The Marans breed of chicken gets its name from the port town of Marans, France, where the bird was developed in the late 1800s.
French and English Marans have orange eyes and white skin and come in various colors, but there is one notable difference.
True French Marans have feathered legs, while English Marans do not.
Marans are considered a rare chicken breed in the United States, but they are increasingly popular among backyard chicken keepers because of their dark chocolate brown eggs.
The dark brown egg color varies according to the Marans hen’s age and feather color pattern.
Read on to learn more about Marans eggs and how they differ from other breeds of chickens.
Are Marans Chickens Good Egg Layers?
When it comes to the egg production capabilities of Marans, they are rated as decent layers. Hatchery strains of Marans tend to lay more eggs than birds raised in a typical backyard flock. A Marans hen’s age and the time of year also affect egg production.
Even though Marans do not lay as many eggs as the Rhode Island Red or Plymouth Rock breeds, they are still prized for their eggs’ unique dark brown color.
The eggs of Marans chickens are a much darker color than those of other brown egg layers.
Marans are not prolific layers, but they still produce a fair number of eggs sold for a higher price because of their color and rarity.
When Do Marans Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
Marans hens usually start laying eggs when they reach six months of age. Sometimes, it may take up to 8 or 9 months for a Marans hen to begin laying. This delay in egg production is typical of heritage breeds like the Marans because the chickens take longer to mature.
Most common breeds of chickens reach sexual maturity at a younger age, and these hens may begin laying eggs when they are around 4-5 months old.
When a chicken is born also affects when it starts producing eggs.
A hen coming into maturity during the fall or winter may not lay her first clutch of eggs until the spring.
How Often Do Marans Chickens Lay Eggs?
On average, a healthy Marans hen will lay an egg every 2 to 3 days. A Marans chicken can lay up to 4 eggs in one week, but this is not common. Several factors influence egg production, such as the hen’s age, weather conditions, and nutrition.
Young Marans hens may produce more eggs when they first start laying.
This is because the eggs are initially smaller than those of more experienced layers.
Rainy weather conditions will also cause a Marans hen to lay fewer eggs due to a lack of daylight hours.
Hens usually need around 14-16 hours of daylight for steady egg production.
Do not be discouraged if your Marans hens are not laying an adequate number of eggs weekly.
Your hens may simply not be getting enough nutrients for egg production.
Consider switching to a layer feed with higher protein content, and ensure your Marans hens are receiving a calcium supplement.
How Many Eggs Do Marans Chickens Lay a Year?
A Marans hen will lay about three eggs per week, roughly 150-200 eggs per year. Egg production may decrease if your Marans lay extremely deep chocolate-colored eggs. Marans are considered average layers compared to other breeds, which may lay 250-300 eggs yearly.
Hens of any breed typically lay more eggs from when they start laying until they are around two years old.
Between two and three years of age, egg production in hens naturally declines.
Marans have a limited amount of pigment in their oviducts, and hens laying the darkest eggs have a decreased egg production compared to those laying lighter eggs.
Egg production is also lowered during certain times of the year.
For instance, most chickens go through a molting period in the fall.
During molting, a hen may stop laying eggs altogether.
Marans are a cold-hardy breed, but they may lay fewer eggs in the winter when there is less daylight.
Further Reading: Are Maran Chickens Cold Hardy?
Egg production in Marans will also taper during the hotter weather in the summer months.
Another reason hens lay fewer eggs is if they are suffering from an illness, stress, or malnutrition.
It is vital to seek veterinary care whenever your chickens are ill.
Provide your backyard flock with a secure environment and avoid overcrowding to prevent stress.
A high-quality layer feed contains extra protein and other essential nutrients hens need for healthy egg production.
Why Are Marans Eggs Dark Brown?
The dark brown color of Marans eggs is caused by a pigment in their oviducts known as protoporphyrin IX. This pigment is present in all brown egg layers, but Marans have a higher quantity. Genetics and diet also play a role in the dark color of Marans eggs.
The brown pigment on a Marans egg is a mucous layer on the outer shell.
This color will scrape off if the egg is rubbed on an abrasive surface, revealing a white shell underneath.
Marans eggs also change colors throughout the year.
The eggs of a Marans hen are darker when she begins a new laying season or after she has had a break in egg production due to molting or brooding.
Further Reading: Maran Chickens And Broody Tendencies
As the egg-laying season progresses, the Marans hen will start laying eggs with less pigment.
Older Marans hens also lay lighter eggs than young pullets.
Do not be alarmed if your young Marans hens lay white eggs.
When Marans first begin laying, their first few eggs may be white before they lay eggs with a deep brown color.
Genetics influences egg color as well.
Female chicks born from a hen known to lay dark brown eggs are likelier to lay darker eggs.
Diet may also factor into the dark color of Marans eggs.
Studies have shown layer feeds rich in iron, copper, manganese, and zinc increase protoporphyrin levels in chickens laying brown eggs.
What Marans Chicken Lays the Darkest Eggs?
English and French Black Copper Marans lay the darkest egg color of all the Marans varieties. Cuckoo Marans lay the lightest brown eggs, but they are almost always speckled with darker spots. Black Copper Marans eggs will have a speckled appearance towards the end of the laying season.
Marans eggs have a wide color variety, ranging from deep chocolate to russet brown or copper coloring.
A color chart is often used to grade the shade of Marans eggs on a scale from 1 to 9, with one being white and 9 being almost black color.
How Are Marans Chicken Eggs Different From Other Breeds?
Aside from their deep chocolate color, Marans eggs are more expensive and have thicker shells than standard chicken eggs. The flavor of Marans chicken eggs is the same as other standard breeds, but they are considered a delicacy by French chefs because of their rarity.
It is often challenging to find Marans eggs to purchase for eating, as most of them are sold as hatching eggs.
One dozen Marans hatching eggs are priced between $30 and $50, but Black Copper Marans eggs may range from $75 to $100.
The dark brown pigment of Marans eggs causes the shells to be thicker than standard eggs because of the outer mucous layer.
Like most heritage breeds, the yolk of Marans eggs has a rich orange color.
The yolk color also depends on the chicken’s diet and whether or not the birds are allowed to free-range.
Darker shells and yolks do not necessarily make the eggs taste different from standard eggs.
However, because of their rarity, Marans eggs are still considered a delicacy in upscale restaurants.
Author Ian Fleming even proclaimed Marans eggs as the fictional character James Bond’s favorite dish.
Do Marans Hens Want To Hatch Their Eggs?
Generally, Marans hens do not want to hatch their eggs. Marans rarely go broody, and when they do, they seldom sit on the eggs long enough to hatch them. It is more likely for Marans hens to become broody in their second or third laying season.
It takes around 22 to 23 days for Marans eggs to hatch.
It may take another 2-3 days to complete the hatching process.
Because of the thicker shell, it is more difficult for the baby chick to emerge from the egg.
If you have purchased Marans eggs with the intent to hatch the baby chicks in an incubator, it is vital to maintain a steady temperature and humidity level.
Any sudden variation in temperature or humidity decreases the likelihood of the eggs being viable.
Invest in a quality incubator to ensure the temperature is steady throughout the hatching process.
Even with proper incubation techniques, the average hatch rate for Marans eggs is between 55%-75%.
Related Reading: Do Marans Chickens Fly Or Jump High?