BANTAMS: They’re Fun Sized!

What the Heck is a Bantam, Anyway?

silver sebright bantam chickens

When I was still a newbie to the poultry scene, I kept hearing the term Bantam, and I wondered what kind of odd breed quality a Bantam had. Like me, if you’ve spent any time in the poultry scene at all, you’ve likely heard the term Bantam and wondered about it. If you haven’t, well, let me introduce you. Bantams are mini-chickens. That’s right, the Pomeranians of the poultry world, bantams are miniature versions of their large fowl counterparts and are still fully functional and nutritionally complete! These tiny birds, weighing in at one-fifth to one-quarter of the size of a standard breed, even lay small eggs for a fantastic little omelet or hors-d’oeuvres.

Now that we know what a bantam is, what good will it do you? Well, according to Doris Robinson, director of the joint American Poultry Association-American Bantam Association Youth Club, “They are easier to handle and lay beautifully. They don’t need as much room or protection… bantams are better able to take care of themselves.” So, if you’re purchasing to share with small children, have a small space, or just enjoy “itty bitties,” bantams would be worth a try!

Most bantam breeds are pocket-sized versions of standard sized breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association, like the Brahma, Buff Orpington or New Hampshire.

True bantams, however, have no corresponding large fowl breed such as:
barred rock bantam chicken

Even the ancestor of all domestic chickens, the Junglefowl, is a bantam!

white call bantam ducklingBantams don’t stop at chickens, either. There is also a few varieties of Bantam Ducks. Black East Indie Ducks are wee versions of a Standard Duck. Silver Appleyard has a bantam version, as do Crested. Our favorite variety of bantam duck is the Call Duckling. They are small and mighty, as are bantam chickens, and both species make excellent pets!

If you’ve been to a show, you know that The American Poultry Association has a Bantam division with categories that resemble an alphabet soup of lettering. This lettering depicts whether or not the bantams are Games, SCCL (Single Comb Clean Legged Other Than Games), RCCL (Rose Comb Clean Legged), and AOCCL (All Other Combs- Clean Legged and Feather Legged). These letters are meant to make naming the categories easier, so don’t let them intimidate you. Instead, remember these acronyms and HAGTAS (have a good time at the show)!

Besides the APA classifications, there is also The American Bantam Association that has its own separate Standard. Although the two organizations work together cooperatively, the ABA recognizes more breeds and color varieties of breeds than the APA, 56 breeds and 392 varieties. The ABA divides Bantam chickens into six classes: Modern Games; Old English and American Games; Single Comb Clean Leg; Rose Comb Clean Leg; All Other Combs Clean Leg; and Feather Leg. Exhibiting bantams at shows is part of the fun of owning them.

Like many a super-model, Bantams are required to maintain their small size, as limited weight ranges are ABA standard. The smallest, the American Serama, must not be larger than 16 ounces for a rooster, 14 ounces for a hen. Terrifically tiny, right?  Good news, we even have Bantam Hatching Eggs so you can start out when they are REALLY tiny!

That’s it! You’ve got the bantam basics! Bantam = Button sized, and the next time you hear the word bantam, you will now be blissfully educated on the basics of these miniatures. Why not go so far as to try raising them yourself. You never know, you might just develop a mini-crush on these mini-birds.