Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Bella really a Brahma or not?

Curbstone Vally Farm recently posted a very in-depth discussion on the history of the Dark Brahma breed. It's complicated, to say the least.

One of my 2.5 month old pullets (Bella) was labeled as a Brahma when I brought her home. She was black and white when she was little:
Bella (the Brahma?) is the one at the bottom of the photo.

But now, she's completely black with only a dot of white on her wing tips. I love how the shiny black feathers look like iridescent green, blue and purple in the sunlight.
It's hard for me to take a good (representative) picture of Bella, since her feathers are so shiny.

Anyway, the Curbstone post has lots of historical pictures of Dark Brahmas, such as this one:

All of the Dark Brahmas were patterned black and white from what I can tell. But Bella doesn't look like that. Maybe she's not a Brahma? Maybe she's not old enough to show her "mature" pattern? (This is what Clare at Curbstone Valley Farm believes, and she's probably right.) I guess I'll just have to wait and see!


Stefaneener said...

It's hard to know but you'd think that the hatchery would keep records, huh? Our birds always looked pretty representative from the time they had their first real feathers. Who knows?

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I must admit, Bella does look like a bit of a conundrum. I went back through your original posts, and I swear there's a chick in the box that looks like a Brahma chick, BUT perhaps I'm just looking at the back of the Amerucana?

From the bottom up in your first post, I think I see a buff, a welsummer, amerucana?, and then the two black chicks in the top corner, one presumably the barred rock, but who is the other? I hadn't paid attention before, but you shouldn't have TWO dark black chicks with the breeds you selected! Bella is too dark for a dark brahma pullet. By now she should look more steel grey, with penciling, not all black. She looks more like a Black Australorp than a Brahma, so it will be interesting to see how she turns out! She's clearly not an Australorp though...she has feathered feet! Do you know which hatchery she came from? If so, go to their website and see what other feather-footed breeds/colors they have. There is a black brahma, but I'm not sure if they're recognized/sold here. Keep us posted, now I'm dying with curiosity!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...
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Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Jackie, I might have figured out what Bella is most likely to be. I'm convinced she's not Dark Brahma, both based on color and pattern, her single comb (should be pea comb for Brahma) and that her shanks and toes are black, not yellow. Looking closely at the last photo, I noticed she has no feathers on the middle toes (this is significant, as 3 primary genes control foot/shank feathering). Bare middle toes would be a disqualification for Black Cochin, they have massively feathered feet, and she seems the wrong shape for Cochin. However, earlier I said she reminded me of an Australorp in shape. She actually might be a Black Langshan. They have dark shanks and toe skin, and are feathered only on the shanks and outside toes. NO feathers on the middle toe. These birds look similar to Black Australorps in color and shape, except their tail carriage is more exaggerated (as adults). There's a lovely article in the 1915 American Standard of Perfection for this breed, see:

They're truly beautiful birds with a lovely shape. At the moment, that's my best educated guess for who Bella really is. Certainly a breed to consider.

Jackie said...

Stefaneer, yes, it seems like they should be label properly...

Clare, how can I thank you enough for all the research?! I think you hit the nail on the head with Black Langshan. She really looks like the pictures of this breed.

I'll call the feed store where I got her and ask about which hatchery they purchase from.

But I really think that you are right. I can't believe how tall she might get. Many thanks to you!