Brahma chicken

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Brahma chicken
Dark Brahma hen, Oregon.jpg
A Dark Brahma hen
Other names
  • Brahma Pootra
  • Burnham
  • Gray Chittagong
  • Shanghai
Country of origin United States
  • Male: 5.5 kg
  • Female: 4.5 kg
Egg color Brown
Comb type Pea
APA Asiatic[1]
ABA Feather legged
EE yes[2]
PCGB Soft feather: heavy[3]

The Brahma is a large breed of chicken developed in the United States from very large birds imported from the Chinese port of Shanghai. The Brahma was the principal meat breed in the United States from the 1850s until about 1930.[4]


Light Brahma cock and hen, illustration from Jean Bungartz, Geflügel-Album, 1885
Dark Brahma cock and hen, illustration from Jean Bungartz, Geflügel-Album, 1885

There has been considerable controversy over the origin of the Brahma. It appears to have developed in the United States from birds imported from the Chinese port of Shanghai, which were thus known as "Shanghai" birds. Limited cross-breeding with Chittagong chickens from Bangladesh is likely what gave the Brahma the distinctive characteristics of head shape and the pea comb that distinguish it from the Cochin (another breed that derives from the "Shanghai" birds[4]).

Brahmas were first exported to England in December 1852, when George Burnham sent nine "Gray Shanghaes" to Queen Victoria as a gift.[5]:71 The Dark Brahma variety was developed by English breeders from this stock, and later re-exported to the United States.[4] Both the light and the dark (pencilled) Brahma were included in the first British Poultry Standard, published by the original Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1865.[6]:78

Both the light and the dark were included in the first Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1874;[4] the Buff variant was added in 1924[4] or 1929.[7]

The Brahma was the principal meat breed in the US from the 1850s until about 1930. Some birds were very large: weights of about 8 kg (18 lb) for cocks and 6 kg (13 lb) for hens were recorded.[4]


Weight averages about 5.5 kg (12 lb) for cocks and 4.5 kg (9.9 lb) for hens.[4]

The Brahma is a good winter layer of large brown eggs,[4] which weigh approximately 55–60 g.[8]

Recognized varieties[edit]

The American Standard of Perfection recognizes three Brahma varieties: light, dark, and buff. The light Brahma has a base color of white, with black hackles edged in white and a black tail. The cock's saddle feathers in a light Brahma are striped with black. The dark Brahma has the most notable difference between cock and hen. The hen has a dark gray and black penciled coloration with the same hackle as the light whereas the cock has black and white hackles and saddle feathers, and a black base and tail. The wings of a dark Brahma are white-shouldered and the primary feathers (remiges) are edged with white. Buff Brahmas have the same pattern of black as light Brahmas, except with a golden buff base color instead of white.[7]

The Australian Poultry Association has accepted black, blue, partridge, crele and barred varieties of Brahma in addition to the standard light, dark, and buff.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties: As of January 1, 2012. American Poultry Association. Archived 4 November 2017.
  2. ^ Liste des races et variétés homologuée dans les pays EE (28.04.2013). Entente Européenne d’Aviculture et de Cuniculture. Archived 16 June 2013.
  3. ^ Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Accessed April 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h The American Livestock Breeds Conservatory. "Brahma Chicken".
  5. ^ George Pickering Burnham (1874). The China Fowl: Shanghae, Cochin, and "Brahma". Melrose, Massachusetts: Rand, Avery and Co.
  6. ^ Victoria Roberts (2008). British poultry standards: complete specifications and judging points of all standardized breeds and varieties of poultry as compiled by the specialist breed clubs and recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 9781405156424.
  7. ^ a b United States. Agricultural Research Service. Animal Husbandry Research Division (1954). Breeds of chickens for meat and egg production. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. p. 14–15. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  8. ^ Cyril Hrnčár, Monika Hässlerová, Jozef Bujko (2013). The Effect of Oviposition Time on Egg Quality Parameters in Brown Leghorn, Oravka and Brahma Hens. Scientific Papers: Animal Science and Biotechnologies 46 (1).

Media related to Brahma (chicken) at Wikimedia Commons