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.
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.
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?
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?