The Chocolate eggs of a Black Copper Marans



Whenever anyone asks me what breed of chicken they should get I always tell them it depends.  It depends on where you live, it depends on why you want chickens, it depends on how often you plan on pulling them in for a face-full-of-feathers, wrestling hold chicken hug.

It all depends.

My first batch of chickens Cheez Whiz, Cuddles, Walnut and Norma were all bought as day old chicks from some random farm in the country where inbreeding ran rampant among the residents.  With the chickens anyway.  So what I ended up with were chicken mutts that seemed to be part Rhode Island Red and judging by the fact that 2 of them lay blue/green eggs part Ameraucana.

Since the chicks were a gift I didn’t have any say in the matter of what kind of chickens I got.  I got the ones that were sitting in a cardboard box on my counter.  Since getting those original chicks 4 years ago  2 have died and 2 have have survived.  Cuddles and Cheez Whiz are still scratching and clucking, although Cuddles hasn’t laid an egg since she almost died last summer.  Norma and Walnut both died in the past year.

So I decided last summer that if I wanted to continue this chicken keeping habit I was going to have to get more chickens.  Sadly chickens up and die on you, usually without much warning.  They can live to 12, 13 or even 14 years old but it’s not common.  Generally 4 or 5 years is when they start to see health problems.

I knew right away what type of chicken I wanted.

If I wanted a friendly chicken I would have got an Orpington.  If I wanted the chicken that lays the most amount of eggs per year I would have got a Leghorn.  If it was a swashbuckling looking chicken it would have been a Cochin because they look like they’re wearing big fluffy pantaloons all the time.

But that’s not what I wanted.  I wanted the chicken that laid the chocolate eggs.

The Black Copper Marans

I haven’t had a chance to show you the eggs I actually get from Josephine my Black Copper Marans.  (I also have a Blue Copper Marans, Mabel but her eggs aren’t as dark)

Josephine’s eggs are pretty consistently the same colour.  They’re a darker brown than I was thinking they were going to be but not as dark as possible on the Black Copper Marans Egg Scale.

This is the official egg colour scale for the breed, Black Copper Marans.  If the hen consistently lays eggs that look like numbers 1, 2 or 3 they cannot be referred to as Marans.  They get kicked out of the Marans club.




Which means the hatchery in the US that’s selling these eggs as Black Copper Marans hatching eggs isn’t really selling what they say they are.  They may have come from a Black Copper Marans but the colour of eggs just doesn’t qualify them to be labelled as such.

If you’re looking to buy a Black Copper Marans, ask to see the hatching eggs from whoever you’re buying from.  If they look like this and your dream is to have dark brown/russet eggs stay away.  Other than the speckles these look like regular grocery store brown eggs.




I’d say Josephine is consistently putting out eggs that are a 5 on the colour scale.  Anything around an 8 or 9 is really rare and usually a mistake. So if that’s your dream, once you start getting eggs from your Marans it will quickly become your nightmare.

These are my eggs.






So now you want to know if they taste the same as regular brown eggs.  Yes and no.  More on that curious fact in a post next week.

The one thing I can tell you is they don’t taste like chocolate.  You need a very special chicken for that.





  1. Leslie says:

    Those are a nice color! Congratulations on raising them to point of lay. First eggs are always so egg-citing. I have two tiny Black Copper Marans chicks I got from a proper breeder and slipped in with a recent hatch of my own breeding birds (Delawares), and don’t know if they’re pullets or cockerels yet. Fingers crossed I eventually get pretty dark brown eggs like yours.

    • Karen says:

      Well I got 1 girl out of 5 chicks. NOT a good ratio, lol but at least I got one. I was hoping for at least 2! That’s how I ended up going back to the breeder and picking up a blue copper marans pullet too. :) Good luck with yours! ~ karen

      • Leslie says:

        Smart woman! Pullets are a very sound investment, all things considered. I’m hoping my breeder friend will “upgrade” me to a couple of her non-breed-worthy pullets if I get stuck with two cockerels. For now I’m enjoying the little white bellies and bums on the chicks. And their funny fuzzy legs. So cute! Peep, peep, peep.

  2. Tricia Rose says:

    Can’t wait for a Karen prose-poem about the flavour of a BCM egg.

