Facts on Mille Fleur Bantams

The literal translation of Mille Fleur is "thousand flowers." That's the name bestowed on Belgian d'Uccle bantam chickens with certain feather patterns. In the United States, the breed is known as the Belgian Bearded d'Uccle, as the birds sprout small beards. Mille Fleurs have single combs and large amounts of tail feathering. They are true bantams, meaning they're not bred down from larger-sized fowl.

Coloring

Mille fleur bantams boast a base feathering of deep brown, with each feather containing a black crescent pattern with a silver tip. These chickens have heavily feathered legs, giving the appearance of boots. There's also the less common blue mille fleur, which has a gray base instead of deep brown. You'll have to wait until after the chickens' initial molt for the full coloring to manifest itself. That occurs in the late summer or early fall of your chicken's first year.

Size

When full grown, hens weigh only 22 ounces and roosters weigh 26 ounces. Much of that weight is due to their heavy feathering.

Temperament

Mille fleur bantams generally have good temperaments, making them easy birds to handle for the novice chicken keeper or for kids. Because of their friendly dispositions, they make excellent pet chickens. Combined with their remarkable feather patterns, they're also good chickens for owners who like competing in chicken shows.

Flying

Just because the mille fleur is small, don't think it can't fly. It uses those tiny wings as well as, or better, than full-sized chickens. If you let them out in your backyard for some foraging and dust-bathing, make sure the fence is high enough so they won't fly over it onto the neighboring property.

Eggs

Your mille fleur hens will lay tiny cream-colored eggs. While tasty, you can consume them in one swallow. If your hen goes broody, her small size limits the amount of eggs she can sit on. If you want to raise mille fleur chicks, you'll need to remove the fertilized eggs and place most of them in an incubator, raising the chicks yourself once they're hatched. Mille fleur hens are good mothers, so leave her a few eggs to sit on and hatch.

Care

Mille fleur bantams are relatively easy to manage. They can do well in a small chicken house with screened outside run to protect them from predators. Unlike some other bantams, they suit cold climates, although far northern latitudes might be too much for them in winter. Like any chicken, they need constant access to fresh water and quality chicken feed. You can give them small amounts of fruit and veggies as treats.

Other Colors

If you'd like to add other colors of Belgian D'Uccle bantams to your flock, there's a wide variety to choose from. These little chickens are available in shades of black, red and blue, along with mottled versions of black, blue and buff. Other hues include buff, lemon, porcelain, lavender, the golden-necked and a splash pattern.

Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.