Wondering what breed of chicken to buy? Consider the gentle Brahma.

Brahma chickens are among the most docile chicken breeds and make good pets or exhibition fowl if handled properly. Not for nothing are they called “gentle giants”.

Males are calm and generally not aggressive towards humans, but possess good instincts for defence of the flock and will often dance for the females. Females are very sweet and docile. They are not skittish or easily scared, making them a popular choice for families with children. They make very little noise and even the cockerels do not crow particularly loudly.

Physical Characteristics

They are very large, stately birds, with an upright carriage and large heads. Their feathering is beautiful and comes in a very wide variety of colours, including dark, light, white, gold and buff. In all colours, the eyes, comb and earlobes are red and the legs are bright yellow. When standing, they should almost appear to form a V, and should stand fairly tall. The feet are strong, with feathers extending all the way down the middle toe, while the face is smooth and free from feathers with large, prominent eyes, a short strong beak and a triple or pea comb and small wattles.

The cock reaches an average weight of 5kg, while the hen weighs in at 3.5kg.

Like other heritage chicken breeds, they mature more slowly than modern hybrid broilers but the hens are superior winter layers of large-sized, medium-brown eggs, averaging three or four eggs per week. The hens are broody and good mothers, but because of their size, there is a trampling risk the first few days after birth.

Brahmas are dual-purpose chickens, which means they are good for eggs and for eating.

They are cold hardy and relatively disease resistant.

Brahma chickens are excellent free-range chickens but don’t tend to range as far afield as other foraging breeds. Because their leg feathering picks up mud, they thrive best on dry, well-drained soils. They also don’t mind being kept in pens.

Brahmas come in both large-fowl and bantam sizes.

This is part of a series of articles on popular chickens in South Africa. For more, click here.

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