Clucking hens and crowing roosters are often only associated with barnyard lifestyles, but diminutive bantam chickens can be raised pretty much anywhere there is grass and shelter.
Indeed, raising these lively feathered birds can be an enjoyable hobby for even those living in cities but yearn for the simple life of a farm.
Getting To Know The Bantie
A small area in Indonesia once known as the city of Bantam gave way to naming the small fowl that was transported by European sailors for food on long sea journeys.
They are said to be the oldest of all domesticated animals, with one breed called the Silkie thought to have a history 4,000 years long.
The traditional Bantie is approximately ¼ the size of a standard chicken, although there are diverse varieties that may range in size, as well as coloration and appearance.
One comment frequently heard about this type of poultry is that the majority of the numerous different breeds are very docile.
In fact, many people raise Banties as pets rather than as a food source.
Each bird presents its own unique personality, a fact that endears these small feathered fowl to their owners.
Innately active, these birds are constantly on the move; spending their days foraging for food, taking dust baths, and keeping their feathers in pristine order by preening themselves frequently throughout the day.
They also possess a natural curiosity in their surroundings; taking note of any and every movement around them and then communicating it with gusto through clucks and chattering to all around.
Despite their pet status with many owners, Banties do have nutritional value as well.
Their tiny eggs are just as nutritious and edible as those produced by normal-sized chickens, and the laying habits of these birds compare equally to other chickens.
The meat of a Bantie is also equal in taste and sustenance to other poultry, although their small size often saves them from the dinner table.
Choosing a Bantie breed may prove to be the most difficult task as there are many different types. Varieties are available with beards, crowns, fully feathered heads, and fully feathered feet; choose from white to red to speckled to plain.
There are true Banties and miniaturized versions of larger chickens that are considered to be their “bantam counterpart”.
Raising Bantam Chickens
The small size and amenable attitudes of Bantam chickens make them a good choice to keep even for those with small yards. They do have needs, however, so anyone who is interested in raising Banties must be familiar with their requirements before investing in the birds.
- Food. Chickens, like all animals, need a balanced diet. Left on their own, they will feed upon small insects found in grassy areas, so they should be provided with a yard or field in which they can forage. Grit is necessary for digestion in chickens, which is why they can be seen pecking and scratching the ground for sand and gravel. Crushed oyster shells will provide them with grit as well as calcium. Banties also enjoy table scraps, and it is safe to feed most people food to them. Avoid salty foods, processed foods, potato peels, grease, spoiled food and raw meats. You should also supply poultry mash and scratch feed that can be obtained at a local granary or feed store. Food should be supplied on a “free feed” basis rather than at appointed times throughout the day.
- Shelter. Some type of shelter must be provided for your Bantam chickens to keep them dry, shaded, and safe from predators. Chickens are roosting birds, so they will need nesting areas off the ground where they will retreat at nightfall. A medium to large-sized dog house is often adequate for a family of 3-5 Banties (a general rule of thumb is one rooster to two or three hens).
- Care and Maintenance. As with any type of animal, certain maintenance must be provided to keep Banties healthy. Clean shelter and foraging areas are generally all that is needed for the health of your birds. Although there are maladies that affect poultry, for the most part, chickens are healthy creatures.
- Social interaction. Bantam chickens enjoy human interaction, especially if socialization has been present from the chick stage. They will actually like to be petted and held if raised in that manner and will seek out cuddling time with their humans.
Benefits Of Raising Bantam Chickens
Because chickens eat small insects, you will likely have fewer insect problems around your home when raising Banties.
In particular, they seem to enjoy grasshoppers and crickets, which can be harmful to the home garden and yard if their population is left unchecked.
The chickens provide a useful and environmental means of disposing of most table scraps and in return will provide you with an on-going supply of fresh and wholesome eggs.
Many city folks yearn for the simplicity and serenity of the country farm to which Bantam chickens are usually associated, yet are unable to leave the hustle and bustle of city life.
An alternative is to bring a bit of the country into the city by enjoying the company of these small, amiable feathered creatures called Banties.
Shannon Stansberry has been engaged in the business of raising chickens for more than 12 years. In 2016, she accomplished the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. At present, she tends to more than 80 chickens on her 4-hectare farm. Shannon regularly shares her insights and experience on how to raise healthy and contented chickens on the platform Typesofchickens.com