Bantam chickens breeds are smaller versions of the popular chicken farm animal. Much like a bantamweight is a smaller-than-average fighter, a bantam refers to chickens and other fowl that are smaller than average and might have a larger counterpart. These smaller chickens are otherwise similar to larger chickens in terms of looks and function.
The compactness of these breeds, their beautiful looks, and their ability to continue to produce eggs have made bantams popular pets and farm animals. We’re going to examine the most popular bantam chicken breeds in the world today and see why they’re so beloved.
What is a Bantam Chicken Breed and What Makes them Different?
A bantam chicken breed is smaller than a typical chicken breed. Some bantams have a larger counterpart while others developed into smaller breeds or were specifically bred to be bantam. Aside from the size of the chicken, bantam chickens lay smaller eggs than larger breeds, but their production remains somewhat high. Some bantam breeds can still lay over 150 eggs per year!
The Three Categories of Bantam Chicken Breeds
Bantam chicken breeds are divided into three different categories known as a true bantam, miniaturized bantam, and developed bantams. Knowing the difference between each helps bantam chicken owners know the history of the breed.
A true bantam is a naturally occurring bantam chicken breed that has no larger fowl counterpart. These breeds were developed without any input from human activity.
A miniaturized bantam breed is one that was bred by humans to be smaller than average. These breeds are not true bantams because they have a larger fowl counterpart from which they were bred. Interestingly, the reverse has also happened, where bantams were bred into larger birds.
Developed bantams were made with greater input from human beings that includes cross-breeding several different chicken breeds to get specific results. These are not naturally occurring chicken breeds. However, many people do not even care about this distinction in the chicken breeding community because it’s so hard to track a breed’s origin.
Developed bantam breeds are mired in controversy because it can be hard to discern the origin of a chicken species. True and miniaturized bantams are the most common bantam chicken breeds.
The 10 Most Popular Bantam Chicken Breeds
Now that we know what bantam chickens are, why people like them, and how they’ve emerged, it’s time to look at popular breeds. Consider the ten most popular bantam chicken breeds around today!
1. Rosecomb Bantam
The Rosecomb Bantam chicken is a true bantam that is kept for ornamental purposes. They are recognized by their beautiful red comb and black feathers. These creatures also have white, round earlobes.
These gorgeous fowl live for up to 8 years when properly cared for and they can grow to 1.5 pounds. Rosecomb Bantams are poor egg providers, and they like to try flying. So, they require a bit of experience when raising.
2. Silkie Bantam
Silkie bantams are probably the most popular bantam chicken breed around today. Silkies are true bantams, and they do not have a larger counterpart. However, some silkies have been bred towards creating a near-standard size chicken.
The silkie is known for its beautiful, fluffy feathers. Although they are a bantam, they are larger ones. Silkies can weigh up to 4 pounds and grow 14 inches tall. They’re very good pets because of their calm disposition, but they can be bullied by other, larger chickens.
3. Dutch Booted (Sablepoot) Bantam
Also called the booted bantam, the Dutch booted bantam is a true bantam chicken that is known for its unique plumage. These chickens have feathers on their feet and legs (shanks) that make it look like they’re wearing boots.
These are another ornamental chicken, but they have a decent egg yield that can reach over 100 per year. They also have a calm temperament that makes them good pets. Dutch booted bantams have beautiful feather colors that range from black to buff mottled and even white.
4. Sebright Bantam
The Sebright bantam is a true bantam that was developed by Sir John Saunders Sebright through selective breeding in the 1800s. They are an ornamental small breed that usually weighs just under 2 pounds. The Sebright bantam is a beautiful bird that shares the same feathering as a male or female, a rare trait.
Although they come in just two varieties, gold and silver, their feather patterns look distinct upon their angular wings. The black edges of their feathers and gorgeous interior colors make the Sebright bantam a stunning and unique chicken.
