Marans chickens are quiet, docile, gentle birds, but they are quite active, taking well to free ranging in rough terrain and are also tough and disease-resistant. Marans lay around 150 dark brown eggs each year. Marans are an historically dual-purpose bird, prized not only for their dark eggs but for their table qualities as well. The Marans originate from France, and were imported into the United Kingdom in the 1930s.
Bev’s Birchen line was bred from the Leurquin line, which was a Swiss import line consisting only of several males in the US. The Leurquin males produced any number of colour combinations, but it was the birchen pattern that interested Bev from this line. Many obstacles had to be over come in this line from side sprigs in the comb, mossy plumage and light coloured eggs. The males had a tendency toward squirrel tails as well. When crossed with the Fitch line (which was done because there were no Leurquin females and no other non-barred lines in the US at that time), the hackle feathers became black in the females so Bev had to backtrack to breed offspring back to an older female. Over the years the egg colour has improved but this is still a line that is being worked on.