  3. Dominic says:

    You would be correct, but one of our reds got hawked the other day, literally. First time out of the run this spring. It was either Kung-pow, Cheeseball, or Teriyaki, I couldn’t tell those 3 apart. Back to 37, and she’s looking for any possible reason to round up to 40, so if we see BCM’s, that’d be a good reason!

  4. Dominic says:

    I told my wife about my comment, and your response. Today we went to get chicken feed, and came home with 2 Jersey Giant chicks, and reserved 6 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 3 Easter Eggers, and 3 Buff Orpingtons for next week. I blame this on you. Our new total will be 37 chickens.
    FYI, if you feel like trying to sneak them across the border, TSC in Hanburg (15 minutes south of Buffalo) has tons of Silkie chicks.

    • Dominic says:


    • Karen says:

      I hate to tell you this Dominic but according to my count … you have 38 chickens. Sorry bout that, lol.I notice you didn’t come home with a BCM so I’m guessing that number will soon jump to 39 or 40. ~ karen!

  5. Jeannette says:

    Gorgeous eggs Karen. If you ever find one that lays golden eggs let me know :-)

  6. Corinna Mulligan says:

    One of my hens died this winter. I went through a Monty Python skit all by myself. She wasn’t napping, nor was she pining for the Fjords.. I asked my husband to bring her in to thaw her out to see it would help and he started babbling about not living with zombie chickens.. The organic recycling bin is a respectable burial place when it’s -30 right?

  7. Karol says:

    In an 8 month-pregnant-fit, I squished a hardboiled egg in my hand, threw it on the floor, and stomped the living crap out of it. It was the 4th out of 12 eggs I was attempting to peel for deviled eggs, and not one of them would peel without 90% of the white coming off with the shell. That was 33 years ago, and now I buy (gasp) already boiled/peeled eggs from the grocery store.

  8. Jordan says:

    Wonderful post here! And I do agree with everyone that your chickens’ eggs look gorgeous – the photos are to die for really. Hope to have a follow up on your chicken adventures (eggventures?)!

    • Karen says:

      Oh I do lots of chicken posts Jordan. :) Too many for some people and not enough for others, lol. ~ karen!

  9. Andrea says:

    Gorgeous. Do you do art with them? If you were to blow out the eggs (you can still eat the insides – especially if you like them scrambled) then you could make some stunning Christmas ornaments or permenant spring decorations!

  10. Shirley says:

    Beautiful! Our Ameraucana who hardly ever lays an egg, blessed us with one Easter morning. So long and skinny but pretty. I love the perfect little pink beige our BR lays, and the spots on the RIR. Another couple of inches of fresh snow today, but they are used to it now. Come on spring!!

  11. Victoria says:

    Beautiful eggs! This gets me soooo excited because we just got our first chicks, seven of them. They are all different breeds, but one is a Cuckoo Maran and I was told she would lay chocolate brown eggs. I can’t wait to see what they will look like. Since that’s a French breed, her name is Marie Antoinette, but she will not be losing her head. Your chickens posts are my favorite. :)

  12. tajicat says:

    Gorgeous eggs, and photos! Sorry about the chickens you lost. Love your blog, so interesting! Have a wonderful Easter. :)

  13. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Pretty eggs..I want some poached eggs on toast now..

  14. karin says:

    Holy shit. As an avid blogger/blog reader how have I not known about The Art of Doing Stuff before??? I just found you by way of your coop on Pinterest. I am hoping to add a coop and a couple of chickens next year, so am researching coops. And I fell in love with yours. Gonna do something similar (at least in color!). Anyway, now I will be spending several hours binge-reading older posts, which is a good thing because it’s raining here today.

  15. maggie van sickle says:

    Interesting! Happy Easter Karen. Enjoy your family.

  16. Dominic says:

    Beautiful eggs! They look fantastic!
    We love having a nice mix of chickens, currently there’s 24 of them. I think letting the kids name them was the best part. 6 Leghorns (Foghorn, Flip, Flap. Flop, Fatmore, Leghorn) & 6 Red Stars (Nugget, Cheezeball, Kung-pow, Teriyaki, Cupcake, Blackalicious), an Easter Egger(Skylee) a Barred Rock (tweedle dee) and a Cuckoo Maran (Tweedle dum), 3 Cochins (Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, June Carter), a Silkie (Foof), and a Frizzle (Frannie). Then the Roosters, Cochin (Johnny Cash), a HUGE Silkie (DJ) and 2 tiny Dutch Game roosters (Godzilla & Gandalf).
    We get a nice mix of eggs, from the tiny cream colored of the Cochins, the pastel blue from Skylee, the varying browns of the reds and the whites of the leghorns. My wife wants more chickens, and BCM’s & Wyandottes are in her sights. We used to live in Wyandotte, Mi. Is that a reason to have a chicken? of course.

