We’ve raised French Black Copper Marans for about 10 years. It started with my husband Zach, who was on a quest for dark brown egg layers. We had heard of the Kuckoo Marans, a breed who is also known for dark eggs, but not quite as dark as the French Black Copper.
After a month-long search, Zach contacted a breeder. As I listened to his end of the phone conversation I heard my husband say, “Yes, we’ll take 10”.
At the time our coop was a small triangular structure with 6 chickens already living in it.
“Where do you plan to put them?” I asked after he hung up.
His answer: ”Well, we’ll just have to build a bigger coop.”
And so we did.
The French Black Copper Marans, in many ways, was the gateway that allowed me to begin breeding chickens. I finally had a coop large enough to house several incubators worth of chickens. So this breed holds a special place in my heart.
Not only does this chicken have sentimental value, but it is also an amazing breed.
French Black Copper Marans lay the darkest egg of any chicken breed. The darkest eggs can range from a chocolate brown to almost burgundy in color.
The rooster is a regal bird, crowned with a large, red single comb. The body mostly black with a green iridescent sheen to the darkest feathers. The hackles crown the bird in a copper/gold hood that is strikingly beautiful
The hen is also black in color with a cape of less concentrated copper coloring. She is less striking, as most hens are, but the breed overall is stunning!
The legs are sparingly feathered in the French version. An “American” strain has been bred without the feathered legs and is a telltale sign to inform a potential buyer of what they are purchasing.
The FBCM was bred to supply French culinary masters the most delicious egg available. A pair of FBCM could cost over $500. It was said that a FBCM omelet could cost over $100. As their popularity has grown, prices have come down. But you can still expect to pay a good price for chicks of quality lines.
The Breeders of Marans in both America and in France have created a color chart ranging from 1-9 that assigns a number correlating with the darkness of shell color. This is a useful tool for buyers and sellers to agree on a common language to describe the eggs that a particular strain lay.
The FBCM hen goes through a cycle laying the darkest eggs early in her cycle, then the shell will lighten as the season progresses.
If you’re interested in breeding Olive Eggers (a green laying breed mixed with a brown laying breed), the FBCM will give you the darkest shade of olive in the resulting offspring.
FBCM can be difficult to find and are not usually offered in feed stores or hatcheries. If you’re interested in the breed you can start by contacting the Marans of America Club. You can also find breeders through rare chicken forums.
If ordering chicks or hatching eggs be sure to ask for a photo of both the parents and the egg color before purchasing. Also, check credentials. There have been rumors of people artificially darkening the shells of some eggs meant for sale.