What Does Bantam Mean in Chickens and Poultry?

The term bantam comes from a seaport city in western Java, Indonesia, known as Banten. Here, sailors during the middle ages discovered a beneficial tiny local chicken while restocking on live fowl for their sea journeys.

As the travelers took them overseas, the word Bantan was corrupted into Bantam and added in general English. Later, it came to refer to all smaller varieties of chickens bred and explicitly raised as pets or show birds.

Most impressively, Bantams make perfect pets for kids because they are easy to manage and gentler compared to larger birds. As a result, these young ones can grow into caring pet owners later in life.

In this article, I will take you through significant facts of various Bantam breeds. Keep reading as we disclose some of the most popular Bantam birds suitable for backyard rearing.

Bantam Poultry Explained

Bantams are miniature chicken breeds that vary in size from one-half to two-thirds of a regular chicken. They make perfect pet birds for small backyards with limited space. As a matter of fact, you can place two Bantam birds in an area meant for two standard-sized ones.

Remember that most of these little birds like flying high. Therefore, it’s best if you extend their enclosure upwards to enhance convenience.

Currently, the American Bantam Association records more than 400 different varieties of these exquisite creatures. Some are rarer than others, but they all burst with a pleasant personality.

Bantam Chicken Breeds

At the moment, you can find three different kinds of Bantan chicken from reliable breeders. Kindly read more about them below.

– True Bantams

True to their name, true bantams are naturally occurring breeds with small body sizes. They include the Nankin, Sebright, and Rosecomb varieties of chicken. In other terms, they are a genetically limited breed that cannot grow to standard size.

– Miniaturized Bantams

Usually, poultry breeders cross-breed standard and bantam varieties to create miniature chickens. The offspring then inherit the dominant gene for a smaller size. Some popular breeds commonly used in this process include Cochins, Rhode Island Red, and Orpingtons.

– Developed Bantams 

Developed bantams are a small breed of chicken created through technological advancements. Some say they originate from the orient, while others claim that it’s unclear where their origin is based on period and location. The typical examples for developed bantam chickens include Pekin, Japanese, Cochin, and Belgian breeds.

Bantam Duck Breeds

Bantams are a small breed of duck that ironically makes them perfect for exhibitions and as a pet. Their miniature nature makes it easy to take care of their needs with less work. Here is a sneak preview of some of the most common Bantam ducks.

– Black East Indian

The Black East Indian, also known as the East Indie, is an old breed of bantam duck. The origins are not entirely clear, but it’s believed to have originated in America. A drake will weigh on average 1-2 pounds and a female 1/3rd less at around 3 ounces.

While this may sound small – they are perfect for those looking for something smaller and probably a cuter version of your usual farm ducks. Furthermore, the ducks have a shimmering dark-green plumage, dark eyes, and feet. They share some physical genes with Cayuga ducks and an almost similar plumage.

– Miniature Crested

Miniature Crested ducks are a tiny variety of domestic ducks. Scientist Roy Sutcliffe first developed them in Yorkshire around the 1980s by crossbreeding large and miniature breeds.

The adorable Miniature Crested ducks were created as pets for exhibitions or ornamental purposes. They come with a beautiful crest and weigh between 2-4 pounds, depending on their gender.

Miniature Crested females lay about 40 to 50 eggs per year. Both genders make great companions; however, you should limit the number of drakes in a pen because they can become territorial and aggressive to one another.

– Miniature Silver Appleyard

Another renowned researcher known as Tom Bartlett created the Miniature Silver Appleyard in the late 1980s. This breed is different from its ancestor, a smaller version of the Large Silver Appleyard called “Silver Bantam.”

The Miniature Silver appleys are often used as dual-purpose birds because they lay 30 to 40 white eggs per year and weigh 2 – 3 pounds on average (the males weighing 1/3 more than females).

– Silver Bantam

Some experts created the Silver Bantam after the Second World War led by Reginald Appleyard. The breed is not as popular nowadays, but it has contributed some of its genes to other species, such as the Abacot Ranger and Tom Bartlett’s miniature Silver Appleyards, both derived from this bantam duck variety.

Silver Bantams are the best choice for pet owners and ornamentals fanatics who want a smaller breed in their vicinity. It’s not hard to see why these tiny birds are so popular.

On average, Silver Bantams weigh less than 2 pounds and lay around 30-40 eggs per year. They also have a penchant for flying, making them perfect pets or decorative addition to your backyard.

Are There Any Bantam Geese?

Some geese breeds are extremely small but are not considered Bantam for various reasons. For instance, the Shetland and Oregon Mini are some of the geese varieties mistaken for Bantam. Akin other small-sized birds do not require special care or diet to grow healthy.

Instead, they appreciate a diet of weeds and grass-like wild geese do in nature. If fed well, these tiny geese can give you 15-20 eggs annually.

Something else, when culled, their meat becomes more delicious with gamey flavors. On that note, this dual-purpose bird can weigh 2kg – 3kg for the female gosling and about 4 kg – 6 kg for the male at maturity.

Final Thoughts

Depending on the variety, Bantam birds can be either flighty or bold. If you have standard birds in the coop, it can be disastrous bringing in new Bantams. Instead, experts often advise farmers to place similar-sized birds together.

This is because even if you have the most aggressive Bantam bird in the flock, they will probably receive the worst form of pecking and trampling as they attempt to defend themselves.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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