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Cuckoo Marans Chickens: Breed & Care Guide

The Cuckoo Marans, like many other variations of the Marans breed, has seen a recent surge of popularity in recent years. However, obtaining a Cuckoo Marans or two for your flock may be difficult. That is because the Cuckoo Marans color variety is still rather rare in North America. It is important to find a reputable hatchery for Cuckoo Marans chicks. To help, this guide will point you in the right direction for hatcheries, as well as how to raise and care for Cuckoo Marans chicks and adults.

Let’s get started.

Cuckoo Marans Breed Overview

maran chicken head

Check out the details of this beautiful and rare chicken breed:

Weight5.5 to 8.0 lbs
Lifespan7 years on average
PurposeDual purpose
Egg Production200-300 eggs per year
Egg Size and ColorLarge brown or dark brown, speckled
Maturation8-9 months
Cold HardinessHigh
Beginner FriendlinessHigh

History & Background of Cuckoo Marans

cuckoo marans chicken

The origin of the Cuckoo Marans is identical to that of other Marans chickens. Hailing from the Marans region of France, these birds have been bred with many others but were more fully developed during the 1800s. Originally, the Marans breed was designed for meat and eggs, but their plumage soon made them a desirable exhibition bird as well. During the 1900s, the Cuckoo Marans made its way to England, where its popularity exploded. People loved the dark brown eggs.

In 1929, the French variety was shown off by the Poultry Breeds Society of France in Paris. Unlike the French Black Copper Marans — another popular variation — most Cuckoo Marans do not have feathers on their legs. Instead, they look more like Plymouth Barred Rocks.

Cuckoo Marans Chicks Growth & Development

If you have raised chicks before, you will find that raising Cuckoo Marans is a similar experience. For those who are going about it for the first time, here are some things you need to know about the various life stages:

AgeHeightWeightPhysical Characteristics
Week 14 inches2 oz.Chicks will transition from down to adolescent plumage. The wing feathers are the first to develop.
Week 46 inches0.25-0.50 lbsAdolescent feathers have grown, revealing the barred cuckoo pattern that this breed is known for. The comb begins to grow.
Week 810-11 inches1-1.5 lbsTrapezoidal body shape is now visible. About 2/3 the size of a full grown Cuckoo Marans chicken. Adolescent feathers start molting.
Week 1212-16 inches2-3 lbsCockerels and pullets begin to look different. Combs and wattles have fully grown.
Week 2014-20 inches3-5 lbsMost of the growth is complete.
Week 5215-22 inches5.5-8.0 lbsNow fully grown, your Cuckoo Marans hens will begin to lay eggs.

0-5 Weeks of Development

two marans baby chicks

Cuckoo Marans are an auto-sexing breed, meaning that you can tell apart males and females from Day 1. Cuckoo Marans chicks have dark feathers with lighter patches across the wings and belly. While both sexes have a light spot on their head, males have a larger, paler spot. Females tend to have smaller dots with a defined edge.

During the first couple weeks of life, your Cuckoo Marans chicks are going to be curious and energetic. They may huddle together under the heat lamp, but their inquisitiveness will be a defining characteristic.

As your chicks reach weeks 2 and 3, they will get a little taller and slimmer; their roundness disappears. Feathers start to sprout on the wingtips. You may even notice some barring coming through on the wings.

Around the fourth week, male chicks begin to grow a yellowish comb. Female chicks will have a paler comb that is much harder to see. Wattles start to develop during the 5th week.

Be sure to provide your young chicks with a starter feed that is around 18-20% protein for the first couple of weeks.

6-12 Weeks of Development

Week 6 marks another developmental milestone for your Cuckoo Marans chicks. The cockerels will have gained a redder tint to their wattles and combs. Both sexes will have gained some weight and size, and their legs will look muscular. Individual quirks will become more noticeable; some chickens will be daring and friendly while others are more skittish. Young cockerels will even attempt to crow.

Weeks 7 and 8 begin a molting phase, transforming your adolescent chickens into more mature images of themselves. Once the molting is complete, you can introduce them to the rest of your flock.

Around this time, you can start transitioning your chickens to a 16% layer feed and other solid foods. Try giving your chickens are variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and blueberries.

13-22 Weeks of Development

cuckoo maran pullet

Your chickens will continue growing up to around 22 weeks old. During this time, they will go from looking like miniature versions of adult Cuckoo Marans to reaching their full size and weight. You pullets will start laying eggs during this time, as well.

Expect around 200-300 eggs per year from your Cuckoo Marans hens. Just keep in mind that your eggs may vary in color, depending on their bloodline.

Where to Get Cuckoo Marans Chicks

Being that Cuckoo Marans are rarer than other color varieties in North America, you want to make sure you are getting them from a reputable hatchery. Trustworthy breeders are going to have their information, including their warranties and policies, displayed in an easy to find location on their site. You should know what you are getting when you click the button to make your purchase. Should something go wrong during the transportation of your chicks, you want to make sure your purchase is protected.

Transparency is also important. A good hatchery will not allow you to show up in person. This is to prevent any diseases from spreading throughout their chickens and other fowl. However, they should be willing to send you a video tour or photos of their facilities. Furthermore, the hatchery must be open with disclosing the color of the eggs the hens lay.

Cuckoo Marans have a tendency to lay a wide range of browns. If you want a specific color, then you are going to have to find chicks with that gene. Otherwise, you won’t know what you are getting.

List of Hatcheries Selling Cuckoo Marans

cuckoo maran rooster lie down

Here is a lineup of highly rated hatcheries to consider when looking for Cuckoo Marans chicks:

1. Hoover’s Hatchery

Over 75 years of experience, this family-owned business raises over 100 different breeds of chickens, turkeys, quail, pheasants, and geese. Hoover’s Hatchery offers healthy chicks at a cheaper than average price. You find Marans of different colors here, as well as English and French varieties of the Cuckoo Marans. You can get refunds for any unhealthy chicks in your order.

