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What Are Bantam Chickens and Why Do I Want Them?

Updated on April 25, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Dutch Silver Bantam  Image:The-Coop.org
Dutch Silver Bantam Image:The-Coop.org

What are Bantam Chickens?

Bantam chickens have been domesticated for centuries. In fact, they are one of the oldest known domestic animals. Marco Polo wrote about banties in his journal.

While all bantams are chickens, not all chickens are banties. What is the difference?

Characteristics

The Bantam is a small type of chicken overall. Some bantams have been bred from "normal sized chickens" to retain the characteristics of the breed only in a smaller size. Others are as they have been for centuries - totally unique. All bantams are smaller than regular chickens and they share some unique personality traits.

Personality

People who raise bantams say that they have more personality than chickens do, are more able to care for themselves, and find more of their own food. They seem to keep the grasshopper population down better than other types of poultry. Because they are small they are easier to keep in an urban area and so they are a great way for city and suburb "farmers" to achieve self sufficiency.

Healthy bantams are curious. They will check out anything that seems unusual and loudly announce the arrival of visitors whether it is the next door neighbor's dog or the Pastor coming for lunch.

Socialization

They do best in small social groups of one rooster and three hens. Because of this, banties do exceptionally well when housed in chicken tractors.

Eggs

Bantams lay eggs just like every other chicken. A banty egg is very small and it will take about three to make one normal sized chicken egg. The banty, although small, can be used as a meat bird. Primarily they are not raised for meat but when the birds are culled most people will agree that the culls make a nice cacciatore.

Why Do I Want One?

Simply, Bantams are easy to keep. They are quite independent and are happy to rid your garden of as many bugs as they can hold. This means not only do they require less feed because of their small size, they also forage very well.

Since they are small they are easy to house. Although Bantams like to roost in trees it is still important to put them in protected housing at night because of predators.

Their small, often colorful eggs are unique and can bring premium prices in some markets.

Most of all, Bantams are friendly and fun to watch.

Housing and Care

Housing banties is very much like housing any other poultry. They need to be protected from predators, the weather, and other dangers. Bantams need clean water, plenty of nutritious food, and the same care as other chickens.

Housing is generally smaller because the banty does not have the same space requirements of bigger birds.

Which ever type of bantam chicken you fall in love with you can be sure that you will enjoy the personality and the antics of these "pocket poultry".

Dutch Banties

Dutch are the smallest of the bantams. They are an inquisitive bird with stamina and personality. They have a beautiful coloring and do well at shows because of both their uniqueness and their confident attitudes. The hens are very broody and will easily set eggs.

This type of poultry was first standardized in 1906. It is a tiny breed that can only hatch 3-4 eggs at a time.

Silkies, Popular Bantam Breed

The Silkie bantam was domesticated about 4,000 years ago. There are ten varieties of silkies with various colors. Silkies weigh in at between 28-35 ounces depending on the sex of the bird. Like many banties they can fly better than their larger cousins; however the distance tends to be less than five feet. The eggs are light brown in color and a normal Silkie will lay an average of 120 a year. The eggs hatch in twenty one days and the birds reach sexual maturity at five months.

Silkies are much loved by the people who raise them. Part of the reason is that a Silkie is exactly that- silky. The feathers do not have barbs on them and are very soft giving the Silkie the look and feel of a long haired cat.

Belgian Bearded d'Uccles

Belgian bearded d'Uccles were developed in Belgium in the 1900s. They are a beautiful cross between Bearded d'Anvers and Booted Bantams. They are one of the more tame species of bantams, and on the quiet side.

The hens are very broody and will set a brood every year. The eggs are beige in color and the chicks are many combinations of colors. By the time they are adults they will look like their parents. A good place to view these beautiful birds is the gallery at Cackle Hatchery.

Other Breeds

There are many more types of bantams.To compare the various types of standard chickens and bantams check out this excellent chart of 60 different breeds. There are notes on size, color, personality, and egg color and production. This makes this chart a very valuable tool for someone that is new to raising poultry of any type. With it you are able to consider the needs of the breed with your own needs and situation and come up with a good match for your homestead.

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    • profile image

      Angie 5 years ago

      are getting better at not running from me. I have been worried about how to get them in a coup. they roost in the trees and barns. lately I think a raacoon is in the barns, the hens go crazy when they go near it. I can't find the reason. Does anyone have any sugestions for me on wheather I should let them roost where they like or try to get them in a coup at night. and if so HOW. I am trying to learn all I can and quickly.

