At first glance, the Brahma breed seems to be a contender for a good meat bird.
They are one of the largest breeds, both in height and weight.
The Jersey Giant can weigh a couple of pounds more, but the Brahma, on average, stands at 30″ inches, 4-6″ inches taller than the Jersey.
Does this large size also result in good meat birds?
The Brahma Chicken has earned the nickname “The King Of All Poultry” based on its large size and dual purpose as egg layers and good meat birds. Brahmas have plenty of meat and will be ready to butcher by 18 weeks. While not the most food efficient, Brahma are great for meat production.
Keep reading to learn about some of the pros and cons of this breed and how well they work as a meat chicken.
Are Brahma Chickens Layers Or Boilers?
The breed’s origin is highly debatable, but we know birds were imported to the US from China and further bred to become the breed we know today.
The Brahma was a very popular choice for Americans from the 1850s until the 1930s, well renowned for its meat production and hardy nature.
During this time, the fowl were kept as egg layers until they grew old and no longer produced eggs when they were butchered and turned into food.
As a meat breed, giving them several years to grow out resulted in plenty of meat.
Hens weigh an average of 10 pounds, and roosters come in at 12 pounds.
By today’s standards, the meat was tough and chewy.
Before the introduction of factory farming, this was not something people would complain about.
Often chickens were used for stews to counteract their unpleasant texture.
Keeping Brahma also came with other benefits, including their hardy nature.
It allows them to be one of the most productive layers during winter.
Having a steady supply of eggs year round was important to pre-urbanization Americans when more families grew food without factory farming.
However, once farms grew and began to specialize, breeds were developed to serve one purpose, such as egg laying or meat birds. This is opposed to the dual-purpose heritage breeds such as the Brahma.
With Brahma chickens being bred to be all-rounders, these giant chickens are an excellent choice for backyard chicken breeds supplying you with plenty of meat and eggs.
How Long Does A Brahma Chicken Take To Mature?
As mentioned earlier, this breed is a slow grower and can take 2 years before they are fully mature and stop growing.
Further Reading: More about how Brahma chickens mature
At this point, roosters have an impressively heavy weight of 12 pounds and stand 30″ inches tall, and hens are not far behind.
Sexual maturity is reached much faster than full maturity, with birds reaching sexual maturity in 6-7 months.
This is about 2 months slower than other breeds, so if time is important to you, another breed might be a better choice.
However, if you are okay with waiting a bit longer for growth, you’ll see Brahmas are the king of average chickens.
The large body size and color variety result in beautiful birds with fluffy feathers, keeping them warm.
Another downside of waiting for Brahmas to mature is they require more space than most breeds, needing 5-6′ square feet per bird in the coop, double what a Rhode Island Reds or a similar-sized bird needs.
Brahma also needs a lot more food than other birds, with an appetite almost double what other birds need.
Fully grown, they will eat 1/3 pound of feed per day per bird, which is more than other heritage breeds.
While Brahma are known for being huge birds, they also come in a bantam variety with an average weight of under 2.5 pounds.
If you want a faster maturing and smaller bird without giving up the unique look of the Brahma, then selecting a bantam buff Brahma might be right for you.
Bantam varieties are growing in popularity in the past few years as people keep more backyard flocks and are looking for a hardy and productive option.
Further Reading: How Much Do Brahma Chickens Eat?
Is A Brahma Chicken The Right Choice For You?
Despite the large size of these birds, they are known as docile birds and make excellent family choices.
They are a bit noisy at times, though.
Related Reading: Are Brahma Noisy?
Not only are they cold, hardy, and good at avoiding frostbite, but they also have interesting feathering on their legs.
In a mixed flock, it is not uncommon for these gentle giants to be victims of bullying from smaller breeds due to their docile personalities.
Brahma varieties include Dark Brahma, Light Brahma, and Buff varieties.
As the names suggest, Dark Brahma has grey undertones, while the light variety is white with black tails, and the buffs are a golden brown.
Brahma chickens are incredibly well adapted for cold climates, particularly northern climates, which remain cool most of the year.
Their fluffy feathers have plenty of insulation, including feathered feet, which will keep them warm in all weather.
They are not well adapted for hot climates and will suffer in southern climates reaching 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38°C) for many days in a row.
The dense feathers keeping them warm in cooler climates also trap heat and cause them to suffer in the heat.
Another characteristic that makes this bird a great choice for backyard chicken keepers is its pet-like nature.
Brahma are happy chickens with quiet and calm personalities and are friendlier chicken breeds seeking out human affection and enjoying being pets.
If you are looking for a dual-purpose bird and don’t mind the slow growth of the Brahma, then they are a great choice.
While they need a consistently cool climate, they’ll perform well during the colder months providing year-round eggs and a steady supply of meat.
They are also a nice bird to look at; several were sent to Queen Victoria in 1967 as gifts.
If these birds are good enough for the queen, then chances are they are also good enough for many backyard growers.