Yes the colour of the larger scutes- the flat scales on the legs some of the colour varieties is slate.
Edited by Resolution - 1/26/10 at 8:50am
These were the birds with the most visibly obvious salmon red or vermillion reticulate scales.
This illustration depicts a Purple Gallinule, a member of the Gruiformes bird order ( Coots, Rails and Cranes).
Consequently, the anatomy of the leg of a Galliformes bird species like the domestic chicken differs.
Reticulate scales continue from the angled join of the leg all the way down to the foot. Reticulate Scales in
Galiform birds cover a much larger portion of the foot and leg than in typical birds.
Reticulate scales in every Marans, regardless of colour variety should be vermillion pink to salmon red.
The one exception is going to the black but even that sub breed exhibits the 'rouge stripe' in many lineages.
I've received word that there is a story about the poule crêtée de coucou de Bordeaux, which is evidently its
Own Breed= my bad.
Regarding those curious birds I've seen about Bordeaux in the countryside near my sister's summer home, I've tracked down their origins.
A few Crevecour "Heart Break" hens from Brittany were evidentially the source of slight cresting of these dark egg laying hens of Bordeaux, which were carried, in the years after WWII, into the farms around Toulouse as well. The original Crevecour founders of this sub breed were carried by a prominent family together with a dozen or so Marans that produced "extraordinarily dark eggs " to a farm deep in the Bordeaux hills from Brittany during the second World War. These were not the only chickens on the property during the families exodus to the south, but the composite of that flock were the only birds present for next thirty or so years,( if not so even now). To be clear, these "poule crêtée de coucou de Bordeaux" are not the darkest egg layers of French breeds and as I've just been informed, not to be considered genuine Marans chickens by many snobbish poultry breeders in France. They do produce what could be defined as the most spherical egg of the Marans Clan and this is a very russet red colour. According to the daughter of the present caretaker ( and great granddaughter of the WWII era caretakers- whose mother, as a small child, was primary steward of poultry during the war-to just a few years ago) original birds already present on the estate- at the onset of the war were a few Gâtinaise hens, no more than two or four (she never said three) a Charollaise cockerel whose hens were destroyed by foxes and a few grey Bresse who were almost certainly eaten by the family before the isolation of the flock during the war and afterward. "There were absolutely no Poule du Marans on the estate before the war", as they were considered too dull and lethargic to survive in the warm climate of Bordeaux.
Additionally, a single Estaires cockerel, four salmon Faverolle hens and two Pictave bantam hens were brought over to the farm from a neighboring estate late in the war or during reconstruction. She believes that they too contributed their genes to their locally celebrated strain of red egg layers.
'The primary founders of the poule crêtée de coucou de Bordeaux flock were nonetheless, Cuckoo and Black Copper Marans hens "that produced the darkest eggs of any in France" and three lovely Crevecour hens, her grandmother's beloved pets'.
There were never Marans roosters nor Crevecour roosters present on the farm and at the onset of the war, the grandmother was quite certain that the Charollaise cock was the only sire of the entire flock before the Estaires cockerel drove him into retirement. Cockerels and very old hens were the only birds butchered for the table as eggs were much more precious a commodity in those days. They butchered the pugilistic cockerels straight away as soon as they were old enough to make it worth the while. After the war, the few roosters that took to the surrounding woodland also escaped butchering but these generally "resembled in every way the rest of the flock". Though i rather suspect that the light carriaged offspring of Pictave and Crevecour hens would be more likely to survive on their own in the woodlands and intuit that these may have been encouraged to stay in the woodland by their young caretaker to avoid ending up in the pot...
The whole village received their eggs from this estate farm for a very long period and there is considerable pride of this flock by their original caretaker. The birds are mostly cuckoo and heavy set, perhaps a bit large and lanky for a Marans, their combs have an odd thickness to them and of course they have the tiny tufts of a crest. Madame claims that a white feather in the center of the rooster's tail is a sign of purity. They have feathered shanks and wide breasts. "They are graceful on the foot and not dull and plodding." I am told the roosters make unusually good fathers, brooding the chicks at all times of the day and night.
I'll get some photos of the birds and post them here. It was interesting for me to learn that even though these birds were 'considered bastards by purists in the north and west of France, two or more of the most elite of connoisseurs had procured her stock over the years to improve their own'.
She insists that the best birds in France are likely to have her flocks blood in them as there were so few Marans that survived WWII. The granddaughter told me to take the last assertion with a grain of salt.
A curious side note, I have noticed that most Marans roosters do have longer feathers on their heads than other heavy breeds, especially over the eyebrow and there is also more feathering around the ears and where the throat meets the hackle, so there may be some truth to this assertion.
I've arranged to import some eggs and will report back if we have any success in hatching from them. Not to worry! IF any eggs are to hatch we will
not mix them into our Marans flocks but keep them by themselves in a closed flock of poule crêtée de Bordeaux. Or Crested hen of Bordeaux or more likely, after the lovely madame passes we will name them after her, though her she insists against it, perhaps a little too urgently... I have promised not to mention her name here but they are most certainly fierté de la fille courageuse du Bordeaux- the pride of the Lady of Bordeaux.
Getting back to Marans of western France, the Poutiou region was famous for its Black Coppers. La Rochelle for its Blacks a product of outcrossing with (Géline de Touraine), Marans famous for Cuckoo and Black Copper, though there were also many Salmons about. I hope I'm not misremembering here but Lyon, on the other side of the country, celebrated its Black Breasted Red (a product of outcrossing with Gauloise dorée) and Alsace was famous for its Brown Reds which are considered to be by far the darkest egg producers, followed by Black Copper. The Swiss developed the Gold Cuckoo and Birchen, the latter from outcrossing with Hergnies during WWII.