Bantam Chickens: Breeds, Egg Laying, Size and Care Guide

Bantam Chickens Breeds, Egg Laying, Size and Care Guide Blog Cover

Bantam Chickens are most suitable for small backyards where space is premium.

You can easily fit two bantams into the space required by one standard bird and since they like to fly, building up will accommodate them well.

They may be small but they are bursting with personality and happiness – of course, I may be biased since I do have a small flock of Barbu D’Uccles!

In the article below we will explain the different types of bantams, how to care for them, their egg laying ability and much more.

What is a Bantam Chicken?

A bantam chicken is a miniature version of a regular chicken. They can vary from one half to two thirds the size of regular birds.

Bantam Cochin Chickens
Bantam Cochin Chickens

In total the American Bantam Association lists over 400 varieties of bantam birds.

The origin of the word ‘bantam’ is from the seaport of Bantan, Indonesia.

When sailors stopped into the port for fresh supplies of food and water, they were impressed by the local chickens which were smaller than the chickens back home. The word – Bantan – was corrupted into Bantam in general English and so small chickens became known as bantams.

Types of Bantam Chickens

Strictly speaking there are three types of bantam chicken.

  1. There are ‘true’ bantams; these have no large fowl counterpart. They are naturally occurring with no input from mankind. Breeds: Nankin, Sebright and Rosecomb.
  2. Miniaturized bantams – these were ‘made’ from a standard breed of choice such as Rhode Island Red, Cochin or Orpingtons.
  3. Developed bantams – these are small breeds that have been further developed with some help from mankind. They have been around for so long that the origins are sketchy at best. Such breeds are: Belgian, Pekin (Cochin) and Japanese.

The developed bantam breeds can be a bit confusing really. For example the Barbu D’Uccle – it has no large fowl counterpart, so it is a true bantam. However, the breed was created around 1903 by Michael Van Gelder of Uccle, Belgium and was created by crossing two (maybe more) bantam breeds, so it is also a developed breed.

To avoid confusion among folks the difference between miniaturized and developed is usually ignored with many people saying there are two types of bantam – but now you know better!

How to Care for Bantams

Bantam ChickenIn most respects, bantams do not generally require anything different from standard breeds.

Since they are small they have a higher metabolic rate, so several of these little birds do feel the cold more than larger hens. Japanese and Dutch bantams especially are noted as not being cold tolerant.

The usual requirements for housing remains; dry and draft proof. All poultry require housing that is sized for the number of birds that will be living in it.

If you remember, large fowl need 4 square foot of coop space and 8 square foot of run/ per bird. Bantams require slightly less space. Several sources state 1sq.ft/bird, but 2sq.ft is preferred in the coop with 4sq.ft in the run.

Bantams take a lot less room than their larger counterparts already! If you can provide lots of perches at different heights, maybe even a small tree and some bushes, they will make excellent use of them.

It goes without saying that they need the appropriate food and water. Supplements would include vitamin/electrolyte powder monthly, grit and calcium, plus any suitable scraps for them.

A bantam will eat roughly 1lb feed/month – you are saving on your feed bill dramatically.

Bantams are usually great flyers! If you plan to keep them in a coop, make sure they have high perches and places they can fly up to if they want to. If you wish to keep them confined to that area the run will need to be covered. This will also prevent predation by hawks or owls.

If you decide to mix your bantams in with standard breeds, make sure they aren’t getting picked on because of their size.

Mine mix in with the standards and I have found them very adept at evading and maneuvering between the larger girls. They will readily fly up and out of the way if they feel threatened in any way.

These diminutive little powerhouses can live up to 10-15 years, but generally their life expectancy is around 5-7 years.

Special Care for Bantams

Polish Frizzle Bantam Chick
Polish Frizzle Bantam

Several varieties of bantam are feather legged or ‘sablepoots’. These types of bird require their pens to be relatively mud/muck free, otherwise the foot feathers get incredibly crusted and dirty.

Amending the base of the run can be fairly straight forward. If it is prone to muddiness, add some pebbles or construction sand to the area. When the area is dry enough try seeding with grass, plant a couple of shrubs if you have the space too.

In the early spring, I usually add two or three large buckets of mulch to the area around the doors etc. This stuff will break down nicely, provide some ‘scratch worthy’ dirt and keep feet a bit cleaner.

If the feet get crusted with dirt and poop, a foot bath is in order. Standing the bird in warm water and gently working at the feathers can be relaxing for the bird and you. Remember, these are small birds so it shouldn’t become a wrestling match as it does sometimes with the standard birds!

