The Dutch Bantam
The ancestors of the Dutch bantam poultry breed came from the birds of Bantam Island. Dutch seamen would acquire these chickens which would be taken on voyages to supply the sailors with eggs and meat. These early chickens would be descendents of Indonesian jungle fowl.
Bantams were popular with the peasant classes because of the small eggs they laid. Large eggs had to be given to the aristocracy while the serfs were allowed to keep the smaller eggs. Thus it made sense to breed smaller chickens.
There is no standard size of Dutch bantamCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dutch_Bantam_rooster.jpg so it is a true bantam. It is not a miniature chicken. Both the American Poultry Association (APA) and American Bantam Association (ABA) acknowledge the Dutch bantam and it is the smallest in the Standard of Perfection ideals. It is also the smallest breed acknowledged by both Associations. First exhibited in the 1950s, it did not even start to gain popularity until the 1970s but it is now quite popular in the USA. It was not recognized by the APA until 1992.
There are a number of varieties of the Dutch bantam although the original birds had what is known as partridge colouring. Black, blue, cuckoo, golden, silver, wheaten and white are just some of the possibilities. The light brown variety has a light horn- to white-coloured beak, the other varieties have bluish horn beaks. The cocks weigh about 20 ounces with hens being a little bit less. The single comb is red and erect with five points. The wattles are red but the earlobes a pure white. Eye and leg colour differ depending on the variety.
The stance is upright and the general appearance very attractive with the long tail adding a special appeal to these little fellows.
Generally the breedCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dutch_Bantam_Pullet.jpg is quite friendly although some cocks can become aggressive. Being a typical bantam, the hens go broody easily and are fussing and attentive mothers to their offspring. Because they are so small, the hens can only cover a small number of the cream or light brown eggs. Dutch bantams will require shelter during cold weather. They are very good flyers as they have relatively large wings and an enclosure will need to have a reasonably high fence if the birds are not to escape.
The Dutch bantam is popular as an exhibition bird. Being small and pretty, it will also appeal as a backyard chicken for families and will provide its owners with lovely fresh, if small, eggs.