Booted Bantam

Gallus gallus domesticus

Last updated: July 12, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© moreimages/Shutterstock.com

The feathers on the feet of tiny Booted Bantam chickens can reach up to six inches in length!


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Booted Bantam Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Galliformes
Family
Phasianidae
Genus
Gallus
Scientific Name
Gallus gallus domesticus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Booted Bantam Conservation Status

Booted Bantam Locations

Booted Bantam Locations

Booted Bantam Facts

Prey
Insects and larvae; worms; other invertebrates
Name Of Young
Chicks
Group Behavior
  • Flock
Fun Fact
The feathers on the feet of tiny Booted Bantam chickens can reach up to six inches in length!
Most Distinctive Feature
Long feathers on feet
Distinctive Feature
Wide array of colors; short, red comb; red wattles; long hackle feathers; vulture hocks; wide tail base
Other Name(s)
Federfüßige Zwerghühner; Sabelpoot; Dutch Booted Bantam
Temperament
Docile and friendly
Training
Easily trained
Incubation Period
21 days
Habitat
In captivity only
Predators
Birds of prey such as hawks and owls; raccooons; foxes; weasels; snakes; domestic cats
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Flock
Favorite Food
Commercial feed
Common Name
Booted Bantam
Origin
The Netherlands
Number Of Species
1
Location
The Netherlands, Great Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Russia
Group
Flock
Nesting Location
In coops

Booted Bantam Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Gold
  • Orange
  • Silver
  • Beige
  • Light Grey
  • Multi-colored
  • Golden
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
Up to 10 years
Weight
22 to 30 ounces
Age of Sexual Maturity
About 5.5 months
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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The feathers on the feet of tiny Booted Bantam chickens can exceed six inches in length!

Booted Bantam chickens are distinguished by the exceptionally long feathers on their legs and feet. These feathers make the chickens look like they are wearing long, fluffy boots. Although the Booted Bantam is a naturally small bird, with a short stature and weighing less than two pounds, the feathers on their feet can exceed six inches in length. These long feathers make life a little complicated for the birds, who cannot move around as quickly or easily on the ground as other breeds. But luckily, the Booted Bantam is an excellent flyer. These birds are considered rare, but thanks to their wide variety of colors and their friendly demeanor, they are popular ornamental and exhibition birds in many countries.

Incredible Booted Bantam Chicken Facts

  • Booted Bantam chickens are true bantams that developed naturally on their own.
  • The standard for this breed is slightly larger in Europe than in the United States.
  • Some organizations recognize more than 30 different color variations in this breed.
  • The Booted Bantam has been around for hundreds of years, originating in the Netherlands.
  • The breed also has a long history in neighboring Belgium and Germany.
  • Booted Bantams are also known by their Dutch name, Sabelpoot, across much of Europe.

Where to Find Booted Bantam Chickens

Booted Bantam chickens most likely originated in the Netherlands. They were also commonly found in the bordering countries of Belgium and Germany and in the United Kingdom. Exporters later moved the birds to countries including France and the United States. According to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Booted Bantam chickens also occupy facilities in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Poland, and Russia.

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Chickens with feathered feet were commonplace throughout Europe since at least the 1600s, based on artistic representations during that time. One of the earliest descriptions of feather-footed bantam chickens came from English naturalist, Eleazar Albin in 1738. In 1867, another English naturalist and bird expert, William Bernhardt Tegetmeier, wrote a lengthy description of the Booted Bantam chicken in his popular reference, The Poultry Book. 

Scientific Name

Like other domesticated chickens throughout the world, Booted Bantams are part of the species, Gallus gallus domesticus. Based on molecular research, experts believe that modern domesticated chickens evolved mainly from the Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus, of southeast Asia. Even though Booted Bantams are naturally much smaller than full size chickens, weighing in at a little under two pounds at their heaviest, they still share this common ancestry.

Booted Bantam chickens have been called many different names. Some people call them Dutch Booted Bantams. However, writers should be careful not to confuse them with Dutch Bantam breed, which also originated in the Netherlands, but which has bare legs.



In many parts of the world, organizations call Booted Bantams by their Dutch name, Sabelpoot. This name derives from the characteristic vulture hocks, or stiff, downward pointing feathers on the back of the bird’s legs. Sabelpoot translates to sabre-legged. Germans call the chickens Federfüßige Zwerghühner, which translates to Feather-footed Bantam.

Appearance

Booted Bantam chickens are naturally small. They are true bantam chickens, in that they are naturally occurring in bantam size. People did not selectively breed the Booted Bantam from a large size bird, nor did they cross it with other breeds to achieve its diminutive size. Yes, Tegetmeier wrote in The Poultry Book that the Booted Bantam breed displayed in the 1860s was smaller than historical feather-footed bantams, but the breed was always of bantam size.

