Generally speaking, bantam chicken breeds are among the cutest fowls out there. While they are known for being small, they possess all of the personality and charm you would expect from regular chicken breeds.
Further, bantam chickens are easier to care for than their bigger peers because they eat less food, produce less waste, and require smaller space. In short, their upkeep is much more manageable than with larger breeds.
If you are curious about whether or not you should get a bantam chicken rooster and hen, read on. This article will discuss different bantam breeds, their characteristics, and what you can expect from them. Let’s begin!
What Is a Bantam Chicken?
The term “bantam” refers to a small variety of chicken, generally about half the size of a regular chicken. This type is used for ornamental and show purposes, as it is much easier to supervise and tame than a larger fowl.
In other words, bantam chickens are simply small chickens. They’re not a separate species — they’re just more miniature versions of standard chicken breeds.
For instance, you will find that Orpingtons, Brahmas, and Rhode Island Reds, all of which are medium to large-sized chickens, can have bantam counterparts that look exactly like them.
However, it should be noted that there exist “true bantams,” which are breeds that are naturally small in stature, such as the Sebright, Nankin, and Dutch Booted.
A bantam breed’s small size doesn’t make it any less of a laying chicken, though. It still produces eggs, albeit smaller than standard-sized ones, contributing to its usefulness beyond just being ornamental.
Back in the day, my experience with bantam chickens started with two bantam broodies gifted by my grandfather. As I watched these small chickens dart around, their size struck me.
Years later, I decided to prepare a bantam chicken breeds chart, drawing from my upbringing. Then, I realized that despite these fowls’ tiny frames, they’re just as tough as others and can handle any tasks you throw at them.
23 Most Popular Bantam Chicken Breeds
If you are really sure about getting bantam chickens, you may want to check out which breeds are the most popular first. After all, it’s always good to know what kind of bantams are out there before making a decision.
Without further ado, the following is a list of 23 bantam chicken breeds that have become quite famous over the years, including several that are recognized by the American Bantam Association (ABA):
1. Silkie Bantam
Among the many bantam chicken breeds in existence, the Silkie stands out as one of the most popular. This charming breed is often the go-to choice for both novices and seasoned poultry keepers alike.
Hailing from Asia, Silkie bantams are famed for their distinct, silk-like feathers that give them a fluffy appearance. They also flaunt five toes instead of four, presenting a unique look compared to other bantams.
Size-wise, while the larger version of this breed can grow up to 15 inches tall, Silkie bantams are considerably smaller, with a height ranging from 8 to 11 inches. They are even named as one of the smallest chicken breeds.
This smaller size makes this bantam variety a more manageable choice for those wanting to keep chickens but have limited space in their coop.
When it comes to their annual egg yield, Silkies are no slouches. Typically, these bantam chickens lay between 100 and 120 eggs per year.
2. Cochin Bantam
The Cochin, also known as the Pekin, is one of the most distinctive bantam chicken breeds available. This fuzzy, ball-shaped fowl originates from China and is considered a developed bantam breed.
Yet, what sets Pekins apart is their vibrant colorways. These bantam chickens can exhibit a variety of hues, from blues and rich blacks to clean whites and speckled partridge.
Another major draw of Cochin bantams is their laid-back personality. They are also generally calm and friendly, making them a great companion for children.
Regarding their care, Cochin bantams are low-maintenance chickens. They’re resilient, with a lifespan averaging between 7 and 9 years, a testament to their hardy nature.
Plus, they don’t require an enormous chicken run, but like all fowls, they’ll appreciate a bit of space to strut around.
The video below shows what Pekin bantam chickens look like in action:
3. Japanese Bantam
The Japanese bantam chicken, simply called the Chabo, is a striking member of the bantam rooster breeds from Japan. This is unsurprising, as their most notable trait is a large, arched tail that slopes forward over their body.
Regarding disposition, hens of this type are docile and can manage well in confinement. However, the roosters tend to be flighty and aggressive, which makes them unsuitable for mixed backyard flocks.
Similar to other bantams, Japanese bantam chickens may be prone to internal and external parasites. Yet, they exhibit outstanding resilience. In fact, if cared for properly, they can live up to 15 years.
