Raising chickens can be fun, but raising bantam chickens is a true adventure.
Bantam chickens are simply small-sized chickens that are not only compact; they are also utterly adorable!
Bantam chickens make excellent pets for any backyard farm and they do not take up a lot of room.
They are usually friendly and the hens tend to be broody.
Lucky for all of us, there are a variety of bantam breeds that include various color combinations and unique characteristics.
Learning about the different kinds of true bantam chickens that exist is the first step for find the right one or ones for your backyard coop!
Here are the different types of true bantam chickens and what they can offer your small chicken operation.
What is a True Bantam Chicken?
A lot of bantam chickens available for purchase today are just the miniaturized version of a larger, standard breed of chicken.
These are not considered true bantam chickens although they are very popular.
True bantam chickens are breeds that are naturally small-sized and they were not derived from a larger breed.
Classes of Bantam Chickens
There are six different classes of bantam chickens recognized in America.
This includes the Modern Game, Game, Single Comb Clean Legged, Rose Comb Clean Legged, Feather Legged, and Other Comb Clean Legged.
These bantam categories include both breeds that are true bantams and derived bantams, but for the purposes of this article we will focus on the true bantams.
Single Comb Clean Legged
Bantam chickens in this group have a single comb and are not considered game chickens.
They have clean, non-feathered legs that are easy to see.
Male Size: 1.12 – 1.40lbs
Female Size: 14oz – 18oz
Color: Black, barred, blue, buff, brown red, white, wheaten, silver laced, silver duckwing, gray, and red.
Japanese bantam chickens originated in Japan, of course, and they are considered to be a true bantam since they do not originate from a larger version of the breed.
They tend to have noticeably short legs that can all but disappear in not-so-tall grass.
They are friendly little chickens that lay small-sized cream colored eggs.
Japanese bantam chickens can live long lives when they are well cared for and healthy. Some have even lived to 13 years old! (source)
Male Size: 1.10lbs – 1.21lbs
Female Size: 14oz – 16oz
Color: Black, blue, cream, light brown, silver, wheaten, white and golden.
Originating in the Netherlands, the Dutch bantam one of the smallest bantam chickens in the world today.
They lay a large number of quite small white eggs and are usually broody, willing to set their eggs and the eggs of other chickens.
They have bright white ear lobes, single combs, and blue legs.
They have larger wings for a bantam chicken and thanks to their smaller weight, they can fly decently when they want to do so.
Dutch bantams are extremely friendly but they can be a little active and even flighty at times thanks to their flying abilities. (source)
Male Size: 12oz to 1lb
Female Size: 8-14oz
Color: Various color varieties including black, white, multicolored, brown, and more.
Originating from Malaysia, the Serama has an extremely unique appearance for a chicken, even a small one.
They have highly lifted chests and appear to stand prominently more upright than other chickens.
Their heads are lifted high, looking straight ahead and their tail feathers often stick straight up.
A Serama chicken holds its feathers very close to its body as well.
They are considered to be the smallest chicken breed in the country and across the globe!
They lay tiny eggs and are primarily used for exhibition and ornamental purposes. (source)
Rose Combed Clean Legged
Bantam chickens in this group are classified by their non-feathered legs as well as their prominent rose-colored combs that sit on their heads.
Bearded Belgian d’Anvers
Male Size: up to 1.55lbs
Female Size: up to 1.32lbs
Color: black, blue, buff, cuckoo, splash, white, quail, porcelain, self-blue, and mottled.
Bearded Belgian d’Anvers are said to be among the longest existing bantam chicken breeds in the world.
They have rose combs and feature a feathered beard that meets up with their prominent chests.
Hens lay tiny cream-colored eggs and tend to be broody.
Their legs are not covered in any feathering.
This bantam breed is used mostly as pets or for showing in competitions.
They are friendly, hardy little chickens and the Belgian d’Anvers breed is here to stay for the long haul!
They make a great addition to any chicken farm. (source)
Male Size: 1.5lbs- 1.63lbs
Female Size: 1.25lbs – 1.37lbs
Color: black tailed red/buff
Another heritage bantam breed, the Nankin bantam chicken has been around at least since the 16th century and hails from Southeast Asia.
The Nankin actually could have either a single comb or a rose comb, so technically they could fall in either of these two categories depending on the chicken itself.
Nankins are friendly, adorable little chickens that tend to stay close to the coop on most farms.
They lay small cream-colored eggs and they are often broody.
They are used primarily for exhibition, ornamental purposes, or to sit on the eggs of other, less broody hens. (source)
Male Size: 1.25lbs to 1.37lbs
Female Size: 1lbs – 1.13lbs
Color: large color variety including but not limited to black, red, blue, buff, wheaten, white, and splash.
Rosecomb bantams have a characteristic large rose-colored comb and are raised mostly for ornamental and show purposes.
Unlike other bantam breeds, rosecomb bantams do not tend to be very broody.
They lay small eggs and tend to have relatively poor egg production but they are still delightful!
Rosecomb bantam chickens have obvious white ear lobes, long flowing tails, and tend to be flighty.
They are usually friendly, but very active chickens on most farms. (source)
Male Size: up to 1.5lbs
Female Size: up to 1.25lbs
Color: Golden-laced and silver-laced
Sebright bantam chickens are gorgeous petite fowl that are able to handle heat and cold relatively well despite their small size.
They have large, prominent chests and their wings point toward the ground.
Hens lay small white eggs and tend to be on the broody side.
