Bantam chickens are the best of both worlds.
They are small and compact yet have all the fantastic qualities of a regular sized chicken.
However there are many things to think about when considering getting bantam chickens.
You will have to think about which bantam breed to get and also learn about their specific care requirements (which are different from standard chickens).
Are you interested in learning more?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about bantam chickens and why you should have them in your flock…
Contents and Quick Navigation
- What Are Bantam Chickens?
- Who Should Keep Bantam Chickens?
- 15 Most Popular Bantam Chicken Breeds
- Complete Guide To Caring For Bantams
What Are Bantam Chickens?
Bantam chickens are miniature chickens.
One common misconception is that they are actually a breed.
This is false.
The term bantam refers to the size of the chicken and can be used to refer to a variety of breeds, such as a bantam Buff Orpington or a Plymouth Rock bantam.
You can find several types but the most common are either true or miniaturized.
True bantams are those that do not have a regular sized counterpart. For example the Sebright which can only be found in bantam size.
Whereas miniaturized bantams (such as Buff Orpingtons) have both bantam and regular sized varieties.
Bantam chickens often mimic their full-sized counterpart’s personality, traits and temperament. For example, a breed that is well known for egg laying (such as the Australorp), will also lay well as a bantam.
Types of Bantams Explained
There are several types of bantam chickens:
- Developed bantams
- Miniaturized bantams
- True bantams
- Booted bantam
True bantams are bantam chickens that have naturally developed without humans. They are naturally small and do not have a larger or normal sized version of them. Popular examples of some true bantams are the Rosecombs and Sebrights.
Miniaturized bantams are chickens that were developed by humans from normal sized, pre-existing breeds. Examples include Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds.
Developed bantams have existed for many years. They have been selectively bred from already tiny sized chickens to create bantam versions. Due to the complexity of the breed, their origins are questionable.
Booted Bantams are bantam chickens with feathers on their feet. They are also known as Sablepoot bantams and originate from Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain.
Who Should Keep Bantam Chickens?
Bantam chickens are famous for being small.
They are best for those who want to keep chickens but do not have lots of space. This may be the case if you live in the suburbs and have a small yard. In the same amount of space as one regular chicken, you can keep up to three bantam chickens.
Read how much space do chickens need for more advice.
This also makes bantams perfect for anyone who prefers to have a larger flock.
A larger flock means more eggs and socialization for your birds. There is nothing better than a big family!
They are also a great option for beginners.
Here are 5 more benefits of keeping bantam chickens:
- They eat less than a normal sized chicken due to their small size. This means that you can spend less on feed, so they are great if you are on a tight budget or trying to manage spending.
- Because bantams are so small you can keep more of them.
- They also make perfect pets. Their small size allows them to be easily handled and held and generally they are very affectionate and friendly.
- Bantams are also great if you want more eggs. Because you can keep more of them you have more hens you can collect eggs from. Just keep in mind that these eggs will be smaller than regular sized eggs.
- Lastly, they bring all the benefits of keeping a normal sized chicken. Some examples include excellent pest management, organic fertilizer, fresh eggs, and a lifetime of companionship.
15 Most Popular Bantam Chicken Breeds
Sebright are true bantams.
You can find them in two colors: gold laced and silver laced.
These bantams in particular are not good egg layers and only lay one small egg a week.
However they are an excellent choice for anyone that wants a stunning feathered bird to add to their flock.
14. Barred Plymouth Rock Bantams
Barred Plymouth Rock bantams are just as popular as their full sized counterparts.
It is easy to see why with their striking barred feather pattern.
They also have a great personality and temperament.
Just like their larger counterparts they are good egg layers and can lay around 3 eggs each week.
Although they prefer to graze the fields they do tolerate confinement well which makes them suitable for those with tight space restrictions.
13. Japanese Bantams
Japanese bantams are very popular because they are extremely easy to care for.
Similar to the Sebright they are a true bantam and are naturally very small.
You can find Japanese bantams in lots of colors including: black, red, and lavender. While they are ok egg layers, if your main purpose is to look for an egg layer then look elsewhere. They are better suited for someone looking to add an ornamental breed to their flock.
If you are looking for a stylish and unique chicken then Sultan bantams are definitely for you.
Although they lay eggs they are most often kept as ornamental chickens.
They have very fancy white feathers, especially on their head. It almost resembles a sultan’s hat which is where their name comes from.
Sultans tolerate confinement well and in some cases prefer it over foraging in the yard.
Overall they are excellent if you are looking for a fancy feathered pet chicken.
Cornish bantams are a great option to add to your flock if you are looking for an ornamental breed.
They were originally called Indian Games because of the breed’s origins in India.
Although their full sized counterparts are excellent meat birds, the bantam is not suited for the table.
They are much better suited to be shown off to interested eyes, like friends and family. They come in several colors, including: black laced red, blue laced red, and white laced red. Cornish are known to be heat tolerant and are very friendly which makes them perfect for families.
Pekin bantams are another great option for those looking for a new bantam for their flock. Like their name suggests the Pekin comes from Peking (which is now called Beijing).
They come in a variety of colors, including buff, white, silver, red and blue.
She is a friendly and sociable breed which makes them excellent for families with small children and pets.
9. Dutch Bantams
Dutch bantams are another popular option for those looking for a beautiful ornamental chicken.
They are several color options, including: black, silver, blue, and lavender.
Although they lay a decent amount of eggs they are mainly kept for ornamental reasons. Their striking feathers and patterns are truly beautiful. Dutch bantams are also true bantams which means that the breed itself is small and there is no standard sized version of this breed.
Serama bantams are one of the few true bantams.
They are naturally small and do not have a standard sized counterpart.
In fact the Serama chicken is so small that it is generally considered the smallest breed in the world. They vary slightly in size but none of them will grow past 10 inches in height.
