BC Marans genetic meltdown in GA/AL?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by risfawnser67, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. risfawnser67

    risfawnser67 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 22, 2008
    Rising Fawn, GA
    Like so many others, I jumped on the Black Copper Marans bandwagon last fall, not to make money breeding them, or selling fertile eggs but to add their beautiful eggs to my pastured, organic egg flock. I sell these eggs locally and have an excellent reputation and following.
    I bought 10 chicks from a very popular breeder near Atlanta in December, of Wade Jean lines, went and picked them up and into my brooder with Startena, Start' n 'Grow, and sugar water, which is the standard I have used for 21 years and have not lost more than 2 chicks in 80+.
    I lost 2 chicks in the first 2 weeks and the breeder was very solicitous; called me and commiserated for which I was grateful.
    But now, the chicks have matured - they have been out with the flock for a month in Premier 1 electric mesh foraging over 1/4 acre and I feel that there are genetic problems...Out of the 8 remaining chicks, I have 3 roos, 4 hens and one of indeterminate sex. I have a roo without a neck. He clumps around, but has to eat squatting down or lying down because he has just a short, little neck. One roo has large corners of his eyes from the corner to where the eyeball begins, although he is very large with a deep, fat breast and has beautiful color. The 3rd roo appears to be ok and correct although he does not have the deepest breast.
    The 4 pullets are sound but very different in coloring; one is almost black with 3 or 4 hackles showing color, one has a lot of colored, penciled feathers and the others are in between these two extremes.
    The mystery chicken is black with a smaller comb and wattles than the 3 definite roos, but larger than those of the pullets. Its tail is feathered more like a roo, but not as large and plumy like the other roo's tails. Also, it is the size of the pullets...?
    My fear is that so many folks are buying this breeders' chicks and breeding them to sell chicks and their eggs for hatching that these shaky genes are going to be even more compromised than I feel they already are. I will cull the 2 bad roos and keep the hens for eggs and maybe the correct roo and see what he turns into.
    I know that this breeder is probably a really good person - he seemed to be very knowledgeable, and his eggs were really, really beautiful and dark, but all of us who are buying these chicks and breeding them could really run into genetic problems shortly. I will definitely get some new stock with different genes to prevent the problems that I have run into. AND, everyone out there aspiring to make a "killing" in the Marans market...please really be willing to kill faulty birds and to get outside of this tiny genetic sesspool before it sends us all down the drain!
  2. drom

    drom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 12, 2008
    Quote:Because you haven't posted any pictures here, I hesitate to say this, but it doesn't seem to me like you have done much research on this breed. Genetic defects are definitely something to be concerned about, but for you to be saying that you got faulty birds because your pullets have varying amounts of copper on their hackles and one has what sounds like too much color, shows some misunderstanding on your part I think.

    If you are breeding for top show quality birds, then you need to let the breeder know that when you are purchasing stock. But if you are breeding for egg show and dark egg quality, then expect some faults with the plumage. In France, the darkest egg layers are not the top show birds that match the standard perfectly for appearance.

    I will say again, that physical defects are something to be concerned about-the health of the birds is very important.
    But with regard to plumage, if you expect that you are going to be getting all top show quality, cookie-cutter perfect matching birds from someone else, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  3. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    i have all the whole gamut of feathering in my copper blacks I hatched, from a single, correctly colored pullet and three differently colored roos. The vary from Mrs Blackwell, who is solid black, to Halle Barely, who only shows a few copper colored hackles, to Fridgey (hatched from an egg I decided on a whim to pull out of the refrigerator and incubate) she is penciled in deep gold all over her breast. And I even have one more extreeme than that, with almost double lacing... I have dark roo for the light girls, copper breasted roo for the minimal to zero copper gals, and a middle of the road roo for the middle of the road pullets. I do NOT expect those crosses to produce cookie cutter birds. Instead, I forsee myself like a sailing ship, tacking back and forth across the prevailing winds, always headed for the goal, but adjusting the sails and angle of attack with however the winds blow, keeping my bow pointed to the goal.

