Today’s chicken industry is unusual, to say the least. Trends are popping up involving chicken breeds that were almost entirely gone. One of the biggest trends involves adding chicken breeds to your flock that lay eggs in unusual colors.
Enter the Black Copper Maran.
This chicken breed is the talk of the town. Once you find out a little more about it, you’ll totally understand why.
What is a Black Copper Maran?
The Black Copper Maran is a specific type of Maran chicken breed that’s fairly new. Though it’s only been around for about 120 years, Marans have seen a lot of wild loops—including a close brush with extinction.
The actual breed itself was first cemented in the 1920s through 1930s, when it had a major popularity boom. If you’ve read the works of Ian Fleming, you might have also heard a mention of Black Copper Maran eggs in them. They were that popular.
During World War II, the breed was almost annihilated.
This breed was started up in France and originated from local “swamp chickens” that lived in the marsh areas. They got bred and mixed with Indonesian chicken breeds, and from there, breeds diversified.
Prior to the birds’ diversification, they were known as Marandaise foul. In their native land of France, you can still hear farmers refer to them as “poule de marans.” (Can you tell that this is a French thing yet?!)
The unique traits the birds inherited from their ancestors from India and Indonesia became pretty coveted. There are several varieties of Marans, with the Black Copper being the most popular.
What does a Black Copper Maran look like?
French Black Copper Marans are gorgeous—absolutely gorgeous. They are mostly black, with deep copper-brown plumage near the top of their heads and wings. They also have bright red wattles, ear lobes, combs, and faces.
For the most part, they are dark birds. The only part of them that is white is the soles of the feet. They are large, full-bodied birds, too. After all, they tend to be used for both egg and meat production.
Can you use Black Copper Maran chickens for meat?
Traditionally, these birds were seen as dual-purpose chickens. While most people don’t eat them anymore (their eggs became the bigger draw) they tend to be delicious if you do choose to process them.
What makes Black Copper Marans so famous for egg-laying?
Black Copper Marans are one of the best breeds to come out of Western France when it comes to egg production. They can lay up to 200 eggs per year and it’s said that their eggs are also incredibly tasty.
Of course, we’re not addressing the elephant in the room: the color of the egg.
The reason that people buy Black Copper Marans hens is because their eggs are dark brown. The pigment in the eggshells is so dark, it almost looks like they’re laying chocolate eggs. Since it’s a novelty egg color, people love it.
PRO TIP – Many Maran variations come close to Black Coppers in terms of egg color. The only one that gets close to these is the Blue Copper Maran’s. You can always tell a Maran by its dark egg color.
How do you house Black Copper Marans?
So, the next thing we should talk about is the care and keeping of Marans. Like other French chicken breeds, they tend to do well in colder climates. The coop itself can be small, with 4 square feet being enough space for a single chicken.
When it comes to outdoor time, then you’re going to have to make a splash. These birds really love having plenty of space to free-range. A minimum of 10 square feet per bird is ideal. Like with other chickens, you’re going to need protection from predators.
Roosters in this breed can be very confrontational, so you might not need too much protection. The bigger issue is making sure your roosters don’t hurt one another. Males can get territorial, so keep them separate.
How do you keep Black Copper Marans healthy?
In terms of food, they are not very demanding, You can give them basic chicken feed and they’ll be fine. They do well at foraging and will be able to supplement their food well with whatever they find.
They are fairly healthy birds, so the biggest issues you should watch for are parasites and mites. You should be able to keep care of them as long as you check them for mites and keep them parasite-free.
How much does a Black Copper Maran cost?
If you want to add a Black Copper Maran to your flock, you are going to have a bit of a hard time. The American Poultry Association only recently acknowledged them as a breed. (It happened in 2011 and they have their own Standard of Perfection.)
Stateside, you can potentially find a chicken for anywhere from $6 to $10. However, if you want to go to a breeder that specializes in show-worthy Marans, that number can jump up as high as $60.
With this breed, you really get what you pay for. Specialty-bred chickens will have a dark brown egg that looks chocolatey. If you go for a less specialized breeder, you might end up with eggs that are closer to a buff brown shade…and that’s just not cool.
What are Black Copper Maran personalities like?
For the most part, you can expect Black Copper Maran chickens to be pretty relaxed. Like many other egg-laying breeds, they aren’t looking for trouble. They are quiet, calm chickens that keep to themselves.
Do Black Copper Marans make good pets?
Believe it or not, yes. Most Marans are fairly affectionate and cuddly with their keepers, which makes them a smart pick. With that said, this is a chicken breed that is best suited for older children or slightly more experienced pet owners.
Because Maran roosters tend to get a little skittish or territorial, you may end up having a hard time getting them to be very nice to other roosters. If your child isn’t careful and leaves roosters together, it could get ugly.
Are Black Copper Marans good show birds?
It depends. This is a chicken breed that only recently got the acceptance it deserved from the APA. In the UK, it’s been accepted at shows for almost 90 years. In many cases, shows may not have a track record of judging them as winners.
By all means, a Black Copper Maran is a gorgeous bird that will turn heads. The eggs are definitely what make this breed stand out. Could it be a showstopper in the way that certain other breeds are? Possibly, but it’s more of a gamble.
How rare are Black Copper Marans?
It’s important to remember that the Marandaise Fowl family was almost entirely wiped out due to the sheer wreckage of World War II. Black Copper Marans are not the only birds to have experienced that level of endangerment, but many recovered faster than this one.
The truth is that Black Copper Marans are still very rare despite the new interest in them. With that said, how rare they will be depends almost entirely on where you live. In France, these birds are fairly common and can be bought for a lower price.
Stateside, things are different. Big time. Trying to find a Black Copper Maran breeder in America is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack. They are very rare in the United States and are likely to remain rare for at least five to ten years.
The breed itself is no longer considered to be endangered. It’s in recovery and has become fairly popular among heritage chicken breeds. Even so, the breed needs time before it can truly become commonplace.
People who love the idea of getting novelty eggs in their basket will love having a Black Copper Maran. These affectionate birds made headlines for creating some of the darkest eggs on the market.
As far as heritage breeds go, it’s hard to ignore how elegant these birds truly are. If you are yearning for dark eggs that James Bond would approve of, then by all means, check out this breed.
Just…you know…prepare to pay a pretty penny for it.