Have you ever wondered why people keep bantam chickens? After all, why have a half-size chicken when you can have the real thing? Well, it turns out that there are some fabulous advantages to keeping bantam chickens, and they can be a great addition to any homestead! Let’s examine everything you need to know about bantam chickens – including why they may be the perfect birds for families and first-time chicken keepers.
- What Is the Difference Between a Chicken and a Bantam?
- Popular Bantam Breed Egg-Laying Rate
- 5 Best Bantam Chicken Breeds for Beginners
- APA Recognized Bantam Chicken Varieties
- Are Bantam Chickens Easy to Keep?
What Is the Difference Between a Chicken and a Bantam?
In short, all bantams are chickens. But not all chickens are bantams! The name bantam refers to a breed or type of chicken much smaller than usual, often half the size of the average backyard chicken.
Bantam chickens exist in two main groups – true bantams and miniaturized bantams. True bantams are stand-alone breeds in their own right, whereas miniature bantams are a smaller version of a large standard breed of chicken. There is also a third group, developed bantams, which originated through careful cross-breeding by chicken breeders.
True bantams include popular breeds such as Sebright, Nankin, and the fabulously ornamental Rosecomb. Miniaturized bantams include tiny versions of iconic breeds such as the Brahma, Orpington, and Rhode Island Red. Although they have no larger counterparts, Pekin, Belgian, and Japanese bantams developed as bantams – they got specially bred through human intervention.
Bantam Chickens vs. Regular Chickens Comparison Chart
|Category||Bantam Chickens||Regular Chickens|
|Chicken Size:||20% to 30% of their larger relatives.||4 to 13 pounds. Some heavier breeds might be slightly more.|
|Purpose:||Mostly ornamental. But also eggs.||Chicken Meat, Eggs, Ornamental.|
|Cost:||Expect to pay from $4.99 to $10 per chicken – depending on breed, age, the breeder’s location, and rarity. Some fancy bantam breeds might cost as much as $100 or even higher.||The cost of full-sized chickens varies according to age, chicken breed, rarity, and the seller’s location. You can find chickens for $4 to $7 at your local Tractor Supply. But some rare or fancy chickens can cost much more.|
|Feed Requirements:||One to three pounds monthly.||Six to eight pounds monthly.|
|Coop Space:||Two square feet per bantam. (Or more.)||Four to eight square feet per chicken. (Or more.)|
|Chicken Run Space:||Four or five square feet per bantam. (Or more.)||Eight to fifteen square feet per chicken. (Or more.)|
|Roosting Space:||Six to eight inches per bantam. (Or more.)||Ten inches per chicken. (Or more.)|
|Famous Breeds:||American Game Bantams, Barbu d’Anvers, Belgian Bearded D’Uccle, Booted Bantam (Sabelpoot), Dutch Bantam (Hollandse Kriel), Nankin, Pekins, Rosecomb, Sebright, Silkies, Seramas.||Wyandottes, Dominique, Rhode Island Red, Jersey Giant, ISA Brown, Cochin, Orpington, Leghorn.|
The table above compares regular chickens vs. bantam chickens. Bantam chickens are much smaller. But they often appear and act similar to their larger cousins!
What Is a Bantam Chicken Good For?
Bantam chickens can easily get overlooked by backyard chicken keepers. Many homesteaders merely regard them as a cute gimmick. However, nothing could be further from the truth! These little birds have many positive attributes – bantams take up far less space than their larger counterparts, they make fabulous pets, and bantam eggs taste amazing!
Do Bantam Chickens Lay Eggs?
Bantam chickens lay eggs, and they are delicious! Understandably, bantams lay smaller eggs than their full-sized counterparts, but this has some advantages.
The smaller size of bantam eggs means they are perfect for snacking and pickling. And kids also love them! We’ve noticed bantam eggs also have surprisingly large yolks – they have the ideal ratio of yolk to white, giving them a richer flavor when used in baking and cooking. Their small size also comes in handy when accurately measuring the amount required for recipes. Three bantam eggs are usually equivalent to two standard-sized chicken eggs.
How Many Eggs Does a Bantam Chicken Lay?
The number of eggs a bantam chicken lays will depend on the breed and type. Miniaturized bantams tend to produce better than true bantam breeds. Prolific egg layers include bantam Brahmas, bantam Wyandottes, and bantam Easter Eggers – these breeds often lay 4 to 5 eggs per week.
Other bantam breeds, such as Rosebrights and Sebrights, are famously kept as ornamental chickens. These bantam chicken breeds are a beautiful addition to your homestead, but they will only lay the occasional egg.
