Your Ultimate Guide To The Brahma Chicken Breed
The Brahma chicken is a unique bird with a fascinating history. If you’re looking for a solid egg-layer or a chicken for meat production (with a friendly temperament), this may be the perfect breed for your backyard.
But while they may seem like the perfect all-around breed, don’t start adding them to your backyard just yet. Your local temperature, current flock, and space limitations will mean they are either a terrific choice or a terrible mistake. Read our Breed guide below to find out if the Brahma chicken is for you.
Brahma chicken breed in a nutshell
|Purpose for Breeding||Eggs, exhibition, meat, pets|
|Weight||Large fowl: 4.5-5.4kgs (9.9-12lbs); bantam: 900g (32oz)|
|Egg production||Average of 140 eggs a year|
|Egg size||Medium to large|
|Ease of care||Relatively low maintenance; feather care required|
|Lifespan||5 to 8 years|
|Meat production time||8-10 weeks (broilers); 8 months (roasters)|
|Sociability with other chickens||Excellent, peaceful with other birds|
|Sociability with people||Excellent|
|Conservation status||Watch category|
A Brief History of The Brahma Chicken
The origin of Brahma is debatable – like with other heritage breeds. But T.B Miner, author of the Northern Farmer, coined the name “Brahma.”
In the 1850s, a poultryman from America named George Burnham sent Queen Victoria nine of his best Brahma chickens, contributing to what was known as “hen fever.” Since then, the Brahma breed was developed for both livestock and ornamental purposes (1).
Brahma Chicken Size, Weight, and Varieties
Brahma chickens are one of the largest chicken breeds. A full-grown and mature Brahma Chicken size can reach up to 30 inches tall. Brahmas can even be as heavy as 12lbs for cocks and around 10lbs for hens. But “The King of All Poultry” breed also in bantam size, weighing only about 2 pounds.
Brahmas have feathered legs and feet. Hens also have feathered feet but are less profuse. Brahma feathers are not rounded at the tips but have a tapering shape, with Brahma roosters having more slender feathers on their necks and rump.
Brahma chickens have more dense and profuse feathers, unlike their cousin, the Cochin.
The hens have a more uniform, feather structure, still quite triangular but wider than a Brahma rooster. Brahma chicken heads are small for their size, having a pea comb, which is more prominent in cocks, and small red wattles. They also have broad brows with heavy eyebrows.
These heavily feathered giants get their size and plumage from their Malay and Chinese bloodlines. The pea comb and beetle brow come of Indian descent. United States breeders refined Brahma during the height of the “hen fever,” making the Brahma chicken breed that we know today (2).
Brahma Chicken Colors: The 3 Recognized Varieties
There are three varieties of large fowl and bantam size classifications of Brahma recognized by the American Poultry Association. These varieties are:
1. Dark Brahma Chicken
Dark Brahma is the only variety to have a distinct color pattern between rooster and hen. The females have a more uniform black partridge pattern with white piping throughout their bodies.
A rooster has pure black feathers on its tail, underside, legs, and feet. For their neck, chest, and back, the features are mostly silver with black centers.
2. Light Brahma Chicken
The Light Brahma Chicken is contrasting black and white for both roosters and hens.
Light Brahma roosters have a prominent black collar of feathers below the black and white neck feathers. Light Brahma hens don’t have as much black feathering apart from the tail. The Livestock Conservancy noted that the Light Brahma is a pound heavier than the Dark Brahma.
3. Buff Brahma
Buff Brahma is similar in pattern to that of the light Brahma chickens, but it has a golden brown hue.
Of the Brahma Chicken colors, this variety was the last to be recognized for show. The American Poultry Association’s American Standard of Perfection initially accepted the Light and Dark color varieties in 1874. It was then 50 years later when Buff Brahmas were recognized. For shows and exhibitions, three types of Buff Brahma can only participate (2).
What It’s Like To Own A Brahma Chicken
- Best winter layers
- Hardy, easy to keep
- High Broodiness
- Slow maturing
- Plumage needs extra care
- Not fussy with cages
- Good looking birds
- Needs more feed
- Slow growing
- Large needs lots of space
Brahma’s Personality and Temperament
Contrary to their intimidating size, the giant Brahma breed is very docile. Unlike Plymouth Rock, this chicken breed with feathered legs is not aggressive towards humans and other chickens.
Their incredibly calm dispositions make them a fabulously friendly addition to the flock.
In a mixed flock, smaller breeds can bully Brahma chickens.
Since the Brahma is initially for shows, they take confinement well. They also get along with kids, making them one of the ideal breeds to make as pets.
Brahma Chicken Eggs and Meat Production
Brahma chickens are fair egg layers for their large size. Brahmas can produce about 140 eggs per year. They can start laying eggs from October to May. Other relevant egg-laying details about the Brahma include:
- Egg color: Brown
- Brown egg size: Medium to large
Although the weather is colder, Brahmas are one of the best winter-layers, next to their cousins, the Wyandottes and Chantecler. Brahmas have a pea comb and dense and fluffy feathers to keep themselves warm. Plus, they have feathers on their feet for more warmth.
A Brahma hen is particularly broody in the summer, attentively sitting on its eggs most of the time. However, keep an eye on the eggs once they hatch.
