What is a Bantam Chicken?

As you shop poultry catalogs or look at adorable baby chicken in the farm store, you'll notice some chickens labeled as bantam and others as large fowl. What's the difference? How do you choose between bantam chickens and large fowl chickens?


Size is the biggest distinction between a bantam and a large fowl chicken. Bantam chickens are literally small chickens. Within this category, 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.

Poultry Lingo: Don't let the term large fowl chicken confuse you. This is the correct term for what many refer to as a standard or regular size chicken. There are heavy breeds of chickens, like Brahmas, that are bigger than your standard large fowl chicken.

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Backyard Friendly Bantams

With backyard chickens becoming increasingly popular in smaller urban areas, bantam chickens are a great choice with space at a premium. Because they are smaller, bantam chickens need less space than large fowl chickens. As a rule, you can house 10 bantams in the same space three standard size chickens would occupy.


Anyone that's been around chickens knows they are not silent animals. Roosters are known for their crowing, but even the hens make noise as they lay an egg and as they communicate with their flockmates. This is no different for bantam chickens, but the crow of a bantam rooster has much less force behind it. This can make bantam chickens 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.

Types of Bantam Chickens

In the world of bantam chickens, there are two choices. One is a true bantam. These are chicken breeds that have no standard size counterpart. Examples include Japanese, Dutch, Silkie, d'Uccle and Sebright.

There are also bantams of the large fowl breeds. These are considered miniatures of their larger-sized counterparts. Examples of these include LeghornsEaster Eggers, Barred Rocks and Brahmas.

A d'Uccle Chicken

Housing Bantam Chickens

Many keep bantams and large fowl together in the same chicken coop with no problems. However, not all bantams and large fowl have the same weather hardiness and some bantams may need special accommodations. 

Many bantams fly well, so they will need a covered run if you want to keep them contained. 

Bantams can be easy fodder for predators because their size is similar to wild birds the predators naturally eat, so many do not allow their bantams to free-range without careful supervision. 

Better Eggs?

Egg aficionados like bantams because their eggs contain more yolk and less white. Their eggs will be smaller than normal large 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 Go Broody

Bantams are popular with folks 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.

A Silkie Chicken.

Feeding Bantam Chickens

If you’re wondering what to feed bantam chickens, there's no difference in what they eat vs. large fowl chickens. Honestly, bantam chickens can be a bit cheaper to feed than large fowl, since they naturally consume less feed.

As with large fowl, you can choose between crumbles, pellets and mash. You can feed bantam chickens 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.

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