Currently, Hoover’s Hatchery is shipping out Cuckoo Marans chicks throughout the year. They have a minimal order of 5 chicks per breed.

2. Cackle Hatchery

With decades of experience in breeding and hatching chickens, Cackle Hatchery keeps plenty of Cuckoo Marans in stock. That said, the Cuckoo Marans they breed will not provide you with the darkest eggs. You can find both English and French variations of the Cuckoo Marans, meaning that you can get chickens with either bare or feathered legs.

Cackle Hatchery has a small minimal order of 3 chicks. They also offer hatching eggs, starter pullets, and vaccinations (for an additional fee).

Here’s a video of all their Cuckoo Marans:

3. Murray McMurray Hatchery

One of the largest and most reputable hatcheries in the United States, Murray McMurray Hatchery is one of the best places to get Cuckoo Marans chicks. They have a huge 26,000 square foot facility and over 70 breeds of fowl available. You can get chicks shipped to your home well into the month of October, which is later than most hatcheries.

The minimum order size is 6 chicks, and there is an additional fee if you order less than 15.

4. The Valley Hatchery

Out of the hatcheries on this list, The Valley Hatchery is the newest. Since their founding in 2009, The Valley Hatchery has achieved much success as a source of rare chicken breeds. Currently, they have over a 100 different breeds, including chickens and ducks. One advantage of choosing this hatchery for your Cuckoo Marans is the owner’s connections to Marans. They have both the French and English varieties available and sell them at lower prices.

5. Mt. Healthy Hatchery

Founded in 1924, Mt. Healthy Hatcheries continues to be a family-owned and operated business that is highly reputable. They hatch over 3 million fowls each year. With a low minimal order of 3 chicks, Mt. Healthy Hatchery is popular with those who are just beginning to build a flock. Plus, this is one of the few places that have the rare Golden Cuckoo Marans in stock. They also include Marek’s disease vaccinations in each order and have a 100% Live Arrival Guarantee.

Selecting Healthy Chicks

free range maran hen

Once your chicks have arrived, it is time to look at their health. Unfortunately, some chicks fail to thrive, even if you do everything correctly. As such, it is important to determine their chances of survival right from the beginning. Ask yourself: Do these chicks look bright and curious? Are they interacting with one another and their surroundings? Chicks that look sleepy should perk right up when you place them in your hands.

Any chick that is lethargic or dull may not be in the best of health. You do not want chicks that sit still or are wobbly when walking around.

While holding onto a chick, look at their eyes, nostrils, and vents. Their backsides should be free of excrement and irritation. Study their feet, too. Early on, Cuckoo Marans chicks have yellowish skin. Any signs of injuries or missing toes are not good. Avoid chicks with chips or cracks in their beaks.

Chicks also need to be uniform in size. While it is fine to give runts a chance in most cases, it’s not the same with chickens. Runts tend to end up low on the pecking order, diminishing their chances of survival. Smaller than average chicks may also have a number of health issues that are hard to determine straightaway.

Adult Cuckoo Marans Appearance

Cuckoo Marans hens and roosters have some distinct physical differences. For instance, the hen has much darker coloring. You will see this both in silver and golden Cuckoo Marans. Furthermore, hens have shorter tail feathers. Their tails are straight and rigid, while roosters have longer, more flowy feathers. Roosters also have long hackle feathers that drape around their necks. These start developing around 6 weeks old.

Cuckoo Marans females have shorter combs, too. They are orange-red in color. Roosters combs are a deeper red and have a couple of points. Their wattles are also larger.

This video gives you some great breed details as well as a visual of what these chickens look like:

What is the Difference Between a Cuckoo Marans and a Barred Rock?

If you are new to the world of chickens, telling any barred or cuckoo variety apart is going to be a challenge. Cuckoo Marans and Barred Rocks look extremely similar. So how do you tell them apart?

The first way to tell the difference is in the name. Cuckoo and barred varieties of feathering mean two different things. If a bird has cuckoo coloring, it means that the lines of dark and light colors are not as distinct. The colors tend to blur together a little, creating murkier shades. Barred feathering is much more clean — almost like zebra stripes.

Secondly, take a look at their legs! Cuckoo Marans will have whitish-gray skin on their feet and legs. Barred Rocks, on the other hand, have yellow feet.

Cuckoo Marans Personality and Temperament

From the beginning, Cuckoo Marans chicks are agreeable. They are calmer than some breeds and love to be held. You will be able to pick apart Cuckoo Marans chicks from other breeds, because they are going to cling to you. However, as they age, they are not going to be as willing to sit on your lap. Instead, they will want to interact, receive a treat, and then go back to prowling around the yard. As with most Marans varieties, Cuckoo Marans are quite independent.

Although Cuckoo Marans can tolerate confinement, they also prefer free ranging. They should be allowed to roam for their own food once in a while.

Cuckoo Marans rarely have issues establishing themselves amid a pecking order. They are non-aggressive, but they know how to hold their own. The hens are far more tolerant of humans than the roosters. You should avoid letting children interact with Cuckoo Marans roosters, because they get very protective of the flock. If the child toddles too close, the rooster may feel the need to defend his family from a potential threat.

Final Thoughts on Cuckoo Marans Chicks

Hopefully, you now know everything you wanted to learn about Cuckoo Marans chicks and chickens. This is a wonderful auto-sexing breed that lays plenty of eggs once matured. Although the Cuckoo Marans variety is considered rare in North America, there are a number of reputable hatcheries with chicks ready for purchase. You could get a couple of these little cuties in no time. You are bound to love this beginner-friendly and productive breed.