Chickens, Breeds, Diseases, and How to Care for Bantams
chickens is that they
are a great
small breed of poultry for homesteading and urban-farming. In
only need a third of the space you would give ordinary or standard
chicken breeds. 0.2 square meters per bantam should be sufficient when
housing them, which is about a square foot.
can soon make
room for a few where you can tend to them and breed them, although it
little difficult to do, and these little chickens will produce many
hours of fun just watching them. And these days, you can find
of the large chicken breeds that have been breed as bantams. However,
there are also true bantam
which don't have a larger relative.
What is a True Bantam Breed?
True bantam breeds are naturally occuring small birds which have no similar types in the larger breeds.
are also bantams which have been bred small from the larger
breeds, which are not really true bantams, but are now recognized as
bantam breeds because they have been around for a long time. These are miniature versions of the larger poultry, but not true bantams.
Then there are developed bantams.
Again these are not true bantams but rather types of chickens that can
only be found as bantams, and are now recognized as bantams as they
have been around for a long time.
Why Keep Bantams?
Bantams are usually kept either for ornamental or exhibition
purposes or kept as pets as bantams
are ideal calm birds for children to keep. Being a small
chicken breed they are ideal for small backyards.
For some people bantam chickens are seen as useless, from the
fact that there is not very much to eat on a bantam that at best, would
not exceed more than a pound in weight. However the bantam
chicken has meat which is rich and delicate, and their eggs, though
small, are truly delicious.
The other good thing about keeping bantam chickens is that although
eat the same food as standard chickens they eat half as much, so bantams are a very economical
type of poultry to keep, especially if you
are urban-farming. Bantam chickens will eat about
a pound of commercial poultry food in a week, excluding table
scraps, which isn't much at all.
How many Eggs will a
on the type of bantam breed that you have, if you have a bantam version
of good layers, such as the White Leghorn, you can expect your bantam
leghorn to lay as many eggs per week as the standard breed. However,
bantam laying capacities vary as much as standard chicken breeds do.
should expect to see about 4-5 eggs being laid per week, irrespective
of the breed on bantam that you have. This will continue for the first
2 years, but of course will not take place when your bantam is
moulting. Bantams will live for between 4 - 8 years depending on the
Size of Bantam Eggs
Because the bantam hen is
lot smaller than the standard hen; a quarter of her size, it stands to
reason that the eggs will be smaller. This should be remembered when
using these eggs for baking purposes and people often wonder how many
bantam eggs make up 1 standard chicken egg. Usually, depending on the
of your eggs you would use 2 bantam eggs in place of 1 standard egg,
and 3 bantam eggs instead of 2 standard eggs.
Bantam Chicken Breeds
The True Bantam Breeds
Developed Bantam Breeds
* Belgian Bearded
* Old English Game
Miniature Bird Breeds
* Light Sussex
* Rhode Island Red
These are down scaled versions of normal poultry that have been bred for bantam sized proportions.
The Sebright Bantam
prettiest of the bantam chicken breeds is the Sebright
produced by the late Sir John Sebright.
There are two
types of Sebright bantams; the
gold-laced and the silver-laced bantam. The former have, as their name
indicates, a pure golden color; the latter, a white, approaching
Silver-Laced Sebright Bantam
Picture courtesy of Mark
Each feather of the bantam chicken is as distinctly marked, or
at least should be,
with a lacing or edging of black, as if the painter had been called
upon to exercise his art and
add to the already
The bantam cock (pure) throws his head back with such
apparent pride in himself and disdain of others, that his little head,
surmounted by a rose comb, nearly touches his squarely-cut tail. The
wings also, instead of being firmly fixed to the body as in other
descriptions of poultry, hang loosely, in a sort of jaunty manner,
until they nearly touch the ground. Sebright Bantams have blue legs but
one can scarcely see them for their wings.
With regards to
very pugnacious, and they have a lion's spirit in a very small
The Pekin Bantam
are also known
bantam hens are lovely docile birds that make excellent pets for
children, although the males can be fairly aggressive. They make good
sitters as they are often broody.
These bantam breeds have a round, rotund figure and tilt as they walk
is very characteristic of this bantam breed.
The range of Pekin colors is extensive, including black, white, buff,
lavender, and red. There are 17 standard colors including
A female Pekin bantam
-Photo courtesy of Michael Romanov.
birchen, mottled and splashed. Pekin Bantams are the most fully
feathered of all the bantam chickens and even have feathers on their
feet and toes. This can be a problem, especially in wet weather as
their feet and legs get very dirty.
The lifespan of Pekin
Bantams is about 4-5 years
and are generally healthy birds
needed to protected against against mite and lice infestations and
other poultry diseases. They will lay eggs every second day for about 6
months and then they will start moulting.
The Game Bantam
as its name indicates, is the game fowl in miniature. Take the
black-breasted red, a minikin fowl, with all the pure points of the
Derby breed - black breast, a purple band across the wing, its plumage
hard and crisp, close-fitting and glossy, making the little game bantam
look really smaller than he is.
