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For a dark egg layer, which would you recommend and why: Welsummer vs. Barnvelder vs. Marans

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Lady of McCamley, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    I'm interested in adding a dark egg layer or two to my flock.

    I have Welsummer mixes, but they aren't laying especially dark eggs.

    I would like to have a decent layer, so at least average to better than average. I would like a calm and friendly bird as well.

    Which would you recommend and why.

    Thanks for your input.
    Lady of McCamley

  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    My experience is with birds from small hatcheries like Sand Hill, or private (not show) breeders. For eggs my picks are ....
    First pick would be Welsummers, they by far are the best layers, they are not as broody as the other two, their eggs are decently dark and a lot of them have spots which I find interesting. They are not as big as the other two so they don't eat as much.
    Second would be Barnvelders. Have not had many of these but they were not as good a layer as the Wels, but better than the Marans, I find them touchier, not has hardy as the Wels. Their eggs are more one color, but slightly darker on average than the Wels. They are a prettier chicken imo feather color wise though. They do go broody.
    Last pick would be Marans. They just do not lay very well. When they start laying eggs are the darkest, but they lighten up pretty fast to the point where you might as well have Wels or Barnies. They tend to go broody. I do like their feather colors, especially the blue coppers and blue wheatons. They are a good duel purpose bird though imo, the males get quite large. They are big birds and eat a lot for the eggs they lay. One thing is they do have feathered feet so depending on your weather that may be something to consider.
    Temperament wise, I find the Barnvelder roosters the nicest, have had problems with both Marans and Welsummer roosters getting people aggressive. So far as the girls go, not really much different, the Marans are bigger and slower and the Wels are a little more reactive, but they are the first to come looking for handouts, none of the girls are really trouble makers or nasty with the other girls.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Thank you. That was really helpful.
    I'm thinking of going to a small breeder as I want the egg color which I know the commercial hatcheries don't control well with their breeding practices.

    I like my Wellie mixes and I don't need more broody types at the moment (I've got 3 out of 14 hens that brood for me already).

    I also live in Oregon rain...and mud. Feathered legs would be a constant mess so I will definetly get a clean legged bird.

    I sold my high grain eating fair laying Orpingtons so I'm not interested in buying birds who do that again.

    thank you for your input.
    Lady of McCamley
  4. Mainechick168

    Mainechick168 Songster

    May 12, 2012
    I'd go with Marans. I've got both Welsummers and Marans, and the Marans lays the darkest egg. The Welsummers are great layers though, and my rooster is a Welsummer, and is the sweetest I've ever had. He is friendly, does not mind being picked up, and does a good job with the ladies :). As far as hens go though, my two Marans are super sweet and personable, they do not lay quite to many eggs as the welsummers, but they are very nice looking when they do. As far as leg feathering goes- one has them, and one does not. I know that they are supposed too- my splash has naked legs, and because of this, I got her for a super deal.
  5. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Songster

    We have one Barny pullet and she is nice. A bit flighty but that's ok with us.

    She is laying some great terracotta coloured eggs. A little on the small side, but she is only a pullet and they should get a little larger. She seems to lay 2/3 day's.

    Her's are the four down the middle, some day's they have darker speckles, but the last few have been a bit darker and single coloured.


    I have heard great things about Wellies, not the darkest eggs but great foragers and nice temprament complimented by nice plumage. We could not decide between the three breed either. Our Barny is nice, but we have 7 French Wheaten Marans in the incubator now along with 7 Wellie's.

    The Maran's are all in large dark brown eggs, up to 69 grams. The wellies (I am told it's a local thing) are very hit and miss with their egg colour, some were dark and some light. The breeder claimed that egg colour has not been high on their priority list here.

    As usual, the phone pic does not do the colours justice, the FWM are 5-6 on the scale, the biggest would be close to a 7 I think., you can see the range of the Wellies.



    Either way, I can't wait to meet them!
    1 person likes this.
  6. flgardengirl

    flgardengirl Songster

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sunny side up :)
    If you want dark eggs go with the Marans. Make sure you see the parents and eggs first before you buy. Marans can have a wide range of color in their eggs just depending on the breeder and/or lines you are getting from.

    Here's why I love my Marans: Sweet hens that are good layers, fairly consistent layers, great egg color, roos usually nice. I have had a few buttheads though lol. The darkest laying Marans in general, are the black copper variety.

    1 person likes this.
  7. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Wow...thanks for the photos and the information.

    I'll definitely want to contemplate this one...fortunately I've got until spring to decide as I won't be putting eggs under a broody before then (she says confidently [​IMG] ...fearlessly tempting chicken math)

    Lady of McCamley

  8. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Songster

    Wow, I really wish we could get that sort of colour here!
  9. justoldbobo2

    justoldbobo2 Songster

    Jun 10, 2013
    Jena , Louisiana
    I'm hoping to get some dark eggs in next couple months to try and hatch myself thanks for all the comments
  10. memphis

    memphis Crowing

    Aug 6, 2012
    I do like my Barnies. Consistent layers, friendly, and smart. They know there names & come when I call them. Easy going. They all get along with no picking, pecking or other chicken drama! But I do have a big old speckled sussex hen that keeps them in line!

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