The foot feathers can also get broken fairly easily and cause a good deal of bleeding. The good news is that with some baking powder or styptic and some firm pressure on the area the bleeding will stop.

Feather footed birds are also prone to scaly leg mites. These nasty little pests can set up shop quickly and remain unnoticed for some time because of the feathering. I check my birds nightly when they go to roost but checking them once a month should suffice.

Bantam Egg Production, Broodiness and Disposition

Bantam eggs are of course, smaller than standard eggs; roughly half the size of standard eggs. The ratio for using them in cooking is 3 bantam eggs for every 2 standard eggs.

Bantams tend to get a bad rap for laying. Admittedly it was about eight months before mine started to lay, but they have been pretty consistent since then. This past winter we have certainly had more bantam eggs than standard – thankfully!

Bantams of standard fowl tend to lay slightly larger eggs and are more prolific than the true bantams.

Some go broody others not, but the broodies defend their eggs and chicks fiercely and they make great mothers – not even standard hens will mess with a bantam broody! Many folks keep one or two bantam broodies to hatch out their standard eggs because they are so reliable. Obviously a bantam cannot cover as many eggs, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try!

They generally have a sweet temperament and are friendly to humans and chickens alike. Roosters can be sweet, but some can also be a bit aggressive especially during the mating season.

As always, some breeds of the rooster are better than others, so research your chosen breed carefully.

From the brooder box on, bantams mixed with standard-sized breeds must fight for their place in the pecking order. Batam chicks are extremely small, but not all of them are concerned with their size, nor do they even know they are small. Bantams can be extremely bold, and sometimes flighty, birds, depending on the breed.

Adding new bantams to a coop full of established standard chickens is a recipe for disaster. You may have been able to add chickens of the same size to an establish coop and the birds work things out pretty quickly. On the other hand, a bantam may not be able to fight back and the larger birds may trample it, peck it, or prevent it from getting to the feeder.

So if you’d like to add bantams to your flock, consider keeping a separate flock of your new little birds so they can establish their own pecking order.

Summary

No room for large chickens? Want something different that will make you smile? Look no further than bantams.

There is a large variety to choose from, whether you want a ‘mille fleur’, speckled, barred or plain – there is a Bantam to suit your taste.

They are always interesting to watch, with some varieties such as the Barbu D’Uccles you can have whole conversations with!

They are joyful, curious and entertaining creatures. If I could only have one type of bird it would be bantams.

Do you have bantams? Tell us about them in the comments section below, you know we love to hear from you…

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Comments

  1. Mary says

    You didn’t mention Silkies or Frizzles. At this time, I have two Silkie hens, a Silkie rooster and a Frizzle rooster. All are just beautiful and are integrated with my standard hens and roosters. I have too many roosters but can’t bring myself to give any away. I love them all and the hens don’t seem to mind.

  2. Nadine says

    I have a bantam rooster who lives in my house. He is free to roam around but a night he sleeps in a BIG wrought iron cage that we bought for him. He follows me around and if he is in another room, I just call his name and he comes running. He’s my little man and just loves to cuddle. He even likes to join in when I play solitaire on my iPad.

      • Megan says

        They make washable bird diapers. I’m not sure if the op uses them, but having an indoor bird roaming doesn’t have to mean poop everywhere.

      • Madeline Gutierrez says

        The poop from my Serama rooster on my tile floors is negligible. He sits on towels on us or the furniture. We watch his health and what he eats (he gets some yogurt as a regular treat for probiotics.) His poop is solid and in 20 minutes is dry and powdery.
        Much much easier than parrots and other birds commonly kept.

    • Madeline Gutierrez says

      We have a “Little Man” just like that. A Serama that loves to fly up on the couch and participate in phone games.

    • Laura says

      Nadine! I used to work at a children’s bookstore in Minneapolis that kept pet bantams who were free to roam around (Wild Rumpus Books, best bookstore ever). Now I’m interested in getting one or two bantams to be indoor-outdoor house pets, and I have a million questions, but I can’t find many resources for folks looking to have a house chicken! Any chance you know of an good source of info or would be wiling to answer a few questions yourself? Many thanks for any recommendations! – Laura

      • Sarah says

        I have two indoor/outdoor silkie chickens. They’ve been trained that being in the house means staying put on a towel. They literally won’t move for hours if it means snuggle time in the house! I may get diapers eventually but while they’re still juveniles I just stick a small piece of paper towel under their butts when we’re cuddling. No scary accidents yet! haha

  3. TWS says

    My nephew raised banties with regular ‘egg chuckers’. The banties’ eggs had no yolks or really small ones. Is that normal?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi,

      Yes smaller yolks are normal, but no yolk aren’t. Please send me an email with photos and I can help!

