The Brahma chicken is an Asian breed of controversial origins. Many people, because of the name given to this breed, believe it originates from India, others from China. Most likely it comes from a cross made in India between the Cochin (a Chinese breed) and the Serama (a Malaysian fighter breed). In the mid-19th century it was first imported to the United States and from there to Europe, where it was subjected to many crosses with different breeds (Cochin, Malines, etc.) which consequently altered its shape and size, and so the original breed. has now disappeared. This chicken is a giant, rustic and suitable for any environment, due to its size and the beauty of the plumage it is often bred for ornamental purposes.
Everything you need to know about the Brahma chicken:
An important aspect of this breed are the colors and patterns of its feathers. Thanks to its wide diffusion due to its beauty, innumerable patterns and colors have been created over time. When it appeared in England in 1853, the Brahma chicken didn’t arouse as much astonishment as its sister, the Cochin, in 1847, since breeders, were already accustomed to the sight of colossal chickens. In spite of this, the new breed spread rapidly as it turned out to be a bit superior to the Cochin in terms of economic requirements, in fact its flesh is better, this, added to the prerogative of the Brahma chickens to show themselves rather more voluminous than her sister, contributed to the rapid spread of the new race.
The Brahma is a breed with an affectionate and trusting character towards man; a real gentle giant and it can easily become a perfect companion animal. They are quiet, peaceful and tolerant animals: suitable for living together with other quiet breeds and they coexist well even in the presence of other males.
- Scientific name: Gallus gallus domesticus.
- Weight: 3,5 kg – 5,0 kg.
- Length: About 76 cm.
- Wingspan: 37 – 42 cm.
- Age: Up to 5 years.
- Diet: Feeds with plenty of calcium and high in protein,, chicken pellets, grains, grain mix and chicken mash. But also vegetables and fruit leftovers.
- Habitat: It’s a very adaptable breed, but given their size, they need large and well equipped chicken coops.
- Threats: All the common predators (foxes, hawks…) of any poultry are threats also to the Brahma chicken, however, since it’s quite a big bird it’s not that much of an easy target for some smaller predator. Domestic pets tend to leave them alone for this same reason, but it’s always good practice to keep an eye on cats and dogs.
The Brahma chicken is very large in size, with a rounded, horizontal, deep and wide trunk. The chest is wide and deep and the belly wide and full, with soft and compact feathers.
The head is rather small but broad with a large skull which is prominent on the eyes. Strong and curved beak, yellow in color with dark streaks on the top. The eyes are large, round and sunken and orange-red in color. The crest is pea-shaped and formed by three straight lines of small rounded points, higher in the center. The face is red and smooth. Small, well rounded wattles, long red earlobes. The neck is slightly long and well arched. The wings are relatively small compared to the size, carried rather high, never drooping, the tail is of medium size, full and open, carried high as well. In the hen the tail seen from behind is a little open in the shape of an inverted “U”.
The legs are strong, well feathered and rounded. Yellow tarsi with four straight fingers. Tarsi and middle and external fingers are abundantly feathered. The Brahma chicken’s skin is white. The plumage is abundant, smooth and adherent to the body, and its made of large feathers. The bone structure is thick and there are many varieties of color and patterns. Generally the hens grow the tail immediately, and it is closed, already at two months they can be recognized. Males, on the other hand, at four months still have a very open tail, and it is barely coming out. In this way, sexing can be identified within a few months, without necessarily waiting for them to become adults.
The Brahma chicken arrived in the United Kingdom from the United States around 1850. The name Brahma come from the Brahmaputra River in India, but in fact the species was created in the United States from crossings of the Cochin, a large feathered-legged breed which was imported from China in 1847. From the United States it was then introduced to the European continent, where thanks to its meat and its docile nature it has spread, coming to be present throughout, nowadays, the Western world.
Just like every other bird, a well-balanced diet and the right amount of water is necessary to improve their productivity. Brahma hens for egg-laying will benefit from feeds that are abundant with calcium and high in protein, and also eating greens will help increase their productivity, improving the number of eggs produces and the schedule of their laying. The Brahma is a breed that excels in foraging, therefore, they’re able to feed themselves quite well, however, this is not enough and other types of feeds need to be given to them.
The eggs are surprisingly small compared to the size of a Brahma hen and are laid in small quantities with a minimum weight of about 60 grams; however, the chicks are born strong and grow rapidly (overall, however, during the whole development, the specimens of this species have a slow growth; a rooster, in fact, can continue to grow even up to one and a half years of age, despite an overall life expectancy that rarely exceeds 5 years). The production of eggs is not high, however, to compensate, they produce eggs throughout the year.
The conservation status of the Brahma chicken is indicated as “recovering”, especially because this breed takes so much time and effort to raise.
Federico Fiorillo is an Italian nature guide and content writer based in the magnificent Val de Bagnes, Switzerland. He’s an avid hiker and snowboarder and he travels to the great wilderness areas of the world to see the wildlife and birds he’s passionate about.
In 2008 and 2011 he joined two Brazilian wildlife field trips in Bahia and decided that observing birds in their habitat was going to be one of his driving passions. He completed a birdwatching course with EBN Italia in 2013, and then in 2014 and 2015 he travelled to South East Asia, Australia and the United States where he joined a photographic workshop at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah.
From 2016 to 2018 he lives in New Zealand, where he collaborates in environmental projects at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, which since 1971 protects kiwi and other New Zealand native birds, among the projects he worked hands on the most rewarding was the one aiming to release Brown Kiwis into the wild.
In 2017, he completes a backcountry survival course obtaining the skillsets needed to thrive in-stead of just survive in the face of adversity in the wilderness. In 2017 he also joins a NZ Bird Photography Tour in Ulva Island and at the Royal Albatross Center of the Otago Peninsula, home to the world’s only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony.
After his travels across the South Pacific, following his experiences in 2018 he moves in the Swiss Alps where he’s now a nature guide leading tours in the alpine region between Switzerland, Italy and France. Leading nature walks and overnight hiking trips, teaching tourists and locals the secrets of the plants and animals living in this alpine region.
Inspired by an alternative lifestyle he believes in the importance of being in connection with the natural environment and feels the responsibility of interpreting the natural wealth of a site, educating and informing other of the different aspects of that particular area.