    • profile image

      Angie 5 years ago

      I have inherited 5 adult banty hens and they

    • profile image

      kate 5 years ago

      hi i have 2 femails n 1 cock bantams white in colourer .i love my bantams .i was just woundering on how long it would take there eggs to hatch has my hens am laying eggs.after inkebaiting them.xx

    • profile image

      kyu! 5 years ago

      I have 4 bantams today 2 males and 2 females.. 1 hen is currently brooding the other is laying eggs...

    • profile image

      M.Patea,Aizawl Mizoram,India. 5 years ago

      Is there anyone who can tell how I can get a pair of Dutch Bantam chicken?

    • profile image

      M.Patea, Mizoram, iNDIA 5 years ago

      I have a few of bantam chickens and i spend countless hour watching them. they are cute and liven up my life. I just love them.

    • profile image

      Love bantam 5 years ago

      Bantam is a very nice pet. I want to see some breed of bantam.

    • profile image

      Rain 5 years ago

      i have two banny chickens. a male and a female. i went out this morning and i found a single egg in there pen. i was so excited that my female had finally reached maturity.

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      Gussie 6 years ago

      Hello, I live in the UK and love my pet garden chickens. I also have four small 8 week old White Silkie Bantam chicks. How can I tell the sex please? What age will I be able to tell? Thank you.

    • profile image

      Alfredo Best 6 years ago

      You actually make it seem really easy along with your presentation however I to find this matter to be actually something which I feel I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very wide for me. I'm having a look ahead for your next submit, I will try to get the hang of it!

    • profile image

      Brent S 6 years ago

      An adult Bantie depending on breed gets to 10-12 inches in hieght but small in size, I have 4 hens and 3 roosters and really enjoy all of their personality's they love to be held and cared for but I have spent 20 min. per day inside the coop letting them get used to me as thier owner. My Banties are all in the same housing tractor (that is a coop and runner on wheels) hope if you choose to raise chickens as layers and pets go with the uniqe Bantie you will not be disapointed... Happy farming...

    • Marye Audet profile image
      Author

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Oppiesee...not true.. often other readers answer the questions...

    • profile image

      oppiesee 6 years ago

      guys just stop asking questions here, they never get answered

    • profile image

      robert 6 years ago

      i live in biloela in queensland near rockhampton im trying to get a couple hen bamtams which im having trouble finding if any one can help me out would be great or suggest were i could get a couple i used to breed bamtams years ago never thought they wer this hard to find i can be reached on this email arthur_robert@hotmail.com

    • profile image

      Dimples 6 years ago

      I had a Red Cochin that me at my car when i got off from work everyday!

    • profile image

      mark 6 years ago

      i really love bantam chicken and i also bred them too.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      how tall do bantums get

    • profile image

      christina 6 years ago

      i think that theese things r great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Dennis Daryl Shamblin 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your chicken website. Please read mine.

    • profile image

      wildchicken 6 years ago

      We have several chickens, and we have had several bantums. My daughter has a thing for the banties, she loves them and totes them around like babies. She has even dresses a couple of them up. She has no problem handling any of them. they are very gentle and love her.

    • profile image

      James 6 years ago

      i like it muhahaha

    • Marye Audet profile image
      Author

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      The amount of eggs that a chicken will lay has many variables from breed to feed! On an average a silky will lay 120 eggs a year or so but there will be those that lay significantly more or less.

    • profile image

      fluffychicken 6 years ago

      We live in Australia and have just got 2 Isa Browns and 2 Silkies 3 weeks ago they were 1-2 weeks old when we got them. How many eggs do the Silkies lay? We were told 180 per year but on the internet it says 100 -120 per year.

    • profile image

      bantam 7 years ago

      i have 20 bantams and 10 regular chooks.... i live in Australia... it is now spring and my bantams are already setting, none of my other hens are. i put big eggs from my regular cooks and duck eggs under them, they are fantastic mothers. i also have a large rooster and a bantam rooster and although they fight alot the bantam is alot nicer natured. they are all free range and i think the bantam eggs tast great! ... beter than a regular chook, and although the arnt very meaty the bantams taste great! ... i live out of town... utt i think bantams would make a great backyard pet.

    • profile image

      Wooden Chicken Coops 7 years ago

      My wife and I raise silkies. they are the coolest little chicken. they make the best moms and have the nest personalities.