As for egg-laying capability, you can expect that Japanese bantam hens will lay only about 75 eggs a year. These eggs will also be small in size, which is common among many bantam breeds.
4. Belgian d’Anver Bantam
The Belgian d’Anver is a small, true bantam breed from Belgium. They have an ancient history and hold a notable place on the global map of different chicken breeds.
An impressive trait of Belgian d’Anver bantams is their diverse color palette. They come in 14 American Poultry Association (APA)-recognized varieties. These include hues like buff, blue, quail, porcelain, and cuckoo.
Still, it is worth noting that Belgian d’Anver bantams are not only about appearances. Their amiable, regal, and gentle nature makes them a preferred pet, particularly for families with young kids.
Additionally, the productivity of this breed of chicken should not be underestimated. Although small, they can lay approximately 160 creamy white eggs annually.
As for care requirements, Belgian d’Anver bantam chickens require little maintenance outside of regular feedings, cleaning out their coops, and taking care of any health concerns they may have.
5. Dutch Booted Bantam
The Dutch Booted bantam is another true bantam breed that stands out in the varied world of pint-sized chickens. They have a rich history, dating back to the 16th century, and continue to be popular today.
One distinct feature of Dutch Booted bantams is the thick feathers on their feet, an attribute that lends them their name. Further, this fluffiness is accompanied by red-colored wattles, earlobes, and faces.
Yet, bear in mind that this breed of bantam isn’t merely for show. Their docile disposition makes them a great pet, fitting perfectly into family life.
To add to that, even though they are small, Dutch Booted bantams offer a punch in terms of egg production. They lay bantam eggs, adding to an impressive count of around 160 yearly.
Besides that, these bantam chickens can live up to 10 years, meaning you can enjoy them longer than most other breeds.
6. Rhode Island Red Bantam
If you do not yet know it, the Rhode Island Red breed has a bantam counterpart. They are called the Rhode Island Red bantams and are one of the most popular miniaturized breeds among chicken owners.
When it comes to egg production, Rhode Island Red bantams fall into the category of good layers. While their egg-laying ability is commendable, it’s less exceptional than their standard-sized counterparts.
Also, these bantams are not usually recommended for meat production due to their small size. Hence, they often strut their brick-like looks in shows rather than filling nesting boxes or dinner plates.
On a different note, small Rhode Island Red chickens prefer free-ranging. They love to roam around, explore their surroundings, and can be comfortably integrated into a mixed flock.
7. Old English Game Bantam
The Old English Game bantam is a small-sized version of the standard Old English Game — one of the most aggressive gamefowl breeds.
Hence, this breed of chicken has its roots in 19th-century cockfighting, making it an integral part of poultry history.
This makes sense since Old English Game bantams are known for being alert and having a relatively aggressive streak. They are fearless, unafraid to stand their ground when threatened.
However, remember that this trait can lead them to be bullies in a flock with different breeds. So, when caring for bantam chickens like these, it’s important to provide enough space to minimize conflicts.
Concerning longevity, an Old English Game bantam can live anywhere between 10 and 15 years, demonstrating its hardiness. It is also known for being a consistent layer, producing 2 to 3 eggs per week.
8. Sebright Bantam
When one talks about true bantam chicken breeds, the Sebright inevitably comes up in the conversation. These bantams are small chickens with no larger relatives, giving them a stature for being genuine and unique fowls.
Appearance-wise, Sebright bantams are a sight to behold. They display a short, upright tail, wings that rest downward, and a captivating silver or golden-laced plumage.
However, don’t expect a prolific supply of eggs from these pint-sized beauties. They only lay about 60 to 80 eggs annually, which may seem modest compared to other breeds.
Yet, note that Sebright chickens are excellent foragers. They can find their own food and water in the wild without any human supervision — allowing them to survive on their own if needed.
In terms of broodiness, Sebright bantams are not very productive either. They won’t sit on their eggs for extended periods like most other chickens do.
9. Belgian Bearded d’Uccle Bantam
The Bearded d’Uccle is another noteworthy name in this comprehensive list of famous bantam chicken breeds.
These small-sized chickens, a product of Dutch Booted and Antwerp breeds, display distinctive physical characteristics that make them an excellent choice for ornamental purposes.
