Not all chickens are born equal. Some are excellent layers, whereas large-sized breeds can yield a tremendous amount of meat when they mature.
Meanwhile, the dual-purpose chickens give the best of both worlds. But if you have a family, you know how important it is to have docile chickens.
And you know how some giant chickens don’t get along well with children. The good news is you won’t find that with Brahma chickens.
These large, dual-purpose chickens are all-rounders you can raise for multiple purposes. So, here is every little detail you need to know to raise this breed.
The History of the Brahma Chicken
Brahma chickens are an illustrious breed with a few backstories. However, most people believe these birds are native to the United States.
They were created from giant chickens that came to the United States from China. These Chinese fowls sailed from the port of Shanghai after the Chinese signed a treaty to open their trading ports in 1843.
These Shanghaes, or Shanghai birds, were later crossed with Chittagong chickens from India. This gave birth to a new chicken with unique cone-shaped heads and pea combs.
These physical distinctions also separated the Brahmas from other Shanghai fowls known today as Cochin chickens. The first generation of Brahma chickens comprised only light Brahmas.
In 1852, George Burnham gave nine light Brahmas to Queen Victoria of England as gifts. And once the local English knew about this breed, the breed price skyrocketed from $12 to $15 to $100 to $150 per pair.
This light variety also became the foundation fowl in creating a dark-colored variation. During the same year, Boston poultry judges agreed to call these chickens “Brahmapootra.” Later, the name was simplified to Brahma.
In 1874, the American Poultry Association accepted light and dark Brahmas as official breeds. In 1924, the association also recognized the buff Brahmas as a breed.
Today, Brahma chickens are easy to find on any poultry farm. And their prices are also affordable.
For instance, chick prices start at $3 and can reach $5 per bird. Meanwhile, adult Brahmas usually cost between $15 and $25 per bird.
Appearance and Characteristics of Brahma Chickens
Brahma chickens are gigantic fowls with large bodies, red faces, wattles, and pea combs, feathered yellow legs and shanks, and yellowish-orange beaks. They weigh 10 to 12 pounds and stand 10 inches tall. And males are heavier and larger than females.
These chickens come in different varieties: light, dark, buff, blue, barred, partridge, and crele. The American Poultry Association only accepted light, dark, and buff varieties as official breeds. But the Australian Poultry Association recognized all varieties as a breed.
Here are a few key features that you can find in three major Brahma varieties:
Light Brahma chickens have white plumage with gray under feathers. They also have dark-penciled feathers on their necks and tails.
Dark Brahma chickens have grayish-black bodies with silvery black feathers on their necks and tails. Females are slightly duller than males, with blackish-white penciled feathers on their necks and tails.
With the exception of their buff plumage, these chickens have dark-penciled feathers similar to the Light Brahmas.
Depending on their varieties, some can weigh heavier than others. For instance, light Brahma males can weigh up to 12 pounds, whereas dark and buff Brahma males usually weigh 11 pounds.
Behavior and Temperament
Brahma chickens are generally gentle and docile. Although they have large bodies, these birds are calm and rarely turn hostile around other animals. You also won’t see these fowls being territorial with other chickens.
These gentle giants can also tolerate physical touches and hugs. And you can safely let your children play with them.
These chickens are also quiet and rarely make loud noises.
This breed is also easy to tame and train. And the best time to make these chickens good family pets is by training them when they are young.
Taming older Brahmas is also simple. You only need treats like fruits or vegetables to lure them closer to you. Be sure to pet these birds so they are familiar with human touch.
The hens are also considered great mothers. They rarely move from their nest and sit on the eggs until they are hatched. The mothers are also less broody and naturally nurturing toward their chicks. Once you let them roam freely, the mothers will lead their chicks to forage for food.
Brahma chickens are capable of tolerating cold weather. With their thick plumage, these fowls can withstand strong winter breezes and windy seasons.
On the downside, their thick feathers can quickly accumulate moisture and dirt. And leaving these chickens wet and covered with dirt can lead to health and hygiene issues, thus affecting the whole flock.
So, the best course of action is to keep them in a dry and clean coop during rainy seasons.
Diet and Feeding Habit
Brahma chickens aren’t picky eaters. Yet, with their large body size, these birds can eat a lot of feed in one sitting.
As responsible chicken owners, monitoring their feed intake is in your best interest to prevent obesity and other weight-related issues.
The best feed portion for adult Brahmas is 0.24 pounds of feed per day. Depending on their sizes, you can increase, decrease, or maintain the same amount for the whole year.
You can also let them forage for food like insects or bugs every evening for 1 to 2 hours. Giving these chickens the freedom to walk and roam freely can ensure they stay active and healthy.
On the other hand, chicks need a different feed ratio to promote their growth. They need a grower mash with 18% to 19% protein. Avoid giving them pellets that are hard to digest.
Once they reach 15 weeks old, you can switch to pellets with 15 to 16% protein. Laying hens that need to produce eggs also need at least 16% protein feed. Anything below this percentage can affect their laying process and egg production.
You can also feed adult Brahmas with other supplemental food like crushed oyster shells, mealworms, and crickets.
On a side note, avoid feeding these fowls with treats like beans or chocolates. Beans are hard to swallow, leading to choking hazards in your chickens. Meanwhile, chocolates contain alkaloids called theobromines that can cause serious heart diseases.
Health Issues and Lifespan
Brahmas chickens are generally healthy and rarely fall sick. However, they are still prone to experience some minor health issues like foot diseases and parasite infestation.
All these issues stem from their hygiene level and living space. Due to their large size, you should provide at least 25 square feet of space per chicken.
If these fowls live in a cramped and tight environment, they can easily catch diseases from one affected fowl. In turn, you will get a whole sick flock.
Be sure to clean their coop regularly, especially if you notice poop and waste on the floor. The longer they live in a dirty environment, the easier it will be for bacteria and worms to replicate and infect your chickens.
In addition, their feathered feet also require extra attention, especially during rainy and cold seasons. When they walk on wet ground, dirt, mud, and manure can easily stick to these thick feathers.
Over time, if you don’t remove this debris, it can turn into solids and affect your chicken’s movement. Left untreated, Brahma chickens can suffer from frostbite and infections, leading to leg or toe amputation.
Furthermore, their dirty feet can be a breeding ground for scaly leg mites that usually live under chicken legs’ scales.
On average, healthy Brahmas can live up to 8 years old.
What Can You Raise Brahma Chickens For
With their large size, Brahma chickens are famously raised for meat production. And they have yellow meat with soft and juicy textures.
You can also raise these chickens for their eggs. The hens can produce between 180 and 240 brown eggs per year. And they start to produce these medium to large-sized eggs when they reach 16 to 22 weeks old.
You can expect these birds to go into laying mode in summer and winter.
Due to their large bodies, you must fork out a sizable amount of capital for their feed and housing. Since they also mature slower, you must feed them longer until they are ready for slaughter.
However, investing your resources in this breed is worthwhile. They are gentle, calm, and don’t make a lot of fuss. And if you decide to raise them as pets, you won’t have to worry about children’s safety when they play with these birds!