    • profile image

      leear de vera 7 years ago

      bantam is not only a deco in my backyard but also it is a game fowl for me and my friends ,cause i win a championship game using my bantams

    • profile image

      Jamie 7 years ago

      Today we found a wild bantam in the sheep pen in our ag plot at school. We pimped out a crib for it. It's life is at its beak... (peak) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! It likes long walks in the grass, sharpening its beak, and molesting widgety grubs.

    • hubmu profile image

      hubmu 7 years ago from BN

      look cute and sweet to me :)

    • Chapter profile image

      Chapter 7 years ago from Indonesia

      there are some variety of bantam like serama , sebricth , and others

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Well put!

    • profile image

      Jan 7 years ago

      My first silkie chick is two weeks old. We call it Chicky-little. Don;t know if it is a hen or rooster. "she" already recognises "her" name and responds when I call her name.

    • profile image

      La~la 7 years ago

      I have four male banties and my family owns some as well.They are the sweetest chickens you could ever have. The females are extremely docile and they are all like pets to me. They allow me to hold and cuddle them unlike the larger chicken breeds lol.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 7 years ago

      THANK YOU! I WAS WONDERING ABOUT THE CARE AND HOUSE REQUIREMENT THANK YOU!

    • profile image

      Daniel 7 years ago

      Great article. I was looking for some basic information and this was much more. Thank you!

    • ahmadraza212 profile image

      ahmadraza212 7 years ago from Pakistan

      hi dear nice information regarding chicken. Please keep it up for the best information regarding any other bird

    • profile image

      i like chickens 7 years ago

      i got 2 bantam chickens from my school farm 2 days ago and one isnt eating and im really worried because the day after i got it, it was running round with the other one quite fine and now it wont eat.....

      Im not sure if im keeping them warm enough and what to feed it at the moment..i am giving it chicken starter but it wont eat and i have to hand feed it water but the other chcik will eat and drink all by itself and is ignoring the other chick....

      can any one help me??

    • profile image

      curios 8 years ago

      how can tell the sex of a bantam chick?? i reli dont want a rooster. anyone got any secrets on tell the sex or know some sites that can help me??

    • profile image

      phantom bantam 8 years ago

      Ours is quite fiesty. They didn't sex the bantams at the local feed store and we ended up with a rooster. Eight weeks old and he's started his attempts at crowing. Cute.

    • profile image

      dennisematt 8 years ago

      YAY chickens. I love them. Feeding my "girls" spaghetti is one of my favorite ways to start the day.

    • williamblake profile image

      williamblake 8 years ago

      i like you article man

    • nicko guzman profile image

      nicko guzman 8 years ago from Los Angeles,CA

      Okay...today I noticed a small,greyish or silver,three toed,and bare legged chick.What are some possibilities of what it could be

    • nicko guzman profile image

      nicko guzman 8 years ago from Los Angeles,CA

      Silkies are the best.I used them to sit on duck eggs and raise other birds' eggs inclunding a cockatiel.They are amazing birds.

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      they r so cool'

    • profile image

      Gale 8 years ago

      Does anyone know how tall an adult bantam chicken is in inches?

    • Ren Chin profile image

      Ren Chin 9 years ago

      chickens!

      I love this hub

    • koncling profile image

      koncling 9 years ago from Nice Winding Room

      They small but energetic.......

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      I used to have Bantams when I was a child in Nebraska. Cute, but hard work. All animals need care every single day!

    • profile image

      dafla 9 years ago

      I used to have banties. In fact, I had two bantam roosters. One was a beautiful gold and green, and was my son's pet. The other was a gamecock bantie, and I can't for the life of me remember his name. I was careful not to let them out at the same time. One day I accidentally did, and the next thing I know...COCKFIGHT! It was a funny sight, I know, me swinging a stick to separate them, and him trying to catch his pet rooster. Too funny!

      I bred the gamecock bantie rooster with a brown hen, and I got all sorts of beautiful bantie chicks. My favorite was a solid white frizzle that we called "Sunshine".

      I had to give all my chickens away when I moved to Florida. It was a sad day for me and my son, having to tell them goodbye.

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      Swee Teng, Toowoomba GP 9 years ago

      Rob, our old neighbour, found Bantam chickens the best mothers. Sometimes, he'd put the odd egg from a duck and mix them together, and the bantam hen would look after the duckling like one of her own.