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Black Copper Marans: Complete Breed Guide

When you want a beautiful bird for the flock, look no further than the gorgeous Black Copper Marans. Although this is a dual purpose bird, the Black Copper Marans is bound to be a popular addition to your yard. If you’re looking to get some new Black Copper Marans chickens, this complete breed guide will give you everything you need to know about them.

Let’s get started.

History of Black Copper Marans Chickens

young black copper maran rooster
Photo credit: Flickr

There are several varieties of the Marans chicken, with the original being known as poule de Marans. The chickens were bred in the La Rochelle region of southwest France and were called “swamp chickens”, due to the area being marshy. When the local farmers started breeding the birds with barnyard chickens and gamecocks from Russia and India, the Marandaise fowl was born.

Throughout the years, the Marans varieties were further enhanced. Breeders crossed them with Brahmas, Coucou de Malines, Croad Langshan, Gatinaise, and Coucou de Rennes chickens. The ancestors of the Marans as we know them today came about from this experimentation.

In France, the Marans were known for their red or brown colored eggs. The plumage was another story. However, a long attempt began with a goal to unify the varieties of Marans throughout France. In 1921, a breeder known as Mrs. Rousseau started producing Cuckoo Marans, a breed that remains popular, to develop a standard color.

In 1930, France developed a breed standard for the Marans. They named the chicken breed “Marans” after the French port. Two years later, there were six officially recognized Marans types: white/black, black copper, ermine, silver cuckoo, gold cuckoo, and red. For several years, these varieties thrived in France.

Then the wars hit. Post-war France was devastated, and the Marans had nearly gone extinct. Recognizing how dire the situation was for the breed, the French Department of Agriculture went to work and started a breeding program. Together with the efforts of amateur breeds, France brought this beautiful breed of chicken back from near-oblivion.

Black Copper Marans Breed Standard and Appearance

black copper maran hen
Photo credit: Flickr

The Black Copper Marans is one type of Marans — a dual purpose breed of chicken. And there’s no denying that it’s lovely. Black Copper Marans are covered in rich black feathers that have a greenish tint in sunlight. Their hackle feathers, though, are a stunning coppery red on both hens and roosters. Additionally, roosts have copper saddle feathers.

Black Copper Marans have clean legs; red combs, wattles, face, and earlobes; orange eyes; and a wide V body that is strong and sturdy. They’re hardy birds. Male Black Copper Marans weigh between 7-8 lbs, and the hens are around 6.5 lbs. While bantam Marans exist, they are extremely hard to find.

American Poultry Association

Did you know that, while the Black Copper Marans have a long and interesting history, they have only been recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) since 2011? Well, now you do. France has recognized Marans chickens since the 1930s, as has the Poultry Club of Great Britain.

In the UK, clean-legged Marans are recognized, while France recognizes sparse feathering and clean legs.

The universal breed standard is all red wattles, combs, lobes, and face. The beak must be horn-colored, strong and slightly hooked. The shakes and feet should be pink or slate, with the soles a white tone to match the bird’s skin. For the Black Copper Marans to be considered true to the breed standard, its copper must be copper — no blond or mahogany tones allowed. Males must have black breast, and there has to be a black triangle on the wings.

Sexing Black Copper Marans Chicks

black baby chicks
Photo credit: Flickr

If you have some Black Copper Marans chicks, you may be wondering how to sex them. The chicks are monomorphic, meaning that you’re not going to be able to sex them by appearance alone. At least, not for a little while.

Around 8 weeks old, male Marans chicks start to develop a dark red on their shoulders and wings—the beginnings of saddle feathers. Females, in comparison, only have reddish tones on their neck and chest. If you’re looking to sex your chicks, you can wait until then.

Personality and Temperament

You will love having Black Copper Marans in your flock. These birds are often gentle, quiet, and tolerant. The hens are far more docile than the males, however. Due to the history of gamecocks being part of the genetic makeup, you can expect that the roosters are going to be slightly aggressive. If you have other roosters around the yard, there could be confrontations.

That said, many Black Copper Marans keepers report that their roosters are laid-back. It truly depends on the bird and their lineage.

However, these are not very companionable birds. Some breeds of chicken will want to sit on your lap and get petted. The Black Copper Marans isn’t that kind of bird. They are very active and want to roam around the yard without any restrictions. When they receive enough exercise, they will also tolerate confinement well enough.