5. Japanese Bantam
The Japanese bantam breed is known for its very short legs and various colors that include black, cream, red, and even lavender. They are easily spotted by their well-spread tails that point nearly straight up, giving them a very refined look. These are strictly ornamental birds that are not particularly good egg-layers.
A Japanese bantam chicken will weigh about 1.5 pounds to 2 pounds when it is fully grown. These birds are not for beginners, though. They require a fair amount of nuanced care.
6. Nankin Bantam
Nankin bantams are another true bantam breed that is a good starter chicken for new owners. They tend to have a reddish-brown coloration with black tails. Their legs are a slate color, blue-gray.
These chickens are known as being one of the oldest chicken breeds and for their docility. They’re great chickens to teach children about proper handling or for beginners to get a start.
They can weigh about 2 pounds and produce about 100 eggs per year, but they’re not high quality. The hens are very good at brooding, though.
7. Buff Orpington Bantam
The Buff Orpington bantam is a miniaturized bantam meaning that it was selectively bred by humans to achieve its small size from a larger breed. This breed is known for its buff or light straw-colored feathers, white legs, and pinkish beaks.
Their egg production is good, totaling over 150 eggs per year, and they are good brooders, too. They are some of the largest bantam chickens you will find, with some of them weighing over 3 pounds. Their docile temperament, familiar looks, and low price make these chickens a highly regarded breed.
8. Barbu d’Anvers Bantam
The Barbu d’Anvers bantam is a true bantam breed that is mostly ornamental but also has a rather high egg production level. These chickens will produce about 250 eggs each year and make good brooders.
This breed is known for its very small wattle, a large beard of feathers, pronounced and round breast, and a small rose comb. They weigh roughly 1.5 pounds or slightly more at their heaviest, and they’re easy to handle. The Barbu d’Anvers is also a great show bird since the males naturally strut.
9. Pekin Bantam (Cochin Bantam)
The Pekin bantam is another true bantam that is known as the Cochin bantam outside of Europe. Pekin bantams are known for their large plumage that gives them a rounded appearance.
They can come in many different colors, including buff, white, and lavender. These birds weigh under 1.5 pounds when fully grown and stand less than a foot tall.
10. Barbu d’Uccle Bantam
Also known as the Belgian d’Uccle, the Barbu d’Uccle is a developed true breed of bantam chicken that was first bred in the city Uccle. These are ornamental pets that are not good for laying eggs, but they make for great, kind pets.
These birds have large beards, a wide range of colors, and can weigh between 1.5 pounds and 2 pounds. Like the Dutch Booted bantam, the Barbu d’Uccle has feathered feet, giving it a unique look.
Final Thoughts on the Most Popular Bantam Chicken Breeds
Bantam chicken breeds live around the world, with many countries having at least one iconic bird that was bred or naturally developed within their borders.
The most popular breeds are often the most beautiful, friendliest ones that are useful as pets and show birds. Silkies continue to be extremely popular in the U.S. and beyond, and they’re joined by the iconic Sebright and Rosecomb as being the most desired bantam breeds these days.
Obtaining bantam chicken breeds is rather simple, and these pets are rather low maintenance compared to others. So, if you’re looking for a gorgeous pet that doesn’t need constant attention, a bantam chicken could be a good choice.
Summary of 10 Most Popular Bantam Chicken Breeds
|1||Rosecomb Bantam||1.5 lbs|
|2||Silkie Bantam||4 lbs|
|3||Dutch Booted (Sablepoot) Bantam||2.2 lbs|
|4||Sebright Bantam||2 lbs|
|5||Japanese Bantam||1.5 – 2 lbs|
|6||Nankin Bantam||2 lbs|
|7||Buff Orpington Bantam||3 lbs|
|8||Barbu d’Anvers Bantam||1.5 lbs|
|9||Pekin Bantam (Cochin Bantam)||1.5 lbs|
|10||Barbu d’Uccle Bantam||1.5 – 2 lbs|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Einar Muoni/Shutterstock.com
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