The Brahma is a very impressive chicken, and one of the largest breeds. Typically it's very gentle and easy to handle, with feathered legs and a beautiful coloured plumage of gold, white, buff Columbian and dark feathers. A large male can weigh between 4.55-5.45kg (10-12lb,) and 1.08kg (38oz) for a bantam (miniature) male. A large female weighs 3.2-4.1kg (7-9lb) and bantam females weigh 0.91kg (32lb).
The Brahma was previously thought to be an Asian breed, but is now supposed to have come from America in the 1840s. The bird's exotic looks would have come from the cross breeding of birds imported to the States from India, (the Grey Chittagong) and China (the Shanghai), and possibly the Cochin as well. The first Brahmas arrived in Britain in 1852, and became very popular after a gift of 9 of the birds was given to Queen Victoria. The name Brahma comes from an abbreviation of the Brahmaputra river of Asia, flowing through China and India and finally into the Bay of Bengal. It reflects the bird's roots in the continent.
The Brahma chicken is very striking, with gold feathers contrasting against deep black feathers with a beetle-blue shine. Its shape is broad, deep, and square, with a short back and beak that accentuates the impression of the chicken's overall size. The Brahma has large eyes and a small, triple comb. The legs are covered in dark feathers, unlike the face which is featherless. It has long red earlobes and a small, bright red wattle.
As a reasonable layer, the Brahma produces medium sized brown eggs. However, with breeding favouring plumage, this variety has lost some of its initial egg laying ability. Approximately 140 eggs should be expected per year from a young and healthy hen.
Gentle natured and friendly, they are easy to tame and don't mind being handled. Some owners have said they're stand-offish, but don't be put off as this can be resolved with early and frequent handling. A male Brahma is timid, although large. This makes him susceptible to bullying when mixed with other cockerels in free-range flocks. The birds take two years to mature fully, which is slow. A result of this slow development combined with their relaxed nature makes Brahmas prone to fatness if over fed. They are usually, however, robust and hardy birds that cope well with heat and cold. The hens are broody mothers, but sometimes can break eggs because of their size.