One of the most prominent of the breeds of poultry is the Brahma Chicken, and from an exhibitor’s, or a fancier’s point of view, once the most valuable. Two hundred and fifty dollars was no uncommon price for a really first-class bird, and eggs from certain strains were almost literally worth their weight in gold, but there has been a great decline in recent years.
Characteristics of Brahma Chicken
Brahma Chicken is undoubtedly a manufactured breed, and for some years there was a great controversy as to its origin. At first, it was not very attractive; but this was in time remedied, and of late years it has been so carefully and skillfully bred, that its characteristics are firmly fixed and clearly defined. It is chiefly valuable for its great size and hardiness, and for laying well in winter, although the eggs are often small and disproportionate to the size of the fowls themselves, they are rich in quality, next in this respect to cochins. They are buff in color, and with many buyers this is a decided attraction.
Brahmas cannot be regarded as first-class table fowls, so far as quality of flesh is concerned, having the flesh laid more on to the legs than the breast, which is always a disadvantage; but when they are young, they are by no means to be despised, especially when their size is considered. For a family fowl, they are unequalled, and a large Brahma chicken is sufficient for the dinner of a moderately-sized family. For crossing purposes, they are beneficial, when table fowls are in view, and we shall have occasion to recommend them for that purpose.
There are three species of Brahma Chicken, the Dark Brahma Chicken, Light Brahma Chicken and Buff Brahma Chicken. Both of these are alike, same in colour. The shape of a good bird is most pleasing, as they are well-proportioned and very handsome; the heavily-feathered legs, the deep massive bodies, the neat heads, with small pea-combs, all combine to complete the effect. They are capital sitters and mothers—though when old, rather clumsy and heavy for this purpose, are very docile, can be kept on almost any soil that is not absolutely always wet, are fairly good as layers, and whilst they should have a fair amount of liberty they do not require very extensive runs, and can always be kept within bounds by a three-foot fence.
Light Brahma Chicken
The standard weights of the Light Brahma in pounds are Cock 12 lbs (5.5 kg); Hen, 9 ½ lbs (4.4 kg); Cockerel, 10 lbs (4.5 kg); Pullet, 8 lbs (3.6 kg). The Light Brahma, in general, is white in plumage color, the hackle feathers are black with a narrow edging of white, the main tail feathers black except for the top two feathers in the female which are slightly laced with white. The small tail coverts are black with distinct white lacing.
The color pattern is similar to that of the Columbian Plymouth Kock and the Columbian Wyandotte. The feathers on the shanks and the middle and outer toes are white and black, the black feathers on the outer toes being laced with white. The undercolor of all sections is light bluish slate. The shanks and toes are yellow. The beak is yellow with a dark stripe down the upper mandible.
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Dark Brahma Chicken
The Dark and Buff Brahma, Cock, 11 lbs (5 kg); Hen, 8.5 lbs (3.9 kg); Cockerel, 9 lbs (4 kg) ; Pullet, 7 lbs (3.2 kg). The Dark Brahma shows a sexual difference in color pattern, the male being more variegated than the female. The color markings are similar to those of the Silver-Penciled Plymouth Rock and Wyandotte. In the male, the hackle is greenish black with a narrow edging of silver white, and the plumage in front of the neck is black The wing bow is silvery white with greenish-black coverts, the primaries black except for a narrow edging of white on the lower edge or the lower web, and the secondary black except the lower half of the lower web, which should be white. The neck feathers have black centers with a narrow edging of white the saddle is silvery white with a black stripe in each feather, the tail is black, the sickles and coverts are lustrous greenish black, and the smaller coverts greenish black and white.
The color of the female is entirely different. The head and upper part of the neck are silvery gray, the wing bows are steel gray with soft black penciling, the primaries black with a narrow edge of steel-gray penciling on the lower webs, and the secondary had the upper webs black and the lower webs steel gray with black penciling extending around the outer edge of the feathers. The back is steel gray with soft black penciling the same as the breast, body, and fluff; the tail is black except for the two top feathers, which are gray on the upper edge. The undercolor of all sections in both male and female should be slate. The beak is dusky yellow shading to yellow at the point: the shanks and toes are yellow.
Buff Brahma Chicken
The Buff Brahma was added to this class in 1929. The color pattern of the Buff Brahma is identical with that of the Light Brahma except that the white sections of the Light Brahma are replaced by golden buff. The beak is yellow with a dark stripe down the upper mandible.