The marans is a breed that originated in France around the 1940's. They come in many different colors, ours are the "cuckoo" color. Cuckoo is a black and white mottled coloring, similar to a barred plymouth rock, but the bars don't line up perfectly with the cuckoo coloring.
They are best known for their dark brown eggs with some strains laying a chocolate brown colored egg. Solid chocolate brown egg layers are hard to come by in the U.S. as most U.S. hens will lay very dark brown eggs but with chocolate brown speckles.
My other favorite traits with this breed, besides the beautiful eggs, are that they tend to be calm, hard to spook and mature very quickly for such a large bird. They mature at about 5-7lbs and start laying eggs at about 5 months old when most other breeds start laying around 6 months.
The breed was developed around 1900 in the Dutch town of Welsum.
A large breed at 6lbs that lays darker brown terra cotta colored eggs. The hens have brown body feathers with a black and tan pattern. The neck feathers change from golden down to black. They also seem to forage well in the pasture.
*Brownish Hen in the center of the picture looking at the camera, is a Welsummer.
A breed that has been around a long time, originating in Massachusetts, USA during the nineteenth century.
There are several varieties: barred, white and partridge. A dual purpose breed used for its meat and eggs. It is popular due to its hardiness and egg production.
These hens are great mothers and lay brown eggs well through the winter.
*A barred rock pictured above . This breed makes up a large portion of our laying flock.
Lays dark brown eggs. This is a rare (in the US) Dutch breed of chicken developed in the late 1940's.
Normally they lay dark brown eggs but our birds don't lay really dark eggs like some of our marans. They are beautiful birds that lay quite well.
*She's obviously from a show strain. ;)
These little ducks were developed in England in 1900 by Mrs. Adele Campbell.
They come in other colors, but the brown "khaki" color seems to be the most common in the US. This breed was created specifically for laying ability and can out lay the best chicken hen. The eggs are larger than chicken eggs and typically off white in color with occasional spots and even a green tinted egg.
These ducks are excellent foragers and blend in well to their surroundings, making them less visible to predators.
*The drakes (males) almost always have orange feet and legs, a dark brown or black head and tail feathers. In Spring, after one of their major molts, they will have a few short curly tail feathers grow in. Females are are more uniform brown/tan color with brown or black legs.
Welsh Harlequin Duck
The Welsh Harlequin duck is a somewhat new breed, developed in 1949 from some light colored Khaki Campbells.
They are an excellent layer with a calm temperament. They set well on eggs and are excellent foragers.
The dark feather at the end of their wings is iridescent in the same way as the magpie drakes. I have fallen in love with this breed and have since added many more of these ladies to our farm.
*Pictured above, the silver version of the Welsh Harlequin. There is also a gold version.
American Buff Geese
Buff geese are one of the few breeds of geese that originated in the US.
Bred for meat production, these medium sized geese can grow to 18 pounds. The buff color is very rare, only occurring in domesticated but not wild geese. They are calm and docile, fantastic parents, and also described as a very curious breed.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists this breed as Critical, meaning there are "fewer than 500 breeding birds in the United States, with five or fewer primary breeding flocks (50 birds or more), and estimated global population less than 1,000."
*The photo was taken of our pair of Buff geese at 2 1/2 months old.
Described as a "dual purpose" breed that was developed in Wales around 1918-1919, Magpie ducks are the newest breed to our farm.
A rare breed in the US, it is listed as "critical" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
I was drawn to the breed as I read that it lays blue eggs and I liked that all resources said they are active foragers. Ours lay mostly white, but a few lay charcoal grey eggs. And they are definitely active foragers!
The dark feathers of the drakes' iridesce blue, green and purple making for a stunning visual when the light hits them just right.