Breeds

Dutch Bantam

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

One of the true Bantam breeds in the world is the Dutch Bantam. Because of its distinguished look, egg-laying capability, and small size, it's a favorite breed for show breeders, hobbyists, and backyard keepers worldwide.

Let's discuss the main characteristics, history, and personality.

  • Dutch Bantams lay up to 160 eggs per year
  • One of the true Bantam breeds in the world
  • They are beginner-friendly and easy to take care of
  • Popular with both show breeders and backyard chicken keepers
EggsUp to 160 eggs per year
Egg ColorCream
Egg SizeSmall
Weight18 - 20 oz
HardinessCold
TemperamentFriendly but active
Beginner-friendlyYes
ColorVaries

Characteristics

The Dutch Bantam is one of the true Bantam breeds in the world. This means it's a naturally small chicken with no related bigger poultry breeds which it originated from. Dutch Bantams are tiny birds, with the males weighing less than 20 ounces and the females weighing less than 18 ounces.

They have a single-sized comb with five points and medium-sized almond-shaped white earlobes. All varieties of Dutch bantams have slate leg colors, except for the Cuckoo and Crele types, which have light legs that may have a few dark spots.

Because of their small size and rather large wings, they are better flyers than other chicken breeds.

Male Dutch Bantams carry their body in a stately position, with their head above the main body displaying their breast region. The long flowy feathers accentuate their distinguished appearance, and the tail is gracefully accented with long, curved sickle feathers.

The Dutch Bantam can be found in plenty of color varieties, although the original pattern of the dutch bantam was the partridge pattern. The most common color patterns on a Dutch Bantam are light brown, blue light brown, silver, and white, but there are many more.

Even though Dutch Bantams are small, they are hardy, making them beginner-friendly chickens. That said, they can't stand extreme cold climates very well because of their body size and comb type. So when you live in areas with cold, harsh winters, Dutch Bantams are not the best choice for you, or you'll have to take extra precautions when dealing with extreme weather conditions.

Egg production

It's fairly uncommon for show birds, but Dutch Bantams are excellent egg layers. The hens are good layers of small eggs and lay around 160 eggs yearly, all cream or white in color. They are also good broodies and mothers, but they can only cover a small clutch of eggs because of their body size. 

Their excellent egg-laying capability makes them very popular with backyard chicken keepers worldwide.

Personality

Dutch Bantams are known to be friendly birds with an active and lively personality. They often display attachment to their owners, making them extraordinary pet chickens. Because of their size, they can be kept in smaller gardens. To know how much space they need, check out our 'Coop size Calculator', with a separate indicator for bantam chickens.

As Bantams are more vulnerable to predators than other chickens, free-ranging them is not the best idea. For their safety, it's best to keep them in an enclosed run, and because of their flying ability, it's recommended to cover the run with netting or hardware cloth.

Besides their lovely personality, Dutch Bantams are a joy to watch because of their attractive appearance.

History

The Bantam we know today as Dutch was first introduced into Holland by sailors through trading of the East India Company from islands near Indonesia in the seventeenth century. In those days, Bantam Island in the East Dutch Indies was a popular meeting point for trade routes between the Western world and Asia. Native chickens were used as meat and eggs during the long journeys.

It's believed Dutch Bantams were selectively bred because of their small eggs. European landlords demanded only larger eggs from their tenants as rent, so the tenants could keep the smaller eggs for their own use. Old Dutch oil paintings of farmyard scenes often depict similar-looking fowl, but it lasted until 1906 for the Dutch Poultry Club to standardize the Dutch Bantam.

Indications are that Dutch birds were first imported into the US shortly following World War II, and Dutch Bantams were first shown in bird shows in the US in the early 1950s. But the Dutch Bantam did not acquire the attention of the fanciers and, therefore, soon disappeared from the exhibition. They were again imported into the US around 1970, and as the interest in Dutch Bantams increased, the first American breed club, the American Dutch Bantam Society, was founded in 1986.

Today, the Dutch Bantam is one of the most popular chicken breeds in Holland and is also very popular in the UK.

Varieties

The Dutch Bantam comes in different varieties. The American Poultry Association defines Black, Silver, Blue Cream Light Brown, Light Brown, Blue Light Brown, and Cream Light Brown.

The Light Brown is among the best-developed varieties of Dutch Bantam in the US and resembles the light brown pattern in the Brown Leghorn. The Blue Light Browns Dutch Bantams are similar but carry the blue gene, which dilutes their dark color and adds dark lacing to the breast of the roosters. In the Silver variation, the reds of the Light Brown are replaced with a silver color (a repressing gene).

In the Netherlands, the Dutch Bantam is called Hollandse Kriel and the varieties are called keurslagen. They define a lot more official varieties than APA: Zwart, Wit, Blauw, Buff, Parelgrijs, Koekoek, Zalm, Tarwe, Kwartel, Patrijs, Parelgrijskoekoek, Zwart-wit gepareld, Porselein, Citroenporselein, Columbia. Some varieties like the Patrijs and Kwartel come with many subvarieties. The Patrijs variation has nine substrains including the Geelpatrijs, the Cream Light Brown Dutch Bantam.

On top of that, they have multiple non-official varieties. An example is the Splash, which is called Vuilwit in Dutch (Dirty White), which contains the splash gene to mute the dark pigments. Intermediate breeds are used to create new varieties. For example, a Black Dutch Bantam rooster bred to a Splash hen will produce all Blue Dutch Bantams.

Many of these varieties are created by selective breeding using other local Bantam breeds, such as the Barbu d'Anvers Chicken, coming from Belgium.

To sum up

The Dutch Bantam is a true Bantam breed and one of the world's smallest chickens. It's a favorite for both show breeders and backyard chicken keepers because of its distinguished looks and excellent egg production. Dutch Bantam hens lay approximately 160 eggs annually and are easily broody and good mothers.

If you want to learn more about chicken breeds, check out our 'Chicken Breeds Page' to see every specific breed we address. Or go to our listicle breed summary on 'The Classroom', or, if you're unsure where to start, browse our 'Chicken Breeds: Ultimate Beginners Guide'.

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Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.

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