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Cuckoo Marans
Cuckoo Marans Cock & Hen

Cuckoo plumage much lighter than that of the hen, with some straw colour highlights *. (Taken from the French Standard)

Mainly white in the neck and showing white on the upper breast, also on top. Remainder banded throughout, with a lighter
ground color than the Dark Cuckoo. (Taken from the British Standard)


Fairly dark cuckoo plumage, with a rough pattern and irregular lines; lighter hackles; gray or lightly gray under color.

Mainly white in the neck and showing white on the upper part of the breast. Remainder banded throughout, with a lighter
ground color than the Dark Cuckoo.

                      General Appearance:

Body :  strong, fairly long and wide especially near the shoulders which are held high.

Neck :   long, fairly strong, tending to curve in on top towards the skull; the hackles are
made of many long and abundant feathers covering the shoulders well

Back :    long, flat, slightly concave towards the rear

Saddle : large, slightly raised but not rounded, covered with many lancets

Breast :  strong and large

Abdomen :  well developed

Wings :  short , kept close to the body

Tail :       strong at its base, quite short, fairly up without going over 45 °

Head :    average size, slightly flat and long

Comb :   simple, of an average size, with a fairly rough texture. Sharp edges.
The lobe not touching the nape

Wattles : average size, red with a fine texture

Ear-lobes :  average size, red and long

Face :      red colored with or without down

Eyes :            bright, with a orangey-red iris

Beak :          Quite strong, slightly hooked and horn-colored

Shanks :      big, without vulture hocks

Tarsi :          average size, with some feathers white or lightly pink colored for all the
varieties except for the BLACK, BROWN-RED and BIRCHEN Marans were gray or
dark gray is permitted, although not preferred, for both sexes. Four long and well
separated toes with the outer one sparsely feathered. The claws are white or horn- colored.
Smaller than the cock, with a large, strong and more rounded body, a straighter back line,
a well developed abdomen , and a fine comb, straight or inclined only in the rear part.
Silver Cuckoos Marans
The Cuckoo Marans History
By Bill Braden

The cuckoo Marans was the only variety in the U.S.until the last few years. The first importation was by Isaac Hunter of Michigan at the end of WW2. He brought them from England.In 1963 John Fugate imported the cuckoo Marans from France to Athens Tenn.  He later moved to Mexico and his marans were spread to several people. John later formed A partnership with Mr.Wilburn of Alabama. I talked to Mr. Wilburn a few years ago,he was 92 years old at the time but his mind was very sharp. He told me that Mr.Fugate had brought him cuckoo marans eggs from all over the world with the darkest being from Belgium. I also had several conversations with Mr.Fugate and he confirmed what Mr.Wilburn had told me.
They also had a genetics man in Iowa working with them whose name I have forgotten. I don't know what year it was but Mr.Lowell Barber of North Carolina who talked Bill Fitch into breeding Marans to help get them going in the U.S. Mr. Fitch didn't like the Marans but bred them for a short while because of his respect for Mr.Barber. He sold out to Terry Kellerman of Kansas.Terry had brought Marans in from Canada from the Lake View Fowl Trust owned by Mr.Jim Hopkins which he crossed with the Fitch Marans.
The Hopkins Marans were feather shanked and the Fitch Marans were clean shanked so the off spring were both clean and feather shanked birds. About this time Mr.Mick Murphy brought cuckoo Marans from England. Mr. Murphy was A exhalant breeder and was a very strong supporter of the Cuckoo verity. He worked exclusively with cuckoos. I cant think of the fellows name that was
the curator at the Smithsonian institute but he brought the Ripley line from England. When he died they sold his flock.

Mr.Ron Presley worked with that line for several years and did a great job with them. I don't know how the Perth line got here but they are from Perth Australia. The Leriquin line was brought in by a man whose name I wont mention but this line was not what we were told it was and we got some mighty sorry birds from them. We do have to credit them with getting all the different colors of Marans started.I have always regretted using that line at all and have bred it out of my Marans. I used seven different lines to developed my line of cuckoos.I used the Fugate,Ripley and Kellerman lines very heavily and the Fitch and Murphy lines lightly and the Perth and Leriquin lines extremely lightly. The Fugate line had very nice egg color and was a large bird. The Ripley line in my opinion had the best egg color.The Kellerman line was extremely large hardy,vigorous birds but the egg color wasn't as good as the Fugate or Ripley. I really liked these three lines.The Murphy line had really nice egg color. The Perth and Leriquin lines I don't care for. I must thank the following breeders for their help in developing the line I have had for the last ten years. Mick Murphy,Tom Brown,Mr.Wilburn,Terry Kellerman,Ron Presley and Cari Shaff

Why do the cocks have a lighter colored plumage than the darker-coloured hens?