Popular Bantam Breed Egg-Laying Rate
|Bantam Breed||Weekly Eggs||Yearly Eggs|
|Brahma Bantam||4 to 5||208 to 260|
|Barbu d’Anvers||1 to 2||90 to 105|
|Belgian Bearded D’Uccle||1 to 2||90 to 105|
|Cochin Bantam||2 to 2.8||120 to 150|
|Easter Egger Bantam||4 to 5||208 to 260|
|Mille Fleur d’Uccle||1 to 2||60 to 120|
|Nankins||1.5 to 2||78 to 104|
|Pekins||3 to 5||156 to 260|
|Rhode Island Red Bantam||3 to 4||156 – 208|
|Sebrights||1 to 1.5||60 to 80|
|Seramas||3 to 4||156 to 208|
|Silkie Chickens||2 to 3||104 to 156|
|Wyandotte Bantam||4 to 5||208 – 260|
The table above analyzes the egg yield you might expect from popular chicken bantam breeds. But remember – the hen’s health and age play a critical factor. And some hens are natural egg-layers! (And some hens might unexpectedly underperform. So – these numbers are only estimates.)
5 Best Bantam Chicken Breeds for Beginners
With over 30 true bantam chicken breeds and as many, if not more, standard chicken breeds with bantam counterparts, there are many miniature chickens to choose from! Here are some of the most popular types of bantams perfect for your backyard flock and coop.
1. Rhode Island Red Bantams
|Description:||Rhode Island Red Bantams are broad-chested birds with dark-red feathers. They are surprisingly good layers for bantams.|
|Yearly Eggs:||156 to 208|
|Cost:||$5 to $7|
|Use:||Pets and eggs.|
|Society:||Rhode Island Red Club of America|
Rhode Island Red Bantams are the perfect choice if you want a chicken bantam breed that will fulfill all the duties of a standard-size chicken! These adorable little birds will provide you with a regular supply of small brown eggs and only take up half the coop space of their larger fowl counterparts.
2. Cochin Bantams
|Description:||Cochin bantams have thick, fluffy plumage and feathery feet. Many homesteaders note that their legs are so velvety – that their feet are often tricky to see!|
|Yearly Eggs:||120 to 150|
|Cost:||$5 to $7|
|Use:||Pets and eggs.|
Many homesteaders accurately describe Cochins as a ball of fluff! This true bantam is commonly kept as an ornamental bird or garden pet and comes in various feather patterns and colors. Cochins will not lay many eggs, but you will quickly adore their calm temperament and adorable appearance.
3. Brahma Bantams
|Description:||Brahma bantams are a hardy bantam breed famous for their deliciously high egg count. They can also handle chilly weather better than other bantam breeds.|
|Yearly Eggs:||208 – 260|
|Cost:||$5 to $7|
|Use:||Pets and eggs.|
|Society:||American Brahma Club|
Brahmas often find themselves on various top chicken lists, and thanks to the efforts of expert breeders, we also have the pleasure of including Buff Brahma bantams in our top five! Bantam Brahmas are a better choice for colder climates than other bantam breeds, and they will provide your family with a plentiful supply of tasty eggs.
4. Silkie Bantams
|Description:||Silkies are adorable-looking chickens with a blueish-to-dark-purple beak and black eyes. They lay few eggs but go broody readily.|
|Yearly Eggs:||104 to 156|
|Cost:||$10 to $100|
|Use:||Mostly ornamental use.|
|Society:||American Silkie Bantam Club|
It’s clear how Silkie Bantams got their name – check out those adorable fluffy feathers! These little birds make excellent pets, happily sitting on your knee all day. Silkie bantams have a reputation for being amazing mothers – these birds regularly go broody and will successfully hatch a clutch of eggs without fail.
5. Mille Fleur d’Uccle Bantams
|Description:||Easily one of the most bedazzling bantam breeds. They have beautifully designed feathers, often with a black-and-white spangled design.|
|Yearly Eggs:||60 to 120|
|Cost:||$5 to $10|
|Use:||Mostly ornamental use.|
|Society:||Belgian d’Uccle Booted Bantam Club|
Are you looking for a tiny bantam breed with a striking appearance? The Mille Fleur d’Uccle could be the most beautiful bird we’ve ever seen! A small flock of this stunning feather-legged bantam breed will provide endless entertainment for you and your family. You can also expect the occasional egg.
APA Recognized Bantam Chicken Varieties
|Bantam Breed||Popular Varieties|
|Ancona||Single Comb, Rose Comb|
|Ameraucana||Blue, Black, Buff, White, Wheaten, Silver, Blue Wheaten, Red, Brown|
|Belgian Bearded D’Uccle||Golden Neck, Black, Mille Fleur, Porcelain, Mottled, White|
|Brahma||Dark, Light, Buff|
|Cochin||Black, Barred, White, Buff, Columbian, Gold-Laced, Red, Silver-Laced, Partridge|
|Cornish||Black, White, Buff, Mottled, Dark, Spangled, White|
|Jersey Giant||White, Black|
|Leghorn||Single comb, Rose comb|
|New Hampshire||Single comb|
|Orpington||Blue, Black, Buff, White|
|Sussex||Red, Light, Speckled|
The above bantam breed chart is only a fraction of APA-approved bantam breeds. Check out the complete bantam breed listing on the APA website.
(In total – there are approximately 350 bantam chicken breeds and styles. There’s no way we could list them all!)
Are Bantam Chickens Easy to Keep?
