All Bantam chickens have been created from existing breeds that were originally far larger.
What is a “True” Bantam Chicken?
True bantam breeds have no large version of the same breed, unlike how Poodles of the dog world have a closely related larger relative. They’re the few chickens that only come in Extra Small.
On the other hand, many Standard-sized breeds of chicken have a Bantam-sized counterpart. This includes the most common breeds. Even those tall, lean white Leghorn hens that lay your store-bought eggs have a tiny cousin of their own.
According to the American Standard of Perfection, the list of true bantam breeds is much smaller than the chicken Breeds available in both sizes.
Which Bantam Breeds are True Bantams?
Below is a complete list of Bantam Breeds, with a brief description of each:
These delightful little birds are one of the oldest Bantam Breeds around. They have the shortest legs of any breed, and they possess a grand, elegantly fanned tail that’s angled directly upward, often towering above their head. Their wings hang low, and point slightly backward, brushing the ground like a delicate skirt behind them. Read more…
With an upright tail, wings tightly held at their sides, a head held high and a puffed chest; the Serama is a distinguished Chicken with a unique stature not unlike that of a proud soldier. They happen to be one of the smallest breeds, and currently hold the record for the most lightweight Bantam Breeds. While their early ancestry dates back as far as the 1600s, the modern “Serama” was produced in the late 1900s. It didn’t even arrive in the United States until as recently as 2004! Read more…
These beautiful and rare Bantams have a complicated history, split between The Netherlands and Germany. They’re known under entirely different names in each place – Sabelpoot, and Federfuflge Zwerghuhner, respectively.
Booted Bantams are available in a vast array of color varieties in Germany and The Netherlands, but Black and White are the most commonly found in the UK.
All colors have been rare in the United States due to the imported amounts being far surpassed by Barbu d’Uccles in 1911. Booted bantams have neat, flat neck feathering and no beard, distinguishing them from the D’Uccles.
Barbu D’Uccle Bantams, and other related Belgian Bantams
All of these come in a large variety of colors and sometimes intricate patterns. Belgian Bantams are all similar in many ways, and originate very closely to one another. However, they come in five known distinct types:
- Barbu d’Uccle. By far the most common belgian bantam, with feathered legs and a thick, fluffy “beard” underneath their beak.
- Barbu d’Anvers. A naked-legged, but similarly bearded breed.
- Barbu de Watermael. Another bearded bird, but with a differently “rose” shaped comb and a small, back-swept tuft of feathers protruding from their heads.
- The Barbu d’Everberg and Barbu de Grubbe. Both of these are the tailless counterparts to the D’Uccle and D’Anvers, respectively.
The Dutch Bantam, known as the De Hollandse Krielan in its native country, has existed for a long time. However, a club for the breed was not formed until the late 1980s, and the breed didn’t arrive in the United States before the late 1960s. The Dutch Bantam has steadily gained in popularity, now with thirteen color varieties recognized and many more still being developed in Holland.
Although these are similar in appearance to the larger Cochin chicken, the Pekin is a True bantam breed all its own. It has a long history based in China that bears no relationship with the Cochins. It owes its name to Pekin, the place from which it was imported in the mid-1900s. These remarkably gentle and sweet-tempered birds come in a full range of colors, and melt your heart with their endearingly stout, round, and fluffy appearance.
With their compact, streamlined silhouette, neatly uniform feathers, dignified stature and distinct “Rose” shaped comb, the Rosecomb bantam is a stunning example of selective breeding for appearance. While they make poor utility birds, they are a favorite among Bantam Chicken exhibitionists.
Another strictly ornamental breed, the Sebright is one of the most easily recognizable and favored breeds of chicken. They carry themselves proudly and possess a Rose comb. They are best known for elaborate “laced” feathers, each intricately etched with a black outline. It is also the only breed of chicken which lacks the long and sharp “sickle” feathers that distinguish roosters from hens. Originating in Britain within the 1900s, the Sebright is a breed that has quickly gained in popularity within the United States. Read more…
While not a true bantam, I also have an extensive article about Silkie chickens that you can check out. Click here!
(Photo; Thanks Alice)