Do you live somewhere with extreme temperatures? This resilient breed is great for a northern climate that receives a lot of snow or has cooler temperatures. As long as you give your Black Copper Marans plenty of shelter, they will survive a cold winter without issue.

How Much Space Do Marans Need?

Black Copper Marans are a fairly large bird once they are fully matured, so you can’t expect them to tolerate small enclosures for long. You want to make sure each bird has about 2-3 square feet of space within the coop. Outside, Black Copper Marans need 8-10 square feet minimum to be healthy. The more space you give them, the happier these birds will be!

Remember, cramped conditions can cause behavioral issues, such as pecking and feather picking.

On that note, make sure you provide a free roam space for your Black Copper Marans. They are very adept at foraging for their food and will want to get most of their nutrition from roaming around.

Egg-Laying Habits

black copper maran eggs
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Now that we know what Black Copper Marans look and act like, let’s talk about their egg production capabilities. How many eggs do Black Copper Marans lay on average? What do those eggs look like?

Time to find out.

While Black Copper Marans are dual-purpose chickens, they are only average egg-layers. Black Copper Marans hens lay between 2-3 eggs a week, or 150-200 eggs a year. However, there is one reason why their eggs are sought after: the color. Their eggs often look like they are made of dark chocolate. The striking exterior makes these eggs popular in French cooking, since Black Copper Marans produce the darkest eggs.

Egg-laying generally starts at 5-6 months a year, but some hens won’t begin laying until they are 8 months old. Once your hens start laying eggs, they will do so regularly. You don’t have to worry about Black Copper Marans hens going broody, though. The hens can be attentive, and they will watch over their chicks if they hatch.

Feeding Black Copper Marans

As mentioned earlier, this breed loves to forage. Like all chickens, Black Copper Marans are omnivorous and enjoy a wide range of foods. You can be confident in letting your Marans wander the yard, dealing with the pests hiding in the grass. But if you want your Black Copper Marans to be in tip-top shape, make sure you are giving them a nutritionally balanced pellet feed.

Marans also enjoy vegetables and fresh fruit. You can toss apples, berries, bananas, broccoli, and spinach to your flock for added nutrition. They will also happily consume leftover pasta, rice, and bread.

Never give your chickens uncooked beans, raw potatoes, avocado, chocolate, citrus, garlic, apricot, uncooked rice, or anything that is high in salt and fat. Such foods will make your chickens horribly ill.

Also, if you leave your Black Copper Marans to free range, you want to make sure they aren’t encountering any poisonous plants:

  • Morning Glory
  • Daffodil
  • Azalea
  • Iris
  • Jimson Weed
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Bracken Fern
  • Foxglove
  • Tulips

Health and Medical Issues

black copper maran hen with hand
Photo credit: Flickr

Like anything alive in this world, Black Copper Marans can become ill. Knowing some of the common health and medical problems can help you figure out what’s affecting your birds or how to prevent it from happening. Black Copper Marans are susceptible to intestinal parasites, vent prolapse, vet gleet, egg binding, lice, mites, and bumblefoot.

Earlier, it was mentioned that Marans do well in cooler temperatures. This is true but with one small caveat. Marans have a single comb, and that means they can develop frostbite. If the weather is becoming unbearably cold, you will have to provide the coop with warm bedding. Make sure your coop roof is ventilated.

Is the Black Copper Marans Chicken Right For You?

There are many reasons to choose Black Copper Marans for your flock. Being that they are a dual purpose breed, they can supplement the number of eggs produced each year (up to 200 eggs a year) and also provide meat for your family. That said, if you’re looking to get the most eggs possible, this breed might be a disappointment. You also shouldn’t expect them to be overly friendly and follow you around.

On the other hand, if you want to gather gorgeous dark chocolate eggs, the Black Copper Marans is for you! While hens that lay the darkest eggs also lay the fewest eggs, you will enjoy the novelty of these eggs. Plus, you can make some serious money selling Black Copper Marans eggs.

Really, it comes down to what you’re looking for. If you want beautiful birds that lay eggs and provide meat, the breed is great. Anything else shouldn’t be expected of them.


Hopefully, this Black Copper Marans complete breed guide has answered all of your questions about this type of bird. They are very common in France and are very beautiful to have around the yard. If you’re in North America, finding this breed might be difficult but worthwhile, especially if you want a colorful and quiet flock. Besides, you can’t turn down a chance to try their eggs!