Small Chicken Breeds For Eggs & As pets
Small chicken breeds are
Bantams, and are enjoyed both as pets and novelty birds as well as
smaller-scale producers of eggs and meat. Bantam hens are about
one-fourth the size of regular chickens, and their eggs are smaller by
These tiny chickens require less food and can thrive in smaller spaces than typical breeds, making them less costly to raise. They make excellent 4-H projects and show chickens as well. Many find that these small chicken breeds are often more docile and make great pets, in addition to producing eggs.
Some Bantams are true small chicken breeds and have no regular-size counterparts. These are all of non-American origin and include:
Serama (tiniest chicken breed)
Old English Game Bantams
Pekins (also called Cochins by many)
There are many varieties of the Japanese small chicken breeds,
including ray, buff black-tailed, black, mottled, gray, buff
black-tailed, white black tailed and white. All of these are prized for
their tender meat as well as eggs.
Other Bantam chickens are actually the small version of regular-size breeds, but have been bred as a sort of “low-line” version, such as:
Rhose Island Red
Silkie (largest of the small chicken breeds) ----------------->
Small chicken breeds, including a few Bantam silkies with feathered feet, have been my favorite to raise. The silkies were very gentle and let the children pick them up and pet them all the time. They went broody easily, so could be good setting hens as well. To prevent broodiness, collect eggs twice a day.
Because of cross breeding and mixed breeds, Bantams and silkies purchased from growers with mixed flocks living in the same space may not be pure breeds. However, the diversity brings out some lovely colors and characteristics in the birds and they still make great pets and egg layers for your backyard flock.
Caring for small chicken breeds is virtually the same as tending to standard size hens and roosters. They need less food than their larger cousins, but also enjoy foraging and free ranging on grass. Protection from predators is essential, of course, and a secure chicken coop goes a long way to providing them the necessary protection.
Ready to get started on your backyard chicken flock with small breed chickens? Learn How to Build a Chicken Coop before you order your birds!
Because of their small size, bantam chickens make an excellent choice for urban chicken growers and those keeping chickens in small spaces. The small chicken breeds seem to be better about finding bugs and supplementing their feed with foraging; they also have more personality and are more enjoyable to raise, according to many backyard chicken growers.
Go back to Chicken Breeds, home to Egg Laying Chickens, or check out more chicken-related resources:
How to Build a Chicken Coop - detailed plans and construction guide for making backyard coops, including small coops.
These chicken coop plans and building guide are the best I've found, and purchased them myself to build our first coops. There are five different chicken coops included, beginning with the most basic double-story ark and culminating with the largest design, the Chicken Barn with attached screened-in chicken yard. I want to use their plans again for their largest chicken coop, the chicken barn, when we are ready to upsize our chicken flock's habitat. The coop pictured here is a medium-sized all-in-one design.
Recommended Chicken Books:
- Homemade Living - Keeping Chickens: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock by Ashley English
- Storey's Guide - Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow
- Barnyard in Your Backyard - A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cattle
Favorite Chicken Quotes
“ A chicken you eat only once — eggs a hundred times." ~ Tajikistani Proverb
“ You cannot cook one half of the chicken and leave the other to lay eggs." ~ Sanskrit Proverb
“ You don’t have to kill the chicken to get eggs." ~ French Proverb