Choosing chicken breeds for your backyard flock is one of the toughest decisions you’ll make as a new chicken keeper. There are so many chicken breeds to choose from, so how do you decide what’s right for your flock?
Today we want to make a case for adding Bantam chicken breeds to your backyard. We’re going to tell you all about the pros and cons of bantam chickens, as well as share some beautiful bantam breeds!
What are Bantam Chickens?
Bantam chickens are in a class all their own, and there’s a lot to know about these chickens before deciding whether or not to add them to your flock.
Bantam chickens in essence, are mini chickens, measuring at about half the size (or less) of a standard chicken. Some bantams breeds have always been smaller in stature, and some breeds were developed that way by chicken breeders over time. We’ll talk more about the differences between these two types of bantams below.
Benefits to Bantam Chickens:
Coming in at half the size, bantam chickens take up considerably less space than standard chickens. This makes them ideally suited to urban and suburban chicken flocks that tend to have smaller coops and chicken runs.
Easy to Handle:
Their small size and shorter legs make bantam breeds easier to handle and much easier to catch when out free ranging. Bantam chickens are also a great choice for children, they’re basically kid-sized chickens!
Bantam chickens require less space, less food, and less treats than their standard sized counterparts. This can save you a lot of money in the long run!
Cute as a button!
There’s no denying it. Miniature versions of animals are just too cute for words. If you want a backyard flock that makes all your friends say, “awwww!” every time they visit, bantams are for you!
Downsides to Bantam Chickens:
It is more common for bantam chickens to get picked on if you raise them in a mixed flock with standard sized hens. Their smaller size makes them a target for the larger hens. We’ve personally been raising a mixed flock of bantams and standard hens without any serious issues. Yes, the larger hens do tend to single out the smaller breeds, but the bantam breeds are agile and quick to evade any attacks.
Bantam eggs are miniature, just like the chicken! Bantam eggs tend to be roughly half the size of a standard chicken egg. You do need to be careful when using these eggs for cooking and baking, as it takes 1.5 bantam eggs to equal one standard egg.
Bantam chickens are more likely to get attacked by predators than standard chickens. This is of course due to their smaller size. We’ve heard of bantam chickens being carried off by hawks and eagles. They’re also slightly slower due to their short legs, which makes them more of a target for ground predators.
Common Bantam Chicken Breeds
Some bantam breeds are naturally smaller in stature and their breeds have been unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands of years. These are called true bantams.
True Bantam Breeds:
- Bearded d’Uccle
Developed Bantam Breeds:
Some other bantams have been selectively bred by people to be miniature versions of popular breeds. These types of bantams have a standard sized counterpart. For example, there’s the standard sized Wyandotte that can weigh 7-9 pounds, whereas the bantam Wyandotte weighs between 1-2.5 pounds.
Practically every breed of chicken has a bantam counterpart, so we’ll list just the most popular developed bantam breeds here.
- Bantam Wyandotte
- Bantam Cochin
- Brahma Bantam
- Bantam Orpington
- Bantam Dominique
- Bantam Easter Egger
- Bantam Rhode Island Red
- Bantam Barred Rock
We hope you’ll consider adding bantam chicken breeds to your backyard! These chickens are delightful, easy to care for, and less expensive than standard breeds. They’re the perfect breed for families with young kids or urban and suburban homesteaders.