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.
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 females weighing less than 18 ounces.
They have a single-sized comb with five points, medium-sized almond-shaped white earlobes, and 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 chicken. That said, they can’t stand extreme cold climates very well because of their body size and small comb. So when you are living 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.
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 good mothers, but because of their body size are only capable of covering a small clutch of eggs.
Their excellent egg laying capability makes them very popular with backyard chicken keepers worldwide.
Dutch Bantams are known to be friendly birds with an active and lively personalities. 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.
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 of their tenants as rent, so the smaller eggs could be kept by the tenants 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.
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), that 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.
A lot 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.