Because of their calm temperament they make excellent tiny house pets. Their egg production is good too and they can lay 180-200 eggs per year.
Overall the Serama is a great choice if you are looking for a tiny addition to your flock. Read our Serama Chicken article for more advice.
Wyandotte chickens are very popular and their bantam counterparts are no different.
They are well known for their egg laying and even the bantams lay well!
You can find them in silver laced, golden laced, black, buff, blue, and silver penciled.
Expect a calm and peaceful chicken that thrives roaming outside.
Brahma bantams are a great option for those looking for an egg layer.
These little chickens can lay up to 200 eggs every year. Just remember these eggs are much smaller than standard Brahma eggs though!
You can find them several different colors including light, buff, white, and black.
Their temperaments are gentle and they are excellent for families with children and other pets. Overall Brahmas are an excellent choice for those looking for a reliable egg layer.
Cochin bantams are extremely popular chickens.
They have feathered feet and are fairly good egg layers.
Just like their full sized counterparts, they have a very gentle and sociable temperament. They are known to be cuddly with their owners, which is great for families with children.
They come in many different colors including: red, blue, brown, buff, black, lavender, barred, and white.
Overall Cochins are best for those looking for a friendly and loving companion that can also lay a decent amount of eggs.
4. Easter Egger
Easter Egger bantams are definitely a popular addition to any flock.
Just like their full sized counterpart they are kept for their unique colored eggs – Easter Eggers can produce blue and green colored eggs.
One common misconception about Easter Eggers is that they are a breed.
This is incorrect.
Easter Eggers are mutts and are a variety of mixed breed chickens that can produce green and blue eggs. If you are not concerned about their lineage then they are an excellent choice.
Polish bantams are an extremely popular bantam.
They are easily recognized by the little balls of fluff on top of their heads. These birds are mostly kept as ornamental birds, but some Polish bantams are decent egg layers too.
She has a sweet temperament which makes her a great breed for families with children and other pets. This breed comes in a variety of colors, including: golden, silver, white, bearded, white crested black, and black crested white.
Overall they are an excellent option if you are looking for a beautiful breed to add to your flock.
2. Belgian d’Uccle
Belgian d’Uccles are sweet and loving chickens.
They enjoy being held and cuddled and love spending time with children.
These chickens come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including: blue, white, and golden necked. However the most popular color is the Mille Fleur – which includes feathering that resembles a jaguar’s fur.
While Belgian d’Uccle are not great egg layers, their personality and flair make up for it!
The Silkie is probably the most popular bantam.
They are iconic and lots of people automatically associate bantams with Silkies.
Their unique appearance makes them stand out and will leave a lasting impression on anyone that sees them.
Expect a chicken with a gentle and sociable temperament. However you should not expect lots of eggs as they are not the best egg layers. It should be noted that they struggle to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer due to their unique feathers, but are otherwise easy and rewarding to care for.
Complete Guide To Caring For Bantams
At first glance bantam chickens may seem intimidating and difficult to care for because of their size.
However, there is little to worry about. Although they have some special care needs that make them different from standard sized chickens, they are still easy and fun to care for.
Below we cover the key care topics and explain everything you need to know.
Special Care Requirements
Due to their small size bantam chickens have a higher metabolic rate than normal chickens and will tend to feel colder. Many breeds (such as the Japanese bantam) will struggle in cold weather. You should consider this if you are thinking about getting bantam chickens and live in an area that may get extremely cold during winter. You should consider using a chicken coop heater to keep them warm.
The next thing you need to know is that bantams are much better flyers than their normal sized counterparts.
Because of this you should build their coop and run a little taller so they can stretch their wings. If you live in the suburbs you may need to clip their wings to stop them flying outside of the run.
They are escape artists.
A small chicken can easily slip outside of small holes and breakages in your coop or run. It is important to make sure that while raising bantams you inspect their coop and enclosed run for damages so they can not escape.
The average amount of space a normal sized chicken needs is about two to three square feet inside the chicken coop and at least eight to ten square feet for an outside enclosed run. Due to their small size, bantam chickens require less space to keep.
Each bantam chicken should have at least two square feet inside the chicken coop and at least four square feet in the run.
One thing that makes bantam chickens different from regular sized chickens is that they like to fly. Special accommodations should be made in their coop, run, and free roam areas to make sure that they have enough space to stretch their wings.
For example, you can put their roosts higher than normal to give them more flying space.
They have similar feed requirements to their full sized counterparts.
You should give them a quality 16% layer feed.
In terms of how to feed them you can use either: free feeding, interval feeding or scheduled feedings.
However the most important thing is a high quality feed that gives the chickens all the proper nutrients and resources. Additionally, fresh clean water should always be available. If you have laying hens then you should offer them calcium in a separate container too.
Can They Be In The Same Flock As Regular Sized Hens?
Although it is possible for bantam chickens and regular sized chickens to stay in the same flock, it is generally not recommended.
Bantam chickens are often bullied and picked on by the larger birds in the flock due to their size.
If you do keep them in the same flock then make sure to give them plenty of safe spaces for them to hide when they feel threatened or uncomfortable.
If you have ever wanted to keep chickens but have a small yard, then bantams might be perfect for you.
Bantam chickens are a great alternative to regular sized chickens and are strikingly similar to their full sized counterparts.
There is a saying that goes “the best things in life come bite-sized” and this is certainly true with bantam chickens! With so many different bantam breeds available you can choose whichever breed you fall in love with.
Hopefully now that you have learned more about them you feel capable of raising bantams.
Overall they are a great option for most chicken keepers and they are truly rewarding to raise.
After reading this article, what are your thoughts about bantam chickens?
Let us know in the comments section below…