The Brahma chicken is known in many countries of the world to be both ornamental and good for egg and meat production. Its disposition also makes it a star, since it is friendly and non-aggressive enough for family barnyards and calm enough to do well at shows and fairs. Brahma chickens are good barnyard fowl, spectacular 4-H projects, and also make good pets.
Characteristics of Brahma Chickens
When Brahmas were first imported to the United States in 1846, cocks weighed as much as fourteen pounds. Modern chickens are smaller; cocks weigh from 11-12 pounds, and hens from 8-9 pounds, depending on the variety. The Light Brahma, a white bird streaked with black, is the most popular variety, but there are also Dark Brahmas and Buff Brahmas.
In earlier days, cocks were even bigger than they are now, with weights of 14 pounds not unusual. Today the average weight of a mature rooster is 11 to 12 pounds, while hens weigh from 8 to 9 pounds. The birds have many fluffy feathers and seem larger, and a rooster may stand 26 inches tall. With their striking coloring and feathered feet and legs, the Brahma stands out in any company.
The original chickens were white with black, and this color is still the most popular; today these are called Light Brahmas. The Dark Brahma is black tipped with white in the cock and dark gray and black in the hens. There is also the Buff Brahma, in which the base color is a warm tan and the markings black and brown. All Brahmas have feathered legs and feet and fluffy, compact tails.
Although the chickens are beautiful, they are also good layers and make well-breasted roasting fowl. They are hardy in colder climates, lay more in winter than many other breeds, and do well in either free range conditions or in confinement. Their eggs are large and brown, with a rich flavor that many prefer to any other, and even in runs they lay three or more eggs a week. They are not over-anxious to set (which many farmers think is a virtue) but make good mothers when they do.
The Brahma is a hardy bird that does well in areas with cold winters. They have the small ‘pea comb’ which will not freeze like the larger combs of other breeds, and their profuse feathers and feathered feet keep them warm with little help from their owners and less feed as well. The hens continue to lay eggs in the winter months, when hens of other breeds may stop altogether until the weather warms up.
The chicks are available from most hatcheries, many of which ship the day-old chicks all over the country as soon as the spring brings warmer weather. Check online for local sources and for national hatcheries. There are Brahma clubs to be found in the United States, in England, and in Australia.