Black Copper Marans: I admit it, I was WRONG. September 14, 2012

If you keep a flock of pet chickens, you probably already know that Black Copper Marans are one of THE trendiest breeds right now. Everyone seems to want them. Aside from Penedesencas (which can be too flighty and nervous for the home flock), they lay the darkest brown eggs out there. The eggs are 80% cacao, I tell my husband. But the truth is I never really wanted any for my own flock.

Black Copper Marans egg compared to others

The Black Copper Marans egg–this is why people love BCM! Contrast the color with the middle (Welsummer) egg and a regular brown egg on the right.

I admit it; I was wrong.

The thing is, I never want the New Big Thing just because it’s the New Big Thing. I LOVE my chickens! But, somehow, for a very long time I missed getting the BCM Fever that so many other backyard chicken people have had. I thought people just wanted them for the egg color–and maybe a lot do! But there’s a lot more to Black Copper Marans than that.

I’ve got the BCM Fever, now.

Don’t get me wrong–I love pretty eggs! I keep wheaten Ameraucanas for blue eggs, and also various Easter Eggers, and even my favorite of favorites, Favaucanas, for green eggs. I have Speckled Sussex and Brahmas and Rhode Island Reds (and many more!) for regular brown eggs. For chocolate eggs, I have Welsummers and Silver Cuckoo Marans. Those are rare-ish, but easy enough to get with a little planning. They’re not nearly as unavailable as Black Copper Marans. Black Copper Marans can be almost impossible to get.

Seriously, Black Copper Marans are like Cabbage Patch Dolls in the holiday season of 1983. (Does that date me too much?) What I’m getting at is that it’s a good thing we don’t stock Black Copper Marans chicks on actual shelves, because I have a feeling people would get stomped and elbowed in the rush. A couple years ago, we opened ordering for the new year in January, and all the Black Copper Marans we expected to have for the entire years were reserved within three days–THREE DAYS!

So, I was happy with my Welsummers and their pretty, dark speckled eggs.

Welsummer hen

Welsummers can also help you fight zombies.

Maybe I was a little less happy with my Silver Cuckoo Marans, which didn’t seem to be especially friendly, and they weren’t especially calm, either. They were bossy, too. So, the idea of elbow-fighting for another plumage of Marans… meh. Black Copper Marans: I just wasn’t interested. I get the New Big Thing only when it’s been a few years and it is no longer the New Big Thing, but is instead the tested, reliable thing. In fact, I often like to get the Old Classic Thing. I like classic heirloom chicken breeds just like I like classic heirloom vegetables–brandywines, yum! Scarlet Runner beans–yum! I even do classic, heirloom appliances: I have a 1940s Sunbeam Mixmaster and a 1950s Detroit Jewel. Those beauties will be around long after I am. I want my appliances to be reliable, my vehicles to be reliable… and I want my chicken breeds to be reliable, too.

If you’ve been following our blog, though, you know that despite not seeking them out, I ended up with some Black Copper Marans eggs from our Eggs for Education assortment when we ran the Mr. or Ms. Mother Hen contest with Brinsea in the spring. If you order an assortment of eggs (or chicks!) you get what you get. As it turns out, of all the lavender orps that hatched, only one was a hen. Of all the Ameraucanas that hatched, only one was a hen, too. Bummer. But of the Black Copper Marans–the breed I was really least interested in–ALL the eggs hatched and ALL but one were female.

It was evidently just meant to be. I was meant to have Black Copper Marans hens, no matter what I thought I wanted.

So, now I have some Black Copper hens… and to my surprise, I find I really love them. I was wrong. They have a lot more to ffer than just pretty eggs. First, the “boring” black hens are actually very lovely in a way my camera doesn’t seem to capture very well. The black feathers are iridescent, and they have such pretty copper hackles, and a plump, pleasing shape. They are also polite and calm. Plus, they get along well in my mixed flock, falling neither at the top or the bottom of the pecking order. They’re just sweet natured. I love them. Why didn’t I want them, again?

