It’s Not Just Their Furry Feathered Feet!
History of the Brahma Breed
The ancestry of the stately feather-footed Brahma chicken dates back to India and China; however much of their development as a meat breed is attributed to the United States during the mid-to-late 1850s. Although the name Brahma was derived from the Brahmaputra River in India, the birds were previously known by a succession of assorted names.
Selectively bred in China to create a large feather-footed chicken, the Brahma originated as a deliberate cross between the very tall Malay and the Cochin chickens, known for the excessive plumage covering their legs and feet as well as their capacity to lay large tinted eggs well through the winter.
Chicken breeders in Shanghai, China then imported the Malay-Cochin cross and gave them the name “Shanghai.” Subsequently, they were crossed with India’s Gray Chittagongs, which were known for the pea comb and beetle brow that is noticeable in today’s Brahma. As the Brahmas developed, they took on a variety of names, the most common including Chittagong, Gray Shanghai and Brahma Pootra. Finally, after transport to the UK, the name was shortened to simply “Brahma.”
Upon further transport to the United States, the Brahma developed into its own breed, with offshoots being the Dark, Light and finally the Buff variety.
Today’s standard Brahma weighs between 8-12 pounds (about 4-5 kilos), a bit larger than the average chicken. They are known as beautiful, large and dignified birds, a chosen favorite for shows and country estates. They live between 5-8 years.
What’s So Special About Brahma Chickens?
Brahmas have quite a lot to offer. Characteristics include:
- Extremely friendly and relaxed – and easy to care for
- Hardy, steady layers.
- Good meat birds.
- Bigger, although not ridiculously big. Those HUGE birds in videos are either a genetic fluke or a hoax!
- Feathered fluffy furry feet.
- Hens are traditionally good sitters (broody hens), as well as good mothers.
Are Brahma Roosters Aggressive?
Brahma cockerels, despite their larger size, are unfortunately not great for protection against predators. In terms of protecting the flock, these roosters are simply too friendly, too plump and too clumsy.
On the upside, very few Brahma boys are aggressive towards people. And if they do, there are ways to turn them “back to normal.”
As far as their peers, these male Brahmas are actually more tolerant towards other roosters than most other breeds I’ve encountered, but that doesn’t make them impassive: they still don’t like other roos.
When Do Brahmas Start Laying Eggs?
Brahma hens will begin laying eggs somewhere between six and nine months of age, which is a good eight weeks later than most other breeds.
What Color Eggs Do Brahmas Lay?
Brahma hens are known for laying tinted eggs: a lovely light brown. In my own experience, their eggs are often longer (less round) than the typical chicken egg.
Can You Eat Brahma Chickens?
If you’re looking for a breed of chickens that lay eggs as well as produce meat, you’ll be happy to know that you can indeed eat Brahmas. The meat is quite tasty, although you’ll have to wait for them to mature. At 13 weeks, they’re plump enough to be eaten, but I would advise you to wait until they’re about eight months old. By that time, they’ll have plenty of meat on them.
Of course, the older they get, the more creative you’ll want to get with cooking methods – I can tell you that we’ve eaten a rooster once at around 15 months, and it was rather delicious in this beer can chicken recipe.
What Is the Difference Between a Cochin and a Brahma Bantam?
The word “bantam” means a chicken of a small breed, thus accordingly today’s Brahma Bantam is a small version of a Brahma. Today’s Cochin, also with feathered feet, is quite similar, and comes in a wider variety of colors.
People seem to be partial to each breed, claiming that one is more docile than the other. Seems you can’t go wrong with either a Brahma Bantam or a Cochin.
Do Brahma Chickens Have Any Breed-Related Health Issues?
Brahmas don’t really have any problematic health issues. Occasionally their feathered feet can get clumped up with mud, but they’re pretty good at cleaning their own feet. Best, however, to keep an eye on them just in case.
Brahmas have been nicknamed the “King of all Breeds”. I always have two or three of them in my flock; I like that they’re dependable and funny to look at. I’m less charmed by their non-existing defence mechanism; whenever predators wrecked havoc in the past, the Brahmas were the first (sometimes the only) to go.
Tell me – do you have Brahma chickens, or have you had them in the past? Do you agree with others calling them the “king of all breeds”, or would you like to nominate a different chicken breed for that?