The Marans is a breed of chicken originating in France. It is a medium breed compared to others, popular for poultry shows and is a dual purpose fowl known both for its extremely dark eggs as well as for its very fine meat qualities.
There are 9 recognized colors in the French Standard: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaton, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian; other colours not officially recognized (such as Blue Copper) also exist. Black Copper (black with copper feathers on the neck) and Cuckoo (barred feathers, giving a black and white speckled appearance) are the most common of these.
The breed as it was when first brought to England was very variable in appearance. The only colours at this time were the white and brassy black. The breed became more of a standard breed than a country fowl due to the vigorous breeding standards of early British breeders, however this was only started fairly early in the 20th century, To the present day there is still much work to be done as "throw backs" are prevalent in the form of white and black birds being bred from other coloured strains. Sporadically appearing yellow colouration to the legs and beak rather than the preferred white is also a problem found in the breed.
All have red or orange eyes and white feet. They are in the medium weight class, generally rather smaller than the more common Rhode Island Red.
The original Marans have feathered legs but this has been bred out by many UK breeders.
Marans are generally quiet and docile; but they are quite active, taking well to free ranging in rough terrain and are also tough and disease-resistant. They were originally bred in the marshy areas of France and can cope with damper conditions.
Marans lay around 150 dark brown eggs each year. Marans are an historically dual-purpose bird, prized not only for their dark eggs but for their table qualities as well.