If you're thinking about raising Maran chickens, it's important to have a comprehensive understanding of their care requirements. This guide will provide you with all the information you need, including tips on feeding, housing, and general care for Maran chickens.
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Cuckoo Maran chickens originated in France in the mid 1800's. This breed was named after the location Marans where they were first bred. But they quickly became popular in England in the early 1900's for their dark brown eggs.
The goal of this breed was for a dual-purpose bird that was a productive egg layer as well as a large enough bird to produce meat.
The exact lineage of Cuckoo Marans is unknown. However, they are believed to be a combination of crossbreeding Barred Plymouth Rock, Coucou de Malines, Croad Langshan, and Faverolles.
Today there are several well known variations of the of Marans including Copper Maran.
Heritage or Hybrid?
Cuckoo Marans are often considered a heritage breed of chickens in France. The American Poultry Association only recognizes several variations including Black Copper, Black, Wheaten, and White.
Despite multiple attempts to have Cuckoo Marans recognized by the APA, they are not considered a recognized variation.
Cuckoo Marans have a similar appearance to Plymouth Barred Rocks such as the dark feathers with white details. While the misidentification is understandable, a few key differences include the straight comb (not floppy) and the darker feathers.
In the picture below you can see the side by side differences (Marans on either side and Barred Rock in the middle)
A few common features of this breed include:
Comb is bright red
Medium bright red wattles
Bright red earlobes
Black and White Feathers
Roosters weigh 7 pounds on average, hens are closer to 6 pounds on average. This makes them a larger than average sized breed as an average sized rooster is 6 pounds and a hen is 5.7 pounds.
While Cuckoo Marans are large birds, their fluffy feathers make them look even larger.
Our Cuckoo Marans are larger or of similar size to the other breeds of chickens we have. We suspect this is due to the fact that our other breeds cold tolerant/hardy such as our Columbian Wyandotte's.
Since Cuckoo Marans can be used as meat birds, it should be noted that these chickens tend to live shorter lives of 2 to 3 years due to decreased production as they age.
Egg Color & Production
Egg production starts between 24 weeks and 36 weeks (6 to 9 months), which is significantly later than most breeds that start closer to 5 to 6 months.
You can expect 4+ medium dark brown eggs a week. In their first year, they can produce 220-280 eggs with proper diet and care. Note that egg production does decrease by 10 to 15% per year as chickens age until they stop laying altogether.
Cuckoo Marans are one of the few breeds of chickens to lay dark brown eggs. This makes them an excellent choice for anyone looking to add interest to their egg cartons.
Cuckoo Marans chickens are known for their broodiness and instinct to sit on a nest. Their fluffy bodies and strong maternal instinct make them great mothers.
Cuckoo Marans are able to and breed naturally without human intervention or insemination.
Cuckoo Marans are known for being disease resistant, but they are especially known for being a cold hardy breed.
Due to their dark and fluffy feathers, Marans can have difficulty in hot weather. In heat, they do need access to shade. For more tips on keeping your chickens cool in hot weather check out our article.
In the winter it is important to ensure they are warm, have access to clean water, and are not showing signs of frostbite on their combs, wattles, or feet. They likely will not require accommodations such as a heater or brooder in the winter unless there is extreme cold.
On the coldest day of the year when temperatures dipped to -22 (negative twenty-two) with wind-chill, our Cuckoo Marans did not have any problems in enclosed and unheated chicken coop.
Cuckoo Marans are resistant to diseases and are not ailed by any notable illnesses. The most likely illness this breed will experience is heat stroke. In extreme heat can be difficult for them as they have an abundance of feathers.
We provide our chickens with vitamins in their water as a precaution to ensure they do not have any deficiencies. This is especially important for younger birds still integrating into the flock.
We also offer free choice oyster shells as a source of grit and to strengthen the shells of eggs. If a chicken (especially a strong layer) is deficient in calcium, it can lead to severe health complications and a shortened lifespan.
Of course, it is still possible for them to get parasites and other general illnesses, so it is always good to keep a watchful eye on your flock.
As a larger than average sized chicken they are considered good for meat production. Cuckoo Marans are considered to be one of the more flavorful chickens when processed for meat.
Cuckoo Marans are above average as far as noise is concerned. This does not makes them a good candidate for more urban farms in populated neighborhoods, as we would recommend a more rural setting.
I will note our hens make a fair amount of noise, even compared to our rooster who tends to crow and generally noisy. We would definitely not recommend this breed of rooster for densely populated areas.
We have several Cuckoo Marans, and they make noise regularly and loudly similar to leghorns. Based on our experience, I would even say that they can easily outshine our rooster.
Friendly and amiable are words often used to describe Cuckoo Marans chickens.
We have had several Cuckoo Marans ourselves and they have never been aggressive towards us. But they do not enjoy being held as much as some other breeds of chickens.
With their calm disposition, they would do well around children.
While Cuckoo Marans are not aggressive, they are at the at the top of the pecking order for our flock. We lovingly call them "Queens of the Coop."
Due to their dominance, they also tend to be the hardest and most aggressive towards new chickens to the coop. They will also chase our rooster when he mounts a hen and they think he is hurting one of their hens.
Many say it is good to have a rooster to increase your hens happiness and the safety of your hens. But I would argue our Maran's do an equally good job if not better at protecting the hens than our docile rooster.
As large sized breed Cuckoo Marans require 4 square feet per bird in the coop.
Our coop is secure from predator's and limited drafts, but still is unheated.
In an enclosed run 10 square feet per bird is recommended for happy and healthy birds.
During hot sunny weather we keep our chickens in a roofed run with lots of airflow and free access to the coop which tends to be shady and cooler. This was sufficient for days that got upwards of 90 degrees and sunny.
Are They Right For You?
Cuckoo Marans can be a suitable option for beginners due to their docile temperament, cold tolerance, and gentle personality.
Ultimately the purpose of the chicken is a key factor in this decision. Cuckoo Marans produce an abundance of meat, and produce an average number of eggs a year once matured.
If you are looking for dark brown eggs, a friendly breed, a chicken that does well in colder climates, has dual purpose they may be a great choice for you!
On the other hand, if you live in a hot climate or are looking for a bird that matures quickly, it may be worth considering other breeds.
Cuckoo Marans are some of the first chickens we got, and we have not had any issues with health. In fact, we are considering expanding our flock to include Copper Marans.
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