Bantams are tiny chickens, not young ones, but full grown small sized birds. On the whole the Bantam breeds can are usually one-third to one-fifth the size of regular chicken breeds. These smaller sized birds were named for the sea port Indonesian city, Bantam. Their petite size made them the choice for sea going vessels and as such all small chickens were eventually referred to as “Bantams” or “Banty's”.
Even now there are many advantages to keeping Bantam Chickens.
As pets Bantams offer more color selection and variety in feathering than do most of the larger breeds. For people who want showy pets these birds work well and can easily fit in a smaller yard or coop.
The hens are often more broody than the larger breeds, bred more for meat production, and laying. As such the Bantam hens are desired for the purposes of hatching other birds eggs. They are very good mothers on the whole, being protective over chicks even if they are not their own, or their own species. Bantam hens have been used to raise quail, pheasant, and goose chicks.
Bantam roosters, on the other hand, are often more defensive. This is an advantage as they will be extra protective against intruders in the hen house.
Many people are enjoying keeping Bantams for the purpose of exhibition. There smaller size makes transportation to and from shows much easier as many more animals can be taken.
Smaller birds, just as smaller animals, need less feed.
Children find them cute, a good way to have kids help out and get involved.
Other advantages of keeping Bantams also apply to other chickens, they eat bugs, weeds, and lay eggs. Bantam eggs being about one-third to one-half the size of a regular hens egg.
Some of the more popular True Bantam chicken breeds are:
- Belgian Bearded d'Uccle
- Booted Bantam
- Belted Bantam
- Japanese Bantam
There are many other Bantam varieties, such as the Araucana, and Ameraucana, which were bred from the full sized birds, however the true breeds, as listed above, have no full sized version.
Chickens should be kept in a coop, or barn, at night. This needs to have a roosting place for them to use at night, and ideally they should be free ranged in the day.
Unless brooding, up to four birds can share one nesting box. The nesting box should be raised off the ground by about 1 foot. It can be lined with straw.
Like all chickens, Bantams must be fed chicken feed. Ideally they should have laying ration during their laying period (the spring and summer).
They can be fed chicken scratch as a treat, offered to encourage them to return to the coop for the night. Chicken feed can be bought in bags from livestock feed supply stores. If allowed to “free range” or if they have access to an outdoor pen, they will also enjoy eating dandelions, some plants, and insects, such as flies, grasshoppers, and mosquitoes. They will also look for slugs, as such it is important you do not put any poisons out for garden pests.
They must have oyster shell, small grit, and access to fresh water.
Bantams are more at risk from predators and cats, who normally will not bother the larger chickens, may bother the smaller Bantam breeds.
In winter the birds must have a heat source if temperatures go below freezing.
Like most chickens, Bantams do not like to be kept alone, and a rooster is not needed to get eggs, only to get fertile eggs.
Their lifespan can be more than 10 years but many people kill birds after their laying declines.
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