Gallus gallus domesticus
Brahma chickens are huge and friendly, but one reportedly killed a man in Ireland!
Brahma Chicken Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Gallus gallus domesticus
Brahma Chicken Facts
- Insects, invertebrates
- Name Of Young
- Group Behavior
- Fun Fact
- Brahma chickens are huge and friendly, but one reportedly killed a man in Ireland!
- Estimated Population Size
- At least 5,000 in the United States or at least 10,000 worldwide
- Most Distinctive Feature
- Massive size
- Distinctive Feature
- V-shape when standing
Brahma chickens are huge and friendly, but one reportedly killed a man in Ireland!
Brahma chickens are known as the “King of all Poultry” according to the Livestock Conservancy. They are one of the world’s largest chickens, by both height and weight. They average between 8 and 12 pounds, but look even larger thanks to their dense and fluffy feathers. Because of their huge size, these birds are not good at flying. Although their size could deter some predators, the fact that they can’t easily get away makes them an easy meal. Brahma chickens are called gentle giants, because they are usually friendly and easy to handle. However, at least one Brahma chicken is blamed for killing a man in Ireland.
Incredible Brahma Chicken Facts
- Brahma chickens are one of the largest breeds of chickens in the world.
- These chickens were first bred in the United States in the 1840s.
- This breed was known by several names before authorities settled on Brahma.
- Brahma chickens produce a lot of meat, but they grow slowly and are too expensive to raise commercially.
- This breed is known to be good with other chickens, because it is too large to be intimidated.
Where to Find Brahma Chickens
Brahma chickens originated in the United States in the 1840s. It was bred from Chinese imports from Shanghai, including Cochin chickens, Malay chickens, and Chittagong fowl imported from India. There is much contention over exactly which breeds, and indeed which breeders, were involved in the making of the Brahma chicken, but it is definitely an American bird.
One breeder from the United States, George Burnham shipped several of his best Brahma chickens to England’s Queen Victoria in 1852. The birds were highly prized at that time, fetching up to $150 each. They were the most prolific meat chickens in the United States from the 1850s up to around 1930, but they are now considered too expensive to feed to be useful as commercially raised birds.
Brahma chickens are still found in many private flocks, mainly in cooler regions, in the United States and in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. They do not tolerate hot weather well, so they are less likely to be found in warm climates. They are also susceptible to frostbite in cold weather if the feathers around their feet and legs get wet, so their enclosures need to be kept dry.
Brahma Chicken Scientific Name
The scientific name of the Brahma chicken is Gallus gallus or Gallus gallus domesticus. This is the same as other domesticated chickens around the world, which are descended from the red junglefowl of South and Southeast Asia. G. gallus, was named by Linnaeus in 1758. Today dozens of different breeds around the world comprise the Gallus gallus domesticus species.
The common name, Brahma chicken, was coined by T.B. Miner in either 1853 or 1854. He was the publisher of The Northern Farmer. He shortened the name to Brahma chicken, reportedly to save space in the publication. A couple of years prior to that, in 1852, poultry judges had agreed to the name Brahmapootra, but that name did not stick. Before that, the breed was known by as many as a dozen different names, all originating with different breeders, leading to much confusion and disagreement. The breed needed a single concise name, and Brahma was the one that fit.
Brahma chickens are very large. They average 8 to 12 pounds by weight, with the males of the breed weighing more than the females. They stand tall, reaching heights of up to 30 inches and holding their heads upright. Their tails are relatively short, but they are held upright, forming almost a V-shape with their heads when they are standing up.
These massive chickens appear even larger than their weight would suggest, due to their dense and plentiful feathers. Brahma chickens are fluffy in appearance, with feathers going all the way down their legs and covering their yellow feet.
Brahma chickens have a bright red pea comb, which is a short comb with three small ridges, the middle being a bit longer than the ones on the outside. Their wattle is also bright red, and their beak is short, but strong. Their eyes are reddish brown, and they have red earlobes.
These chickens come in a variety of colors. The American Poultry Association recognizes three varieties of large Brahma chickens, including light, dark and buff. Light Brahma chickens are mostly crisp white, with black and white hackles and black tail feathers. Males also have black mixed in their saddle feathers. Buff Brahma chickens look similar to the light variety, except their base color is more golden instead of white.
Dark Brahma chickens are distinctly different from the other varieties. Females are dark gray with black markings and black tail feathers. Males, on the other hand, have a shiny black base and black tail feathers, while their hackles and saddle feathers are white with black markings.
The American Poultry Association also recognizes three varieties of bantam sized Brahma chickens in the same colors as the large varieties. These bantam chickens look like miniature versions of their larger counterparts. They weigh in at less than 2.5 pounds, and although they are not great for meat, they are cute and friendly birds that make good pets.