      Claire

  4. Ginelle says

    I am setting up a small coop and plan to have 4 bantams. I’m curious what the ideal roost measurements are for bantams? My husband cut 1.25 inch wooden closet rod to size, but I wouldn’t let him install it because I heard the roosts should be flat with rounded edges. Many say a rounded 2×4 is perfect, even for bantams, but others say 1 inch for bantams. What do you suggest?

  5. Toni Mitchell says

    Hi, I have adopted 2 rooster and 2 hen Serama Bantam’s. The boys I know are just turning 6 months old, but I don’t know about the girls. The man I got them from says they are about 5 months old…Is there a way to tell about how old they might be, they have not layed any eggs yet.
    Thanks!!
    Toni

  6. Sharon Ressler says

    Loved this article! I have roughly 50 bantams mixed in with my heritage breeds. Mostly Cubalaya’s, Dutch, Sebright, Silkies, and Cochins. The hens are very broody and my best layers, I let them hatch out the eggs of my big girls regularly. Two of our roosters refuse to be outside birds so have been relegated to house pets! We handle all chicks often so they become very friendly adults, frequently flying onto the shoulders of visitors to our property. I often say the bantams are like chips… you can’t have just one. Glad to see such an informative article to educate the public and maybe help others in their decision to welcome some bantams into their own flock!

    • Gloria Todd Twiggs says

      I live in Kenner, LA and have 9 little Bantam ladies but they are getting old and I am only getting 3 eggs a week from the younger Japanese Bantams. I cannot find anyone in this area that sells Bantams, I would love to get just some fertile eggs as they are wonderful mothers. If you happen to know where I can get some chicks or eggs locally please email me at madeare2@gmail,com

      • Vickie Anders says

        sometimes tractor supply company sells bantams. You can order online through them as well. We just bought a bunch of them.

  7. Caroline says

    How long do bantams stay productive, on average? I have a bantam cochin– I think she is about 3 years old. She quit laying this winter when the days got short, and has not started again. BUT, her only friend is an elderly OEG who hardly leaves the coop and hasn’t laid an egg in 3+ years. Since the cochin is pretty skittish, she tends to stick close to the old biddy and doesn’t get much exercise. Not sure if this type of thing effects egg production. (We will get her some new, fun friends this Spring.) Days are about 12 hours long now. Is there something we should be doing/feeding her to get her laying again?Thanks in advance!

  8. Lisa says

    We have 2 Pekin and 3 Wyandotte bantams. They will be 6 years old
    next week! They love left over porridge and fruit scraps and lately have taken to waiting by the back door in the morning for their ‘hot brekky! Their egg production has lessened over the last year or so, but we still get around 4-6 eggs a week.
    They wander around our back yard during the day and they come when I call them (because they think I have food!) ?

  9. Katie Trogdon says

    I just recently hatched 2 bantam chicks and purchased 4 more. I would love to know what types I have. I will be building them a coop of their own. I would love some extra help planning this project so I’ll have happy, healthy chickens as the end result.

  10. michaelbix says

    I would consider my Icelandics a bantam landrace but I don’t see them mentioned here. Brought to northern pre-Europe by Scandinavian sailors (from Java… so very closely related to their primal forest chickens) around 200 AD, they later wete isolated n Iceland to this day. There are a few breeders in the US now so they are showing up more here.

    They are great flyers, very cold hardy, lay all winter & are super smart (and human friendly – like the bantams you describe). The roosters at best weigh 8 lbs, and the hens 4-6… and can be fiercely broody.

    Would you consider them a bantam line?

  11. Roy says

    I have 2 baby bantams and I don’t know what they are can someone help me with this please I wanna breed them when they are old enough but I wanna make sure what they are first

  12. Crystal says

    Hallo! I just got some baby bantams, and I’m wondering, how old do they have to be to live without a heat light? How old is outside okay?

    • Crystal says

      Oh, and one of my baby bantams keeps shaking her head and crying out when I hold her. Is that normal?

    • Emily says

      I’m new to having chickens myself so don’t know if this is right or not. But from what I read if they still have down feathers, then they get go under the temp of 65. But if all the down is gone then they won’t need the light as much.