Black Copper Marans hen

It’s not exactly that I didn’t WANT you, Miss Bella…

 

I still have a few doubts, mind you. As they get older, will they be broody… but not TOO broody? How much will their egg color fade by the end of the season? (One reason I love my Wellies is that the dark egg color doesn’t fade as much as the color fades in my Silver Cuckoo Marans…). Will they be good mothers? They are good foragers, but will they wary enough to be a good breed choice in my free range situation?

Tell me, for those of you who have been lucky enough to adopt Black Copper Marans: now that you have them, how do YOU like them in your flock? Are they everything you hoped? Or if you don’t have any Black Copper Marans, yet… do you have the BCM Fever?

 

 

19 Comments
Anna September 14th, 2012

I have two BCM I bought as adults. Both have feathered feet. One sadly, I believe has a pendulous crop. Niether have laid yet. I think they are both molting slower than Christmas.

All that being said, I think they are very beautiful. I will be so tickled when I finally. FINALLY see a dark chocolate egg in the nest box.

Laureen September 14th, 2012

I have some and I love them. They are friendly and inquisitive and very easy going. They started laying at around 22-23 weeks and are good layers. I haven’t seen any broody behavior from any of them. The roosters are especially beautiful.

Kim September 14th, 2012

I got my first BCM this past Feb. so mine are still young. I got 2 hens & 1 rooster along with 2 more Welsummer hens. I love the rooster! When I incorporated their 5 into my existing group of 7, the rooster was amazing! He did not tolerate any fighting, but he did it in a firm, calm and respectful manner. The hens are so docile. I have to watch my step because they are always walking around my legs like cats. I love the way the feathers change when the light hits them. They are definitely friendlier than my cuckoo marans. We have pretty hot summers here in Vegas and they are yet to be a year old so I can’t attest to the size and reliability, but the color of the eggs is beautiful. Slightly darker than the cuckoo’s and much darker than the Welsummer’s. I have 2 cuckoo’s and 1 of them is constantly broody but I’m hoping these ones will be different.

Lissa September 14th, 2012

I find the same thing with my pullets, Kim. They hover around my feet in an affectionate way, with such sweet looks. The rooster is a sweetheart, too. I haven’t yet come up with an appropriately grand name for him, but I need to, soon. :)

Erin September 14th, 2012

I have a hen and rooster as well as some that I bought as chicks this year and one that she hatched, all black coppers, my hen is VERY broody, she will sit on an empty nest and had a very hard time this year getting her to stay off of it. I hope to be able to hatch some next year from the younger hens too so I’ll see if they are as broody. They grow very fast and make a nice dual purpose bird. I also have a mixed flock and I like my ameracauna’s for their personality and brown leghorns for their foraging ability and lots of eggs. Oh, and 1 old barred rock just cause she’s an old girl and I feel bad for her.

Amy September 14th, 2012

I have 6 BCM hens, I paid a lot of money for hatching eggs and incubated them myself.
They do have nice personalities, are nice and calm and when they lay, they lay nice, large eggs!
My complaint is that they are CONSTANTLY going broody. My hens were hatched last February (2011) and have been broody since May. I finally let them hatch some eggs, got a few chicks and also let them hatch some guineas. Two are already broody again and setting! They didn’t lay very many eggs before going broody again either.
When they lay, they are great, but mine just want to hatch eggs!

Lissa September 14th, 2012

Uh-oh, Amy! Actually, I don’t mind a little broodiness. I like my hens to be able to go broody, although I don’t really want them to be broody all the time, of course. I prefer to let me birds hatch their own when it’s possible. That’s one reason I was hoping for a few female orpingtons during the contest; because they’re supposed to be very good broodies and mothers. What bothers me is having a hen that is viciously broody. For example, my Ameraucanas don’t go broody all that often, but the first time I had one go broody… I tell you what, she tried to kill anyone or anything that got near her nest. She bloodied our rooster, and even killed one of her own chicks. :( My other Ameraucanas are not like that. My silkie Sylvia, by contrast, was frequently broody, but she was also gentle about it, and a very good mother. So if the BCMs do get broody often, I’m hoping they’ll be gentle about it!

