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Chickens or bantams?

We normally keep about 4-5 hens which I used to buy from a local breeder of hybrid hens.  We now need to buy new young stock in March/April and somebody has recommended bantams (instead of chickens) as being very friendly, docile and apparently they do not dig up flower beds or dig holes in the lawn as all our previous hens did with great vigour  :) as we normally let them roam in the garden.  I would welcome members' views and experiences of bantams, and which breed is friendly and of robust health?


  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    In my experience of bantams, most breeds are pretty robust, and some breeds would appear to be more friendly, although there's always one who's different!  Pekins, for example, are usually friendly.

    However, the main reason they do not dig as much, is that they are broody so often!  When they are not broody they can be even more destructive, because they will get into places you hadn't expected.  They also fly well, considering their shape, so they can easily escape from your garden if the fence/hedge is not high enough!

    The first time we had bantams (wyandottes), the first thing two of them did was to clear a 6 foot hedge, escaping into the field behind.  What fun we had chasing them down!  At the time we were attempting to put them into their hut to 'acclimatise' them! They were full of character, but we rarely saw them because they were VERY broody! Having only kept hybrid hens (like yourself) we hadn't expected that!

    Here is a fairly good link with info on different breeds, and reviews from owners regarding aspects of their behaviour etc.

    In the meantime, there may be more advice from others. Did I mention that they go broody?
    :)) :)) :)
  • sandiesbrahmassandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    No experience of bantams....for me the bigger, the better.
  • Lenka MarieLenka Marie Junior Member
    Many thanks Solarbats for a really helpful response.  Birds that clear a tall hedge would be a real problem to us - we have woodland and fields at the bottom of our garden so we would never find them!!!  Does clipping wings prevent bantams from getting out of the run/garden?  It always worked for our hybrid hens.  

    Also, I have no experience of dealing with broody hens.  My grandmother used to dunk a broody hen in a bucket of cold water but I might be reported to the RSPCA for doing the same!

    The link you have sent me is absolutely brilliant, so I will do more research, but thanks again for your reply!
  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    it depends whether you mean true bantams like pekins and sebrights or bantam versions of large fowl . ive got a mix here of all three - large fowl , bantams and bantam versions
     the bantam versions of the large fowl behave on a similar basis to their large fowl counterparts
    in my experience all poultry can wreck a garden - even my feather footed ones scratch when they arent supposed to !
    let us know what you get
     x kath
  • Lenka MarieLenka Marie Junior Member
    Thanks Kath, I hadn't appreciated the differences.  We would like to use a local breeder who has a limited selection of breeds of bantams: 
    at the moment I am tempted by the Rhode Island Red or the Sussex, but am open to suggestions.

    Thanks again. xx

  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    My knowledge is more limited than Kaths regarding bantams, but I would be inclined to try pekins, mainly due to their docile nature.
    As I've already said - wyandottes proved themselves to be good escape artists, but they are sooooo pretty and full of character.  They tend to be more independent too, so score less on the 'friendly' scale!

    Although I wouldn't choose to keep bantams again, I must confess that one of my all-time cutest hens was a bantam who loved cuddles.  However, she terrorised the rest of the flock!  She also loved to escape into neighbours gardens to lay her eggs!  Something no other hens have managed to do, because our fencing and hedging is pretty sound, other than tiny hedgehog holes!  

    As for wing-clipping; we have tried it but hens just seem to be able to will their way anywhere!
  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    good choices from the selection avaiable to you , especially as they are both good laying breeds. Although they are a third of the size of their large fowl counterparts their eggs are still a decent size
     i would avoid the barbu duccles as they are tiny
     ive got a large fowl speckled sussex - very pretty and each time they moult they get more white spots on their feathers so get prettier as they age
     my buff pekin loves cuddles and is ultra friendly with us but doesnt half bully my silkies :)
    my barred wyandotte doesnt lay much and whilst its true she can fly , hasnt attempted to escape at all . shes one of my quietest hens
    let us know what you pick
     x kath
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    How old is your Wyandotte Kath?

  • Lenka MarieLenka Marie Junior Member
    Many thanks again Solarbats and Kath  for your comments.  I need to visit the local breeder and go from there.  
  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    Hi Helen
    i think shes about 4/5 now - we bought her pol and have only ever had the odd egg or two here and there off her .
    what breed was Tango ?
    x kath
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    You've got a fantastic memory Kath!  Tango was a Hamburgh - we took her in at pol when her owner had tired of the novelty of rearing chicks :(  I still miss those snuggles - especially at this time of year when she was usually moulting and would sit with me for ages! 
  • sandiesbrahmassandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    Helen....your chickens moult now? Mine moult in October/November/December. All now tidy (apart from Gordon who has extreme late feathering gene).
    With regards to the original post....if you are used to 'brown hybrids', Lenka Marie, then the pure bread chicken may seem more trouble than they are worth. They take much longer to get to POL (My large Brahmas are just starting to lay at 8 months), lay less eggs per week, and some are divas by nature. On the plus side they live much longer on average (very few reproductive cancers) and are often very striking in appearance.
    As Kath says, Barbu  anything are tiny, fancy chickens, and not so easy to rear. I toyed with Barbu d'Uccle (rumpless), but knew they would struggle to survive and would have difficulty with my huge chickens.
    Let us know what you decide to get.

  • Lenka MarieLenka Marie Junior Member
    Thanks Sandie.  Decisions, decisions.......  I wanted to try bantams to widen my experience of chicken keeping, but I can't afford the risk of them flying into my neighbours' garden as they are not friendly and it could cause problems.  

    Lenka x
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Hi Sandie - Tango used to moult in the coldest weeks - don't know how she managed it, but  I think that's why she appreciated a cuddle so much!
    My Light Sussex finished moulting before Christmas and are laying.
    Ex bats these days don't ever seem to go through a moult, but I do have one ex bat moulting at the moment.  
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