Marans come in an array of color varieties and known bloodlines, the quality of their shell color based on their breeding. To learn additional, detailed information, check out this link from the club Marans of America...
We have Marans in Blue and Black Silver. From all of the lines we have tried so far, this line has proven to meet our expectations in egg color, body type and temperament. Other lines were either too thin/lightly built, poor layers or not having egg color anywhere close to "standard". Let alone how closely they resembled the breed standard.
The original Blue/Black/Splash we started with from Greenfire Farms.
Our Splash rooster is a professional, he is diligent and a little curt in his manner. A gentleman to his girls but he does run a tight ship with minimal coddling. He's confident and efficient, respectful to the people who tend his coop.
For the creation of the 3rd generation, we have retained only the best of the Blue Silver offspring from the original group. They've proven to have the better shell color and their type is pretty stout. They've matured into lovely birds!
Mid season color in natural daylight
Their shell color does change with the seasons, starting off much darker in the beginning of a laying cycle versus towards the end of it. I like to show our mid season eggs, since that is what you're going to be getting more often than not. We occasionally get a neat egg with heavy speckles. We don't hatch for that but it's nice to see in the basket on occasion. We're not a farm that does cookie-cutter chickens who all look and act the same. We appreciate consistency that pure bred poultry offers but we also enjoy a splash of variety in the mix.
For 2019 we have several promising candidates for the 2020 season. We'll be using a Black Silver rooster with the Blue hens, which will tilt the hatch to be Blue/Black offspring but not the Splash. We'll also be doing a new pen, with a Blue rooster over Black hens. We moved away from the Black Coppers in order to do this 2nd pen.
I've learned over time to put a lot of thought into the roosters who stay on. They really do leave their mark in their offspring. I see traits in temperaments that are from 3 generations back, the demeanor of a grand sire popping in, which can be rooster gold from the past great ones.
There is no such thing as too many roosters when you make the switch to being dual purpose. In choosing to breed forward and focus on improving your flock, you'll need to grow out a number of males to make your selections from, for the next generation. Our boys grow in a bachelor group with free range pasture, where they show their growth and temperament. An older male rules the roost, keeping the younger groups in line. In this environment, the good ones become great by learning good rooster behavior. The rooster and hens I keep in a nearby pen were selected for the strong visual the breeding rooster offers... the young males can watch his interactions with the hens and they do seem to learn by observing.
In the line of Marans we've kept going with, the hens have proven themselves to be consistent layers that pass that along to their daughters. No instances of laying complications, no prolapse or chronic meat spots in the eggs. They lean towards having a good depth/width of body. We're working out some light "sootiness" that comes in over the blue feathers. Ideally we want to see a nice crispy blue to the feathers. For the most part, they're getting correct combs but a couple received combs that were a little large or leaning over a little bit.
There is a saying to "Breed from the head back" in terms of which traits to focus on from one generation to the next. Since we're dual purpose, I started with the body type and went from there. Since we NEED the eggs, I focused on good egg color and how well they laid, in conjunction with how they were built. The hue to the feathers can be improved later on, right now it's about how well they "Chicken" and this line "chickens" very well.