The Brahma

Brahma – King of the chickens!

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Brahma Chickens Complete Owners Guide

Brahma Chickens: The Complete Owner’s Guide

Whether you already own Brahma chickens or you are considering owning them, this is the book for you!


Brahma Dark Rooster
Brahma Dark Rooster

The Brahma is a very large majestic bird with its roots far back in time, the exact genetic make up of the Brahma is unknown. Historians have theories on the origin of the breed from clues in poultry books from the 1800’s. The likely ancestors were Shanghais from China, Chittagongs from east India and Malays.

It is generally agreed that the Brahma was developed in the US from large feathered legged birds imported from Shanghai in the 1840’s.

In 1852 there was a meeting of judges in Boston USA which declared the offical name to be Brahmapootras, later shortened to Brahma. The credit for shortening the name to Brahma goes to a T.B. Miner who was the publisher of The Northern Farmer, who did so for very practical reasons – saving space on the printed page!

That same year George Burnham sent nine “Gray Shanghaes” to Queen Victoria as a gift resulting in the Brahma becoming the leading Asiatic breed in the UK.

English breeders developed the dark Brahma from this stock which was later re-exported to the US.

The official Poultry Club included both the Light and Dark Brahma in the first published British poultry standard in 1865 and are classified under “Soft feather Heavy”

Due to their enormous size roosters of 18lb were not unknown in the past and they were the primary meat chicken in the US from the 1840’s until the 1930’s when industrial breeds were introduced which matured and gained weight much quicker than the Brahma.


Brahma Partridge Hen
Brahma Partridge Hen

The Brahma chicken is a large bird which can stand around 30 inches tall, it has a long deep and wide body and when viewed from the side has a V shape.

The beak is short and strong and the Brahma has a pea comb and a ‘beetle brow’ where the forehead slightly overhangs the eyes, this gives the bird a fearsome look but nothing could be further from the truth.

The plumage is dense and tight with a thick covering of down under the feathers. The legs are feathered right down to the toes which gives them a very cuddly appearance. These feathery feet mean that they need living quarters that are not wet and muddy or they can end up with foot problems.

The rooster should weigh around 10lb, with the hen around 8lb. There is also a bantam variety and the roosters will weigh 38oz and hens 34oz.

The standard colours in the UK are Dark, Light, White, Gold, Blue Partridge and Buff Columbian but there are many other colours and markings available that have not been standardised yet.



Despite the Brahmas intimidating appearance and size they are gentle giants. They are one of the most placid breeds and are docile and friendly towards people. My birds will hop onto my lap and settle down for a back rub if I sit in the chicken run, they are very curious and always want to be involved when you are doing anything around the garden.

They are not flighty of skittish and are not known for fighting with other birds, even the roosters can get along with each other just fine especially if they are raised together and have plenty of space. As long as they are kept well fed and allowed to roam they will be a happy.

Due to their size and weight they do not fly well and can be kept behind a 3 foot fence easily.

Egg Laying

Brahma Chickens are considered a very good winter layer of big brown eggs, they lay 3 to 4 eggs per week.

They prefer to lay between October and May each year just when other breeds are shutting down for the winter.

The downside of this is that the hens can take 7 months before they start to lay.


Brahma Chickens are considered a very good winter layer of big brown eggs, they lay 3 to 4 eggs per week.

They prefer to lay between October and May each year just when other breeds are shutting down for the winter.

The downside of this is that the hens can take 7 months before they start to lay.


These are large birds and they have large appetites, they will thrive if they are free fed and given the opportunity to forage.

When they get hungry they have a tendancy to bully other flock members so it is better to keep them well fed and happy.


Young, light Brahmas
Young, light Brahmas

Overall they are robust and healthy birds.

The feathering can be problematic in winter as with all feather–footed fowl, mud can accumulate on the feathers forming into balls which can damage the toes. Try to keep the birds out of mud and regularly examine the feet for problems during the winter. The best way of getting the mud balls off the feet is to soak them in warm water.

Brahmas like other chickens need attention to parasites like mites, lice and worms, because their feathering is so dense lice, mites and scaly leg can go unnoticed.

Occasionally a foot feather will get caught on something and break, this can cause bleeding but the application of some pressure and styptic powder will usually solve the problem.

Bumblefoot is a problem that can affect Brahmas, being so large and heavy they can damage their feet jumping from a high perch, this can cause infection, lameness and sometimes death.


Although Brahmas will tolerate confinement they will thrive if they can free range. They are good foragers and will spend the majority of their day roaming around looking for tasty insects and plants, they are not as destructive to the ground as some other birds can be.

 In the summer months they need to be provided with shade and plenty of water as they do not do well in high temperatures.

Being a big bird the Brahma needs more space than the average chicken. If you have an enclosed chicken run allow 12 to 14 square foot per bird, anything below this may lead to antisocial behaviours like feather plucking and picking. The ground should be stone or sand to prevent mud and problems with those feathery feet.

For roosting they need about 10 inches of roosting space each, their weight and inability to fly well means they will appreciate lower perches. A 14 x 14 inch nesting box is ideal and again low to the ground.

The Brahma with its unique looks, enormous size and friendly temperament would make a wonderful cuddly addition to any back garden flock.

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