However, while their unusual appearance sets them apart, they’re also renowned for being prolific layers. In fact, a single Bearded d’Uccle hen can produce up to 200 eggs per annum.
Another significant advantage of this bantam version is its cold-hardiness. Thanks to their fuzzy feathers, they can withstand extreme freezing temperatures without any issues.
Bearded d’Uccles’ space needs are minimal, too — with just two square feet of coop space per chicken, they’re a perfect fit for small homesteads.
Behavior-wise, be prepared for a bit of noise, as the hens of this breed can be quite chatty, and the roosters crow loudly. Nonetheless, they’re a friendly bunch and make reliable companions.
10. Sultan Bantam
Meet the Sultan bantam, a standout among popular bantam chicken breeds. Notable for its thick, feathery appearance, this Asian breed looks as though it sports a stylish afro.
Further, like other standard chickens that have feathery feet, these bantams display the same features on their legs.
With that being said, it should be noted that despite their extravagant looks, these bantam chickens are small in size, weighing only between 1.5 and 2 pounds.
As far as temperament is concerned, miniaturized Sultan chickens are far from aggressive. They are also easy to tame and will require less upkeep than their bigger counterparts, making them a great option for beginners.
Yet, if you’re looking for a breed for egg production, it’s vital to note that these chickens lay only between 50 and 100 eggs per year. This is a fair amount but may not be enough for those seeking more than just a pet.
11. Cornish Bantam
The Cornish bantam, also known as the Indian Game, is another small-sized powerhouse among bantam chicken breeds.
With a robust frame, these fowls are favored for meat production, and they are often exhibited due to their distinguishing physical attributes, which include deep-set eyes, thick legs, and broad chests.
One thing to note about Cornish bantams, however, is that they aren’t known for their egg-laying prowess, producing only around two eggs weekly.
Typically, these bantams are docile, making them easy to handle. That said, like all animals, they value their space. So, if the size of the chicken coop given to them is small and crowded, they may become aggressive.
Additionally, their life expectancy ranges between 5 and 8 years. This isn’t as long as some other breeds of chickens, but it is still quite impressive, considering how small they are.
12. Serama Bantam
With roots going back to the 16th century, the Serama is a bantam chicken breed of great historical significance.
Interestingly, this breed results from a crossing between the Japanese bantam and Ayam Kapan, with the modern version you recognize today being developed in the 1970s.
Regarding productivity, Serama bantams are reliable egg layers, yielding around 180 to 200 eggs a year. They are also adaptable, faring well in an outdoor aviary provided the temperature stays above 40°F.
Adding to their appeal, these bantam chickens have a friendly streak, making them excellent indoor companions. As a matter of fact, many owners report that their Seramas love being held.
In addition, Serama bantam chickens are the best in terms of appearance. They often flaunt a V-shaped posture, almost looking like they’re always posing for photos.
13. Wyandotte Bantam
With its curvy body and diverse utility, the Wyandotte bantam fowl stands out in the poultry world.
In truth, even if these multi-purpose bantam chickens are smaller than their standard cousins, they pack a powerful punch in terms of productivity and adaptability.
For one, Wyandotte bantams are ideal for meat and egg production as well as being a prized pet and show bird.
What’s more, these small but mighty chickens can generate up to 200 bantam-sized eggs annually, proving their worth in a small-scale poultry setup.
As far as looks go, Wyandotte bantams come in many shades, including Colombian, buff, blue, and black. They also come in various patterns, such as checkered, laced, and spangled.
Yet, from my experience, Wyandotte bantams are less keen on mothering than some other breeds. They seldom go broody, which is something to consider if you plan to expand your flock naturally.
14. Brahma Bantam
This one may come as a surprise, but the Brahma breed, originally known as the Shanghai chicken, makes an excellent bantam choice.
Specifically, Brahma bantams are lightweight, usually tipping the scales at around 2 to 3 pounds. This is quite a contrast to their regular-sized counterparts, which can weigh up to 12 pounds.
However, as with the usual Brahma, this bantam type is distinctive for its overhanging brow or “beetle brow,” an adorable physical characteristic that gives the breed an intimidating look.
As for disposition, Brahma bantams are pretty approachable, which makes them an ideal choice for kids or newbie chicken keepers. They also boast a friendly demeanor that a mixed flock will appreciate.
