Bantams

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A bantam chicken at a poultry show

I adore my bantams. I have kept 22 different types over the years and keep the around just for fun.

What is a bantam chicken?

A bantam chicken is a small chicken. There are two types of bantam, those that are a smaller version of large fowl chickens and the true bantams. The true bantams have no large fowl version whereas with the standard bantam there is a big or large fowl type.

Below: This is a light Sussex bantam, a small version of the large fowl Sussex.

Bantams tend to be late to mature and rarely come into lay in less than 35 weeks. Silkies are particularly bad in this respect and sometimes don't start laying until they are a year old.

How many types of bantam are there?

The ABA or American bantam association lists more than 400 types of bantam chicken. 

Below: Here is a flock of my gold laced bantam Barnevelders.

Bantams are as a rule more ornamental and more often shown but they can be productive egg layers and are as hardy as bigger chickens.

My bantams free range with my big chickens and there is rarely any trouble.

Bantam have some specific traits:

  • Bantams are known for being more broody than large fowl chickens.
  • They are easier to tame and often more friendly.
  • Bantam chickens tend to fly better and more often.
  • Bantams can be kept in smaller spaces.
  • Bantams are good with kids and make excellent pets.
  • As they are smaller they make a little less noise and mess.

Do bantams need special care? 

For the most part you can treat your bantams in exactly the same way as your would your large chickens.

Some bantams do require special care, those with feathery feet and legs need to be kept on dry ground and frizzled feathered bantams need to be kept warm. 

Below: Silkies and Silkie feathered bantams need to be kept dry as their feathers have no waterproofing.

They are smaller and will get cold more easily and with bantams you will likely need to keep them in the brooder for a few extra days.

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