Cuckoo Marans Chicks!

One of our Cuckoo Marans hens went broody several weeks ago. We put 6 fertile eggs under her and let her hatch them out. 21 days later, she had six fuzzy balls of Marans chickie love chirping around under her.  Another broody hen is sitting on 9 more chicks. Six pullets are spoken for already. If you’re interested in a Maran pullet or rooster, reserve them now.

This new mama doesn't know what hit her. Note the cracked eggshell.

Cuckoo Marans are one of the heritage breeds we raise here at Sunstone. Originally from Marans, France, they are excellent dual purpose old-fashioned chickens that have the potential to lay really dark brown eggs, similar to the Welsummer. Our breeding stock is from Murray McMurray Hatchery. Not all of our hens lay really dark brown eggs which was originally a disappointment to me. Some are dark brown, some are dark speckled and some are brown like a standard brown egg layer. When we hatch out our chicks, we are selecting for egg color as well as how quickly the pullets start laying their eggs.

The hens have a good body weight at maturity, similar to a Rhode Island Red, and I can attest to the delicious quality of the roosters. One of the roosters in particular achieved a large size very quickly and we are using him as our breeding rooster since we really utilize the “dual” purpose of these birds. They have white skin which apparently is prized in Europe over the yellow skin of American breeds.

They are also good foragers. When first raising these chicks, I let them free range wherever they wanted to go, only tossing them some scratch to bring them back to their pen. When it was getting close to laying time, I starting putting out layer feed. The hens stared at it like it was alien food. “You want me to eat what? That?” That really tipped me off to how manufactured these animal foodstuffs are. I’m trying to get away from store bought feed and just provide a mix of grains, goat milk and alfalfa, along with Thorvin kelp. I want to avoid using fish meal and soy meal. When I get a formula down that the hens do well on, I’ll post it.

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6 Responses to Cuckoo Marans Chicks!

  1. Anne says:

    Thanks for the post on your chicks. I am getting started here in KY, and am having trouble finding soy-free to get going. In FL, it was easier. What luck are you having with your mix, milk, kelp, etc…and what are your ratios for a small flock…we would like to go eggs, and possibly dual purpose. Any input is appreciated. Thanks, Anne

  2. HI Anne,
    The only soy free feed I’ve heard of is from Countryside Naturals. I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve been experimenting with different feeds and grains, but haven’t come up with any great formula yet.

    What I’m doing now is feeding a mix of organic layer (with soy) and whole grains (wheat, oats, milo, some corn). I think the key if you want modern egg laying capabilities (and I’m not talking maximum egg production, just what most people expect to get from laying hens) is to feed some kind of high protein feed like soy. The soy-free feed has fish meal, which has it’s own issues, but hopefully it’s not GMO.

    I think the thing to do for protein is to free range and make sure the hens have enough bugs to fulfill their protein needs, then feed a mix of whole grains (sprouted or not) as a “scratch” feed, with some alfalfa. I’m planting high protein legumes (siberian pea shrub, locust) around the pen, along with comfrey and letting high protein weeds exist (tumbleweed/kochia), but it’s hard to provide enough of this fresh green feed unless they have a huge area to roam, otherwise, they just eat/kill everything.

    I think supplementing with kelp is good for them, but I don’t think it makes a difference in terms of their protein needs and egg laying capabilities. Ditto with the apple cider vinegar I put in their water. I think it makes them healthier.

    They love goat milk, but in the summer I can’t feed it. It attracts too many flies and makes their poo runny if they eat too much. So I’ll feed them cheese curd that has spoiled. Because we only have three goats we don’t have that much milk to spare for the chickens right now. We make a lot of cheese, yogurt, soap, etc.

    If I was adamant about soy free feed and couldn’t find any locally, I would do mixed fermented grains, cheese curd or yogurt (if I had access to raw milk -I wouldn’t buy store bought for the chickens), kelp, alfalfa, and give them lots of greens/weeds everyday. I think they will lay fine with this. The problem is when they get confined to small spaces as often happens with urban chicken keeping.

    Good luck and let me know how your experimenting goes.

  3. StevieAnn Hansen says:

    Hi, I’m about get a few Maran hens and possibly a Rooster and wanted to know If this certain bred is a good broody hen. Will she lay eggs and hatch them ? And when will I know they are ready to start having chicks? I also live in FL so should I have a fan for the summer days when it gets hot?

  4. Hi StevieAnn, Sorry to take so long to respond! Marans are a good broody hen. However, only a third of my Marans go broody, but those that do are good mommas. Hens will lay eggs…but only broody hens will hatch them out. You have to wait for the hen to go broody first. Shade and plenty of clean water are most important for hot temperatures. I’m sure they’d enjoy a fan, but I’ve never done that or seen anyone do it. Have fun!

  5. Heather says:

    I’m interested in maran chicks. Do you ship and how much for the chicks?

  6. Sorry, I do not ship chicks.

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