Breed of the Week: Brahma

Brahma cockerel (Source: Omlet)

Brahma cockerel (Source: Omlet)

Brahmas are often known as the “King of chickens” because of their large size and upright stature. The breed was first developed in America after very large birds were imported from Shanghai.

Because of this they were originally known as “Shanghai birds” and have similar origins to the Cochin breed. However, their distinctive head shape and pea comb differentiates them from the Cochin.

Their large size meant that the Brahma became the principal meat bird in the USA from the time of their development until the 1930s. After this the commercialisation of meat birds meant that larger breeds fell out of favour.

The Brahma was first imported to the UK in December 1852 when nine “Gray Shanghaes” were sent to Queen Victoria as a present from George Burnham. British breeders then developed the Dark variety of Brahma that were later re-imported back to the USA.

Here’s more about the big, beautiful Brahma:

Brahma Factsheet                                     

Name: Brahma (originally known as the Shanghai bird)

Type: Large fowl

Weight: Cock: 5.5kg Hen: 4.5kg

Popularity: Popular as pets and show birds

Purpose: Originally meat birds but now mostly pets or show birds

Eggs: Large brown eggs and hens lay all year around

Physical features: Large, upright bird with a large head. Legs are yellow with abundant feathering around their feet.

Colours: There are two recognised varieties – Light and Dark. There are also a number of recognised colours, although not all breed societies accept all colours. Available colours are: Buff, White, Gold, Buff Columbian, Black, Blue, Partridge, and Barred.

Other characteristics: Despite their large size Brahmas do not often pose as a threat to other, smaller breeds. This means that they are a great breed if you want to keep a mixed flock.

They are very trusting and easy to tame. They also don’t make much noise, even the cockerels don’t have a loud crow, so they’re ideal if you live in a more urban area.

The Brahmas’ beautiful foot feathering means that care needs to be taken during the wet winter months as mud balls can build up between their toes causing discomfort and damaging the foot feathers.

Due to their large size they do take up more room than other chickens and they will need stronger perches, so you’ll need to consider this when choosing a chicken house and any runs or enclosures.

You might find that a bespoke service is a better option to ensure that your chickens have as much room as they need to move around and perch.

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