Characteristics of Bantam Chickens

Most bantams are small versions of full-size chicken breeds, although some true bantams—with no larger relatives—exist. Not every breed has a bantam counterpart, but many do. They tend to make good pets, as they require less space and feed than regular chickens. For the most part, bantam breeds retain the features of the larger type of chicken from which they're derived. However, all bantams share some common characteristics.

Size

One of the most noticeable characteristics of bantams is that they're small. The exact size varies depending on the breed, but they tend to weigh between 16 and 30 ounces and are roughly a quarter of the size of a standard chicken. As new bloodlines are introduced to breeding programs, bantams are gradually becoming larger. Therefore, smaller birds are sought out as valuable breeding specimens.

Egg Laying

Although you can't expect a bantam breed to lay as much as a larger breed, they're generally good layers. On average, a laying hen will produce four to five eggs each week, although she won't lay at all while she's molting. Bantam eggs are roughly half the size of a standard chicken egg, so bear this in mind if you plan on eating them. However, some owners like to leave the eggs for their chickens to eat, as it provides calcium and other essential nutrients that are lost during egg production and laying.

Broodiness

Broodiness is the tendency of a chicken to stay on the nest and incubate her eggs. Bantam chickens are generally broody and will remain on their nests if necessary, with the exception of some Mediterranean breeds. If this is a trait you're particularly looking for in a hen, miniatures of heavy breeds, and Cochin and silkie bantams, are especially broody, and are good setters.

Temperament

Although each chicken has his own individual personality, bantams are known to be mostly calm, placid and friendly birds. As such, they're ideal pets for those who'd like to interact with their chickens. Of course, they won't naturally want to be your best friend, so you'll need to spend some time handling and fussing over them before you really see their good temperaments shine though.