Egg Production in Bantam Hens…

“I am a suburbanite and although chickens are legal I have limited space for my coop. Therefore, I am curious about bantam breeds and wonder if any have been breed for egg production (quantity and/or size), or do we just assume that their production will mirror the larger breed for which they represent in miniature? Thanks,” ~ Dave w.

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the question.

In general, a bantam’s egg production will indeed mirror their standard size counterpart. Depending on the breed, a bantam’s egg will be ¼ to ½ the size of a regular egg. In contrast, the ratio of yolk to albumen is larger in a bantam egg. No egg white omelets here.

In considering your question for this week’s issue, I realized that we have never discussed bantams in any detail so I thought this might be a good time to pass on some general information to those readers who are considering raising bantam chickens.

For those who are unfamiliar, bantams are small chickens ranging in size from 1 to 3 pounds when fully grown.

They originated in the Bantam region of Java but any small variety of fowl became known as “bantam” after they were introduced in Europe.

The term “bantam” includes both miniature versions of standard breeds as well as true bantams which are breeds that have no standard size counterpart.

There are many advantages to raising bantams.

If you have limited space to house chickens, bantams require significantly less space than standard breeds. As a general rule, you can raise 2-3 bantams in the space required to raise 1 standard size chicken.

The comb of some breeds is more susceptible to frost bite though. You’d need to take the same precautions as you would with a standard breed if you live in a cold winter climate.

Bantams are lively!

They tend to have friendly, energetic, distinct personalities, making them wonderful pets.

Because of their personalities as well as their small size, bantams are great “starter” chickens for small children.

On that note though, chicks can be less than 1 inch in height and they are very vulnerable. Small children must be closely supervised with the chicks as they can be so easily injured.

Bantams are a favorite for “show” birds. There are breeds that are absolutely beautiful! Silkies are amazingly soft, they look like a poof ball exploded and is walking around. Fun stuff!

Bantams are typically great foragers. They are fast and can catch quick moving bugs that present a challenge for larger breeds. If you have a garden full of grasshoppers, let a flock of bantams loose and you’ll be amazed at how fast your grasshoppers “disappear”.

They are also less destructive than standards as well as cleaner.

Coop sanitation is still a must but it is a more manageable job for those who have limited time.

Bantams can fly more easily than standards so if you need to keep them contained, a covered run will be a must.

If you live in an area prevalent with flying predators, like hawks, you’ll want to keep them in a covered run anyway because their small size makes a bantam an easy target.

Bantams are also vulnerable to snakes. Ensure that there is no gap larger then the width of two fingers in the structure of the coop.

Also place the roost higher than you typically would for standards. You’ll find your bantams roosting as high as they can, I assume it gives them a sense of security.

Whereas standards have often times had the instinct to brood bred out of them, bantams tend to retain their instinct to brood.

They will hatch not only their own but the eggs of other chickens as well. Keep in mind that if you want a bantam to incubate eggs for you, she must be able to easily cover, and therefore keep warm, all the eggs to have a successful hatch.

Because bantams are small, they must be tough.

A bantam rooster will even take on the family dog if he thinks the dog is threatening his ladies. It is best to have only one bantam rooster as they tend to fight a lot. It might be okay to have more than one if they are raised from chicks together.

If you already have standard size chickens and you want to raise bantams, I would suggest keeping them separate unless you are raising very docile breeds of standards.

However, if you start with bantams and later want to add standards, start with standard chicks. Once they are ready to be outside, keep them close but separate for a week or two and introduce the newbies to the existing flock of bantams. Don’t be surprised when the bantams dominate the larger chickens.

It’s fun to watch a little bantam rooster chase a standard rooster and put him in his place.

Although bantams are small, they tend to be noisy!

The decibel level will be less than that of standards but they seem to have a lot to say. Keep this in mind in you have cranky neighbors close by.

Once bantams are fully grown, they are robust against disease and a lot of fun to watch.

This is obviously not exhaustive information on bantams but I hope it has provided a good start for those of you who are considering raising bantams.

Thanks again for the question Dave, best of luck.