With backyard chickens becoming increasingly popular in smaller urban areas, flock owners have a choice between large fowl and bantams. Bantams are often the pick for these settings, but why? What’s the difference between a bantam versus a standard size chicken? Size is the obvious difference, but there are others to consider.
Bantams are much easier to handle because of their size and lend themselves to locations where you may not want larger fowl. They work well in urban settings with smaller yards because they need less space than standard sized chickens. As a rule, you can house 10 bantams in the same space three standard size chickens would occupy.
Although still noisy, the crow of a bantam rooster has much less force behind it. So they can be easier to keep when you’ve got to worry about angry neighbors being woken up at the crack of dawn and hearing your rooster crowing all day.
Bantam chickens come in all small shapes and sizes. The smallest are just a little over a pound and go to as much as three pounds. Miniatures are usually one-fifth to one-fourth to one-quarter the size of the standard breed.
In the world of bantam chickens, there are two choices. One is the true bantam. These are chicken breeds that have no standard size counterpart. Examples include Japanese, Dutch, Silkie, and Sebright.
There are also bantams of the standard size breeds. These are considered miniatures of their larger-sized counterparts. Examples of these include Leghorns, Easter Eggers, Barred Rocks and Brahmas.
Many keep bantams and larger fowl together with no problems. But it can be beneficial to keep them in separate chicken runs and coops especially since they can have different weather needs and may not be able to safely roam like larger fowl since they are bite-sized for predators. Many bantams are able to fly well, so it’s a good idea to keep them in a covered chicken coop. As a rule, you can house 10 bantams in the same space that three large fowl would occupy.
Egg aficionados like bantams because their eggs contain more yolk and less white. Their eggs will be smaller than the normal eggs you find in grocery store cartons. Depending on the breed, it takes about three to four bantam eggs to equal two large eggs.
Bantams are also popular with folks that are trying to increase their flock size by using a broody hen. Bantams such as Silkies, Brahmas and Belgian Bearded d’Uccles are known as good setters. They will often set their own eggs and the eggs of other hens in the flock.
If you’re wondering what to feed chickens of the bantam variety, the proper poultry feed formulation of the bantam chicken and the standard large fowl are basically the same. You can purchase their food the same as that for standard size chickens. You may want to consider a crumble or mash rather than a pellet. And you can feed them kitchen scraps and treats the same as you would for larger fowl, keeping in mind a ratio of 90 percent formulated feed to 10 percent healthy treats. Since many bantams are less likely to free range, this is more important than ever so your birds stay fit.
Life spans decrease as size decreases. The chicken lifespan of a standard size bird is eight to 15 years and bantam chickens about four to eight years.
Bantams can be the perfect choice for many chicken owners. Just remember that they don’t normally come from the hatchery sexed as pullets and cockerels, so it’s likely you will end up with some roosters in your flock unless you can find a hatchery that does sex its bantams.