They are the one type of chicken that is ‘hen feathered’ regardless of whether it is male or female.
Roosters will not have the distinctive longer or pointed tail feathers they have in other breeds.
Sebright chickens also have blue skin and non-feathered legs. (source)
Bantams that fit into this category have distinct feathering that covers not only their bodies but their legs as well.
They may have so much feathering on their legs that you cannot see their toes!
Belgian Bearded d’Uccle
Male Size: up to 1.75lbs
Female Size: up to 1.5lbs
Color: variety of colors depending on country including blue varieties, mille fleur, black, lavender, white, porcelain, and more.
Belgian d’Uccle are bantam chickens that have gorgeous muffs along with full beards and adorable feathered legs.
Average weights vary depending on what country the specific chicken and breed-line was developed in. S
tandard Belgian d’Uccles in American tend to be smaller than those in the Netherlands. (source)
Belgian d’Uccle chickens lay small eggs that are cream-colored and simply precious!
Hens are relatively good egg producers and often will set on their own eggs as well as those of others. (source)
Male Size: 2-3lbs
Female Size: 1.5-2lbs
Color: black, blue, buff, gray, paint, splash, white, self blue, and partridge.
Silkie bantam chickens are probably one of the cutest chickens you will ever encounter!
They have extremely unique plumage that actually feels as smooth as silk.
They have black skin, black legs, blue-tinted earlobes, and some even have beards!
Silkies lay tiny cream-colored eggs and tend to be rather broody. (source)
Silkies are very friendly and not very flighty. But they must be well taken care of to prevent drowning accidents and freezing.
Their silkie feathers are not water-resistant and silkies can easily freeze or drown in rainstorms or small ponds.
Male Size: up to 1.75lbs
Female Size: up to 1.40lbs
Color: blue, black, and white
Sultan bantam chickens are probably one of the most interesting looking breeds on this list.
They originated in Turkey and have regal looking crests of feathers that sit on top of their heads.
They are raised primarily for ornamental or exhibition purposes.
Sultan chickens also have beards and a lot of feathers covering their legs.
They lay small white eggs but they have poor production and are usually not willing to sit on any eggs for hatching. They are very friendly and do well in most backyard coops. (source)
Male Size: up to 1.90lbs
Female Size: up to 1.43lbs
Color: black, buff, blue, gray, mille fleur, self-blue, white, porcelain, and mottled.
Booted bantam chickens have gorgeous feathers and wings that noticeably point downwards instead of to the back.
They feature large red combs, red earlobes, red wattles, and very broad backs. They also have adorable feather-covered legs.
Booted bantams tend to be friendly and calm chickens that are kept mostly for exhibition.
They lay cream-colored petite-size eggs and usually have pretty good egg production throughout the year. (source)
Modern game bantams are in a division all by themselves.
These are not true bantams, but the Modern Game is the only breed in this category, so it is worth mentioning.
Modern Game Bantam
Male Size: 1.4lbs – 1.6lbs
Female Size: 1 – 1.12lbs
Color: Red, brown, black, pyle, blue, silver, wheaten, white, splash, and more.
The modern game bantam chicken breed hails from England and were created for aesthetic purposes.
While they are considered ‘game’ chickens, they were not bred to be fighters.
Modern game bantams are small and friendly chickens that are good for neither egg production or meat.
They are lanky and are popular in both the United Kingdom and America. (source)
Game chickens were originally bred for chicken fighting competitions and were designed to be hardy and strong.
Today, game bantams are a smaller version of these resilient chickens and their size can be deceiving.
Game bantams chickens will fight for their young and tend to be rather broody.
American Game Bantams
Male Size: up to 850g
Female Size: up to 765g
Color: Black, blue, brassy buck, golden duckwing, brown, silver duckwing, wheaten and white.
American Game bantam chickens are not products of their larger namesake, so technically they are true bantams.
American Game bantams were produced by crossing a Red Jungle fowl with other game bantams.
They lay small brown eggs and are used mostly for ornamental purposes.
They have a single comb on top of their heads and they come in a variety of colors. (source)
They are often used as brood hens since they tend to be broody and willing to sit on eggs.
Old English Game
Male Size: 620-740
Female Size: 510 – 620
Color: Large variety of colors including but not limited to buff, black, barred, birchen, brown red, blue, fawn red, splash, silver, wheaten, and white. (source)
Old English game bantam chickens are not true bantams, but are worth mentioning since they are the only other breed in this category.
They are are used most often for ornamental or small egg production.
They lay rather small cream-colored eggs and are often broody and willing to set other chicken’s egg as well.
They originated in Europe, hence their name, and they have a fun and active temperament. They have single red combs, red earlobes, and red wattles. (source)
Other Comb Clean Legged Bantams
This category was created for the remaining bantam chickens that are neither game, feather-legged, rose-combed, or single-combed.
These are all bantams that have been created in breeds of standard-size chickens.
None of the chickens on this list are considered true bantam chickens.
Some of these breeds in this bantam category include the Ameraucana, Araucana, Shamo, Houdan, Cornish, La Fleche, Malay, Polish, Sumatra, and Yokohama.
Bantam chickens are all small, of course, but they come in a large variety of colors, patterns, and have various unique characteristics that make them ideal for pets and exhibitions.
True bantams are just naturally small and were not derived from larger, standard-size breeds.
This means that they are extremely unique and can even offer physical characteristics that may not be seen in other larger chicken breeds!
How cool is that?
Learning about bantam chickens requires a variety of information from various sources. Here are the additional sources used in this article.