Upon maturity, these small chickens can lay up to 100 eggs in a year, providing a reliable source of farm-fresh produce.
15. American Game Bantam
Here comes the American Game, another true bantam breed. These distinctive chickens have a rich history dating back to the 19th century in the United States.
Initially, American Game bantams were used in cockfighting but have since moved away from that past and are now kept mostly for ornamental purposes.
These chickens have a fascinating mix of characteristics as well. They can be quite noisy and aren’t fans of being confined, reflecting their spirited and lively nature.
Along with these traits, they’re hardy and adaptable to different conditions. So if you’re looking for a breed that’s not only beautiful but will also thrive no matter where you live, American Game bantams fit the bill.
Yet, even though they’re more often admired for their stunning looks, they also contribute to the egg basket. Female American Game bantams can lay approximately 80 eggs yearly.
16. Polish Bantam
The Polish bantam chicken is a small but standout breed, turning heads with its unique-looking crest. It was believed to have originated in the Netherlands, although its exact roots are still unknown.
Generally speaking, Polish bantams have been bred mainly as show-quality fowls, delighting audiences with their distinctive appearances. Yet, they don’t hesitate to donate to the egg count, as well.
To be specific, average Polish bantam hens can produce around 150 to 200 eggs annually. This yield is higher than what you’d expect from other breeds of this size.
Despite not being typically broody, Polish bantam chickens show admirable maternal instincts. These extend to interactions with people, especially kids, as they enjoy being handled when done with care and respect.
Furthermore, these bantams have a reputation for being excellent flock mates. They’re easygoing and calm, contributing to a harmonious coop environment.
17. Marans Bantam
The Marans bantam, a variety of the famous French breed, is one of the most popular bantam chickens today. They’re known for their curious, intelligent, and sweet temperament, which makes it a joy to have in the coop.
A noticeable physical trait of Marans bantams is their hard feathering. Their frames are adorned with close-to-the-body plumage, while their legs and feet remain clean, adding to their distinctive appeal.
Concerning productivity, while bantam breeds lay eggs of different sizes and numbers, these small chickens stay competitive with an annual yield of up to 200 pint-sized eggs.
Yet, note that just like their standard breed counterpart, Marans bantams are known to love free-ranging. Thus, a properly designed coop that allows for this freedom is a must to keep these active fowls happy.
18. Rosecomb Bantam
For anyone who is interested in bantam chickens, the Rosecomb bantam is a breed to consider. These fowls are part of the true bantams, making them an excellent choice for hobbyists with limited space.
Furthermore, they carry a long history, tracing their lineage back to the 14th century, which is notable considering that most bantam breeds have been developed within the last 100 years.
Visually, Rosecombs capture attention with unique features. They sport a large tail and white-pigmented earlobes that contrast beautifully with their plumage.
Although they have several appealing qualities, prospective chicken keepers should remember that these fowls aren’t prolific layers. They lay only around 60 to 100 eggs per year and are not inclined to be broody.
Similarly, it’s worth highlighting that Rosecomb chickens are regarded for their rarity in the United States, so finding one could pose a challenge, particularly if you’re new to raising poultry.
19. Orpington Bantam
The Orpington bantam is a miniature version of its larger counterparts, developed in the early 20th century.
Simply put, this variety mirrors the immense mass of feathers and U-shaped underline of classic Orpingtons but in a more petite package.
However, bear in mind that the Orpington bantams’ function diverges from their more prominent peers.
While standard ones are known for their dual-purpose role, offering both meat and egg production, Orpington bantams are reared for exhibition and ornamental purposes.
When it comes to maintenance, Orpington bantam chickens need proper care due to their somewhat short lifespan, which averages between 4 and 8 years.
Nevertheless, you should note that these fowls make up for their shorter lives with their docile temperament and easygoing demeanor. They even enjoy human interactions, making them ideal pets for young kids.
20. Plymouth Rock Bantam
Plymouth Rock bantams are the miniature-sized counterparts of the standard Plymouth Rock chickens. Much like the larger version, these bantams are smaller but packed with character.