Now for the good news – bantam chickens are super easy to look after! These little birds are a good starting point for new chicken keepers, as their friendly and sweet temperament makes them incredibly easygoing. Many homesteaders regard their bantams as part of the family, and they are small and docile enough for children and novice chicken keepers to handle with ease.
The main thing to remember with bantam is that they are not very resilient to extreme temperatures or weather – they will need shelter in wet and cold weather and plenty of shade in the hot summer months.
What Do Bantam Chickens Eat?
Bantam chickens eat the same food as standard chickens, just in smaller amounts! Your bantams should enjoy a diet suitable for the age of the birds – chick starter feed or flock raiser pellets for younger birds and layer pellets once bantam hens reach around four months of age.
Like all chickens, bantams love a few treats, too! Around 90% of their diet should consist of a balanced chicken feed, with the remaining 10% as treats and table scraps. Remember that what we consider a treat isn’t always the healthiest choice for a chicken – cabbage leaves are always better than cake!
How Much Room Do Bantam Chickens Need?
The other joyous aspect of rearing bantam chickens is that they take up minimal room! Like all chickens, they need space to roam and roost, but this is far less than their full-sized counterparts. Bantams also like to climb and perch, so you can expand their living space vertically to leverage the available room.
Their spacing requirements are as follows.
How Many Square Feet Does a Bantam Need?
As a rough guide, you can accommodate two bantam chickens in the space occupied by a standard-size chicken. For each bantam, you will need 2 square feet of floor space in the coop and 4 square feet in the run.
So, for a flock of four bantam hens, you would need a coop that was at least 8 square feet and a run that is double the size of the coop. Of course, these figures are the bare minimum, and they will always appreciate more room if possible!
Bantam Chicken Square Footage Requirements
|Bantam Chicken Quantity||Coop Space||Run Space|
|2 Bantam Chickens||4 Square Feet||8 Square Feet|
|4 Bantam Chickens||8 Square Feet||16 Square Feet|
|6 Bantam Chickens||12 Square Feet||24 Square Feet|
|8 Bantam Chickens||16 Square Feet||32 Square Feet|
|10 Bantam Chickens||20 Square Feet||40 Square Feet|
|12 Bantam Chickens||24 Square Feet||48 Square Feet|
|14 Bantam Chickens||28 Square Feet||56 Square Feet|
The above table represents our recommended spacing for bantam chickens. But remember – your chickens can always benefit from more room. Let your bantams roam free! 🙂
How Big Should a Bantam Nest Box Be?
Bantams can and will use a slightly smaller nesting box – around 10 x 10 inches is a good guide. If you have a mixed flock of bantam and regular chickens or plan on rearing chicks, it is better to stick to the standard size of 12 x 12 inches.
Can You Mix Bantam and Full-Size Chickens?
Some chicken keepers manage to keep bantams and full-size chickens together, but it is not always an advisable combination. Even though bantam chickens can and will stand their ground, they are prone to being bullied by larger birds. The same applies to keeping any two breeds of chicken together – some breeds are more dominant than others, and it takes careful planning to keep them in harmony.
So, how do some homesteaders mix bantams and full-size chickens in a backyard flock? The trick is to ensure that your heftier breed does not have dominant tendencies, such as Buff Orpington, Brahma, or Plymouth Barred Rock. Provide the smaller bantams with plenty of space to hide (if they want) and set up multiple feeding stations so the entire flock has equal access to food.
Can Bantam Chickens Live Alone?
Bantam chickens, or any other type of chicken, should never live alone. Chickens are sociable animals and need the company of other chickens to prevent them from getting lonely. Two chickens should get along quite nicely, but it is better to get three or more if you have the space. Luckily, bantams require far less room than standard-sized chickens, so keeping a little flock in a smaller coop is not a problem!
Will Bantams Fly Away?
Their small size and light body weight mean that bantam chickens have retained far better flying abilities than larger chicken breeds. Bantams love to fly and perch and will happily seek out high spots to hang out!
Their perching proclivity means it is often wise to keep bantam chickens in a covered run to prevent them from escaping. Provide plenty of perches and raised areas for your bantams to fly up onto, and enjoy watching their ariel acrobatics. And do so without stress – knowing they cannot escape the covered run!
Thanks for reading our ultimate guide to bantam chickens vs. regular chickens!
We know there’s tons of confusion about these tiny and adorable chickens. We hope our guide helped dispel some of the myths. And showcase their many advantages!
Remember – most full-sized chicken breeds have small bantam counterparts! And – those small counterparts, called bantams, are usually around twenty to thirty percent of the original chicken breed’s size. Also – some unique bantam breeds (like Sebrights, Barbu d’Anvers, and Silkies) are true bantams – meaning there are no larger counterparts.
What about you?
- Have you ever raised a bantam breed? If so – which bantam breed did you raise?
- Do you raise your bantam chickens purely for exhibition? Or – do you eat their eggs, too?
- How many eggs do your bantam hens lay weekly? What about yearly?
- Do your bantam chickens get along well with other full-sized chickens?
We love brainstorming all about bantam chickens and comparing notes with fellow chicken keepers.
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!