    • Karen says:

      Well now you’ve done it. I’m going to have to get a silkie just so I can name it Foof. You think I’m joking. I am not. ~ karen! p.s. any excuse for a chicken is a reason for a chicken. :)

  17. Kathy says:

    Your chicken posts are my favorites. Today I learned why eggs shells are different colors and how come so. I really like eggs and hard boiled are great put peeling hunks out my whites drove me nuts. I have had egg cookers and their lifetime is very short. So in the last year I was so pleased to learn that putting eggs in a pressure cooker will end the poor peeling problem. My pressure cooker is electric and I have done several batches of 6 or 7 eggs using a rack to raise the eggs above the water and 6 min on low pressure. I got this info by searching the web. I bought an instantpot because my first pressure cooker was high pressure only. Now maybe they can be done on high pressure but I didn’t want to experiment and the instantpot is the only cooker I found with a stainless steel basket, so no non stick coating sold me for sure. My DIL said well this is a chicken kitchen and we laughed at her rhyme but I do have a few here and there. Thanks for the great pictures of the eggs.

  18. LazySusan says:

    Gorgeous eggs! The joy of seeing them is tempered by the news of Walnut and Norma. I’m so sorry you lost them. I know they were as much pets as egg producers.

  19. So love this post, Karen. And the images are fabu! One of these days I’m going to drive around the lake and stalk your chickens. :-D No. No. I would never do that. Mebbe. I don’t know why the bunny gets all the credit either. LOL

  20. kelli says:

    OK being a total city gal, and knowin nothin bout no chickens, here’s my question. How/why do chickens of a certain type lay eggs of certain colors?

    I mean, they’re ALL chickens, so I’m assuming that all eggs are created in the same manner. But what gives eggs such a variety of color? Proteins? Amino acids? Poop? Crayons?

    Waiting on eggshells for your answer, Obi-Wan Karenobi.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kelli – The eggs form their colour a few different ways. A regular white egg is made up of calcium carbonate. That material is white. A brown egg shell is white, which a brown egg laying hen mixes pigment into when the egg is almost formed. It goes on just the outer portion of the shell which is why if you crack open a brown egg, it’s brown on the outside and white inside. A Green/Blue egg laying chickens often insert their pigment much earlier which makes the eggshell blue or green all the way through. (unlike a brown egg). And finally Marans, lay brown eggs like a regular brown egg laying chicken but also paint on a final layer that can actually be wiped off if you pick the egg up right after laying. If you’re *truly* interested in egg laying and colours, here’s a great post by Terry of ~ karen!

      The chicken either paints the colour onto the shell when it’s being formed (that’s the case with Marans and in fact you can wipe the colour off if you get to it quickly enough) or the eggshell is naturally that colour and forms that way in the chicken based on the breed.

  21. Rondina says:

    I have a general egg question. My cousin says that when you put a fresh egg into the frying pan the white stays put and doesn’t spread out. How do you know if your egg is fresh to you aren’t actually pulling it out of the hen house?

    • LazySusan says:

      Here in the US the egg cartons have both a sell-by date, and a 3-digit number that indicates what day of the year the eggs were packed So, today being day 93 of this calendar year, if you find a carton of eggs that has the number 95 on it, those were packed 2 days ago. So you’re always looking for the lowest 3-digit number on the carton. And if you don’t get 3 digit numbers on your cartons, then you can’t really tell, you can only try to find the furthest out sell-by date. The sell-by date in the US can’t be further than 30 days after the eggs were packed.

