Monday, January 19, 2009

Asiatics -- Brahmas

Brahmas, called The Majestic Ones by their advocates in the American Brahma Club,, originally came to New England in the mid-19th century along with Cochins. Documentation for Langshans dates their arrival slightly later.
The Reliable Poultry Journal’s account from the early 20th century takes note of a period of disagreement as to what characteristics should be bred. T.F. McGrew, in The Asiatics, credits Lewis Wright in England, “the King of the Brahma Fancy,” with “saving the Brahma from ruin.” Nevertheless, he concludes his essay by noting that the Boston and New York shows of 1900 placed the same birds in opposite order. “This shows the importance of having a better understanding and of getting closer together on the whole matter,” he writes.

The Asiatics includes two drawings of the ideal male and two of the ideal female by Franklane Sewell. Sewell, a prominent poultry artist, some of whose drawings are still used in the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection, first drew them as composites from live models. Those drawings set off so much controversy among poultry judges that he re-drew them, making changes according to their suggestions. The differences are obvious only to the most discerning eye of the breeder.

Brahmas are recognized in Light and Dark color varieties. The Light color pattern, shown here, is the same as the color pattern known as Columbian in other breeds. The Dark color pattern is the same as Silver Penciled in other breeds. The Buff is a later development, created after the buff color became so popular in the late 19th century. They were admitted to the Standard in 1924, long after the other varieties, which were included in the first Standard in 1874.
They have a calm disposition and a stately carriage. They are broody and will raise their own chicks. They don’t mind being confined. The University of Oklahoma blames their slow growth for their loss of popularity among commercial operations, They should be allowed nine months to a year to achieve their full growth and mature plumage before culling.

Although their large size, 12 lbs. for the mature rooster and 9 ½ lbs. for the mature hen, has made them attractive to flock owners as meat birds, they are respectable layers of brown eggs. They were originally a dual purpose breed. Such grand birds are kept for exhibition as well.

Brahma bantams are large enough to be useful production birds. At 38 ounces for mature males and 34 ounces for mature females, they are substantial and make a nice meat bird. A friend of mine swears by her bantam eggs. One large egg is not enough for her breakfast and two are too much, but she finds two bantam eggs are just right.

They are also popular show birds. The bantam varieties were developed alongside the large fowl in the late 19th century. Brahmas are not as rare as some breeds have become, but could in no sense be described as common. They could have a distinguished place in your poultry yard.

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