Brahma Chicken Behavior
People describe Brahma chickens as gentle giants. They are thought to be generally good birds to have around children and to keep as pets. Brahma chickens tolerate handling well and get along fine around people and other chickens. They are only average egg layers, producing between 150 to 200 eggs per year, and females have a tendency to get broody and sit on their eggs. They are also hardy chickens, and they can withstand cold weather easily. Because of their size, they do not fly well, but they do need a large coop to accommodate their mass.
Because Brahma chickens are so large, they can be very expensive to feed. They will forage for food on their own, but they need plenty of space and will still need to be fed commercial feed and other foods. Brahma chickens require a lot of protein and calcium, especially hens that are laying. They also need vitamins, including vitamin C and others. Owners can add nutrients to their diets through table scraps, including fruits and vegetables.
Brahma Chicken Reproduction
Brahma chickens grow slowly. Hens don’t begin to lay eggs until they reach about seven months of age. They lay medium to large light brown eggs. They average between about 150 to 200 eggs per year, and they lay most productively between the months of October and May. The hens get broody and prefer to sit on their eggs. The incubation period is approximately 21 days.
Brahma chickens require low nest boxes, about one foot off the ground. Because of their size, they can injure themselves jumping off higher nest boxes, and they don’t fly well enough to easily perch up high anyway.
Although Brahma hens tend to be good mothers, they sometimes break their own eggs and stomp on their own chicks accidentally. This is simply due to their great size. However, they are still a good choice if you want to raise chickens, because they do go broody easily and take good care of their chicks.
Foxes, weasels, raccoons, and birds of prey such as hawks, owls, and eagles are all common predators of chickens. Snakes also prey on young chickens and eggs. One might think that because Brahma chickens get so big, they would be less likely to be killed by predators. Their size may be protective in some ways, but it also prevents them from being able to fly, run, or otherwise get away quickly from an attacker. Their lack of flying ability also makes it less likely that owners will provide overhead enclosures or tall fences, leaving the birds at greater risk.
Brahma chickens typically live between 8 to 10 years. The Livestock Conservancy lists this breed as “Recovering.” That means it was once listed in a more vulnerable category, but its numbers now exceed those of the “Watch” category. The breed still requires monitoring, but for now it is in good shape.
One Bad Chicken
A Brahma chicken is blamed for killing a man in Ireland in 2022. The elderly man had been raising chickens, and had reportedly had trouble with one aggressive Brahma rooster. One day, the rooster apparently attacked the man, ripping his leg open with a spur. The man’s adult daughter found him in the house, in a pool of blood. The medical examiner determined that the deceased man had a diseased heart, but also said that the attack by the rooster contributed to his death.View all 285 animals that start with B
Brahma Chicken FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What do Brahma chickens look like?
Brahma chickens are fluffy and large, with upright, short tails and upright heads. They have red pea combs, red wattles, red ears and reddish eyes. Their yellow legs and feet are covered by feathers. They come in a variety of colors, including light, dark, and buff.
How big are Brahma chickens?
Brahma chickens stand 30 inches high and average between 8 to 12 pounds, although they can get even bigger than that.They are one of the heaviest chickens in the world, and are commonly known as “King of all Poultry.”
How many varieties of Brahma chickens exist?
The American Poultry Association recognizes six varieties of Brahma chickens, including three large varieties and three bantam size. In each size, the three varieties recognized are the light, dark, and buff colorations.
How well do Brahma chickens fly?
Because of their massive size, Brahma chickens are not well suited for flying. They can be easily kept in an enclosure with a fence no more than two or three feet high.
How many eggs do Brahma chickens lay?
Brahma chickens lay between about 150 and 200 eggs per year. They lay most of their eggs in colder months, between October and May.
Where do Brahma chickens live?
Brahma chickens are not well suited to hot weather. They live primarily in cooler regions in the United States, Europe, Asia and other parts of the world.
How long do Brahma chickens live?
Brahma chickens live approximately 8 to 10 years.
What makes Brahma chickens special?
Brahma chickens are one of the largest chickens in the world, but despite their size they are generally considered to be gentle and easy to handle. Except that one that apparently killed a man.
Are Brahma chickens rare?
Brahma chickens are listed by the Livestock Conservancy as “Recovering.” That means this breed was once listed in a more vulnerable category, but its numbers now exceed those of the “Watch” category. The breed still requires monitoring, but for now it is in good shape.
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- The Livestock Conservancy, Available here: https://livestockconservancy.org/heritage-breeds/heritage-breeds-list/brahma-chicken/
- American Poultry Association, Available here: https://amerpoultryassn.com/accepted-breeds-varieties/
- Midwest Radio, Available here: https://www.midwestradio.ie/index.php/news/64848-an-inquest-heard-that-a-man-in-county-roscommon-died-after-he-was-attacked-by-a-brahma-chicken