Most breeds of normal chickens have a bantam counterpart. The bantam, or "banty," variety is a miniature version, usually about one-fourth the size of a normal chicken (See Reference 1). Bantam chickens behave similarly to normal chickens and produce small eggs. Their small body size makes bantam chickens an easy option for city-dwellers or those without much barnyard space. There are dozens of varieties of bantams, so only a few of the more common breeds are highlighted here.
Dutch bantams are among the smallest bantam chickens, weighing in at about 20 ounces/ 565grams. The birds have beautiful golden and black colouring. Dutch bantam hens are good layers, although they will only hatch 3 to 4 eggs at a time, unlike other chickens that will sit on a dozen or more.
Silkies are known for their large, puffy feathers that give them a fuzzy look and a soft feel. According to MyPetChicken.com, silkies are a gentle, mothering breed with a sweet temperament. They make excellent pets and are good brooders. Silkies come in black, white, partridge, buff, grey and blue varieties.
The Uccle bantam is named for the Belgian town from which the breed originated. These chickens are friendly and calm. Although Uccle bantams come in several colour varieties, the Mille Fleurs is best known. The Mille Fleurs bantam has speckled colouring of mahogany, white and black. The feathered feet of Uccle bantams make them a fun choice for a pet.
Japanese bantams are true bantams, meaning that they are not just miniatures of a larger breed but are a separate variety. They are known for their high tails and dramatic plumage. Japanese bantams come in several colour varieties, including black-tailed white, black, mottled, black-tailed buff and grey. According to FeatherSite.com, they have short legs that make them suitable for delicate lawn areas and are most often purchased for use as pets or show birds.