Elaine September 14th, 2012

I have had Wheaten, Splash and Blue Copper Marans–all gorgeous hens, great layers. Each of them went broody once. All three of them were good setters, and then wonderful and attentive mothers. From my last broody hen (the Blue Copper) I hatched Ameracaunas, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and BCM eggs–and from that hatch, I now have another Splash Marans pullet and two lovely Black Copper pullets. Can’t wait till they start laying. What a wonderful breed, and so beautiful. They should start laying this fall and I can’t wait to see how dark the BCM eggs are compared to my other Marans. I definitely have the fever, ha ha.

AK Middlebrooks September 14th, 2012

They get broody(or at least mine did) at about 1 1/yrs old. They make excellent mothers and raise 90% ~ 100% of their chicks to maturity.

vicki shows September 14th, 2012

Just received 6 BCM chicks (ordered hens) this week, so excited!

Kimmy September 14th, 2012

I have a local breeder (lucky me!) and managed to get 19 eggs for $20! Out of the 19, only 7 hatched and I’ve lost 3 since then. My beautiful roo boy and two pullets. Out of the four that are left I have one boy and three girls. So much sweeter than my other chickens (even my silkie!). They follow us around constantly and my kids carry them around.

Lisa B September 14th, 2012

My BCM hen is fabulous. She’s about nine months old. Gorgeous coppering and leg feathering. She did go broody this summer, and WOW is she a great mom. She hatched three of six fertile eggs we gave her to hatch. All six-week-olds are Olive Eggers (half BCM and half Ameracauna)….one is a roo and two are pullets. We are raising chickens for the whole experience, and the eggs are an added bonus. Watching Henny Penny and her babies roam my backyard has been a really great experience for my whole family.

helen chavis September 18th, 2012

great article as always. i must tell you how much i love this web site. Best thing since sliced bread. :) how do you get nice roosters i always hear people talk about this breed or that breed. I have tried several different breeds all my roosters have turned out mean(three different breeds). I spend lots of time with them feeding them treats and talking to them(which by the way my teenage daughter thinks Im crazy for doing). but always the same result either the rooster is attacking my kids or dogs or the rooster i have now is attacking my older hens. Is the BCM more sweet natured than other breeds? Please help! I love hatching my own eggs but i cant keep a mean rooster

Evelyn Qualls October 1st, 2012

I just hatched 2 BCM chicks and 1 Lavender Orpington. I raised one Blue
Copper Maran until about 3 months old and sold her ( pullet, I think).
I am sorry I sold her. She was beautiful too. Oh well, live and learn.
I am going to keep these chicks and I still have ten BCM eggs in the
incubator. I am hoping for just a few more chicks to hatch. Wish me
luck.

Piper Brennan July 20th, 2013

I have 2 BCMs who have feathered feet. I love them, and they fit right in with my flock of 40-50.

Deborah Strain August 23rd, 2013

I got 3 BCM pullets and 1 white marans pullet from Neighbors who had to get rid of them due to health. I have 1 dominecker and 2 BR hens and 1 cream legbar mix. Today I got my first BCM egg! It was not really very dark but it had dark brown speckles. Hoping they will darken up. I really wasn’t interested in BCM either but wanted more hens and when I got the offer I took them. They are so sweet and gentle. I am growing to love them!!!!

Mara October 17th, 2013

I linked to this from Pinterest. Funny enough, I had no idea that BCM were so rare, OR that they were the Next Big Thing, when I got some BCM and Cuckoo Maran eggs a few years ago. A local breeder had the eggs available, so I bit! Mine did go broody rather early, and repeatedly.

Amy July 31st, 2014

I love mine. She is young and just started laying. She is very friendly. I plan on breeding her to get more marans for my back yard! Her eggs are just as lovely as she is!

Carol Slavens August 8th, 2014

I hatched 10 eggs and I love these chickens! I have 3 little cockerels and they are so friendly and inquisitive. (I suppose I will have to find homes for a couple of them.) They all jump up to see me and will sit and “talk” with me. Love them!

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