    (okay, now when did I wax poetic all of the sudden!) [​IMG]
  4. drom

    drom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 12, 2008
    Quote:Aahahahahhahah. What are you drinking tonight?
  5. cottagegarden

    cottagegarden Eggistentialist

    Oct 2, 2008
    SE PA
    That was lovely onthespot (o:.
    I think that what I have learned from mine is Marans arent plug and play. Education is the key. This breed is being developed, colors are being developed, egg color is being developed and it is a lot for anyone new to the breed to take in. I hope we can all help each other out and stand together to develop these awesome birds to be the best they can be.
    Yes, I do fear that with the glut of eggs coming on the market this spring people want instant gratification. MOST people, the people who just want to own and maybe dabble in breeding, all they want is something predictable that will breed true to the standard that will be set and that lays dark eggs. Maybe we arent there yet. But hang in there and do the best job you can, maybe its not so easy but nothing worthwhile ever is.
  6. Solsken Farm

    Solsken Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Onthespot. [​IMG]

    Risfawn, the other posters here have said it better than I can, but I have to attest that I got birds from an elderly gentleman in Georgia, that I am thinking is the same as yours. I bought 15 and all arrived in perfect health and still are wonderful to this day. Yes, they vary in coloring. That is the case with many breeds.

    The point about conformation versus egg color is one of the big challenges with this breed. I have purchased eggs from 6 different breeders. Some were from lines touted for their conformation. Most of those are not laying eggs higher than a 5-6 on the rating scale, although some I hatched in late fall might do that. My first egg from my dark egg breeder (the one we share, I think) just came this morning and it is a 7. I have every reason to believe that I am going to have some very very dark eggs in this next month.

    I am utterly thrilled with the "cesspool" of genes with nearly all the Marans I have.

    I am sorry you have a less than positive feeling about your birds. I will warn you I have read that crossing lines can result in loss of egg color, so be cautious.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2009
  7. drom

    drom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 12, 2008
    Quote:OH, BTY, are these birds getting anything besides pasture? I know you said you started them on a proper feed, but have you provided any feed supplement for growth since then? Almost all experienced Marans breeders will tell you that these birds need lots of protein, particularly when they are developing, and are feed hogs in general. The top breeders use feed that has very high protein levels (25% to 30%) while these birds are developing.
  8. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    On one of the Marans sites that I belong to there has recently been postings about off colored birds coming from what sounded like basically one or two peoples birds. So I guess the best thing is to remember for the buyer to beware.
  9. Krys109uk

    Krys109uk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Off coloured birds cannot be that unusual the messing around that has occurred with these birds. [​IMG]
    But the physical defects described by the OP are somthing to which one does need to pay attention. A bird having "no neck". [​IMG] Of course not every malformed bird is malformed due to genes but even so the original breeder needs to be informed in order that he/she can watch out for any issues in case it is genetic.
  10. drom

    drom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 12, 2008
    Quote:Yes, definitely some breeders have much better standards and produce better stock than others, but as far as I can tell, there are also a few folks who post on those forums who just want stir things up and offend people. Some of them don't really have noble intentions with regard to the direction of the breed when they state these things, they are just engaging in very personal disputes over a public forum. It's very hard for new people to judge what they are reading. You have to lurk for quite a while to try to figure out who is being sincere and who is just being a spoiler. You also need to reference the French Marans Club web site to get information on genetics of the different varieties and the standard.

    Some of the very experienced breeders will say that it is normal for Black Copper Pullets in the same clutch to have varying amounts of copper color on their hackles. It's not a fault. It is a common characteristic of the Black Coppers and there is a genetic factor behind the distribution of copper color that is unstable. There is a specific formula that some of the breeders use to try to manipulate the color distribution over their entire flock; They breed black-breasted roosters to hens with too much color and they breed the black-hackled hens to roosters that have too much copper color on their breasts so that they can produce some offspring that have just the right proportions of color for show competition.

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