The Fantastic Booted Bantam Chicken

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Anyone who admires barnyard fowl will love the Booted Bantam chicken. Also called the Dutch Booted Bantam, this fantastically feathered and colored bird is also friendly, calm, and happy in any safe and suitable environment.

This breed is a true bantam, which means that it is not a miniature version of a larger breed, as many bantams are. Some say that these chickens were in the Netherlands as early as the 1500s, though others credit a later breeder in Belgium. It is a tiny bird, weighing less than two pounds for roosters and just over a pound and a half for hens. The American standard is smaller than these limits, which are rules for British breeders.

The Booted Bantam is tiny, with the British show standards limiting cocks to thirty ounces and hens to no more than twenty seven ounces. The American Poultry Association standard sets even lighter weight for birds to be accepted in a show. The small size does not make this a fragile or sickly type, however. They are not hardy in cold weather but otherwise can take care of themselves just fine.

Poultry standards are both interesting and necessary. While breeders have developed over twenty colors that will ‘breed true’, the official standards only admit eleven in Britain and seventeen in the United States. The standards are designed to keep show birds true not only in color and feathering but also to the physical characteristics that have been shown to be best for healthy and productive poultry flocks. For instance, there is a broad backed and high breasted shape that makes for a good layer, and that is one thing that judges look for.

The cocks have wings that are large and dramatically swept back and down, combs that are bright red and erect, and long tail feathers that point up. With their broad breasts and upright posture, these are very proud and alert little chickens. The hens lay small white or cream-colored eggs several times a week and would like to hatch them all. The eggs are perfectly good to eat, although you need quite a few for an omelet.

If meant for show, the bantams must be kept in cages with soft, clean bedding that will protect their dramatic feathers. Their legs, which have what is called ‘vulture hocks’, have long, beautiful feathers, and their feet are completely covered with fluff. Their wings sweep back and down at the same angle as the leg feathers for a truly lovely effect. Add the bright colors of feathers in dramatic patterns and the red, upstanding comb and face, and you have incredibly beautiful birds.

Although they do not have much meat on their frames, what they do have is well-proportioned. Their value is more ornamental than utilitarian, though, so check them out for their beauty and their charm. Online sites have great pictures of the more popular varieties, such as the Millefleur. You will not believe your eyes when you see how splendid some of the birds are, although they also come in black and in white, where their shape and gracefulness is the main attraction.

There are clubs for those who are real fans of the Booted Bantam chicken. Check out their websites to see if there is one near you. You can also search for local hatcheries, although many will not have poultry this exotic. There are national suppliers, however, that send chicks all over in the spring and early summer.

For more information about the Booted Bantam Chicken and to find the right chicken coop to keep your chickens in visit ChickenCoopAdvice.com

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