, sadly this has waned over past years due, in part, to the great range of colours that are now readily available in hybrid fowl with the introduction of copper black, blue and salmon varieties of French Marans.
In addition, more poultry hobbyists are now keeping bantams rather than the standard bred fowl.
Sadly, today Marans are only kept by a dedicated few and the bantam version by fewer hobbyists.
Recently the opportunity arose to obtain a small number of this breed, which are going to be shared with a couple of other poultry keepers in a bid to help maintain them.
History of the breed:
The Marans breed was initially brought into England in the 1920s as hatching eggs and later a small number of chicks were also imported.
The breed were developed in the south western region of France and named after the town of Marans.
They were regarded as a good utility breed with white flesh and produced wonderful dark brown eggs.
The bird was developed in the UK as a clean legged breed with white to grey legs.
They have done well on the show bench, having often won champion utility breed.
In more recent times, French Marans in different colours with feathered legs have come into the UK and have become more popular than the original Marans.
This original variety also comes in a small number of colour varieties but the Dark Cuckoo colour is the most popular.
Generally, the Dark Cuckoo males plumage tends to be lighter than the females.
There can be confusion at times between the Cuckoo Marans and the Barred Rock, but the former have white legs and there is distinctive plumage differences .
I first had Cuckoo Marans over 40 years ago when they were plentiful in the country.
If you wish to preserve an eye-catching old fowl breed with great utility qualities that produce wonderful dark brown eggs why not consider the Dark Cuckoo Marans.
n My thanks to the local poultry fanciers who have worked hard keeping this breed going, namely Patricia Swandel, Stewart McClean, Jean Wall and Marc Ruymbeke.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.