      • Rondina says:

        This is good information, but I was looking for more experiential. Like from chicken-raisers. Cousin was raised on a farm and now buys eggs in a rural-town grocery store. Nothing he gets seems to be fresh. I buy at Central Market, a kind of less-slick Whole Foods) that seems to completely sell out of eggs everyday. He refuses to believe that a city-person could buy eggs that are fresh. I’m wondering if there are any other methods to tell freshness besides the white not wandering all over the place.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Rondina! There are several ways to tell if an egg is fresh. A fresh egg has 3 distinct parts. The yolk which will be high and firm, not flattened out, and 2 whites. Yes. Two. When you crack the egg you’ll see the nice high yolk, and 2 separate distinct egg whites. The fresh yolk is difficult to break while an old egg yolk is thinner, flattened out and easy to break. Also the egg whites of a fresh egg are thick and stay in shape when cracked. An old egg white will spread out when you crack it. Finally the older the egg the more it will float in a glass of cool water because of the air that forms between the shell and the egg as it ages. Hope that helps! ~ karen

        • Rondina says:

          Running to the kitchen to crack an egg. This is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

        • LazySusan says:

          A fresh egg will lie down at the bottom of a glass of water. A less fresh but still good egg will stand on one end at the bottom of a glass of water. And, as Karen indicated, a bad egg will float.

  22. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Speaking of eggs, I’m assuming the grocery stores charge more for brown eggs because they think us folks think brown ones are more nutritious? And Karen, I know you have your own egg source (lucky hardworking gal) but do you know where I can by some good tasting eggs in our area? Lately the store ones have been spew worthy awful!

  23. Meghan says:

    I’m sorry to hear about Norma and Walnut. I love hearing all about your hens. Chickens are my current pipe dream and will probably stay that way forever if Hubby has a say in things. That and I’m not sure how I’d manage them living up in Sudbury in the city over the winter (super nasty winters).
    I hope you have a great weekend!!

  24. Tigersmom says:

    I will never have chickens because I don’t like to eat eggs, but I love everything else about them: their shape, their colors, their fragile exteriors in juxtaposition with their strong, binding, protein-laden, beginning-of-life interiors.

    That being said, thank you for the beautiful pictures of one of my favorite things. Seriously, your photography has gotten amazing. Not only are you technically able to capture beautifully pleasing scenes, you have the aesthetic eye to compose them. I would buy a book of your photography as well as one of your words. Just sayin’.

    Oh, and I have no use for them but that doesn’t stop me from loving the chicken egg cups.

    And I’m so sorry to hear about Norma and Walnut.

  25. Mary Werner says:

    Now I understand the craving for Black Morans – that last charted egg is GORGEOUS! Your beautiful eggs in the egg holder seem gold to me in the picture. I bet your competitive spirit is dying to have a deep chocolate egg.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary! The last egg in the chart is normally a mistake that the chicken makes when it first comes into lay. So chances of anyone ever getting one are very very slim. :( ~ karen!

  26. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Beautiful eggs Karen! Cute egg cups :) And the chicken bunny or bunny chicken, lol.

  27. Jack Ledger says:

    What do you call a mischievous egg? A: A practical yolker

    • Mary Werner says:

      LOL, Jack! Speaking of holidays, jokes and Jack-o-lanterns – What do you call a beautiful, orange pumpkin? A delicious pie!

  28. Ann says:

    My 2 Maran girls lay about in the 4 range and only the first couple of eggs in a clutch cycle will be all that dark. Someday I will get a true Black Copper Maran as my girls are Blue Copper Marans. And neither girl has ever been broody.

    I have 2 young hens right now that are barnyard crosses between an Easter Egger rooster and 1 momma was barred rock and the other a Blue Copper Maran. The EE/CM cross should give me some olive eggs which are surprisingly gorgeous in their own right. So now my eggs run the full chicken egg color spectrum. I have 1 leghorn that lays white, lots of different creams and pinky beiges, 1 EE that lays blue, 3 dark brown egg layers and then the olive egger. Friends say that opening up a carton of eggs they get from me is a feast for the eyes. I say my chickens are a feast for my soul. As well as my rabbits!!

    • Karen says:

      Ann – My Blue Copper Marans lays lighter eggs with more speckles. And for whatever weird reason, the eggs from the BCM get darker after they’ve sat on the counter for a couple of days. Which is very strange. When they’re first laid they have a real terra cotta hue to them which goes away after a few days and is replaced by a more chocolatey colour. ~ karen! p.s. Olive eggs would be my next choice!

