Monday, July 18, 2005

Marans start laying

I've been expecting our Rhode Island Reds to start laying any day now. But the Cuckoo Marans, at least one of them, beat them to it.

We got one small, rather scruffy looking egg on Saturday, then this still small, but beautifully smooth and glossy one on Sunday. (Shown here with eggs from a Dominique and a Leghorn for comparison.)

From what I'd read online, Marans don't normally lay until 6 - 8 months old, so this was a happy surprise.

The first eggs from early layers are usually small. My mother-in-law calls them "pullet eggs".

Marans eggs are dark. Eggs from hatchery chickens will probably not get as dark as some of the lovely pictures you can find on the internet (here in English and here in French), but they're still considerably darker than other brown eggs.

Marans are a quiet chicken, not flighty like Leghorns. Unfortunately this seems to mean that they get eaten by predators more often. Out of the ten Marans we ordered in the spring, we've only got five left.

Other people have told me that non-white egg layers follow a pattern: The eggs are not their darkest for the first few months. Then they develop more color, and are as dark as they'll ever be. The following year(s) the eggs are lighter in color.

I've noticed that it does seem to be true with the breeds we've raised.

Note: Marans is both the singular and the plural form of this breed's name.


Rurality said...

We should have a two - four month wait for more green eggs. The Ameraucanas we had before were very slow to start laying.

We've got only one Lakenvelder left, and her eggs are usually more of a white than a cream color. Occasionally she lays a cream-colored one though.

Also, only one Buff Orpington and one Dominique remain.

From our first group of chickens, we've got 4 remaining (of 15), and from our second group (a couple of months younger), only 2 remaining (of 15).

robin andrea said...

I've never seen eggs such a rich dark color before. Beautiful. I'm going to have to do a search on the Cuckoo Marans-- I've never seen one of those either and am now curious.
Sorry hear about the dwindling number of chickens. Still thinking about a fence?

Anonymous said...

Man - I can't wait to have some chickens around. Knowing me, I'll TOTALLY geek out on them, then freak out when I lose one or two. But I'm gonna do it anyways.

And I would intend to butcher them if I can get the confidence up to do so.

Why I would freak if a predator gets them, but can entertain the thought of butchering them myself is a mystery I am still exploring.

R.Powers said...

Okay, I learned something today. I had never heard of Cuckoo Marans. At our place we tried raising Idiot Morons...that would be Guinea Hens.

Anonymous said...

The Marans lay such beautiful eggs....I should get a couple to round out my egg color scheme :P I love all the varying shades of green/grey/turquoise my Ameracaunas give me, and my brown egg layers all give different shades and sizes.

I am a total chicken nerd. Mine are pampered, and verge on officially being family pets; I just ask for eggs, fertilizer, and entertainment in return.

Since moving out to our homestead I have discovered I enjoy little as much as I enjoy sitting with my hens and tossing out a bit of scratch on a sunny afternoon.

Keeping my fingers crossed that your chicken luck improves!


Rurality said...

RD, yeah we need a fence in the worse way! But the funds are being used in another area right now. It will be a few months before we can outlay the $$.

Thingfish23 - they are so much fun. I am exactly like you described, except that I'm more used to losing chickens now I guess. I have definitely cried over a few of them.

FC, LOL! Are they really that dumb? We've never had those before. Started to get some, but I heard that they were mean to chickens. :)

Sarah I think I'm a chicken nerd too! They really are entertaining. And when you go to feed them - I think it was Shannon who mentioned it before - you have such a chicken fan club!

L said...

gorgeous photo! eggs never looked so good...

susannah eanes said...

wow.... had no idea how lucky we have been. in 4 years of raising chickens in 2 completely different environments, we've only lost 6 to predators --and one of those was our own hound. unless you count the 50+ we've slaughtered for the table. we've narrowed down to about 10 different historic breeds that we just love. at the moment we're getting ready to slaughter another 20 young cockerels, which will put us back to the core group of 15 laying hens & 4 roos, plus we'll have 6-8 new pullets we'll keep from the latest batch. the rest of the pullets & a few young cocks are going to historic brattonsville, near rock hill, sc.

our marans hens are wonderful, and the one rooster we have is pater familias of the entire flock. he is huge with the biggest wattles you've ever seen. we would heartily recommend this breed to anyone.

it may be that the roos do watch over the flock well enough to keep most predators at bay. the only problems we had was in the winter, and we think that barn rats or possums may have been the culprits. so far no probs from neighborhood dogs or other wildlife. our barnyard is on the edge of a 4600-acre timber farm, and there is a plethora of wildlife. i tend to think the proximity of the chicken yard to the house & activities may be keeping some of them at bay. but who knows? maybe we've just been very fortunate.

good luck to you and don't give up. love reading your blog!

susannah eanes said...

i realize i neglected to say our chickens are outdoors free to roam during the day, and go in by themselves at night into the coop, which is converted from two stalls of the horse barn... we do close up the doors at night & let them out every morning.

Rurality said...

Thanks L!

Sophronia, we've just got a bad bad bad coyote problem in the area. They're bold - you see them even in broad daylight.

The Marans really do seem to be sweet chickens. The little pullet that's laying has given us 4 tiny eggs in 5 days now. Wish the Easter Eggers would hurry up!

shannon said...

We had a massive chinken crisis while I was in hospital - I'm going to blog about it soon, but the lesson learned? Do not let your in laws farm sit. They are replacing the flock for us money wise - I guess from our old supplier, but we're still going to order marans, some spanish white face, and guineas in August. When I left, I had a 20 chicken flock. There are now 5, yes 5!!! left. I was gone for four days grrrrrrr don't get me started!

Rurality said...

Shannon, oh no! Every time I think I've licked the problem we will lose another one. But all at once like that has got to be traumatic.

none said...

fascinating picture; I have never seen naturally colored eggs like that. They are like little treasures.

Rurality said...

Thanks Renata. I kind of have this "collect the whole set" mentality when it comes to colored egg layers. :)

Anonymous said...

silkiechicks said...
I've just recently become interested in the Marans. I sold all my standard hens (Australorps)
a few months ago. I was going to replace them with RI Reds, but I see the popularity of the Marans, and of course brown eggs. Are they considered prolific egg layers? Are they broody? Does anyone know a hatchery that sells them in the fall?
Thanks, M in Georgia