These tiny, ornamental chickens are short in stature and lightweight. They have broad backs and rounded breasts, and they hold their tail and head upright, giving their body a graceful U-shaped profile. They have long, straight, downward-pointing feathers on the backs of their thighs called vulture hocks, a feature seen rarely among poultry, and they carry their long wings pointed down toward the ground much like the Sultan chicken. Booted Bantams have red bright red, single, upright combs with five to seven evenly serrated points. They have red wattles, earlobes, and faces.

Heavily feathered legs and feet are the most distinguishing features of this breed. Their four toes are almost completely camouflaged beneath the long feathers that look like boots. The feathers on the feet of Booted Bantams can grow up to six inches or more.

Booted Bantam hens can weigh up to approximately 27 ounces, while roosters can reach about 30 ounces. In the United States, the American Poultry Association sets weights of 22 ounces for hens and 26 ounces for roosters as the breed standard.

Booted Bantam chickens with long feathers on their feet

The feathers on the feet of Booted Bantam chickens can reach up to six inches in length.

©cynoclub/Shutterstock.com

The Many Colors of Booted Bantams

This breed, also known as Federfüssige Zwerghühner, is recognized in more than two dozen different colors in Germany. In the United States, the American Poultry Association recognizes only five colors, including White, Black, Mille Fleur, Porcelain, and Self Blue. The association added the White variety to the Standard of Perfection first in 1879, followed by the others.

In the United Kingdom, the Booted Bantam Society, formed in 2014, recognizes color variations including the solids, Black, White, Blue, and Lavender. The standard also includes Millefleur varieties including Gold, Silver, Lemon, Buff, and Porcelain, as well as Silver Birchen, Gold Birchen, Lavender Mottled, Black Mottled, and Cuckoo. The society also lists more than a dozen different non-standard colors, but breeders cannot show those in the standard competitions.

Behavior

Booted Bantam chickens are usually raised as ornamental birds. They are docile and friendly toward humans and are reportedly easy to train. They get along well with most other chickens, although others may bully them due to their small size. Within their own flock, Booted Bantams tend to establish a hierarchical order. Chicks fight for their place on the social ladder, then continue to assert their dominance over birds of lower rank as they get older.

This breed is particularly adept at flying. They have long, strong wings and lightweight bodies made for the air. Many owners report that the chickens spend much of their time in trees, preferring even to roost among the branches if they can. To keep them from flying away, breeders should provide covered enclosures and secure coops. Otherwise, simply expect that they will be sitting somewhere high and out of the way.   

These chickens do well in confinement or as free-range birds. They do not tolerate cold and wet weather as well as many other breeds, due to the heavy feathering on their legs and feet. If their feet stay wet, they are prone to illness and infection. Owners should keep coops and enclosures especially clean and dry.

The feathers on the Booted Bantam chicken’s feet also greatly affect their behavior. They are more likely to walk about deliberately than to run amok. The feathers also make them less likely to scratch aggressively in the garden than many other fowl. Booted Bantams have to move carefully or risk breaking their feathers, which can be painful and bloody, depending on where the breakage occurs. These long feathers can also prove treacherous for their young, as they often sweep eggs and even chicks right out of the nest.

Diet

Booted Bantams need high-quality poultry feed with plenty of protein to support the growth of their feathers. If allowed to forage, these birds are likely to eat plenty of seeds, weeds, and other green plant material. They will also gobble up insects and larvae, and other small invertebrates. They especially love worms.

Owners of Booted Bantam chickens can supplement their birds’ diet with treats. These chickens love fruits and vegetables, especially the leafy green varieties. They enjoy melons, berries, pumpkins, and even the occasional banana.

Reproduction

Booted Bantam hens reach sexual maturity by about 22 weeks of age. They lay between 100 and 180 white or lightly tinted eggs each year, but the eggs are tiny. The hens tend to go broody, and they make a solid effort at sitting on their nests and raising their chicks.

Unfortunately, the abundant feathers on their feet make it hard to avoid stepping on their eggs and their chicks. Sometimes the long feathers even sweep eggs or baby chicks out of the nest, leading to their demise.

Predators & Threats

Predators such as hawks, owls, and eagles present a serious threat to Booted Bantam chickens because they are very small and easy to carry away. The chickens have an advantage, though, thanks to their excellent flying skills. If they can fly into trees, they may find safety among the branches. They fare much better against ground predators such as foxes, weasels, and raccoons than heavier breeds like the Brahma chicken or the Cochin chicken. As long as they can spot a terrestrial predator approaching, they have a great chance of escaping on the wing.

Booted Bantams are most at risk on the nest. Those same earth-bound predators mentioned above, as well as domestic cats and snakes, can easily raid a nest and eat up all the eggs or chicks. Owners must supply their birds with secure coops if they are to avoid predators in the night.

Another threat that Booted Bantam chickens face is disease. Because these chickens have such abundant feathers, parasites are a particular problem. They can get out of control if the birds’ enclosures and coops are not kept exceptionally clean and dry. Water sources should be changed frequently, as the birds can hardly help getting their feathers damp. Many breeders suggest nipple based waterers for heavily feathered birds like these.

