The Chicken Genetics Experiment


I’ve had chickens on and off since I was 10 years old. I read about Maran chickens at an early age and became obsessed with having hens that lay chocolate brown eggs.

With Egg Colour It’s All About The Line

Ok, so egg clour is an inherited trait from the parent and some blood lines within a breed have a better egg colour than others.  It doesn’t change the quality of the egg but we will discuss that later.  With chickens, as with humans, their are dominant and recessive genes.  In chickens these determine feather colour and egg colour amongst other things.  It’s a complicated topic to be sure.  What I do know is that with Maran chickens that come from the town of Marans near La Rochelle in France it is the cockerel that passes on the egg colour.  So if a cockerel is hatched from a dark coloured egg he should pass on the egg colour to his offspring.  So even if you have a hen that doesn’t lay the darkest eggs, mating her with a cockerel that hatched from a dark egg should result in the chickens produced by the pairing laying darker eggs that the mother hen.

Maran Chickens Come in Different Colours

Maran chickens are the local farm chickens from the area around Marans and they are famous for their egg colour ranging from from mid to dark chocolate brown.  The chickens themselves comes in around 6 different colours including, white, black, copper black, black silver, wheaten, salmon and cuckoo.  Their re rurist breeders who will only breed and specialise in one of these colours.  I have no intention of selling hatching eggs or live chickens so for me it is all about the egg colour.  I have mainly copper black Marans but I have some eggs from black silver marans in the incubator and I’m hoping that if I put a black silver cockerel with my copper black hens the offspring will have an improved egg colour.  I always put the darkest eggs that I have into the incubator and slowly over time the egg colour of the hens should improve.  I’m quite pleased with the egg colour of my young hens that have just started laying.  If you are interested in keeping Marans can I suggest you contact the Marans Society in your respective country as a starting point.

The Quality Of The Egg

Egg quality is detmined by access to sufficient water, food and fresh grass and herbs but also the number of eggs that a hen lays per week.  Marans generally lay 200-220 eggs per year whereas the laying machines as I call the commercial breeds lay 350 or more.  This, in my opinion, to too stressful for the hen and if she doesn’t have access to enough calcium hen it is taken from the bones.  Please buy free range eggs from a non-commercial breed, they will cost a bit more but they are worth it.

It is a more natural life for the hen and better for you when you eat the egg.  #Animal welfare #healthy #natural

Andrew Huber

I am an English gardener who has been living in the Black Forest in Germany for 4 years. Slowly I am transforming 16 acres of mountain into a garden. Feel free to email me if you have any gardening questions and I'll see if I can help.

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