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Black Marans
The Black Marans

Photo Courtesy  of Marans Club of France
 
 
The Black variety is at the very top of the dominance hierarchy being based on the E allele. So we are aware that additional melanisers are required to overcome any show of color, Melanotic Ml is the most common one found, although others may be present.
We must also consider what is the most suitable underling color, Silver or gold. To determine this we can look at the Standard, which tells us a green sheen is not required. Red/gold tends to promote this green sheen & Silver depresses it. One vote for Silver. Looking out side the box we see Silver Cuckoo is also an E based variety, so it should be Silver. We now have a male genome of E/E S/S Ml/Ml, as we do not want yellowish shanks we need the White skinner gene W. Melanotic pushes black pigment into the shank & beak as well as the plumage, too much for our Standard so we can remove some by the use of the sex-linked Dermal Inhibitor Id to achieve the acceptable dusky shank, which is always going to be darker in the hen. The shank feathering gene Pti-1 completes the genome giving us E/E S/S Ml/Ml Id/Id W/W Pti-1/Pti-1 for the male and E/E S/- Ml/Ml Id/- W/W Pti-1/Pti-1 for the hen.
If the selection is sufficiently rigorous to the elimination the faults, including the elimination of the occasionally found recessive mottled plumage, we can maintain a breeding line of quality Blacks without too many difficulties.
In the case where overly black Birchen/Brown-red hens are used with a Black cock, it is impossible to obtain a pure Black genome, as the coppery/silver shades in the plumage, will immediately disappear (because ER is recessive to E), this will make it impossible to visually determine their genetic makeup. Only when the genotype is correct is it appropriate to say we have birds that are 100% of pure Black.
The use of Brown-Red birds in crossings with only one Black bird to regenerate a Black breeding line is not recommended for two reasons. Firstly because the "copper" gene (s+/s+) will introduce a range of unwanted gold/red tones, and the recessive Birchin allele which can often be visually expressed in the hens.
 
 
On the other hand, the Silver Cuckoo is a Black bird with the addition of the dominant barring gene B; thus it will be visible in the plumage if it is present, even if the genotype is impure (B/b+). So once B is eliminated we notice its disappearance from the "Black" genotype (E/E) we want to recreate. To this end the use of a Cuckoo bird,described by the British as a Dark Cuckoo, may well be of interest. The British favour a bird with a plumage darker than the Silver Cuckoo, and to obtain it they mate pure Silver Cuckoo, B/B, males to Black, b+/b+, hens.
The resultant Dark Cuckoo males, B/b+, do not breed true, which is why they have never found favour in the French Standard. However if such a Dark Cuckoo male, B/b+, is mated to a Silver Cuckoo hen, B/-, approximately 50% of the resulting chicks will be Black.
If this initial mating of a Black to a Silver Cuckoo hen is not possible the next best choice would be to mate a Silver Birchen cock to a Silver Cuckoo hen. This will again produce Dark Cuckoo males and Black pullets, but will introduce the Birchen gene that will segregate if close matings are made.
Therefore it is behoves us to preserve, even if it’s only one bird, pure Blacks of breeding quality.
 
 
 
Photo Courtesy  of Marans Club Of France
 
 
This Marans variety, was introduced into the French Standard in 1949, and is rare today, to the extent that it is (in France) considered to be quasi-extinct. The Black was Standardized in the UK in 1930, but unfortunately there they do not have the required shank feathering. No documentation to explains it’s origin, and few remain in France. The pure subjects that still exist are extremely precious for the breed. In the color description in the Standard, the Black Marans is one the less described varieties. We require a wholly black plumage for the cock and the hen, and it must have no visible white or fawn coloured feathers, as these are flaws in this colour.
There is no requirement for a "scarab-green" sheen on the plumage as it is the case for other Black breeds such as the Langshan or the Australorp. The Black Marans, unlike the Brown-red which can be made up using a lesser quantity of melanin, has more black pigments in the skin, beak, nails, shanks and down than the other varieties. The Langshan contributed much to its composition in the 1890s.
 
The orangey bay eyes are more difficult to select for in the Black, Silver-Black and Brown-red Marans than in all other varieties.
 
 
 
 
Photo Courtesy  of Marans Club Of France
 
Notes on breeding the Marans varieties.
As in all other poultry breeds, colors and patterns
are based on the color distribution gene, the ‘e’ series.
This in order of Dominance is
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Allele 
 
Adult male
 
Adult Female
 
 E Extended Black
Black, or with colour in
 
Black or nearly so.
 
 
 
hackles & shoulders
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ER Birchen
Black Red with black
 
Black with colour in
 
 
 
Crow Wing'
 
hackles & lacing 
 
 
 
 
 
 
on breast.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
eWh Wheaton
Standard Black-Red, 
Salmon breast & Salmon/brown 
 
 
light under co
 
back with some stippling.
 
 
 
 
 
Black restricted to wings & tail.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
e+ Duckwing
Standard Black-Red 
 
Brown, darkly stippled body 
 
 
 
 
 
with a salmon breast.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
eb Brown
 
Standard Black-Red.
 
Brown body no Salmon
 
 
 
 
 
on breast, entire body tending
 
 
 
 
 
towards indistinct often 
 
 
 
 
 
course feather pattern
 
 
 
 
David Hancox.
 
Note: General appearance of Marans Cock and Hen is posted on theBlack Copper Marans page.