The Brahma is a massive chicken and is only rivaled by the Jersey Giant.
Despite their size and intimidating appearance they are gentle giants.
They make a wonderful additions to any flock and even help to defend the flock against smaller predators.
Brahmas are elegant chickens that move with grace and purpose.
Do you have enough space to accommodate the king of chickens? Keep reading to discover more about this wonderful breed…
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Brahma Chicken Overview
The Brahma chicken was one of the ultimate table birds until the rise of industrial birds in the 1930s.
Although they fell from industry favor they remained popular with small flock keepers as they are a dual purpose hen.
She is one of the largest chicken breeds and has a beautiful plumage which only adds to this special breeds appeal.
Despite their size they are a very gentle chicken that is well suited for beginners or families.
They are better in cooler climates and thrive in the northern states where the weather can be brutally cold.
Another nice thing with Brahmas is the fact that they prefer laying over the cooler months. They will lay right through the winter and slow down as spring starts to arrive. Great timing since other breeds will be just starting to lay.
In recent years the upsurge in backyard chicken keeping has seen the popularity of this old favorite rise again.
|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.|
Pros and Cons
- Great dual purpose hen.
- Very gentle with children.
- Comes in dark, light and buff colors.
- Huge size and unique appearance.
- Lays eggs throughout the winter.
- Can take 7 months before they start laying.
- Eat lots so feed bill can be expensive.
- When hungry they can bully flock mates.
The Brahma is a large bird although most of their bulk is feathers.
Expect a long, deep and wide body with powerful wings.
Despite their powerful wings they are not able to fly much due to their weight.
The plumage consists of feathers that should be tightly held together making them dense but fluffy. Their feathering extends down the legs and covers the two outer toes with feathers.
Brahmas have a large head with a slightly overhanging brow which gives the bird a mean look. They also have a pea comb with a short but powerful beak.
They can be difficult to sex. In general the pullets will feather in quicker. The boys will develop a larger comb and wattles and have a more curious nature. The definitive signs are the growth of hackle and sickle feathers, but often it will be 5 months or more before you can be sure.
Size and Weight
The Brahma is a very imposing bird standing around 30 inches high. The size can be very intimidating to some folks (especially small children).
Back in the 1800s their weight was very impressive.
Today’s bird is a bit smaller than its ancestors and a rooster will weigh in around 10lb with the hens at 8lb.
Bantam Brahmas are much smaller with the males weighing about 38oz and hens weighing slightly less at 34 oz.
Standard sized Brahmas come in 3 colors:
There have been a few other variations over the years but they have not been officially accepted.
The dark color Brahma requires a double mating technique to ensure good quality birds.
In bantam size you can find these chickens in dark, light, buff, black and white. The black and whites colors are considered rare.
Bantams can be a bit difficult to find but there are sources out there!
What Is It Like To Own A Brahma Chicken?
Brahmas are good foragers and will like to spend the majority of their day roaming.
Whilst they will tolerate confinement they prefer roaming around.
They are a heavy bird which means they do not fly well (if at all). They can easily be contained behind a 2-3 foot high fence. In the summer months care should be taken to provide them with shade and water as they do not tolerate the heat well.
Brahmas are one of the most laid back breeds there is. She is not flighty or skittish and is very placid. Because of their size not too much intimidates them.
They are not known for fighting or fussing with other birds.
In fact because of their size they are usually pretty high in the pecking order and smaller breeds tend not to bother them.
She is docile and friendly towards people – not quite a lap bird but certainly not averse to begging for treats.
Whilst small children may be fearful of them they will warm up to them after a few hugs!
Brahmas can take up to 7 months until they come into lay – however the wait is worth it.
They will reward you with 3-4 medium brown eggs each week.
The Brahma prefers to lay in cooler weather so when the other girls are winding down for the year, the Brahma will be laying from October through March.
For the most part Brahmas are not known for broodiness. Those that do go broody will set very determinedly on their eggs until hatching. Since the mothers are so large it is wise to keep an eye on the hatchlings so they do not get trampled by Mom.
|Eggs Per Week:||3-4 Eggs.|
|Size:||Medium to large.|
Brahmas are quiet birds and rarely make a lot of noise.
The occasions when they do make noises are the daily egg song and predator alarm calls (which will hopefully be infrequent).
This makes them ideal for an urban setting as long as they have enough space to roam.
Brahma Chicken Care Guide
Overall they are robust and healthy birds.
Brahma chickens usual only require attention to parasites such as lice, mites and worms. As they have feathered feet, scaly leg mite can be a problem too so keep a close eye on those legs and feet. Another common problem with feathered leg birds is the accumulation of either mud or poop on the toes. In the winter these balls can freeze causing frostbite and in severe cases the loss of toes.
Try to keep the birds out of the mud and be sure to keep the pens as clean as possible.
Probably the best way to get these balls off the feet is soaking in warm water.
Brahmas thrive when they are free fed.
A 16% layers feed will be ideal for most of the year. They will need slightly more protein when they start to molt.
These large birds have large appetites.
Trying to ration feed a Brahma can be difficult so we recommend the free feed choice.
When they get hungry they have a tendency to bully other flock members so it is better to keep them fed and happy. It is better if you free range them as this will occupy their time and reduce your feed bill.
Coop Setup and Roaming
The Brahma is a big bird so they need more space than the average chicken.
We recommend 5-6 square foot for each chicken in the coop.
Do not go below this as less space leads to anti-social behaviors such as pecking and feather picking.
As for roosting space give them around 8-10 inches each. As these big birds struggle to fly perches should be fairly low for them to access (12-18 inches tall). If you make the perches too high you run the risk of a leg or foot injury when they come down from the roost.
Whilst Brahmas can fit into a 12″x12″ nesting box they will appreciate a larger 14″x14″ box. These extra few inches create a bit of maneuvering room.
Similar to the perches nesting boxes should be low to the ground.
Now for outside the coop requirements.
They will tolerate confinement as long as they have enough room in the pen. These gentle giants need 12-14 square foot each. Your pen area should ideally be stone or sand. Dirt floor pens get muddy very quickly and with feathered feet the Brahmas may develop foot problems.
This is a breed that thrives when roaming so try to let them free range – they will enjoy the freedom and variety.
Because of their large size hawk attacks is rare in adults.
Brahma Breed History
Just like many birds of the Victorian hen craze era (mid-1800s) the Brahma has somewhat uncertain lineage.
The likely parent birds were Shanghais and Chittagongs and Malays.
Shanghais were from China and Chittagongs from eastern India (now Bangladesh).
As you can see their lineage can be classified as muddled at best!
They were first imported to the US in the 1840s and developed over the next few years. There were several different names for the breed and at a meeting of poultry judges in Massachusetts in 1852, the name Brahmaputra was chosen.
This was later shortened to Brahma.
Due to their enormous size roosters of 18lb were not unknown. They became the primary meat chicken of the US from the 1840s until the 1930s.
During this time Brahmas were so popular even Queen Victoria in England kept them.
Both the light and dark colors were accepted to the American Poultry Association in 1874. The buff Brahma was accepted in 1924.
The Brahma is a striking bird to look at.
Whilst their head and brow gives them a fearsome look, nothing could be further from the truth.
This placid bird gets along with everyone and can become attached to their owners. They are very good with kids just watch out for them being knocked over by these humongous birds.
Just make sure you keep them well fed and you will have a happy chicken.
They are a good breed for those wanting to raise their own eggs and meat birds since they can supply both in great quantities.
Let us know any of your questions in the comments section below…