How to Raise Bantam Chickens

raise bantam chickensAre different methods used to raise bantam chickens? When looking at all the options for types and breeds of backyard chickens, you will notice the bantam breeds are listed separately. Usually the heading at the hatcheries is “bantams” or possibly select breeds of bantams. From the beginning of our chicken raising, over ten years ago, we have had at least a few bantams in our flock. The last two years, we added more variety and some specific breeds of bantams and learned much about how to raise bantam chickens successfully. I do think bantam breeds can be among the best backyard chickens.

Why Raise Bantam Chickens?

Bantam chickens can be the perfect choice for small scale homesteading, particularly on small lots. The size of bantam chickens means that they require much less space per bird. The coop can be smaller when you raise bantam chickens. The impact on your grass and any exposed gardens may be less too. Bantam chickens can be in the range of one third to one half the size of their standard breed chicken. And the best part about choosing to raise bantam chickens – they still lay delicious homegrown fresh eggs. More on that later in this post.

raise bantam chickens
Bantam Polish Rooster

Bantams need 1/3 of the coop space inside, and the run can be considerably smaller, too. Some Bantam breeds, such as the Silkies, need extra protection from the weather and should have a covered run, in order to stay dry. Depending on the breed, tolerance to cold will vary. Cochin Bantams will do quite well during cold weather. Tiny Serama chickens might need some extra protection and warmth. 

What are Dwarf Chicken Breeds

Dwarf chicken breeds are true bantams. They are only found in the small size and have no full sized chicken counterpart. Olandsk Dwarf chickens are an example of a true bantam breed. Comparing the bantam breeds we have with the Olandsk Dwarf chickens shows that the dwarf breed is noticeably smaller than the bantams. 

Other bantam breeds may be the result of careful breeding and selection for small size. Consider the Brahmas, Cochins, Rocks, Seabrights, and Mille Fluer d’uccle as possibilities.

raise bantam chickens
Olandsk Dwarf Rooster

What Breeds are Available in Bantams

This can vary. There may be a bantam variety of the breed you want from a private breeder if you don’t find them at a commercial hatchery. In addition, hatching eggs in an incubator can be a rewarding way to start to raise bantam chickens. 

raise bantam chickens

Hatching bantam chicken eggs takes less than the standard 21 days that is normal for hatching standard size chickens. Make sure you allow for this difference when setting up an incubator and turning eggs. Most of my bantam chicks have hatched at 18 or 19 days of incubation. It is important to stop the egg turning at day 16, to give the chick time to get into hatching position.

raise bantam chickens

Can Bantam Chickens be Kept with Full Size Chickens?

My advice is to plan to keep the bantam flock separate from the full size chickens. I have a few reasons for recommending this practice. 

  1. If you have a full size rooster, he may injure or kill a bantam hen while attempting to mate. 
  2. Larger chickens can be aggressive in the pecking order and harm a bantam chicken. 
  3. It might be hard for a bantam to stay warm if none of the full size chickens will allow it to roost with the flock.

We have had a few bantam chickens in with our full size chickens. Currently, we have one coop that is very successful and has a mix of chicken sizes. I have also experienced some losses from housing bantams with full size chickens. Our breeding flocks of Cochin bantams are housed separately. 

If you choose to house your bantam chickens with the full size chickens, remain aware of the potential problems and act quickly at signs of trouble. 

raise bantam chickens

Bantam Chicken Eggs – Are They Too Small?

Bantam chicken eggs are not too small to use! In fact, I was surprised by how large they were, considering the size of the chicken. The Dwarf hens in the coop lay a much tinier egg than the bantams. Bantam eggs can range from under 1.75 ounces to a tiny 1 ounce. Bantam eggs also have a higher yolk to albumen ratio. This might be a factor in some baked goods. 

Adjusting the Recipes When Using Bantam Eggs

The following are standard sizes of eggs. 

Jumbo 2.50 ounces

Extra Large 2.25 ounces

Large  2.0 ounces

Medium 1.75 ounces 

Small 1.50 ounces

Recipes are written for large eggs, in most cases. If you weigh your bantam eggs, you can easily adjust the amount of eggs you will need when you raise bantam chickens. 

2 eggs (4 ounces) called for in a recipe will require 3 to 4 bantam eggs, approximately.

raise bantam chickens

Bantam Breeds are Often Good Broody Hens

Another feature of many bantam hens is their tendency to go broody. And these hens can be very persistent broody hens. Many people like a good broody bantam on the farm, for hatching out replacement chicks in both full size and bantam size. 

raise bantam chickens

Bantam chickens have many positive features that make them a good addition to homesteads and farms, large or small. They can be perfect for children to raise and show in competitions too. Their hardiness and good disposition make them a good choice for a backyard flock. The fact that they require much less space and less food makes them a good choice when those are important factors to consider.