Marans (the name is always spelled with the ‘s’ whether talking about a single or many birds) are fine dual-purpose chickens from France. Marans is a port town in France, and the breed originated from a now untraceable mix of chickens that were left in the town by seaman and travelers in the 1800s. The birds were originally bred as fighting cocks, but some random combination of matings produced a bird that became popular for the barnyard. By the early 1920s the breed had been clearly established. From France the breed migrated to England and then in the past few decades to America. In 2011, black copper Marans were accepted into the breed standard by the American Poultry Association.
Although Marans are an excellent meat bird, their outstanding and unique attribute is the shell color of the plentiful eggs that they lay. Marans lay an egg that has a shell the color of dark chocolate; so dark that at times it borders on being black. And when cracked open, the yolk of free-range birds is bright orange, bursting with vitamins, protein and fats from its healthy lifestyle. While a typical store-bought egg has a yolk that is runny and flaccid, the free-range Marans produce yolks that have ‘muscle tone;’ little orange domes that jut skyward from the egg white. (Perhaps, for these reasons, the author Ian Fleming identified Marans eggs as those most preferred by James Bond.)
At Greenfire Farms, we are working with stock from several reputable breeders to foster a line we feel draws on the strengths that each of these lines possesses; these qualities include egg color, leg feathering, and hackle coloring. Currently we are working with the stunning black birchen and black copper Marans varieties that we admire for their ultra-dark egg coloring and prolific laying abilities. Due to the extreme popularity of Marans in the U.S., the birchen Marans are sold out for 2014 and the black coppers are available in a very limited supply, so please be patient when ordering.