Remember, Brahmas are large birds. They can accidentally squish their chicks, especially in a small enclosure. It is best to keep newly hatched chicks in an incubator safe from their moms’ feet and weight.
Although the Brahma chicken is an excellent dual-purpose breed, they are slow-growing and slow-maturing chickens. (3).
The relatively slow rate of growth and long time required to reach maturity have caused Brahmas to be passed by as a commercial fowl.
However, Brahmas are still ideal egg layers and meat producers on a small scale. If you are patient enough, the yield will be well worth it. One full-grown bird can feed a big family!
Brahma Chicken Noise
Though the Brahma chicken is a giant breed, they are not the noisiest birds. They are quiet and communicate in low tones. Brahma cockerels are hushed crowers while hens do not loudly cackle while they lay. This quality adds to making them good company in a populated neighborhood.
How To Take Care of The Giant Brahmas
1. Place Them In A Spacious Chicken Coop
Even if they take confinement quite well, light Brahma and even other heritage breeds shouldn’t live in a small chicken coop. The Brahma is a big bird! It needs a lot of space to move in, and being tall, they also need more ceiling and door height for their enclosures. You don’t want those beautiful back feathers rubbing against the roof.
Although light Brahma and other varieties cannot fly, they require low and stable roosts to support their weight. You can build fencing around their enclosure, but it should be high to prevent predators from entering.
The breed is easy to contain, not being able to fly low fences very easily. They also stand confinement extremely well – having calm and docile personalities.
Brahma chickens do well in both enclosed and free-range spaces. They don’t tend to wander far but are relatively good foragers. Being a bird breed common to the Northern Hemisphere, keeping Brahma chickens in a spacious indoor chicken coop is ideal for preventing freezing feathers.
2. Use High-Quality Feed
Since the Brahma chicken breed is slow-growing, it is crucial to provide quality feed to Brahma chicks to ensure their growth. Brahma chicks also consume more food than smaller breeds of chicken. A healthier and cost-efficient option would be to have the birds forage in a dry safe space in addition to providing good feed.
Free-range chickens, regardless of the breed, are known for having tastier meat due to the exercise they get wandering around and the fresh organic feed they get from foraging. Being a cost-saving option is a bonus if you have land space for it.
3. Monitor Their Skin and Feathered Legs
Brahmas are a hardy breed of chicken, tolerant to the cold thanks to their profuse feathering.
They can tolerate warmer climates, but not as well as other species like the Phoenix. If the weather is too hot, giant Brahma chickens may develop skin conditions or heat stroke. You should keep them in a cool shaded area if you stay in a warmer place.
Brahmas aren’t sickly birds, but what makes them most vulnerable are wet and muddy environments. One of the main issues with these birds would be that their feathered legs and feet are especially at risk of clumping when they get wet or muddy. Keep the Brahma’s surroundings dry, particularly in the winter, when frostbite can be a serious concern.
Parasite infestation is common in hens and roosters too. You can check the feathers for any sign of leg mite and immediately consult a veterinarian for treatment.
Where to get Brahma Chickens?
Brahma is a unique breed of chicken, not only for their large size but for their hardiness and pleasing personality. They give a little bit of everything you would need and want from a chicken. These giants are great backyard chickens because they are relatively easy to care for and are friendly.
- Cackle Hatchery (Missouri, USA)
- Stromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds (Minnesota, USA)
- Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms (Texas, USA)
- Freehling Farms (Pennsylvania, USA)
- Carolina Rare Chicks (South Carolina, USA)
- American Brahma Club
Brahma is a unique breed of chicken, not only for their size but for their hardiness and pleasing personality. They give a little bit of everything you would need and want from a chicken. They are relatively easy to care for and are good company for other animals and humans alike. They do their thing without making a fuss and look good doing it.
You can eat chickens without any problem. They are a dual-purpose chicken breed, which means they are great for eggs and meat. To get more meat from these meat birds, you need to wait because young (about 5 to 6 months) Brahma chickens do not have much meat. Ideally, you should only butcher Brahmas when they reach their market weight of at least 8lbs. It will take a year and a half for a Brahma chicken to mature. However, the meat of an adult Brahma is not as tender as a young Brahma.
Brahma chickens can live up to 8 years. This, of course, depends on the quality of care that you provide. Brahmas, like all chickens, need high-quality feed and regular veterinary visits to reach their life expectancy. Having a proper shelter is crucial too if you want Brahma chickens to live longer. Keeping them in a small and confined coop can restrict their movement, making them uncomfortable and stressed. If your space permits, you should raise them as free-range chickens.
Brahma can start laying eggs between 6 to 7 months of age. Although they are slower than other chicken breeds, the long wait is rewarding. This big yet gentle chicken breed can give you four brown eggs per week. You can expect the brown egg size to be medium to large. For comfort and better egg-laying, you can provide Brahma chickens with high-quality feed, enough water, and clean nest boxes.
- Brahma Chicken. Retrieved from: https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/brahma
- About the Brahma. Retrieved from: https://www.americanbrahmaclub.com/
- Poultry Breeds – Brahma Chicken. Retrieved from: https://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/poultry/chickens/brahma