The Brahma chicken gets its name from the Brahmaputra region of India, where they were known as 'grey Chittagongs'. They were first taken to the United States then exported to Britain somewhere during the mid 1800s. Brahmas are represented in the first book of poultry standards which was published in 1865. They were popular for their egg laying abilities and their edibility but nowadays they are kept mainly as an ornamental bird.
Brahma cocks weighing up to 14 pounds have been recorded. Because of their relatively large size and their power, the breed is believed to be descended from Gallus gigantus, an Asiatic jungle bird. Today, weights of 12 pounds for cocks and 9 pounds for hens are more usual. Because of their size, show birds should be trained from an early age before they become too large to handle easily.
The Brahma is a beautiful bird, now available in a range of colours including light, dark, gold, black, blue, blue Columbian and buff Columbian. The original colour was the Light. Then Light and Dark Brahmas were recognised from 1865 to 1965 with other colours being developed later. The Brahma is available as a 'full size' or bantam version.
The American Standard of Perfection recognises Light, Dark and Buff colourways.
This is a buff brahma hen. Note the heavily feathered feet.
The Light Brahma has a base colour of white. Black hackle feathers are edged in white and the main tail feathers are black with white side hangers. The saddle feathers of the roosters are striped with black.
The Buff Brahma has similar markings to the Light but with a golden buff as the base colour.
The Dark Brahma has a black base colour. The cock has black and white hackles and saddle feathers. The tail is black, the wings white on the shoulders and the primary feathers edged in white. The hen has dark grey and black pencil colouring.
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Brahmas have neat, red pea combs, yellow skin and bright yellow legs. Pea combs are low and the top is marked with three low lengthwise ridges. The centre ridge is slightly higher than the outer ones. The eyes and earlobes are red. The feet are heavily feathered and the plumage fluffy, tight and dense. The body is full, broad and square. The head is small with beetling brows.
Because of the emphasis on breeding for plumage colour, egg production is not particularly good and the Brahma is slow to mature, taking up to two years. They lay large, brown eggs. The hens go broody and make attentive mothers.
Brahmas are rarely considered as a commercial proposition but make calm, friendly backyard birds especially if there are children who'd like a chicken they are interact with. They are a very placid bird, not given to sudden panics and quickly become tame. Even the cocks are rarely aggressive towards humans. Despite their size they are often bullied in a mixed flock. They tolerate the cold and cope with being confined, although they are much happier with lots of room in which to forage.
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