Photo essay: Brazilian's booming giant-rooster breeding programme

The Indian Giant is one of the largest poultry breeds in the world

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This is a stunning giant rooster bred by Brazilian agronomist Rubens Braz, who set out to improve the genetics of Brazil's "caipira" chickens – or cage-free animals raised on small properties mainly for subsistence purposes.

For 20 years Braz has been breeding and raising giant roosters for small-scale meat production and ornamental purposes in central Brazil, making a living from increasing sales countrywide.

The giant rooster towers over normal-sized chickens and roosters and can reach the shoulders of an almost two-year-old boy.

Braz's Avicultura Gigante firm, which specialises in the breeding and selection of Indian Giant roosters, as they are called in Brazil, is the world's largest chicken exporter and home to large meatpackers including BRF and JBS.

His firm supplies two main strains of Indian Giant breeds – the "Canelas Amarelas" and the "Urubus". The latter is the same size as the more traditional Canelas Amarelas, but has black feathers.

Adult giant roosters can sell for as much as 20,000 reais ($4,000) and a dozen fertile eggs can fetch 340 reais ($69).

According to Braz, the Indian Giant rooster is among the largest poultry breeds in the world.

"This one is a Galalau, we're happy to have this rooster with us. He's three years old. He's one of the biggest roosters among the pairs, this one among the giant Indian vultures is the biggest rooster that's ever been produced in Brazil and in the world," Braz said.

As his work caught national media attention, Braz said he was contacted by people asking him whether he could supply animals for Asian restaurants in Sao Paulo state. He refused because he did not have the necessary capacity or adequate infrastructure. He said he currently has about 300 animals on his farms.

There are more than 20,000 breeders of the huge roosters in Brazil, mostly small producers, according to Braz, who says breeding them is a simple process.

Breeding the giant roosters is done naturally or through artificial insemination. This year, the global avian flu crisis affected Braz's operations because of a ban on transporting live animals in Brazil.

While the ban is in place, Braz says he supplies eggs and serves customers only locally.

Updated: September 22, 2023, 6:01 PM