Bantam chickens are very popular today with domestic poultry keepers. They’re smaller birds which many find less intimidating than full size birds. It’s true that a full-sized, aggressive cockerel is a fearsome beast and not to be recommended for families with young children but full-sized hens are generally easy enough to handle.
Another reason is that Bantam chickens take up and require less room and space is often at a premium in modern postage stamp sized gardens.
In 1853 as the Poultry Book tells us, they were mainly kept by fanciers as a show bird rather then by cottage poultry keepers after eggs or meat.
The relative merits of fowls have never been more zealously contested than in the case of the two families which, in respect of size, commence and conclude our poultry list. Energetic, however, as the advocates of Shanghaes, in all their different features, have shown themselves, no less positive and exacting have been the requirements of those to whom the Bantam family have been objects of attention and regard.
With the utmost caution, therefore, must we enter on this branch of our labours; and this the more, since it is rather the ” fancier,” than the ” keeper” of poultry whose standard of excellence must be detailed.
In proportion, indeed, to their decrease from the ordinary stature of fowls, so much the more earnestly are their merits and deficiencies scrutinized and proclaimed.
History & Origin of Bantam Chickens
There can be little question but that it is to the islands of the Eastern Archipelago that the origin of this Lilliputian family must be referred; but whether all our present varieties owe their descent to any one primitive stock may be the subject of speculation, indeed, though hardly, at the present day, capable of proof.
Bantam, however, a town and district of Java, has afforded their present designation; and the wild Bankiva fowl is the bird to which they are usually considered to owe their origin.