Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Brahmas are tall, stately chickens stepping gracefully across the pasture. Their brows overshadow their eyes a bit, giving them a serious look. Feathers extend down their legs and cover their feet. They are unmistakable.This video posted from Kosovo shows an imposing male.

Their advocates call them The Majestic Ones. They arrived in New England ports on sailing ships from China in the mid-19th century along with Cochins, followed by Langshans slightly later.

This light Brahma rooster shows his mild temperament, getting along with his Naked Neck cousin.
Look for Light and Dark varieties. Light ones are most often seen, with their white bodies topped at neck (hackle) with black feathers laced with white edges and ending with a glossy black tail. The color blends from the white head down over the shoulders. This color pattern is known as Columbian in other breeds.

Susan Nicolas' Dark Brahma rooster.
Should you spot the regal step of a bird with the black markings on golden feathers, you have found a Buff Brahma. The Buff variety is a later development, created after the buff color became so popular in the late 19th century, from Buff Cochins.

Susan's Dark Brahma hen
The less frequently encountered Dark Brahma roosters and hens are quite different from each other. The rooster is black from the breast down to the toes, topped with a silvery white back and head, tapering off to black feathers laced with white edges.  A lustrous black tail follows him. The hen has her own beauty, each feather triple-lined with penciled markings, black on steel gray to silvery white.
The Dark color pattern is the same as Silver Penciled in Plymouth Rocks and Wyandottes. They are always dressed for the show ring. Keeping the feathery white feet and legs of Light Brahmas clean takes special efforts. Barnyard dust is less noticeable on Dark Brahmas’ black leg and foot feathers.

Light and Dark Brahmas were included in the first Standard in 1874. The Buff variety was added in 1924.

Brahmas have a calm disposition and a stately carriage. They do not ruffle their feathers without sufficient cause. They are broody and will raise their own chicks. They don’t mind living indoors if necessary. Breeders allow them time to achieve their full magnificence, They grow for  nine months to a year to reach their full size and mature plumage. That slow growth may have made them less desirable to commercial operations looking for a quick return. Poultry lovers who appreciate their beauty enjoy the time they spend growing those lush feathers and impressive size.

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 also good layers of brown eggs. They were originally a dual purpose breed. Such grand birds are kept for exhibition as well.

The bantam varieties were developed alongside the large fowl in the late 19th century. 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. 

They are also popular show birds.Bantam Brahmas are among the top 20 breeds shown.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Chickens wearing feathery scarves around their necks stand tall in their yard. A small comb sits on top of the head, above feathery eyebrows. Their ear lobes and wattles are completely covered by feathers. They look fierce, but aren’t alarmed by a visitor. They are Russian Orloffs.
Michelle Conrad's rooster shows off his walnut comb

Their walnut combs, which may have a few hair-like feathers springing from them, don’t freeze in cold weather. Their wattles and ear lobes are small and wouldn’t be affected, even if they weren’t insulated under those feathers. As befits a bird adapted to the Russian climate, these birds are hardy. Their expression is often described as “gloomy” and “vindictive.” 

They originated in northern Iran’s Gilan province. They share that Asian game appearance, with their long, strong Malay legs of the local chickens of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

In Iran, the breed was called the Chilianskaia. In the late 19th century, Russian nobleman Count Orloff Techesmensky brought some to Moscow, where they became known by his name. In the 1920s, another Prince Orloff, living in exile from the Revolution in England, acquired some Orloff chickens and won some poultry show prizes with them, keeping up the family name and tradition.
He's king of all he surveys. Or, perhaps, tsar.

They were included in the APA Standard from 1876 through 1888, but were dropped from later Standards. Bantams are still included in the ABA Standard, but they are not often seen.

The Spangled variety is most likely to be seen in the U.S., but breeders in Germany and England raise other colors, which American backyarders might keep: white, Mahogany, Black Breasted Red and others. The feathery face and short, hooked beak distinguish this breed’s appearance from any other.