It should be understood that Cuckoo fowl are black birds (primarily E/E based) or perhaps (but rarely) Birchen (Silver Birchen, ER/ER based) in the Marans. The genotype is completed by the addition of the dominate Barring (B) factor, the "cuckoo gene" which superimposes an irregular barring on the black plumage by interrupting the deposit of black pigment in the feather, this irregularity is due to the rate black pigment is laid down in the feather, the faster the feather grows the more irregular the barring. Another dominate sex linked gene, called "Silver" (S) removes the gold/red pheomelanin and so intensifies the silver white colour in the plumage of the hackle, back, shoulders, lancets. Sex linked genes do nor give the same results in both sexes, the male and females differ. How is it that we have different plumage conditions an identical colour for the two sexes? In the male the cuckoo (B) colour factor is expressed on each of the two sex chromosomes present in the cock, (B/B).  As B has a cumulative effect it is doubly expressed giving a lighter shade to the cock feathers. It is also intensified by the presence of the (S/S) silver characteristic that lightens the hackle and also the back, the shoulders and the lancets.

On the other hand, in the cuckoo hens, the (B) factor is present on only one sex chromosome, the second remaining unexpressed. The hen’s plumage can only be a darker cuckoo shade, as it is genetically hemizygous (B/-), rather than the cock’s (B/B

What lessons should be remembered from that?

It is normal that in the Silver-Cuckoo (and even in the Golden-Cuckoo) selection, the cocks
are lighter than the hens and we have at least three good reasons to require that:

They are auto-sexable and the differentiation must always remain sufficiently clear between the cocks and the hens. It is a supplementary appeal.

 They are genetically coherent because it's really the light cocks, being homozygous for barring (B/B) and not the darker heterozygous (B/b+) birds. They are the pure subjects for the "Cuckoo factor"

They are nicer in this way (there's no account for tastes...!)

It is logical to select according to your personal taste in Cuckoo, foundation birds that are darker or lighter than the usual color, and even with the clearer and more contrasting bars such as is found on the "Plymouth Rock" and which has nothing to do with Cuckoo Marans. There is one and only one "natural Cuckoo" shade corresponding to the Cuckoo variety, apart from a slight variations in shade. Heterozygous B/b+ male birds will be darker than the Standard requires, resembling the colour of the hen.

The Silver-Cuckoo variety must be able to be revived at any time by use of the Black variety (as long as it still exists at the pure state) or by the Birchen (Silver-Black). The mating of a Silver Cuckoo (B/B) male to a Black hen will produce B/b+ darker males and B/- Silver Cuckoo hens. The reverse will produce opposite B/b+ darker males and Black (b+/-) pullets.

Thus, we begin to notice the appearance of the varieties that are genetically logical and natural.

Finally, and because everything in the logic holds together when we regenerate Cuckoo stock, which was selected as being too light, by crossing it with a black subject (E or ER), nature will always tend to restore the normal cuckoo colour… and it is all right in this way!


A fuller description of the Silver-Cuckoo color:

In comparison with the overall body color, the cuckoo plumage tonality of the hackle and the
lancets of the cocks, approaches white (or "silver-white"). The cock plumage is so in a way as a more defined cuckoo than the hen.

As for the hens, the plumage is more uniform and very dark as a rule, respecting the autosexable genetic characteristics.
A slightly lighter shade will be seen on the hackles and we can tolerate a more or less darker shade of the whole if this shade doesn't differ too much from the Standard shade.

The deliberate selection of foundation birds, which are trending towards a lighter Silver-cuckoo, must be avoided because it goes against nature and it is "off-standard".


*The great color flaw in respect to the Silver-Cuckoo is the appearance of fawn colored (or coppery) feathers, selection against which should rigorous.


They appear, as the fawn/gold coloured feathers, more rarely in the Cuckoo plumage because we are faced with a color, which is pretty less capricious to set than others. (The use of Copper-black (Brown-red) Marans should be avoided in Silver Cuckoo breeding, as should Birchen be in Golden Cuckoos).

Information from MCF, British Poultry Standard, Genetics of Poultry Colours-The Basics,

David Hancox