A true Bantam breed, the Sebright has lovely laced feathers, and is commonly available in Gold or Silver colors. They are active birds, but easily tamed with handling.
There is only one reason they are listed here, because they have almost no utility purpose. They CAN produce a small meat carcass with good breast meat, though they are not quite prolific enough to do so in significant quantities. They are not good layers, and their fertility is often poor. The hens don't brood well, and the males tend to be seasonal breeders - they require warmth to get the job done.
So why ARE they here? Because they sell well, and breeding stock and hatching eggs from good bloodlines can sell for a fairly good price. This means that with some attention to selection for better fertility and egg production, they could be really good Bantams for both livestock sales, or meat production in limited spaces.
To realize this goal, both selective breeding, and dietary management should be implemented. They are more fertile when allowed to range out of doors, and when dietary adjustments are made.
- Type - potential meat and small eggs, and for livestock and hatching egg sales
- Size - Bantam
- Production Capacity - limited production of small eggs and small single serving birds
- Special Features - laced feathers
- Best for Farms - good income producer for farms that can successfully breed them and improve productivity
- Eggs, Milk, Meat Features - small cream colored eggs, that are true Bantam eggs and much more digestible than larger eggs
- Other Products - some limited market for feathers
- Historic or Contemporary Significance - An older breed that has potential to be useful on a small farm.
- Housing and Space Requirement - can be kept in small spaces, but do much better with exposure to the outdoors. Need warm environment to breed.
- Regional Adaptations - Better adapted to heat than cold
- Feed Requirement - increase yellow vegetables for vitamin A, and animal protein and fats (bugs, butchering scraps from other animals, redworms, mealworms, etc), to help improve fertility and productivity
- Other Considerations - Sometimes the animals included or excluded here come down to a gut feeling. This one technically should not make the list, except it is fairly lucrative for hatching egg and breeding stock production. They are such a small bird that they are able to be raised in places other animals cannot be kept, and the marketability means they can have great value. The issues with their productivity are solvable problems, but as long as they remain nothing more than a pinup show breed, no one will bother trying to improve their practical abilities. I think they deserve more.
A NOTE ABOUT CHICKENS:
Many breeds are not included here due to poor availability, or due to genetic or health issues which make them impractical for small farm or homestead use.
All chicken breeds can be used for dual purpose, but there is a trade-off between meat production and egg laying - a bird cannot be very high in both. There is also a trade-off between egg laying and broodiness - simply because broodiness interferes with high volume egg laying to a certain extent.
So... egg layers that produce a lot of eggs will generally be smaller in size than meat producers. Meat producers will lay fewer eggs than lightweight layers - generally the heavier the bird, the fewer the eggs. Highest egg production seems to be in birds weighing 4-5 lbs. Higher weights slow egg production, and very small breeds also lay less.
Solid dual purpose breeds will meet somewhere in the middle, with a moderately large carcass, and good egg production through most of the year, about 150 to 200 eggs per year on the high end. Weights for dual purpose birds tend to range around 6-9 lb.
Sizes listed will have Standard after the size if they refer only to the Standard size breed.
Most Chickens also have a Standard size bird, and a Bantam size that goes by the same name, BUT, they are NOT necessarily the same breed! The APA gets a little confused where Bantams are concerned, because as long as the general appearance is the same, they don't care how they got that way, and whether any other traits match or not, and often the appearance diverges as well. So Breed descriptions generally ONLY apply to Standard size birds, unless the breed described here is specified as a Bantam Breed.
Bantams may come about in one of four ways:
1. Some breeds are naturally small, and they are Bantam only. This includes Sebrights, d'Uccles, d'Anvers, and many others. These breeds have the most easily digestible eggs in the chicken world, and they are NOT available in Standard sizes.
2. Some breeds are bred down, selecting for smaller and smaller size to achieve a Bantam breed. This is the most time consuming way to get a Bantam chicken. Characteristics other than size may change in the selection process if the breeder is careless - you generally lose something in egg laying capacity, and health or hardiness simply because of the genetic restriction involved. This is the ONLY case in which the Bantam is actually truly the "same breed" as the full sized variety.
3. Some breeds are created with a combination of breeding down for size, and careful cross breeding with existing Bantam birds, to create a cross breed that is smaller but retains more of the characteristics of the goal breed. Done well, this can produce a Bantam with a fairly close match to the original, though egg laying capacity will still generally be compromised. This results in a separate breed, NOT a "variety", though the APA lists them erroneously as two varieties of the same breed.
4. Often, existing Bantam breeds are simply crossed to come up with a bird that has the appearance of the goal breed. In doing this, breeders tend to concentrate on appearance, and forget entirely about other traits. Utility traits are the most commonly ignored. Frequently, behavior, production traits, even some physical traits, are broadly divergent from the original full sized bird. This results in a separate breed, NOT a "variety", though the APA lists them erroneously as two varieties of the same breed.
Bantam breeds generally lay less than full sized breeds of the same name - typically about half the laying capacity, sometimes less, rarely more. Bantams are, in general, more broody than full sized hens, in part because they have not been bred for high production, and this trait makes them fairly prolific when allowed to brood eggs. It also makes them very useful in brooding standard size hen eggs, or eggs from quail, partridge, or other small birds. In spite of their small size, they can successfully hatch full sized chicken eggs, though they do not cover a large number of them.
Bantams can be used for meat, though they produce a carcass more like a dove than a chicken.
They WILL fly, whereas only lighter weight standard breeds will fly much. A Bantam can take flight and travel by air over buildings, around trees, and out of sight within a few seconds.
Many breeds of chicken which were originally good utility birds are not listed here simply because they have been bred for show for so long that utility traits are now gone.