For instance, they are easy to tame, turning into lovable lap chickens with the right amount of attention and patience. They also make good pals for children who want to be able to hold and carry their own chicken.
One thing that sets Plymouth Rock bantams apart from other tiny breeds is their early-laying ability. These fowl breeds, small as they are, can produce a remarkable 150 to 200 brown eggs in a single year.
That said, it’s vital to note that they are not mainly known for their broodiness. This doesn’t mean they lack maternal instinct, though. If they happen to brood, they can be pretty reliable mothers to their chicks.
21. Leghorn Bantam
The Leghorn bantam is a smaller version of the standard Leghorn breed. They carry the same floppy comb that is characteristic of their larger half, but they weigh less and have a mini body structure.
Additionally, while these little fowls are primarily self-sufficient, they’re known for their heightened sense of alertness. They can be particularly flighty at times, a trait that makes them an interesting addition to any coop.
Another significant aspect of the Leghorn bantam is their egg-laying capacity; they can produce eggs 3 to 4 times a week. However, don’t expect these eggs to be large — they’re also relatively smallish by nature.
Primarily, Leghorn bantams are kept as pets and valued for their showmanship qualities. Further, they are excellent free-range chickens that can roam around your yard without much supervision.
22. Nankin Bantam
The Nankin, a true bantam, hails from England in the 18th century. This breed stands out because they are naturally small, unlike some bantams that are downsized versions of larger ones.
With a rich history behind them, Nankins are recognized by reputable organizations like The Poultry Club and the APA. This means you can count on them for quality and consistency.
Interestingly, Nankin bantams are classified into two distinct types based on their combs — rose and single. They are also egg-layers, though not as prolific as others, producing approximately 80 to 100 eggs per annum.
In terms of lifestyle, these tiny chickens are known for their adaptability, as they manage well in confined spaces.
However, keep in mind that they are not fans of cold weather, so ensuring a warm and cozy coop is essential for their comfort. Also, they have a preference for roosting in high places.
23. Barnevelder Bantam
The Barnevelder bantam, a miniaturized version of the larger Dutch Barnevelder, is another name in this list of popular bantam chicken breeds. They are noted for their modest size, ranging between 2 and 2.5 pounds.
Yet, one should remember that a unique feature of this type is their comb size, which influences their cold tolerance. The larger the comb, the more it’s prone to frostbite.
Known for being friendly and compliant, Barnevelder bantam chickens are generally low on aggression. They coexist well in mixed flocks and are even regarded for being a bit chatty on occasion.
Concerning their egg-laying capabilities, these bantams are impressive. They can lay 4 to 5 times weekly, ensuring their owner’s egg baskets are consistently filled.
Not only are they prolific layers, but they also have a strong maternal instinct. They tend to go broody and make good mothers, often seen caring diligently for their chicks.
Different Types of Bantam Chickens
There are countless chicken breeds in the world, but bantams stand out with their petite size. Yet, note that these small chickens come in three distinct varieties: miniaturized, developed, and true bantam breeds.
This section will explain the different types of bantam chickens, give a few examples of each kind, and discuss why they’re so unique:
- True bantam chickens: True bantams are little chickens that do not have larger chicken counterparts. These include breeds like the Nankin and the Barbu d’Uccle. They’re the original small-sized fowls, making them an ideal choice for chicken keepers who prefer smaller chicks due to their limited space.
- Miniaturized bantam chickens: Miniaturized bantams are basically smaller versions of standard breeds. They’ve been selectively bred to maintain the features of their larger relatives but in a more compact size. For instance, the Brahma bantam is a miniature variety of the Brahma chicken breed, still recognized for its thick feathers.
- Developed bantam chickens: Developed bantam breeds are neither naturally small nor a mini version of a larger chicken. They are often the result of crossbreeding other types of bantams and regular chickens, creating an entirely new bantam breed. The Japanese, Belgian, and Dutch bantams are examples of this kind of fowl.
In the wide range of chicken breeds available, these three types of bantam chickens offer a world of choice for poultry enthusiasts.
The only thing standing between you and your new feathered friend is deciding which type of chicken best suits your needs.
Do you already have bantams in your backyard chicken coop? Let us know what you think about bantam chicken breeds in the comments! You can also ask us any questions you may have about these small chicken versions.