Marans are new to our farm.
We managed to gather blood from five lines
from four prominant Marans breeders.
We've built our new line from Ackroyd,
Staffordshire, Lakeview/Fitch, and Fugate strains.
The trouble we have had trying to acquire
this breed has been very worthwhile.
Our outcrossed line sports a consistantly
dark, well formed, large brown egg.
The hens have been excellent layers
through all of our awful weather conditions.
Our hens have held onto the instinct to
brood, as well.
We actually started with these birds wondering
if we were going to be pleased with the breed,
their productiveness, and their nature.
We had heard a number of stories concerning their poor fertility and weak constitution. That's why we immediately started our flock by outcrossing strains. We assumed that if we were going to build a flock we can be proud of, we would have to put in a few good years of breeding. Starting with a long, heavy outcrossing would give us the diversity we needed to succeed with our selection later. So far, things are working out much better than we ever anticipated. We've been happily surprised on every level.
Marans are an intelligent, strong and healthy bird.
They will make for excellent utility birds, and we've decided to breed them as such. In the next few seasons, we'll be selecting them for uniformity, as well as egg color and productiveness. We will be making 100's of chicks this spring, and raising a good number of those to join our stand.
At this point, there is no APA Standard for us to breed our line to.
There is a group people who are trying to have them admitted to the Standard, and they have developed a guideline.
We'll be looking those people up in order to find out what the proposed Standard will be, and we'll use that as our guide for the time being.
In the meantime, we'll be dumping a lot of feed in these guys. They are fast growers, and voracious eaters. They expend a lot of energy in their daily lives, and it shows in their feeders.
The Marans have taken their place here, and asserted themselves as the "Top Dog" among our breeds. They are a dominant, forceful breed. They are very headstrong, and require some attention to keep them in line. This is the first year that I have ever raised a Cockeral that had any question about who was boss around here. I had two of them from this flock. Neither bird ever spurred, or even tried to attack me, but they made daily "runs" at me for the best part of the summer. Of course, I ran straight at them. At first, I could land a well placed boot before they could get away. After getting a few sore butts, they got a little smarter. They'd run at me, then turn and high tail it out of there before they were in boot danger. After banging my head on the roof of their run a couple dozen times, I got a little smarter, too. I started to initiate the "chase game". After a few weeks of that business, the two bad boys caught on.
The reason for this story is this... If you're going to have Marans around, you may need to keep the cocks in line. They'll try you every day, and if you're not careful, you may end up with an agressive, handful of a bird on your hands. If you assert yourself early, you can save a good strong breeder from the soup pot!!!