The French Wheaten Marans (always written in the plural and pronounced Ma-Ron) was developed during the 1920’s near the town of Marans, North of La Rochelle in Poitou Charente, France. The original Marans had lightly feathered legs, something that can still be seen in French birds. Many strains of Wheaten Marans (non standard in the UK) still have reasonable amounts of feathering on the legs and are often referred to as ‘French Marans’ because of this. UK Marans tend to have clean shanks so are not called “French”
The British Poultry Standards lists feathered shanks as a serious defect. As with many utility type breeds around this time, there was great pressure to export the Marans before the type was properly fixed (which took longer due to the number of breeds that were used to create it). The original birds were producing many variations from the standard type but when it was brought to England in 1929, the type was fixed and by the mid 1930’s, the first Cuckoo Marans entered the British Poultry Standards.
The French Wheaten Marans are thought to be made up from quite a number of very old breeds: Barred Plymouth Rock, Coucou de Malines, Croad Langshan, and Faverolles but also some Rennes (this is a place in Brittany and thought to be a cuckoo breed), Gatinaise and possibly Brakel depending on who you speak to.
There are a few different colours of Marans and this one is called Wheaten. It is a broadly brown and cream bird and is actually quite stunning, and one of our personal favourites. They lay a good number of rich reddish brown eggs. As they take a longer time to produce this colour than whiter eggs the breed is not as prolific a producer of eggs but still produce a very respectable number.