Brahma Chickens: Gentle Giants


When it comes to backyard chickens, there are generally several breeds that readily come to mind for egg production: Leghorns, Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rocks, and Australorps.  Oh sure, there are many more varieties, but these few tend to make the list for their egg-laying prowess.  But have you ever considered trying out a breed just because of its size or plumage… or just for fun?  If you answered yes, let’s talk about Brahmas.

Brahma pullet

Brahma pullet

If you have ever wanted a large breed chicken with beautiful plumage, Brahmas may be the one you have been looking for.  Now while most large breed chickens are raised for meat, Brahmas are also a decent egg layer (brown eggs).   On average, you can expect three to four eggs per week, and they even have a reputation for laying during winter months, a time when most breeds typically experience a drop off in laying due to short days (unless supplemental lighting is provided).

And speaking of winter, they are a cold hardy breed… readily suited for northern climates.  Their size, tight feathering, and pea comb make them ideal candidates for winter weather.  But keep in mind that their run should be kept free of mud, puddles, ice, or snow as those items could get into their toe and shank feathers.  This in turn could make those areas susceptible to frost-bite.

Don’t let their size worry you.  They are a docile breed and tend to be quite trusting.  These features make taming easy.  Just spend time picking them up, stroking their feathers (gently), and feeding them treats such as meal worms.  Soon you will have a pet chicken that will come running when they see you.   To take it a step further, the International Brahma Club describes them as being “children-friendly”.

These birds tend to come in three colors: light, dark, and buff.  Light coloring tends to be mostly white with black at the neck and tail.  Dark coloring tends to be an even distribution of feathers that are both black and white.  Lastly, buff tends to be a golden buff with black at the neck and tail.  Regardless of coloring, feathers extend down their shanks to their toes.  Top off this stately creature with a pea comb and you have a very handsome chicken.

Even though Brahmas are a large breed, they tolerate confinement.  For backyard chicken keepers, this is a plus as most people aren’t able to provide free-range to their flock in city settings due to several factors that include, but not limited to: dogs, size of yard, city regulations, and height of fencing.

While Brahmas are decent egg layers, keep in mind that they mature later compared to other breeds.  While there are a few that may begin laying at 22 weeks, don’t be surprised if you end up waiting anywhere from week 25 – 28.  That means that your Brahmas may not begin laying until they are six or seven months old!  Just be patient.

Consider Brahmas for your backyard flock or urban homestead.  While this breed may not readily come to mind for egg production, they are good producers.  And given their size, plumage, and docile nature, they just may become your favorite pet chicken.


23 responses »

  1. I would suggest keeping an eye on the rooster. As he matures, he will show more of an interest in the hens. We also have barred rocks and americaunas and you could have some very beautiful offspring from the rooster and hens.

  2. Enjoyed this. I have bantam buff brahmas, and while I don’t think they are as calm and tame as full sized brahmas, they’re incredibly beautiful, and they don’t go broodie like my cochin and easter egger bantams do. Nice breed.

  3. I have to Buff Brahamas they are about 6 weeks old. They are mixed in with a Orpington and some Australops. The Brahma’s will not let me come near them. They are so skid dish. Hopefully they will become more docile as they get older.

    • Try feeding them some treats by hand. Younger chicks seem to be a little skittish. My Brahmas were a little hand shy when they were young, but we just keep picking them up or just sat and stroked them.

    • Be patient. They are very shy. It took a while but mine did finally come to me and a month later would come running when I called her. She was also shy of the other chickens and didn’t want to be in the begging pack at my feet. She would sit on the roost and purr/hum for me to bring her worms “in bed”.

      I currently (and accidently) find myself with a buff brahma rooster. I’m wondering about the temperament of the males. Is a brahma both protective of his hens and not the mad rapist/ farmer chaser that my extraordinarily beautiful blue andalusian turned out to be? All my hens were plucked clean around their necks before he visited the stew pot.

      • Oh yes… we are very patient with our chickens. The Brahma is definitely the shy one, but she is much bolder now. She runs up to me when I enter the run. I have never had any experience with Brahma roosters. I hope the calm temperament applies to both genders.

  4. Keeping Chickens is something both Hubby and I have thought about, but several allotmenteers have chickens and recently they have not had much success, some Chicks got sick, and others didn’t have secure pens and the Foxes got in…. So in Hindsight we were pleased that we didnt take up the chicken route, but get our Eggs from a local farmshop

    • I grew up with chickens on the farm and when our city passed an ordinance allowing chickens, we were waiting. Since we have quite a bit of wildlife in our neighborhood (foxes), we knew that to keep chickens safe, we would have to build a solid coop and a run with a secure roof. It is gratifying to gather our own eggs, but when they molt (and most stop laying), we purchase eggs from local farmers.

  5. We had to put down a Light Brahma rooster just this spring. He had gotten way too aggressive, sneaking up on us when we had our backs turned. He was huge, and we just couldn’t have something that big and that mean. I know all breeds of roosters can get mean, but I had chosen the hens and rooster just based on their disposition. Love the hens!

  6. Hi, visiting from FarmGirl Friday. I agree – Buff Brahmas are becoming one of my favorite breeds, also. I was crazy about my Lavender Orpiningtons, but our one Buff B hen is the only girl offering to set eggs. She’s a great mother, too.

  7. I always have a buff brahma hen, I love them with all my heart! Yeah their eggs are small but you’ll never have a better friend in the garden or a henny who’ll come up to you and tell you her tale. I love the Jersey giants just as much for the same reason. The only problem in my chicken-dom life here is that the brahmas and jersey giant can get beat up if there is an excess of wilder breeds.

    • We have a smaller flock that also includes Orpingtons. I am fully expecting that the Brahmas will be at the bottom of the pecking order along with the Orpingtons. Our alpha female isn’t too aggressive (Easter Egger), but she occasionally reminds the others of their place.

  8. We are considering which breeds we will be starting our flock with, and Brahmas are ones we are considering. Since we want eggs, but aren’t a commercial operation, we have been leaning toward temperment as opposed to egg laying ability. I have heard of people getting attacked by mean hens and roosters, and that just isn’t my cup of tea. Since they will be layers and not meat chickens, we are actually looking forward to treating them like pets. Thanks for the information on Brahmas. Do you have any experience with Wyandottes or Delawares?

    • We just want eggs as well and then sell some to friends. Temperament is one of the main criteria for us. While we haven’t had Delawares, we have had Wyandottes. Once the Wyandottes began laying, they became divas and tried to bump others out of the pecking order. While they were never aggressive towards us, they were always pecking at the other chickens. Orpingtons are a docile breed. They have always been good tempered and never aggressive towards the rest of the flock.

    • Wyandottes can be very, very gentle also but not always. Delawares are nice chickens but a bit more skiddish with humans that the Wyandottes and of course Brahmas.

    • I think that Brahmas have become my favorite breed of chicken. They are just as docile as Orpingtons…maybe even more so. And we definitely enjoy watching them as they free-range throughout the backyard. Lovely creatures.

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