  13. Michael Drake says

    One correction i see is Pekin (cochin) being listed as a developed bantam when it’s a true bantam. Large fowl cochins have no Pekin pekin ties at atll as they have a completely different standard and genetic make up so that puts Pekin aka cochin bantams in the truck bantam catagory. I’ve bred Pekin/Bantam Cochins for years and breed to the Pekin standard instead of the American standard

  14. Keera says

    My bantams are about 3 and a half months old, but I recently found a nest in the chicken run that had bantam sized eggs. IS it possible that they could start laying so early?

  15. Paula Biederman says

    I just got sebright grown rooster they look young ,one crows and the other 2 doesn’t? Have some mille hens 3 of them look young not laying . Have 18 babies 3 mille and 15 sebright one white rest golden looks like couple like at least 4 of them look like roosters. (My question is should I keep all those roosters in a small chicken coop , they adapt and get along.) Thankyou

  16. Stephanie says

    My daughter (10) switched to bantams (from full size last year) this year for 4-H. She has 5 silkies, one BB red and one White faced Japanese. She takes them to fair in two weeks. She is so excited. She loves her chickens.

  17. kate says

    Hey everybody, Seems the common thread is that most of us are newbies with chickens… I’m happy with my bantams however, I have a few concerns. Where I life, we are required to purchase 6 at a time. We did, but only two remain.
    One has become a rooster and the other a hen. Recently, our rooster is attacking the neck of the hen not letting go and squawking.
    My concerns are the following; one he kills her by accident,
    two, we have to send him to a farm because he is getting too loud and
    three, she can’t be alone and I can’t risk the chance of having too many chicks
    how do I introduce a new family? I’m not sure what age they are we have had them for 8wks not sure the age they go to the farm supply?
    Do they mate similar to humans or fish or ??
    Can they be trained? right now they follow and hang out with me. I’m sure food is the olive branch just like any living thing..

    So my request is whether or not to find a new home for the rooster, add new members to her family or can she live alone? are they trainable and how do they mate?

  18. Cindy Newell says

    I have bantams,I have 10 chickens 5 roosters,9 babies,2 mother’s,one big hen.the rooster pick on my big hen,she just hides from them.every morning I did up grubs and feed the babies them,they grow really fast when I do this,are they good for them?I let mom feed them.i just let my babies out for some sun today ,I laughed as they first went out.they are free range chickens but I cage the mother till the babies are big enough that the crows or gulls can’t eat them.its happened before.i also have to watch for raccoons.i love my chickens but I can’t eat the eggs,I give them away,crazy or what.

  19. Darcy says

    I am very interested in getting some bantams this year. I have young children and it seems as though they would be a great pet for my kiddos to learn to be responsible for. My concern is that we live in a neighborhood. We have a big garden and enough space for chickens, we even have some trees it seems they may like, but if they are good flyers, should I be concerned about them going over our wall and into our neighbor’s yard? Should we consider a different breed?

  20. Jayson Daines says

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  21. Carrie says

    I bought 3 silkies online as chicks because I am not in a ranch community.

    They never were happy being held. Would I have better luck getting older chicks? I had them 2 months and it never improved.

  22. Shelli says

    I have a bantam with 2 blue laced wyndottes, 2 brahms and a black austrolop(it was in the brahm’s pen).. they are about 4 or so weeks old.. living in my basement til hubby finishes our coop.
    My little bantam will be the ruler of the roost. She picks on everyone else, but they protect her too.

  23. Chicken says

    umm…. this didn’t really help because I want a cute, pet chicken to live in my house, and I want to dye my hair

  24. Julie Judd says

    I have a regular sized chicken, 2 bantums and a duck, ( hatched by my bantums). My bantums are 9yrs old. They all get on lovely like a family. I’ve just bought 4 bantum chicks, which when ready will be introduced to the others. I have been keeping chickens and ducks for 10 years and every time we introduce new ones, there is a bit of pecking order going on but generally it settles down quite quickly and they accept the new members.

  25. Chelsey Thiess says

    I bought 8 chicks this year, one of which is a bantam that caught my attention last minute as we were walking out. It was almost like she jumped over the other chickens and was chasing me down. I saw her out the corner of my eye and when I turned around she just sat down abruptly. I touched her and she immediately put her head down and closed her eyes, not once trying to flee from me… My first ever Bantam and she seems to be getting along very well with the other 7 I got. 2 of the hens (same age as her) are very protective of her.
    But how can I tell what actual type of chicken she is? Our first encounter was just so unique I want to know anything i can about her as soon as possible. She has super fluffy/feathered black feet with 5 toes (all normal), black eyes and beak, and she seems more like a cotton ball rather than a ball of feathers. Not sure if that’s just age or breed. They are all right about 4-5 weeks old. How do I tell what official breed she is without having to wait until she is full grown?!

