In our backyard is a friendly feathered gal named Miss FuzzFuzz. She’s a Light Brahma chicken, about 6 months old, who walks a little funny because of the ‘boots’ she styling. And while we try real hard not have favorites… she’s definitely on The List.
But of course, we can’t talk about Miss FuzzFuzz without mentioning her size. Even the most novice of chicken herders can tell you that Brahma’s are a big breed of chicken.
For example, Miss FuzzFuzz is already close to matching the size of our established hens. And considering the Brahma’s can take up to 18 months to reach their peak size, I think it’s fair to say that our girl is going to dominate in the size category.
Fortunately for us, she has displayed a very gentle and docile personality – which makes her even more lovable.
Brahma Chicken : Physical Attributes
As mentioned above, Brahma’s are a big bird, with mature roosters weighing up to 12lbs. This makes them notably larger than the average rooster of other breeds which may weigh between 7 to 8 lbs.
Another attribute that really makes the Brahma stand out is how their feathering carries all the way down the front of their legs. And it’s worth noting that this covering is present (in the form of downy feathers) at hatching.
Also, Brahma chickens have the pea type comb and are not prone to overheating, despite the extra feathering and larger size.
The hens will lay the usual brownish colored eggs, though are not known to be overly productive when compared to other breeds.
Brahma Chicken Variants
In America, there are three versions of the Brahma recognized:
- Light Brahma – which is primarily white in color for both hens and roosters
- Buff Brahma – which is tan in color for both hens and roosters
- Dark Brahma – which is black, silver and white for the roosters and more of a pencil pattern for the hens.
Australia, however, recognizes an additional four versions; Black, Blue, Barred and Crele.
There is also a bantam version (think miniature pony) of the Brahma, that generally weighs about 2lbs.
Brahma chickens are considered a dual-purpose bird; meaning they are raised for both eggs and meat production. Though, it should be noted that with their larger size, the breed is known more for their meat than the for the eggs they lay. This is also enforced by the fact that Brahma’s tend to lay less often than other breeds such as the Barred Rock or Australorp.
One notable aspect of the Brahma is their ability to consistently lay eggs through the winter; a characteristic that not every breed of chicken can claim.
Speaking in general, the breed is known for being docile in behavior; both for interacting with other flock members and for the humans that care for them.
Brahma’s are not overly excitable or flighty, especially when compared with other breeds.
Brahma hens are given to going broody (behavior associated with hatching a clutch of eggs) so special attention should be given if there is no rooster to fertilize eggs as a brooding hen will quite often forgo food and water while waiting for the eggs to hatch.
Free-range vs Caged
Given their calm nature, Brahma chickens should do very well in a confined setting, though they will be happiest when given the opportunity to free-range.
However, special care should be given if the bird is allowed to roam as its larger size and gentle demeanor make it an easy target for predators.
But, if you have a small (and safe) backyard and desire a fun social bird to interact with, then the Brahma could be a good addition to your flock.
Brahma chickens are not known for being especially susceptible to any particular disease. However, leg injuries are not uncommon.
Even in normal conditions, their gait will differ from other breeds. I suspect this is due to the feathering on their feet. (If I were to describe it, I would say that their movements are more plodding and lurching than gliding.)
Brahma’s can be notably less agile than their smaller counterparts. So care should be given when considering how you house them. Roosts that are high above the ground are probably not advised.
Brahma Chickens In Cold/Hot Weather
Given their size and abundance of extra feathers, I would have thought that the Brahma breed of chicken would really struggle to stay cool. And while I did see our Miss FuzzFuzz enjoying a cool dirt bath more often than her siblings this summer, I never saw her panting (an indication of heat stress)
However, it should be noted that we have the Light Brahma – which is primarily covered in the cooler white feathers. If our girl was a Dark Brahma, this might not have been the case.
With regards to cold climates, the Brahma is labeled as cold hardy. And it’s easy to understand why. While frost bitten toes can be a very real concern for most breeds, it is not so common for the Brahma as their feathers extend all the way down to their toes, giving them feathered ‘boots’ for extra heat.
As mentioned above, Miss FuzzFuzz is one of the favorites. Her size and affability make her very appealing to the family.
If you are in a situation where you want a flock of calm gentle giants and can afford them the protection/supervision that they require, the a Brahma chicken might just be the bird for you.
However, it is my opinion that this breed is not as ‘hands-off’ as other breeds. They are simply too calm and too slow to survive in an environment filled with predators (including the domestic ones!)
For homesteaders looking to raise a flock with the purpose of consumption – whether that is meat or eggs – the Brahma chicken is probably not ideal. A Brahma’s egg count is generally lower than other breeds and their growth time is notably longer than broilers.
That being said, we love our Miss FuzzFuzz and are more than happy with what she provides us.