By Eric Guel
Photos by author
What’s a bantam, you ask? It’s a miniature chicken, of course!
Bantams are small. They’re usually about half the size (or less) of their full-size brethren and, consequently, they do everything on a tiny scale: tiny eggs, tiny eating habits, and in the case of the roosters, tiny attitudes. When we gather eggs for the day, we always count a bantam egg as a “half-egg,” because, in reality, that’s about right.
So why would anyone want small chickens? Well, I imagine that gals think they’re cute and that kids like them as pets, but on the farm there ain’t no use for cute pets! Every animal has got to have a job, even the little guys.
On our farm the bantams serve two purposes: 1) to produce half-eggs, and 2) to go broody and hatch more eggs. We gave up on do-it-yourself incubating a long time ago, and we’ve found that bantam hens love to go broody — like crazy! — and there’s nothing better than using Mother Nature as your incubator. If we’re in the mood to hatch some full-size hens, all we have to do is wait for one of our bantam gals to go broody and then swap out her half-eggs for full-size eggs. Voila!
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: Last year we kept a couple of bantams in our garden as 24/7 bug eaters. It worked until the tomatoes started to come in, and then they just gorged themselves on the tomatoes that fell to the ground. But using them as pest control in a garden certainly works before harvest time.
Around our little homestead we prefer Wyandotte bantams. They’ve got good natures, they lay well, and their hens love to go broody.
So that’s my story on why I love bantams. Life around the farm wouldn’t be the same without those little guys around.