What Is a Bantam Chicken and Why Own Them?
You may have heard about bantam chickens, but what are they, and why are they so small!? Bantams are a small variety of fowl, typically chickens and even ducks. Bantams tend to be a quarter to half the size of a standard-size chicken. According to the American Bantam Association, there are over 400 varieties of bantams, and bantams can be found in different categories. One category is standard breeds that have been bred to be miniature sizes such as the Welsummer, Barred Rock, White Crested Black Polish, Buff Brahma, and Cochins. Another category is the “true bantams,” which would include Serama, Sebright, and Silkies to name a few. These are true bantam breeds that are not available as a standard size breed.
Don’t let the small size of the bantams fool you; what they lack in size, they make up with their personality. Bantams tend to be very active and curious. There are many benefits to raising bantams in your backyard flock. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Delightfully Small Eggs – Depending on the type of bantams breed you choose, many bantams lay a good amount of eggs. The White Crested Black Polish and Buff Brahma bantams are excellent egg layers as an example. Bantam eggs can come in various colors, including white, brown, and even blue or green. The eggs bantams lay are about half the size of a standard chicken egg, but the yolks tend to be larger and richer due to their smaller size—many like the bantam eggs for hard cooking as they make a great, quick snack. Bantam eggs are also excellent for pickling. 2 bantam eggs are about the size of 1 standard large chicken egg. It would be best to keep this in mind when baking with bantam eggs. Since the bantams are smaller, they may lay their eggs in exciting places, so be sure they have plenty of nest areas!
- Fun to Hatch – Hatching bantam eggs is fascinating and great for hatching beginners. It is incredible to watch such a small egg hatch a chick. Hatching bantam eggs makes for a great educational opportunity. Many incubators have special turners for bantam eggs because they are smaller. When incubating bantam eggs, you want to hatch them separately from the standard size hatching eggs due to the difference in size.
- Great for Beginners – If you are starting with raising poultry, bantams are a great breed to get started with. The fact that they don’t need as much space and resources, as well as the small size, is excellent for when you are learning to raise poultry. Some people are not comfortable with standard breeds at first, so the bantams are a great place to start.
- Less Mess – Since bantams are smaller in size overall, it goes without saying that their droppings are small too, which is an excellent benefit for your coop. With a flock of bantams, you will find you need to clean your coop less often than a coop with your standard size chickens. You can also compost the litter when you clean out your coop, giving you some great soil and fertilizer for future gardens.
- Take Up Less Space – Bantams are a great breed for those living in an area where their coop needs to be smaller. A standard size chicken needs about 3-5 square feet of coop space per chicken, whereas a bantam only needs about 2 square feet per bird in their coop. Keep in mind that you can raise both standard and bantam size chickens together. You want to make sure that you have plenty of space in your coop to accommodate all the birds.
- Less Feed Consumption – You will find when raising bantams that they will consume less feed than their standard-size counterparts. A tip with the bantams is to have a feeder that is still off the ground but a few inches lower so they can easily access the feed. This is important to remember, especially if you have a flock of bantams and standard-sized breeds.
- Great Foragers – Besides consuming less feed, bantams are great foragers. Bantams are very curious by nature and love to explore. They can roam for a distance but know to come back to their coop. Bantams love to dig and find treats. While foraging, bantams are very good at helping with insect control. A note to keep in mind is that if you live somewhere with a cold, snowy winter, it is important to offer your bantams some boredom busters to encourage foraging even if they can’t go outside their coop. Some logs they can jump on and scratch at are beneficial, and your bantams will appreciate the treat.
- Excellent Mothers – Silkies and other bantam breeds make wonderful mothers. They are very protective and dedicated to hatching their eggs. Bantams can even hatch standard-size chicks. Some bantams have even been known to hatch duck eggs! Many like to keep bantams because they are great mothers and can help with hatching new flock members. It is remarkable to watch a broody bantam hen hatch some eggs and raise the chicks.
- Great For Small Children and Show – If you have children or want a breed that is more like a pet, then the bantams are for you. Their small size and gentle nature are excellent for small children just learning how to handle poultry and help with taking care of the chickens. These birds are perfect for small hands! Bantams are also great for children who may start to show for 4-H. Adults even like to show bantams; they come in so many unique and beautiful colors!
- Bantam Math – Just like we have standard chicken math, bantam chicken math is a very real thing! Because the bantams are smaller, you tend to want to add a few extra into your flock! Be careful, though; the bantams can add up quickly in the coop!
Bantams are an extraordinary breed to have in your flock. If you are looking for a unique addition to your flock, add a few bantams to your flock today! There are so many benefits to raising bantams, and the list keeps going on.
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