  29. Beth says:

    I was curious about the personality of the Copper Marans? I’ve always loved Buff Orpingtons (for their friendliness and tolerance of children) and Auracanas for the pretty eggs – have had some other heirloom breeds but these are the ones I would return to (WILL return to when we get set up in our new location). Thanks for a great post (we’ve also been enjoying and sharing all the seeds/gardening posts).

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth! The two Marans I have are a little bit skittish. Both of them. But they aren’t aggressive or anything. I can pick both of them up with no problem but if the black one, Josephine, gets startled for instance while I’m holding her she’ll jump up on my shoulders or back or head and hold on for dear life, lol. It’s very difficult to remove a chicken from your back if she doesn’t want to be removed from there. Very difficult. ~ karen!

  30. Ev Wilcox says:

    Beautiful eggs! Well done all.

  31. Shanelle says:

    Those dark eggs are beautiful but give me a terrible craving for chocolate.
    The same thing happens when I see pumpernickel bread…

    • Denise Leavens says:

      Me, too! I was so disappointed when I first bit into pumpernickel bread…I thought it would be chocolate bread.

  32. Agnes says:

    Either you’re really good at playing dress up with the chickens, or your Photoshop skills have improved. Whichever it is, bravo.

  33. Dagmar says:

    Dearest Karen,
    the dark colored eggs are stunning. I have a feeling you’ll probably answer no to my question- but I wonder whether there are different diets for different chickens in order for them to produce such a variety of light shelled eggs up to the garnet/walnut mixed ones?

    Now as far as the stupid rabbit comment: we can discuss that once you have taught your chickens to pee and poopy into their litter boxes, walk; or more like hop on a leash, ring a bell in their cage when they are out of water, or just wish for some attention -or are asking to be tucked into their cage bed at night. No stupid rabbits here. Maybe you’ve been consuming too many eggs

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dagmar – You’re right, the answer is no. The colour of the egg a chicken lays has nothing to do with its diet. It’s strictly based on the breed of the chicken and food has nothing to do with the colour of it. ~ karen!

  34. Nancy says:

    Those are the most beautiful eggs I’ve ever ever seen.

  35. Amber says:

    Levitating eggs! I love them, and bored my local co-op clerk stupid talking about how you could tell if a Marans was laying the local eggs by the speckles and colour.
    I have to ask, since I get such wonderful local fresh eggs:
    I like a 4 minute egg. I take the nice egg, put it in cold water, on high heat and from the moment it boils I timer 4 minutes. This make a perfect soft boiled egg, with a yolk like truffle. Perfect for me that is. But what is an easy way, with a fresh egg, to peel the dumb thing?? The fresher the egg, the worse it peels.
    Karen, tell us all, What do you do to peel a fresh soft boiled egg without it looking like it was gnawed by mice?

    • Stephanie says:

      Chef’s trick is to put a good amount of salt in the water to get a cleaner peel of fresh eggs.

    • Karen says:

      Karen would eat the eggs scrambled, lol. I’ve always been a really bad soft boiled egg maker and I don’t actually like hard boiled eggs. In fact … I hate them with all of my heart. And you’re right. The fresher the egg, the less airspace between the shell and the egg so the more difficult they are to peel. I have a gadget in my drawer that I got from a local kitchen store ( You’re the second person to ask me about this in a single day so I’ll dig it out and do a test to see if it works. If I remember correctly it only does hard boiled eggs though … can’t quite remember. ~ karen!

    • Lizzie says:

      If you read the Serious Eats article about perfect hardboiled eggs, Kenji says that putting the eggs in when the water is already boiling shocks the outer layer of the whites to bind better and separate from the shell. I imagine this would be the same for softboiled eggs, but you would probably have to adjust your cooking time if you’re starting from cold now.

    • Sandra says:

      When I soft boil an egg (and I do it the same way as you do), I don’t even try to peel it, I just crack it in two, and scoop out the egg with a spoon. Or just use the eggshell as a bowl, and scoop out mouthfuls, adding a bit of butter with each scoop!

  36. Barbie says:

    Great post~

    BEAUTIFUL eggs Karen! OH MY….just beautiful!

    Great photography too!

    You did good!!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Barbie. They really are nice eggs. The only downside is the one who lays them (Josephine) is the BROODIEST little hen in the world. She lays eggs for a few weeks then she sits on her imaginary nest of eggs for a couple of weeks. And repeat. ~ karen!

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