Lifespan & Conservation

Although the Livestock Conservancy does not include the Booted Bantam breed on its Conservation Priority List, most sources indicate that the breed is indeed rare. These scrappy chickens are considered a hardy breed, though, and individuals can live up to 10 years. Interest in Booted Bantams is strong among hobbyists, especially in the Netherlands, Germany, and other nearby countries in Europe. Their wide variety of colors, docile nature, and cute appearance make them favorites among both backyard breeders and poultry show enthusiasts.

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About the Author

Tavia Fuller Armstrong is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on birds, mammals, reptiles, and chemistry. Tavia has been researching and writing about animals for approximately 30 years, since she completed an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tavia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a wildlife emphasis from the University of Central Oklahoma. A resident of Oklahoma, Tavia has worked at the federal, state, and local level to educate hundreds of young people about science, wildlife, and endangered species.

Booted Bantam FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What do Booted Bantam chickens look like?

Booted Bantam chickens are short in stature and lightweight. They have broad backs and rounded breasts, and they hold their tail and head upright, giving their body a graceful U-shaped profile. They have long, straight, downward-pointing feathers on the backs of their thighs called vulture hocks, a feature seen rarely among poultry, and they carry their long wings pointed down toward the ground. Booted Bantams have red bright red, single, upright combs with five to seven evenly serrated points. They have red wattles, earlobes, and faces.

The most distinguishing feature of this breed is their heavily feathered legs and feet. Their four toes are almost completely camouflaged beneath the long feathers that look like boots. The feathers on the feet of Booted Bantams can grow up to six inches or more.

How many colors of Booted Bantam chickens are recognized?

The number of standard colors of Booted Bantam chickens varies based on the country and the organization consulted. In the United States, the American Poultry Association recognizes only five colors, including White, Black, Mille Fleur, Porcelain, and Self Blue. In Germany, more than two dozen different colors are recognized.

In the United Kingdom, recognized standard variations include the solid colors, Black, White, Blue, and Lavender. The standard also includes Millefleur varieties including Gold, Silver, Lemon, Buff, and Porcelain, as well as Silver Birchen, Gold Birchen, Lavender Mottled, Black Mottled, and Cuckoo. More than a dozen different non-standard colors are also listed, but these cannot be shown in the standard competitions.

How big are Booted Bantam chickens?

Booted Bantam chickens are naturally small and lightweight. Hens can weigh up to approximately 27 ounces, while roosters can reach about 30 ounces. In the United States, the American Poultry Association sets weights of 22 ounces for hens and 26 ounces for roosters as the breed standard.

How well do Booted Bantam chickens fly?

Booted Bantam chickens are excellent flyers. They have strong wings and very light bodies. These chickens love to perch and roost in trees. Owners of this breed should take precautions if they want to prevent their birds from flying away.  

How many varieties of Booted Bantam chickens exist?

Booted Bantam chickens are part of the Gallus gallus domesticus species, which includes modern domesticated chickens around the world. There are more than two dozen recognized color variations of the Booted Bantam breed.

What makes Booted Bantams special?

Booted Bantam chickens weigh less than two pounds, but the feathers on their feet can reach six inches or more in length!

Where do Booted Bantam chickens live?

Booted Bantam chickens are thought to have originated in the Netherlands. They were also commonly found in the bordering countries of Belgium and Germany and in the United Kingdom. They were later exported to countries including France and the United States. According to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Booted Bantam chickens also occupy facilities in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Poland, and Russia.

What do Booted Bantam chickens eat?

Booted Bantam chickens need a high-quality poultry feed with plenty of protein to support the growth of their feathers. If allowed to forage, these birds are likely to eat plenty of seeds, weeds, and other green plant material. They will also gobble up insects and larvae, and other small invertebrates. They especially love worms. Owners of Booted Bantam chickens can supplement their birds’ diet with treats. These chickens love fruits and vegetables, especially the leafy green varieties.

How many eggs do Booted Bantams lay?

Booted Bantam chickens lay between 100 and 180 eggs per year. The eggs are lightly tinted or white, and they are very small.

How long do Booted Bantam chickens live?

Booted Bantam chickens can live up to 10 years in the right conditions. They are considered to be a hardy chicken, but they do not tolerate cold and wet conditions well due to their abundant feathering.

Are Booted Bantam chickens rare?

Although the Livestock Conservancy does not include the Booted Bantam breed on its Conservation Priority List, most sources indicate that the breed is indeed rare.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Zootierliste/EAZA, Available here: https://www.zootierliste.de/en/?klasse=6&ordnung=607&familie=60702&art=5070206
  2. William Bernhardt Tegetmeier/The Poultry Book, Available here: https://archive.org/details/b28128059/page/250/mode/1up
  3. Special association of breeders of feather-footed bantams, Available here: https://www.federfuss.de/seite/363644/Farbenschl%C3%A4ge.html#kenn
  4. Booted Bantam Society UK, Available here: https://bootedbantamsgroup.webs.com/uk-standard-colours
  5. Chew Valley Animal Park, Available here: https://chewvalley-animalpark.co.uk/booted-bantam-chicken/

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