Texte française
La Poule de Marans Registered Trademark / copyright urry/97

The hens that lay JAMES BOND's favorite eggs.


The Marans, one of the World's finest domestic fowl (gallinaceous)

In the breeding of this race, results cannot be improvised and selection can only be achieved after considerable endeavor. The principal aims of the MARANS breed, are primarily the quality of the extra brown eggs, followed by the quality of the meat, hardiness, and lastly, conformity with the accepted aesthetic standards. Those militating in favor of this breed should be encouraged, and should ensure whenever possible, that the public is not being misled by false claims.


The town of MARANS is an Atlantic port, about twelve miles north of LA ROCHELLE, at the mouth of the river Sevre and the canal system that forms the famous MARAIS POITEVIN, more often known as the GREEN VENICE. Fens rich in gray clay, bathed in hot sunshine during the day but sleeping under a thick blanket of mist at night, surround the town.
It's in these immense expanses, often covered with briny water during the winter high tides, that on the raised ground could be found these courageous farmers cultivating their modest lands. Linked to their capital MARANS, by the canals where small flat bottomed punts offer the sole means of transport, not only for themselves but also for the many itinerant trades people
Since Roman times, MARANS has been a port specialized in cereals that arrived mainly by river or canal from the surrounding regions. This favored the development of poultry farming with a local breed of chicken known as the PICTAVE.
These early attempts at breeding were well supported by the many monasteries that were established in the area, monasteries detaining certain privileges for the utilization of cereals, and a large population of monks maintaining a constant demand for eggs and chicken. The local farmers were breeding then a small black chicken that was the popular in the Aunis and Vendee fen regions.
In the XIIth century, and during nearly two centuries of occupation, the English conquerors began using the port of MARANS to export cereals, wines from Cognac, and the poultry from MARANS; a trade with ENGLAND that thrived, almost uninterrupted, for more than eight centuries.
In order to have fresh meat and eggs constantly available, ships have always carried live chicken on their voyages. The English ships sailing into MARANS were not an exception, especially as during calms and when "off-watch", the English sailors were particularly fond of cock-fighting. The hens and fighting cocks that remained alive at the end of the voyage were put ashore to be replaced by fresh birds. It was in this manner that the hens of MARANS made acquaintance with the famous English fighting cocks, and the region became the birthplace of a particular breed of poultry, originally known as the MARANDAISE, later to become the MARANS.
However, it was not until 1880 that the MARANS started to appreciate a widespread reputation, due largely to the rivalry between two brothers, both poultry merchants in London. One of them was one of the biggest wholesalers of white Russian eggs, then the most important poultry producing country in Europe. His brother, whose ships often docked at MARANS, had the idea of competing with the white Russian egg trade by selling the dark brown eggs of MARANS, bigger and fresher.


The dark brown eggs from MARANS soon became popular on the London markets and the "MARANS" were soon being bred by many English farmers.
The rush by English farmers to breed "LANGSHAMS" when they first appeared on the markets, was soon repeated for the "MARANS" and MARANS was soon overwhelmed with orders for chicks and eggs at steadily increasing prices. In this initial rush and the anarchy that followed it was almost impossible to ensure a strict respect for genetic standards and it became difficult to explain scientifically the exact components that resulted in the dark brown eggs.
In about 1920, Madame ROUSSEAU of ILE D'ELLE, a small village 2.5 miles from MARANS, began a rational selection and commercialization of MARANS eggs. It was not until 1929 that the MARANS was first presented to visitors at the annual exhibition of the Poultry Breeder's Society in PARIS.
In this way over the years, the honors and awards presented by the farmers of the CHARENTE MARITIME, the VENDEE, the DEUX-SEVRES, and of the POITOU regions, has ensured the reputation and the spread of the poultry of MARANS. This being due to the quality of the dark brown eggs, and the meat that is justly renowned for its succulence.
The success of the "chocolate" colored egg almost led to its demise when unscrupulous traders , in search of a hen with pure white feathers, started experimenting with inconsiderate interbreeding.
In 1936, the thesis of the Veterinary Doctor GAUTRONNEAU aided the protection of the race, by retracing methodically and thoroughly, the introduction of the English LANGSHAM fighting cock with the MARANS. The race was becoming popular throughout FRANCE and principally in the departments of the north and in the Paris region, and large quantities of eggs were being exported to ENGLAND, where breeding of the MARANS continued.
According to G. LISSOT, in "la Poule et l'Oeuf" edited by Flamarion, in March 1942, the cock transmits the quality of the eggs to the hens, and this is what ensures the dark color of the MARANS egg.


