In August 2019, we moved a successful Marans breeding program from Magnolia Marans to Belle Oaks. Dan invested much time into breeding the birds from the Bev Davis line. Heavy bodied birds with proper foot feathering, copper hackles and saddles in the cocks with no halos, moderately colored copper hackles in the hens, dark eggs, and friendly dispositions are what we inherited from Dan and will continue to strive for. Please see below text from his website as I could not have said it better!
“Black coppers are known for their extra large, very dark brown “chocolate” eggs, and are a wonderful dual purpose breed. The Davis line shows a nice balance of birds that regularly conform to the Standard, while still maintaining the dark egg color. They are a very docile breed, with the great majority of our hens being curious, even friendly. Our roosters show no, to only mild, aggression. Mean, aggressive roosters will take the enjoyment out of any flock, and disposition is a trait we breed for. In addition, we breed in a spiral rotation to maintain genetic diversity in our flocks.”
“Just maintaining a flock of good black copper Marans takes work, improving a flock takes years. A very small percentage of chicks hatched by a breeder working to improve actually make it back into the breeding program for the following season. Black Copper Marans are notorious for being a heavily culled breed, so when you buy from Magnolia Forest you are buying from a breeder that is breeding birds to meet the APA Standard, while at the same time trying to maintain the dark egg color that these chickens are famous for. This is why we chose the Davis line as our foundation, Bev was known for keeping a keen eye towards the egg color while still breeding towards the standard. Our original chicks were purchased from Julie Akers, who got her birds directly from Bev, so we have benefitted from all of the work that these two women did before us.”
“We will allow some minor faults as long as we maintain a #5 or better on the Marans egg color chart, but we won’t sacrifice the standard to breed solely for #8 and #9 eggs. We aren’t ashamed to admit that there are breeders with eggs a little darker than ours, but ours are beautiful, and fairly uniform throughout the flocks.”
“Hatcheries are in the business of selling chicks; roosters breed hens and those chicks are sold. They are still black copper Marans, and can be advertised as such, but just go to those websites and look at the pictures of the chickens and eggs. When the breeding stock isn’t meticulously selected, the differences are obvious. Just as it takes years to improve a flock, a good flock can be ruined in just a few seasons.”
“Another big difference with hatchery birds is the tendency of a hen to go broody. A broody hen is a hen that will sit on, and hatch, a clutch of eggs. A broody hen will stop laying eggs while she sits and raises her young, so that is a trait that is discouraged and bred out of production birds. At Magnolia Forest, we encourage broodiness in our hens. Chicks that are hatched and raised with the flocks never have to go through the troubles involved with introducing new birds, and most often the birds we keep for ourselves will come from these pen hatched chicks. Broody hens are great for the person that may want to hatch their own chicks, but doesn’t want to learn how to use an incubator. 60% of our current hens will go broody at one time or another.”
We have Black Copper, Blue Copper and Splash Marans at Belle Oaks. For more information on availability of fertile eggs, chicks, and pullets/cockerels, click here.