Marans are known for their dark, chocolate colored eggs. Egg color is a bit of a mystery, but there are some keys to building a flock that lay the dark eggs we all desire. The cock and the hen both play a part in the egg color process. Many breeders have found that using hens that produce the darkest eggs is one of the keys to improving egg color. However, the cock that is produced from a dark egg also contributes his genetics for producing progeny that will help darken the eggs. So it is crucial to keep track of the chicks that hatch from our darkest eggs. We use zipties to mark our birds, and we attach an extra brown loop to the band on those special chicks. The brown loop can be kept on the ziptie as the bird grows until it is big enough to receive a numbered band. Some of those dark eggs can be hard to hatch so some breeders have sanded some of the color from the top of the egg where the chick will pip. Others have said that hatching the eggs upright in a paper carton helps the chicks to hatch more easily. We all hope we can come up with the secret to hatching those beautiful dark eggs.