Originally Posted by dekel18042
Just some thoughts on your comments Don't know anything about barnvelders but welsumers lay beautiful dark eggs. So do the black copper marans, but they have feathered legs and feet.(But not all do) At first I didn't think I was going to like that, but found that I think they are really cute .And they seem to have been fine in the winter and the wet with them.
I don't have cuckoo marans but know several people who do, and all have the same complaint. Their eggs aren't really darker than a medium brown. Some are speckled. They aren't the best layers, but neither are my BCM although the color on the eggs is fantastic. But if I were to get more dark egg layers I would probably opt for more welsumers
One other advantage of the welsumers is they can be sexed at hatching which should make it easier if you can't have roosters. I have some olive eggers,but some of them are feather legged too. If you get ones with welsumer they wouldn't have feathered legs. Even the ones made with marans aren't all feathered legged.
Cream legbars have the advantage of being sexable at hatching but they're expensive and I'm not crazy about their comb size, a concern for the winter in your area. Rose combed legbars which should be more winter hardy are being developed now. I prefer the combs of the Ameraucanas or easter egger plus there is more variety in the color of the birds themselves.
If you get your chicks from a hatchery you can order girls. Otherwise chose some which can be sexed on looks.
Feather legged Marans are not at all like Cochins or Brahmas, with feathered feet prone to getting caked with dirt and poop. The feathers are just down their shanks, kind of cool looking, IMO.
I've never had cuckoo marans, but I've heard the same thing (except for the legendary, possibly mythical "Fugate strain" of CM's). I think this is just the result of heavy breeding for high production to meet the goals of the hatcheries. Hatchery Welsummers have a reputation for poor egg color too. I was under the impression that the egg color (and size and speckling) was pretty fixed for a particular hen, or the egg color fades over time during laying cycles. I don't see that, at least in our BCM's, we have 4 hens and often get 4 gorgeous eggs, all uniformly dark and unspeckled, but maybe 10% are significantly lighter, sometimes 2 in one day, so it can't be one hen laying lighter eggs. And the specking pops up even more often, there is so much variation in a weeks production, you would think we had 10 hens, not 4. But they are all very pretty and the lightest are still incredible when put next to a Rhodebar or New Hampshire egg. I believe that dark egg color is largely genetic, but there must be some other influences if there are daily variations, both to darker and lighter.
The Welsummers are even more "all over the place", but we have more hens, so I expect that. When in a carton, I would dare anyone to pick out the Marans from the Welsummers based on appearance. I have to look for the "M" on the side of the Marans eggs (we write that, it's not a genetic trait ;).
I carefully setup my breeding pens to produce as many sexable chicks as possible this spring (Rhodebars, Welsummers, CCL's, Black Sexlinks) and that has been a very popular selling point. Still, there is a huge market for BCM's, BBS Ameraucanas and Olive Eggers, even though they are straight run. We really make more for each egg set with those than the sexable chicks, because there are no unsaleable males in the hatch. But I love to deal with the families starting off with their first chickens, I sell a lot of sets of 3 pullet chicks, one each of the 3 egg colors, blue, brown and dark brown. When they leave I'm confident they have a great start and know what to do (and who to call).