The magnificent Brahma is an old breed with ancient origins; like many heritage breeds, the precise genetic composition of this bird is unclear.
From hints preserved in poultry manuals and diaries from the 1800s, historians have reconstructed the possible beginnings of this noble bird.
It’s a docile, gentle breed that’s good for both meat and egg-laying. It’s regarded as the King of ‘Chickens’ because of its size.
We’ll go over all you need to know about this gentle giant in today’s post, including its size, temperament, egg-laying ability, breed history, and much more.
|Weight:||Hen (8lb) and Rooster (10lb).|
|Color:||Dark, light or buff.|
|Egg Production:||3-4 per week.|
|Known For Broodiness:||No.|
|Good With Children:||Yes.|
|Cost of Chicken:||$5 per chick.|
Background and History of Brahma Chicken
In the mid–1800s, this bird was initially referred to as a ‘Shanghai.’ The 1850s ‘Hen Fever’ in the United States and the United Kingdom was driven by the Brahma Chicken breed.
The ‘Shanghai’ is a hybrid, a mix between a Malay and a Cochin bird. The name persisted for a time since these birds were introduced to the United States by sailors who had visited the Chinese city of Shanghai.
They crossed Shanghai with the Grey Chittagong, a river that originates in India and flows through Bangladesh towards the Brahmaputra River.
Despite the unusual nomenclature, the mix between the two breeds may have happened in the United States!
The Brahma chicken was developed mostly in the United States from imported birds, and it was perfected over a relatively short period of time — around fifty years.
Most scientists assume that the birds originated in China and were influenced by Indian fowl.
In 1852, a breeder called George Burnham sent nine “grey Shanghaes” to Queen Victoria of England as a present, and she was said to admire them.
Mr. Burnham must have been a savvy businessman, for his birds’ prices increased from $12–15 per pair to $100–150 per pair as a result of this gift!
The Dark Brahma was created in the United Kingdom from Light Brahma imported from the United States.
Until the introduction of newer production breeds in the 1930s, the Brahma chicken was the greatest breed for table cuisine.
Because the Brahma could not gain muscle and bulk as rapidly as the younger birds, it fell out of favour over time.
Because of its growing popularity among backyard chicken keepers and homesteaders, the Livestock Conservancy lists it as “recovering.”
Breed Standard for Brahma Chickens
In 1865, the official Poultry Club produced the first British Poultry Standard, which featured both the Light and Dark Brahma.
The Light and Dark Brahma were accepted into the American Poultry Association standard in 1874.
In 1924, the Buff Brahma was accepted.
The Brahma chicken is a huge bird that stands approximately 30 inches tall, nearly as tall as the Jersey Giant. Its body is long, deep, and broad.
When seen from the side, it stands tall, forming a thin ‘V’.
The Brahma has a pea comb and a ‘beetle brow,’ which is when the forehead overhangs the eyes somewhat. The beak is small yet powerful.
The plumage is dense and close-knit, with a deep layer under the feathers.
For categorization purposes, it is classified as an Asiatic breed.
The Brahma chicken also has its own pair of boots, which might be harmful to its health in colder climes.
They do, in fact, have feathered feet, which give them a cuddly look.
Size of Brahma Chicken
The rooster should be approximately 10 pounds, and the hen should be approximately 8 pounds. The bird was significantly heavier in the 1850s, weighing 18lb and 13lb, for male and female respectively.
The Brahma has a bantam variant with five distinct colorations: light, dark, buff, black, and white, however black and white are rare.
Bantam roosters will weigh around 38 ounces and hens will weigh 34 ounces. Bantam variations are difficult to come by, with just a few breeders identified.
Feather Patterns and Appearance
Light, Dark, and Buff are the three recognized feather patterns.
There’s no mistaking one for the other since the patterns are so unique. The pattern contrast in each type is highly detailed and beautiful.
The Light Brahma is mostly white with a grey undertone, creating a contrast in black and white.
Black striping runs across the hackle feathers, with a little striping in the saddle region.
The tail is black, with white laced covert feathers.
A male Dark Brahma should have silver hackles and a black-striped saddle.
The tail, breast, and body should all be solid black, while the shoulder region should be pure silver.
The hackles of the hens should be black with a faint grey pencilling and white laced.
Medium grey with black pencilling on the body, breast, back, and wings.
The birds need ‘double mating’ to get the greatest coloration.
The Buff design is very identical to the Light, with the exception that Buff replaces the White.
The Buff’s warm colour has made it a popular choice among many people.
Other colour variants include white, blue exchequer, and gold partridge. Despite this, none have stayed popular enough to be considered for admittance to the APA or to arouse widespread attention among chicken keepers.
Temperament of Brahmas
The Brahma is a huge bird, which might be frightening to a child or someone who is terrified of birds. However, the Brahma is a kind, non–aggressive bird.
