Huge and confident, with their tall upright carriage and heavily feathered legs, brahmas project a sense of majesty that make them the perfect breed for country estates. A fowl native to a region that encompasses the India-China border, it is often stated that brahmas were first introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s. But, in reality the birds first imported into the United States were sort of ur-brahmas; primitive stock that were destined to undergo significant development in this country before they became the breed of chickens we now know as brahmas. Brahmas were originally kept as a dual-purpose breed and for a time served the commercial broiler industry as a top-shelf table bird. The hens can also be productive layers of large tinted eggs. But, with their slow growth and maturation rates, in the 1900s brahmas were eclipsed in the commercial market by faster-growing hybrids. Yet, to this day few breeds have surpassed brahmas in their dramatic visual appeal.
The development of the brahma as a breed went through a number of stages in America. The original brahmas were extremely large with roosters weighing as much as 14 lbs. Over time a smaller bird was developed –the accepted standard now calls for an 11 lb. rooster—and the feathering on the bird went from fluffy to tight. Today there are three varieties of the brahma accepted in the breed standard by the American Poultry association: the light, dark, and buff. Brahmas are known to be well-mannered birds that with their tight feathering and small combs are ideally suited to tolerate cold temperatures.
Greenfire Farms has imported from Europe two varieties of brahmas that were previously unavailable to American hobbyists: the gold (or black partridge) and the blue partridge. The hens of these varieties have the remarkably striking double-laced feather pattern, and the roosters have the beautiful coppery eplaulettes of the classic partridge color pattern. Both varieties are very large and heavily feathered on the legs and feet. These varieties will be released to the public in 2013.