Black and White
bantams, as their name also indicates, should be black
white, and, like all bantams, should be as diminutive as possible in
size, with double combs and full tails.
or feather-legged bantam is a bantam chicken that was the pet
of our ancestors in days gone by. These bantams should be very small,
falcon-backed, and feathered with long quill feathers to the extremity
of the toe, thus differing from Cochins,
that are only feathered on one side of the leg.
See our page on chicken
for non-bantam chickens.
Keeping Chicken Coops
Bantam chickens, like
ordinary chickens, are subject to
various diseases, caused either
by improper feeding or lack of
cleanliness, both in their houses, their runs, or their water, and
in some measure, to our variable climate.
Bantam chickens in pens,
scrupulously clean, are sometimes subject to various illnesses and a
may be lost even when there are no real symptoms that would
allow you to treat these diseases even if you are skilled in poultry
management. See more information on our page natural home remedies for sick chickens.
A fine healthy
bird can drop dead from his perch. This can be caused by over-feeding,
and not being able to exercise that chickens in their natural state as
they would be able to do
in search for food. Unfortunately inflammation of the brain sets in,
and they are
dead in an instant. Be careful, then, in feeding, not to overdo it, but
feed merely in proportion to the exercise the chickens have the
opportunity of taking.
The Pip (Infectious
Coryza) in Chickens
chickens are lost
from what used
to be called the pip, but known
today as infectious
coryza. Chickens 14 weeks of age and older are most
susceptible and it increases with age. This
disease is not where it appears to be, but affects the
Pip is easily discovered by the appearance of the
tongue of the chickens, which thickens, as does the
palate, which causes a
difficulty in breathing, and makes the chickens gasp as if choking. You
your bantam chickens unable to eat, their feathers become ruffled, the
fowl pines, and
at last dies.
The remedy for the pip,
has generally proved successful is to
place the chicken in a warm place; give it clean wholesome food of
and milk, fresh vegetables chopped small, with some boiled potatoes
mixed with oatmeal, all blended well together, and plenty of pure
water. A little castor oil (always a safe medicine) may be given; and
if a tooth-wash, composed of borax, myrrh, and water, is at hand,
dilute some and apply it to the tongue and palate. A homemade recipe for pip
made by dissolving two ounces of borax in three pints of water; before
quite cold, add to it one teaspoonful of tincture of myrrh.
On no account
remove the thickness from the chicken with a nail, or in any forcible
care and attention to this treatment you may save, in almost every
instance, your chicken from death and attacks of the pip.
However, transmission is bird to bird within a flock and although your
bird may recover, recovered birds remain carriers.
Gapes (Syngamus Trachea)
trachea is a pathogenic
nematode roundworm carried by
earthworms, beetles, sowbugs, grasshoppers, and earwigs. Gapes are very
fatal to poultry. This disease comes from the presence of
a worm in the windpipe. The symptoms are easily discernible. The voice
is completely altered, the eyes appear full of water, you observe a
running at the nose, they are off their food, mope about,
and at last die.
You can try several
and in most cases with
success. The first thing to be done is to remove those affected from
the remainder of the stock; place them in a dry, warm room, and, taking
each bird separately, puff tobacco smoke down its throat. This causes
expectoration, and in many instances causes the worms to be dislodged.
You can also try gin, or, if not at hand, a little
spirits of turpentine, mixed with their food, and made into
to try and
remove the worms is using and
oiled feather (sweet oil with a little clove oil) then add 3 teaspoons
salicylate of soda to 1 quart of drinking water. Or finally, use a
dipped in mixture of 4 drops eucalyptus oil to 1/2 pint castor oil to
remove the worms.
A preventative measure against gapes is to add some chopped garlic to
their water. This is an excellent natural way of keeping worms in
bantam chickens, or any kind of poultry, away. Also lime and white wash
the infected areas and plow infected areas that the chickens are
exposed to and plant with rye.
Where poultry are not properly fed, or if the chicken house
properly ventilated, or if the house and run be not kept scrupulously
clean, and if attention is not paid to giving a good supply of grit,
gapes will prove the cause of a very swift decrease
in your stock of poultry.
Inflammation of the Lungs
Bantam chickens are also
subject to inflammation of the lungs, and if
you can cure them of it you must be cautious of breeding from them; for
although with care you might return the fowl into an apparently healthy
state, it would prove useless as a breeder and unfit for food.
suffer as much from moulting as from any complaint they are subject to,
as may be imagined from its causing an entire change (gradually though)
of their plumage. During this change you can expect no eggs; and while
the process is completing itself they must be kept warm, given
diet, and above all things clean water with a rusty piece of
iron placed in it.
Pills made of cayenne-pepper and meal
should be given to them in addition to their food as this will add a
little warmth to their system. If they appear to be
suffering a lot, as chickens
frequently do, a little chopped meat and parched corn may be
given as part of their food.
Conclusion in Keeping
If you pay strict
attention to the simple rules laid down here with
regards to feeding and cleanliness, you will gain the rewards of having
healthy, egg-producing bantam chickens that will delight with delicious
meat when they are past their egg-producing stage.
Other Resources for Keeping Bantam Chickens
We have other pages that may be of interest. We have several
pages on free chicken coop plans for a chicken ark ,
another chicken coop plan for a 8 x 8 wooden chicken
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