It is a placid, peaceful, and sociable bird that is believed to be extremely simple to handle.
Because they can’t fly, they’re quite easy to confine.
They perform well as foragers, despite their ability to withstand captivity.
With all that heavy feathering, they’re ideal for cold regions.
Soil/environment preferences include well-drained, typically dry soil and a damp, cold climate.
You should also keep their living quarters away from damp, marshy, or muddy locations since they might cause foot issues.
They make excellent mothers and have a good record of laying eggs; they are not unduly broody, though this might vary depending on the line of birds you get.
Because most hens are terrified by their size, they are frequently toward the top of the pecking order!
Brahma isn’t recognised for being a flock bully and gets along with most other chickens.
Brahma Chicken: Table Fare and Eggs
Originally, the Brahma was bred as a table animal. The bird was significantly bigger in the 1800s, and one bird could easily feed a large family at a low price.
Between 1850 and 1930, the Brahma was the most popular table chicken.
Even today, the Brahma’s size is sufficient to feed a family of four, but if you choose to retain your hens for eggs, the Brahma will suffice.
A hen will lay 3–4 eggs each week, and the good news is that they like to lay from October to May, just when your other females are preparing to hibernate for the winter!
The eggs range in size from medium to big and are brown in colour.
The disadvantage is that it might take six to seven months for the chickens to begin producing eggs.
In the winter, like with any feather–footed poultry, the feathering might be an issue.
In frigid weather, the feet may get wet and muddy, resulting in frostbite. When the feet become wet or muddy, little mud balls form on the toes, which may seriously damage the toe if not addressed.
If they are permitted out in the winter snow and ice, you must pay special attention to their feet.
Keep a look out for lice and mites since their feathering is so thick and tight. Inspect their legs for scaly leg mite on a regular basis, since it is difficult to detect in feathered foot breeds.
A foot quill may sometimes catch on something and snap off.
They may bleed heavily, but applying pressure and then using corn starch or styptic powder typically solves the issue.
Aside from these little concerns, the Brahma is a strong guy who enjoys excellent overall health.
Because the Brahma chicken is a large breed, it is more susceptible to bumblefoot.
When big breeds, for example, leap from roosts and land on anything pointy, their bodies’ weight might shove the foreign item into their foot.
Infection, bumblefoot, and even death may result in the long term.
Because the Brahma is a large bird, it requires more room than a typical chicken.
For each chicken in the coop, we suggest 5-6 square feet.
If you fall below this, you’ll encourage anti-social behaviours like pecking and feather plucking.
Give them around 8-10 inches of roosting area each. Perches should be quite low for these large birds to approach since they struggle to fly (12-18 inches tall). When they come down from the roost, if the perches are too high, they may suffer a leg or foot injuries.
Brahmas may fit into a 12′′x12′′ nesting box, but they prefer a bigger 14′′x14′′ box. These additional inches give you a little more space to move about.
Nesting boxes, like perches, should be low to the ground.
Is Brahma Chicken the Right Choice for You?
The Brahma may be right for you if you like huge, sociable hens. This is a calm hen that would be an excellent addition to a family flock.
Because of their size, little children may be intimidated by them at first, but they quickly come to adore them.
Their placid nature makes them ideal for a 4-H project or even the show ring, where they perform well.
Sturdy roosts, somewhat bigger nest boxes to accommodate the hens, and somewhat wider gateways are some additional considerations for the Brahma in the coop – remember, this is a massive bird!
Because the Brahma is such a huge bird, it takes longer to develop than a typical chicken. Some believe it might take up to two years for them to completely grow.
The chicks are often tough and hatch fast, and they also feather in swiftly.
Hatcheries sell them at a reasonable price — unsexed chicks cost less than three dollars. Sexed chicks are a little more costly, but they’re still around $4 per bird.
The stock quality will be greater and the chicks will cost more if you go to a specialised Brahma chicken breeder.
The Brahma was regarded as the King of ‘Chickens’ until the Jersey Giant matched or exceeded it.
If you believe you’d want to add Brahma chickens to your flock, make a mental inventory of the traits that will set them apart from your usual chickens.
To accommodate these enormous birds, you may need to change the coop and its’furniture.’
There’s also the expensive to feed, which must be anticipated since they consume a little more than a regular chicken.
In the wetter, colder months, feathered feet also need some extra attention.
You will not be disappointed if you purchase several of these magnificent birds.
I’ve never seen a Brahma that has a “attitude” — they’re always pleasant and gentle.
Of course, in the spring, the roosters may have some testosterone overdose, but what rooster doesn’t?
If you have the room and time to care for any of these lovely chickens, I strongly advise you to do so.
You won’t be disappointed, and they’ll be a nice addition to any flock.