Marans' vigor

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by wood&feathers, May 3, 2011.

  1. wood&feathers

    wood&feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2009
    E. KY
    I thought about posting on the Marans thread, but wanted to be able to track the answer and get the topic going...

    I love my young Marans, but am beginning to wonder about vigor and disease resistance. Leg feathering seems highly desirable, but among my little flock the feather-legged birds are the weakest. I bought 6 Marans (4 BC, 2 wheaten, 3 were feather legged) chicks in January and the clean legged ones are thriving. Very early on they all came down with a respiratory thing (runny noses, head bobbing) and I dosed them all with Sulmet for 2 weeks. Things looked better except for the littlest BC with feathered legs. I wound up hand feeding that one (Stubs) parrot formula for a couple days. It recovered, though it is still pretty small compared to the others.

    Then in early April we got a hard freeze, just 2 weeks after I moved them outside. They were in a brooder coop with heat lamp. But my family's favorite wheaten, Boots, caught something again. Once again a feather legged bird got sick. She got sick so fast I tried Tylan injections but to no avail. Rough time for all, Boots was a wonderful character - adventurous, beautiful, affectionate and full of mischief.

    With all the rain we have had it doesn't surprise me that another bird is under the weather. It is another feather legged bird (Flaps), a Black Copper. Their coop and dust bath is kept dry, though the run is a mess. Though they all didn't seem to care about the rain when it first started weeks ago, they have learned to like things inside, and the healthy (all clean legged except for Stubs) ones party in the coop. Flaps hangs out under the lamp. I am starting to wonder if I should cull, though he is my only hope for having a feather legged rooster.

    So is there any connection between leg feathering and vigor in Marans?
  2. Sparklee

    Sparklee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2008
    wood&feathers :

    So is there any connection between leg feathering and vigor in Marans?

    I haven't noticed any connection yet. I've had these feather footed Marans through two winters in non-heated homes. All survived. Even chicks hatched in November survived the winter and are now laying, though one does seem a little smaller than I'd like, but still seems vigorous. Lots o' snow and even some temps in the negatives.

    I'm sorry yours are having troubles.​
  3. chickengrl

    chickengrl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2010
    Northern Virginia
    It sounds like the flock has a respiratory infection and they are contagious. They may all be getting it. Less healthy birds can easily die from it. I don't think it has anything to do with the feathered legs. probably a coincidence. I reccomend you ready about respiratory illness to learn all you can. Good luck. [​IMG]
  4. Debbi

    Debbi Overrun With Chickens

    May 2, 2010
    I've had my birds since early 2010, both feathered shanked and non-feathered, and have yet (knock wood) to have a sick bird. We had a severe winter here this year, and still no problems. What age are the chicks? When were they placed outdoors? What are/were you feeding them? We had a few straight weeks of minus degree weather, and my coop is neither insulated or heated. Sounds like yours picked up a bug somewhere along the way. Are you feeding medicated chick starter? Are you adding vitamins/electrolytes to the water? Marans need a higher protein content in their food, what are you feeding them protein-wise? I see no correlation between feather shanked and non-feathered in regards to sicknesses, but then, I've not had any illness here.
  5. wood&feathers

    wood&feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2009
    E. KY
    They were born in January, so they aren't little anymore. This is the 2nd spring I've raised chicks. The illness may have begun with the breeder...puts me in a tough spot, because you know how the kids (and me...) fall for the fuzzies.

    I've been feeding gamebird starter, 24% protein. They get daily treats - mostly the feed mixed with yogurt or egg. I doubt their problem is dietary. I have Drench for mixing electrolytes and Kaytee Exact for hand feeding chicks in distress, but they seem to all be past that now.

    When I moved them outside I did it gradually like last year's bunch. A Kentucky cold snap in April is mid 20's F. They still have the heat lamp available in 2 different sheltered places in the coop and run. But Boots, the hen that died, was also quite adventurous and I suspect she sat in a more exposed spot than the others.

    Our weather has been WET, wet like Seattle. We just got another couple inches today.

    This respiratory bug is the obvious problem, and short of finding a vet to nail it down in a lab I don't know what to do - half the stuff on the chart has runny nose etc as symptoms. All the birds have had the illness, it is just that the clean legged ones seem to have recovered, while the 2 surviving feather legs are still showing symptoms. Thus I posted this some of this response genetic?

    It does sound like some (maybe not yours!) Marans have issues with vigor. Is it the overbreeding? People getting eggs from infected flocks? That is why I posted here on the Breeding forum, not under illnesses etc. I know 6 isn't a huge sample size, but the disease response has been cleanly divided over the leg feathering. I didn't know if maybe someone had noticed a genetic link.
  6. Sparklee

    Sparklee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2008
    Quote:Higher than what? Mine all get around 18% free choice at 20 weeks or so. Before that, it's 20% (as chicks). I haven't ever heard of this need for higher protein content before and I've had my Marans for a while now. I guess I'm really *out of the loop.* The breeder didn't tell me this and I would expect that he/she would.