  26. a person says

    I have five bantam chicks but I don’t know what breed they are. They are black and yellow, some have feathered feet and one has five toes (it came from a farm with silkies so it might be a mix)

  27. windie staton says

    ijust gathered from my hen yard this tiny egg but size ot a blue birds egg this egg im guessing was laid by one of my five laying bannies three cream two reds nowits a first for them to have laid one extra small im a new laying hen raiser theese hen are new first time layer too this is a first of its kind of size egg laid in their enclosed on top old dog pen now chicken yard i just happen to be checking of the hens im daily doing so n for eggs now days im getting four to five eggs a day ntoday this ttiny ne found in the hen yard had fisrt almost said just a odd rock but ill see n i have got prob one of a kind feven for bannie hens they r a small bird n lay small eggs but this is smaller it the size of a blue birds egg but its lite colored white mabe a cream laid it but has this happend ever n how this happen we feed them laying feed n have the five laying bannie hens for getting eating eggs inmy fridge i am working on filling a dozen cnt carton n have an 18 cnt filled i eat the eggs daily can u answer my questions thnx from texas

  28. Charla says

    hi there!
    I have questions. I got 3 silver laced wyandottes & 3 buff orpingtons from Tractor Supply. They ARE bantams, correct? Google isn’t telling me. Are there SLW that are NOT bantams??? In any event, we’re almost done building their coop and we’re installing a pvc pipe with the chicken nipples on the bottom – to use as their watering system. Thing is, I can’t find out how tall the chicks will get so that they can drink. Does anyone know? (Google isn’t helping). Thanks in advance!

    • Kristi says

      Yes there are full sized Wyandottes, golden and silvers. Most I’ve seen are not bantys, and just found out tonight there were bands of these breeds, although not true bantys, but bc of breeding…No idea on full sz…ill ask a friend 😉

  29. Someguy says

    I have 2 baneys left out of 6 that was supposed to be silky hens that I bought at tractor supply. Had to get 6 but wasn’t worried about the amount considering I have plenty of room for them. But I’ve found that silky hens are the best hens out there to hatch eggs with. Anyway, the 2 I have left are a really streamlined gray hen and a insanely fluffy extra tiny buff orpington lookalike, that’s the only way I know to describe her, and as time passes I’m noticing that I like the baneys more and more to where now they are literally pets and not just something running around the yard to make sammage material for me. These 2 little shits are awesome really and come running if they hear me come outside and follow me everywhere. Even if I get in the truck to go somewhere they’re trying to jump up in the window to go with me. I swear I don’t think theres anything on earth minus a puppy that can make you genuinely happy like a baney chicken can. If you have kids and can, I highly recommend getting a few to play with. They’re gentle, curious, have an amazing personality, and really just an infectious animal that no matter how grumpy of an asshole you are, they will make you smile nonetheless. I like all my animals, they serve a purpose, but I love my 2 little baney hens lol. Best little things ever in my opinion, js.

  30. Donna owner of Jenni (Not a guinea) says

    this last spring I went to the feed store to buy a few chickens for my backyard. First time to raise chickens on my own. I bought two pullets and an unsexed rhode island red. (rooster) and I saw they had a few guineas left so I bought two .. (my grandmother loved guineas) .. one of the guineas didn’t make it.. and the other one.. well it’s not a guinea. .. it is a female, it has laid an egg (pretty good indicator) I named it Jenni but it’s not a guinea.. it looked just like the other guineas as a chick.. it was brown with dark brown stripes but now it looks like a tiny chicken (she’s in a seperate cage cause she’s so little the other chickens trample her) with black wings and back, a rust brown colored breast and a silver colored head … she’s really pretty .. never seen a chicken like it though.. but i was thinking do you think it could be some breed of bantam?

    • Donna owner of Jenni (Not a guinea) says

      Also, she makes these wierd noises. She tweets and murmurs when she’s being petted and will make this bird noise that sounds like a question when I’m in the room with her. Then when she wants attention she screams (its really really loud) and it sounds like we’re in a jungle somewhere.

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