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.
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.