    What protein content do they need? As chicks? As layers? As roosters? I've been feeding the roosters around 14-15% protein. Maybe less because they decide how much 17% feed they eat and how much grain which is lower. Edit: At appropriate times, male and female breeders get 20+%.

    Should it be soybean based, nut based, or animal protein based?

    Why would Marans "need a higher protein content in their food" if they're chickens like all other chickens are chickens? I can't figure out what the extra protein would be used for.

    I am wracking my brain and can't figure out why they would need more protein than other chickens.

    If Marans need a higher protein content in their food, then I believe it would indicate that they are of weaker stock than other chickens.

    So, does Bev Davis say Marans need extra protein in their feed? Ione? Brenda Little? Dick Dickerson? Christian Herment?

    Surely this need for a higher protein content is published somewhere. I have read much of the Marans thread started by geebs, but only small portions of Wynette's Marans thread. Is this information in those threads? They've grown too cumbersome for me to read completely since they have lots of extraneous information in them that has little to do with Marans (you know, daily chit chat,nothing wrong with that, but my interest lags).

    Is this need for extra protein in Marans' feed in the information given to the APA so that it is included in the standard of perfection?

    What happens when birds don't get this extra protein? Mine haven't been getting the extra protein so there must be something wrong with them, besides a few of them being over melanized.

    To the Original Poster (OP), it's a reasonable conclusion to think that it has something to do with feathered vs. non-feathered. But I haven't seen it. And I do have other chickens that aren't Marans. I haven't heard of any problems with vigor in Marans. What have you heard? I'd say that my Black Coppers are quicker to stop laying in very cold weather than some other non-Marans chickens, but beyond that, they've done well, I think. If there's a genetic link, I'd love to hear about it.
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  7. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I've had Marans for about the last 8 years....both feather legged and clean legged. I've never had any health issues with them.

    I've never fed them any differently than I do any of my other breeds and they do well.

    I'd say it's more than likely that they have a viral infection which is affecting them.
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  8. wood&feathers

    wood&feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2009
    E. KY
    Yes, this whole experience has kind of soured me on small time breeders. Maybe not Marans. But it is a major pain in the ---. We keep our birds as pets. I was hoping to just add a few clean birds each year, enough to replace birds that are slowing production and replace a couple predator losses a year. I only have 11 birds total, including a rooster about to become stew. I don't want to cull all my pets, but don't want to bring any more chicks in next year if it means repeating this whole awful struggle from day 1.

    Thus I am taking my sickest bird to a vet, hoping they can test and find which illness is at fault. I don't think that he can be saved. After last night's cold snap, I saw he was feeling worse. Pale comb, head tucked. As I was returning this am from dropping the kids at school, I heard a squawk in the coop and found the top hen attacking him. So he is in the living room now.

    Everyone else is looking frisky. Whatever the illness, they are probably carriers. I just need to know the specifics, is there a treatment, and will they all remain this susceptible. Luckily I had no aspirations to show or sell birds.
  9. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    I've had Marans too and mine haven't been so hardy either. My flock was always healthy, and the marans seem to catch a cold very easily......(People say chicken's don't catch cold, but you know what I mean....CRD). I had use Duramayacin the first time, and then my HUGE rooster nearly died from a respiratory illness, and I had to buy Tylan for him, which is very expensive and give him the meds with eye dropper. He recovered but you would think such a huge, impressive bird would be stronger....

    I dont' have them anymore. Not a big fan, because they're very large, they eat alot and they're not the best egglayers.......I do love those dark eggs though......Egg customers are always thrilled to get them.....

    Don't miss 'em though....
  10. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    I have found in my Marans of the past 3 years that the wheatens are always the weakest. No matter what bloodline I get they just die off as chicks. I did much better having my own and raising from them but still lost more than anything else.

    My Marans now get up around 3-4 months and then start getting puny. I have started feeding them sporting bird starter (28%) mixed with regular chick feed and it does seem to help. They grow huge so quickly! I am sure this is helping them.

    I have 3 month olds outside now, no heat lamp, on the ground is where they sleep though they have roosting boards. It is pretty cool here today and I expected to find some sick birds. So far this morning they seem happy. It poured rain last night and the wind is blowing pretty good but I expect them to do well.

    I do refuse to try wheatens anymore though. I am not going to pamper a bird to breed weakness on. If they can't survive how chickens are meant to live then I certainly do not want to breed that and sell to unsuspecting folks.

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