Photo courtesy of Andrew Hudson


ORIGIN: MARANS, on the Atlantic coast, near to LA ROCHELLE, FRANCE
BREEDING EGG: 75 grams minimum, shell very dark brown.
DIAMETER: Cock 22 - Hen 20 (essential)
WEIGHT: Cock +or- 3,5/4 kgs - Hen +or- 2,5/3,2 kgs
TYPE : Poultry fairly strong and large, of average height, slender rather than stocky, plumage clings to body giving the impression of strength and solidity without appearing heavy.
OBJECTIVES: Preservation of the original breed as well as the production of the large dark brown eggs.


Body: Strong, wide, fairly long
Neck: Long, fairly strong, tending to curve in at the top toward the skull, the hackle consists of long and abundant feathers covering well the shoulders.
Back: Long, Flat, slightly concave toward the rear, Saddle large, slightly raised, but without cushion, garnished with many lancets.
Breast: Strong, Large.
Abdomen: Well developed.


"A hen on the wall, that pecks on hard bread...." from the famous children's story 'Poule au Pôt' written by the good King HENRY. The hen and its fellows are a part of history and bound to the image of country life.
But today, apart from folklore, do we know that:
  • Poultry breeding is the fifth agricultural production in FRANCE?
  • The French consume more eggs than the English?
  • The egg enters into the production of many non-food products?
  • Each year in FRANCE, one billion eggshells are accidentally broken?
  • To make its eggs, a hen exports each year the equivalent of its weight in shells?
As we all know, the egg has always been an essential element in our diet.
It is an indispensable source of energy and nutrition.
Its biological value places the egg amongst the highest of all the sources of amino acid which constitutes the basic structure of proteins.

But what are these eggs that we eat?
The egg, if it is fertile, is intended to give birth to a chick. Those that we eat are, or are not, fertile.
The parts of the egg, yolk, white and shell are created in different parts of the reproductive system.
The constituents of the yolk (proteins, lipids) are produced by the liver. The accumulation of the yolk in the future ovum, takes place in the ovary
The white is produced at a particular place in the oviduct, the magnum, whilst the shell membrane is formed below this point and the calcification in the uterus by a process of hydration of the egg by penetration of water rich in calcium.
The white is mainly made up of water and proteins.
The yolk, of a proteolipidic nature, is also very rich in mineral elements and vitamins.
If the egg is fertile, the synthesis of all these elements permits the development of the future chick.

In search of the colored eggs
In FRANCE, 95% of consumers prefer the colored egg shells and systematically refuse the white eggs. The color of the egg is very often associated with the breeding methods. However these two elements are entirely independent as only genetic factors influence the color of the eggs.

Links :-

Maggie's Farm http://www2.netdoor.com/~eshafer/magsfarm/
Marans Club de France  http://perso.libertysurf.fr/marans (French)
North American Marans Club http://lsault.tripod.com/marans.htm


and our other photo pages:-
Some Photos of Marans'98. . .
Our annual  breed exhibition & fair, held on sunday 
8 november 1998


This site is produced and maintained by the Association

"La Poule de Marans"

The aims of this association are to conserve, protect and promote the Marans race and its' origins. In this way we hope to be of service  to clubs and individuals throughout the world who are interested by this race. The articles we publish are for information only and do not necessarily reflect our opinions. Our role is to help and to co-ordinate the efforts of others rather than to impose any mandatory standards or decisions.

Click here if you wish to consult the articles of association (in French).

Further information and membership details  may be obtained from:

La Poule de Marans
La Barbecanne
Rive droite de la Sevre
17230 Marans



France/Belgium United States of America United Kingdom
Marans Club de France
c/o Serge Desprez
12 rue de l'Église
02500 Ohis
North American Marans Club
c/o Cari Schafer
Maggie's Farm
209 North Slade Road
Mississippi MS 39482
United States of America



The Marans Club
Mr. A. Heeks
44 Poplar Drive
Staffordshire, ST7 2RW

The registered trademark is for ALL!


In conformity with the aims of our association we have registered the name of the breed of poultry known as "The Marans" or "Marans"; Not with the intention of limiting the use of this name but rather to encourage it.

In effect,  those who wish to use this trademark and it's accompanying logo are free to do so under two very simple conditions:-

1 - That they make a written request to our association with their project of utilisation.

2 - That they respect the official standards of the race and the pre-determined methods of breeding concerning both the birds and their eggs.


Copyright © Mark S. Urry 1996/2005
All rights reserved

Last update 03 December 2005