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Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hypnojessi, May 5, 2007.
I am with Ilia. Buy BCMarans from a reputable Breeder who's birds are laying really dark eggs.
They say it's the Black Copper Marans that lay the darkest. But it does vary, even among the best breeders. I have some and have hatched out a few and now have one layer that is laying a rather light egg as far as Black Copper Marans go. She lays more often than the other hen with her. One hen's eggs are quite dark (not chocolate, more like a deep dark brown/mahogany) and the other's are rust. I know, only a photo will suffice, but you've already seen plenty of Black Copper Marans eggs or can easily with a simple search.
I got my Black Coppers from a reputable breeder, but if I had it to do all over again, I would order from a hatchery, such as Meyer. Why? Because it's easier!
When I bought my Black Copper hatching eggs, there were no hatcheries carrying the Black Copper Marans. I got one set of eggs through the mail and one hatched, a male. I ordered another set because it's the fault of the shipping company if you get a batch of eggs that won't hatch or a hatching issue. Usually it's the jostling through the shipping process, though. So on the second batch of expensive eggs, I managed to get three hens. Yes, out of about 2 dozen eggs, I got 3 hens. Horrible odds.
Of course, if I were to order from Meyer, I might get pullets that don't lay as dark of an egg as a few breeders' eggs. Sure it's a risk. Not many who bought from Meyer have been posting on the color of their layers' eggs. I can't imagine that Meyer wouldn't try to protect the darkness of the eggs as that is why they have Black Copper Marans in the first place ... to sell dark egg-laying chickens.
So, I would much prefer to order 9 Black Copper Marans hens from Meyer and pay around $90 or so (about what I paid for the mailed breeder's eggs) and get 9 chicks, 2 of which, at the very least, will probably lay eggs that are good and dark. But it's likely that you'll do better than that.
But, wow, they have limited availability, so now's the time to get your order in. You can get Black Coppers, Blue Splash, or the Collection.
edit - moved apostrophe and then later to add Black Copper in front of one of the Marans references because that's all I'm talking about. I'm not talking about Cuckoos, which many, many hatcheries have been carrying for years.
Why not just buy chicks from a good breeder? A well known breeder of marans claims if they don't lay the deep dark eggs they are not true marans.
I'm not a well-known breeder, nor am I quoting one. Just for the record. So take this with a grain of salt.
The French Standard for Marans (as stated on their web site the last time I checked) dictates that the eggs laid must be at least a 4 on the color scale or the layer of those eggs is not a Marans at all regardless of her lineage or breeding. A 4 is not that dark, especially when compared to a 7 on the color scale.
A Marans does not have to lay deep dark eggs to be a Marans; only a 4 is required. Additionally, I believe there is a clause that she must only lay at least a 4 for part of her yearly egg laying cycle, which would mean that she could lay 3s some of the time.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the American Poultry Association (APA) does not judge egg color and egg color isn't part of the Standard of Perfection (SOP) for Black Copper Marans (those being the only variety of Marans with APA approval, right?). To the APA, it's all about what the bird looks like on the outside. That's why it's good to know if the breeder is breeding for the APA SOP, which many are, or if they are breeding for egg color. It's true, though, that many claim to be breeding for both, but my light egg layer (at least a 4) just popped out of no where and surprised me. I used a son of one of the original hens for that batch of Black Coppers, bred back to two of my original hens (one of which was his mother, a standard breeding system) and that was the only thing I did differently to get a lighter (4) egg. I don't know which hen was the mother of the light laying Marans hen. It doesn't necessarily take much to have a hiccup in egg color.
Black Copper Marans are also good broodies, as in, if you get the right nick or strain, she'll go broody every spring or summer, stay broody, and hatch and raise the chicks. My Black Copper Marans are broodier than my bantam Cochin. Also, if you get chicks from the right strain, they are the very mild mannered little hens and the roosters are pretty easy, too. There's more to Black Copper Marans than just a pretty egg.
If I had it to do all over again, I would order Black Copper Marans from a hatchery and take my chances. (Plus I can order a few other breeds at the same time and brood them together.) It's a risk buying Black Copper Marans from a hatchery, but all I wanted was dark eggs. When I was dark egg shopping, I didn't care about a squirrel tail or brachydactyly or black eyes; I was just hoping I could get an egg or two to hatch into pullets. The hatcheries that have Black Copper Marans now haven't had them that long and so the chance of loss of egg color isn't as great as it could be five years down the road, if they aren't paying attention. But I suspect that the hatcheries are smart enough to keep the dark egg genetics in their Black Copper Marans. They're getting around $10 a chick; that's an incentive. It's worth it to them to only hatch the dark eggs, which is what any breeder of Marans will admit is one of the tricks to keeping dark egg color.
edit to last reference to Marans make sure everyone knew that I am only discussing Black Copper Marans.
The hatchery marans that I have seen lay eggs in the range of 3 or 4 as opposed to good breeders who raise hens that lay 5-7 or above. The hatcheries are primarily interested in volume. This business plan has meant the degradation of popular breeds in the past. I don't see why it would be any different with marans.
My hatchery marans didn't lay any darker that a regular brown egg layer. I bought some BCM's from a good breeder and was shocked when she laid her first brown egg. SOOO dark. I would say hatchery birds would be a waste of time.
I've got a hen from Illia and she has just starting laying eggs and they are SUPER dark.
You need to show me pics!! I'd love to see her and her eggs.
I agree! I have one Cuckoo from a hatchery and I can not tell the difference between her eggs and my Orpingtons. I bought some chicks from a locale breeder. Eggs were darker. I got eggs from someone who is working on egg color. Those eggs are beautiful. No comparison. If you want truly dark eggs go with a breeder Here are some comparison shots of my eggs from the different birds. .
A friend has a flock of cuckoo marans and they are not laying dark brown 'chocolate' colored eggs. Never have. The eggs are good though.