6 Super Small Chicken Breeds For Your Backyard Coop

Apr 7, 2024 | New, Pet Ownership

Thinking of getting a few chickens but worried about a lack of space? Bantam chickens may just be the solution! You may be surprised to learn that there are actually plenty of small chicken breeds that don’t need quite as much room. This pint-sized poultry is perfect for small and big gardens alike.

Below, we’ll discuss 6 of our favorites for you to choose from. We’ve selected the tiniest chickens only—the largest breed on the list weighs no more than 1.5 lbs!

What’s a bantam chicken?

If you’re looking for small chicken breeds to raise, you’ll inevitably come across the word “bantam”. Unsurprising, because when it comes to chickens (and ducks), bantam refers to a dwarf breed. It’s derived from the Indonesian city of Bantam or Banten, which used to be an important seaport. Here, European traders and colonists would come across tiny native chicken breeds, which eventually came to be named after the city.

It’s not surprising that the original stock for most bantam chicken breeds was brought to the West from Southeast Asia. After all, all chickens are descendants of the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), a wild tropical bird commonly found in the jungles of these regions.

These wild chickens are much smaller than the ones we’ve since bred for egg and meat production, so it makes sense for tiny breeds to have been present in Bantam city and beyond, close to their origins. Scientific data seems to confirm this.



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Did you know? Some bantam chickens are unique breeds that have no larger counterparts, called a true bantam, while others are miniature versions of existing larger breeds.

6 Small chicken breeds for compact spaces

Serama chicken

Weight: 0.6-1 lb

Origin: Malaysia

Personality: Bold but friendly

Egg production: Okay

Any list of small chicken breeds will inevitably start with the Serama chicken, also known as the Serama bantam. This Malaysian breed holds the record for the smallest chicken in the world! Some of the Malaysian lines in particular may produce chickens that weigh as little as 0.6 lb. Although most grow larger than that—up to 1 lb—you can still easily hold them in your hand.

Serama chicken breeders aim for a bird with a highly prominent chest and a small head that’s placed quite far back. However, personality is just as important for Seramas as looks, or maybe even more so. The chickens should be bold and confident, but also calm and easy to handle. You can expect a curious and friendly flock that doesn’t mind hanging out with their human companions.

Because most breeders don’t select for color, Seramas tend to come in a wide range of hues and patterns. There’s even a silkie version! Most hens will lay 1-3 eggs a week, usually around one-third of the size of a supermarket egg.

Tip: Due to their very small size and tropical origins, Serama chickens don’t do all that well in the cold. In cool climates as well as wet ones, it’s important to provide an insulated, heated coop with plenty of comfortable bedding to keep your flock warm.

Serama rooster and chicken in back garden.

Dutch bantam chicken

Weight: 1-1.2 lbs

Origin: The Netherlands

Personality: Flighty but sociable

Egg production: Pretty good

The Dutch bantam chicken is a true bantam originally from the Netherlands. The breed, which has been around in some form or another for hundreds of years, likely traces its ancestry back to the Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia, where bantam chickens are originally from. Dutch bantams rarely surpass 1.2 lbs in weight (only 1 lb for hens).

Dutch bantam chickens come in a wide range of colors. To conform to breed standards, they should have white earlobes and a five-pointed comb, as well as a prominent breast and nice, full tail. Although they’re known to be somewhat flighty and can be shy at first, they can absolutely warm up to people.

These chickens are friendly and not aggressive, active, and surprisingly good layers for their size. Expect up to 150 eggs a year, though remember that they’ll be very small.

Dutch bantam chicken walking on grass

Pekin chicken

Weight: 1-1.5 lbs

Origin: Britain

Personality: Friendly and docile

Egg production: Okay

Ultra-rotund mini chicken alert! The Pekin, also known as Pekin bantam, is a beautiful small chicken breed with a somewhat muddled history and disputed status. It’s named for the Chinese capital of Beijing (Peking), where it supposedly originated—although there are different stories about how it ended up in Britain, where it was further developed.

The Brits consider the Pekin to be a true bantam. Chicken breeders’ associations in most other countries, though, consider it a bantam version of the similar-looking but very large Cochin breed. Does it matter? Not really! The Pekin is a lovely breed to raise, with a sociable and docile personality that makes it excellent for families with kids. The chickens’ poofy appearance can make them appear quite large, but even the roosters don’t tend to surpass 1.5 lb in weight (1 lb for the hens).

Pekin chickens are available in a range of different colors and sport heavy feathering on their legs. They’re not huge egg layers, but they’re decent, and a small flock should sustain households that don’t eat large amounts of eggs just fine.

Mottled pekin bantam hen and her chick.

Sebright chicken

Weight: 1.1-1.4 lbs

Origin: Britain

Personality: Bold but friendly

Egg production: Not great

In the early 19th century, Sir John Saunders Sebright of Britain had a goal: using selective breeding techniques to create a tiny bantam chicken breed with a laced feather pattern (the photo below illustrates what that means pretty clearly). He succeeded, and the Sebright chicken is still one of the most popular true bantam breeds around despite the fact that it’s pretty difficult to keep and breed.

We wouldn’t recommend Sebrights to first-time chicken keepers. However, if you’ve raised flocks in the past and don’t mind the breed’s low egg production and occasional fertility issues, you might like to keep them for their beautiful appearance and friendly personality. The roosters are quite unique in that they’re “hen-feathered”, which refers to the fact that due to a genetic mutation, they lack the typical rooster plumage. Instead, their feathers look the same as those of the hens!

The two basic color varieties for Sebrights are gold (brownish with black lacing) and silver (white with black lacing). However, you may also come across lemon Sebrights, which sport very light brown to tan feathers with black lacing, and a chamois version which looks similar but with white lacing. Although this is decidedly an ornamental breed due to its lack of value for meat and eggs, it’s easy to see how their looks made Sebrights popular!

Sebright chicken rooster, white and black

Japanese bantam chicken

Weight: 0.9-1.4 lbs

Origin: Japan

Personality: Friendly and sociable

Egg production: Low

Also known as the Chabo chicken, the Japanese bantam is a true bantam breed whose origins aren’t clear aside from the fact that it does indeed originate from Japan. It’s thought to have been around since at least the early 17th century, although it didn’t reach the West until significantly later due to Japan closing its borders to foreign trade until 1868. Once it did, it became a fast favorite among bantam chicken breeders.

It’s quite easy to tell Japanese bantam chickens apart from other bantam breeds. For starters, they carry what is called the “creeper gene”, which gives them very short legs. They have short backs and upright tails; the breed comes in a variety of colors. In terms of personality, they’re known to be friendly and social, making them good family pets. They’re also commonly seen at exhibitions.

Although Japanese bantams are good mothers and brooders, their egg production rate is pretty low.

Japanese bantam chicken rooster, mottled white

Rosecomb bantam chicken

Weight: 1-1.4 lbs

Origin: Britain

Personality: Lively and friendly

Egg production: Low

Did you know you can keep a tiny piece of history in your chicken coop? That’s right, the rosecomb bantam is one of the oldest known true bantam chicken breeds! They’ve been around since at least the 14th century and have always enjoyed pretty high popularity rates. In fact, they’re still a favorite among bantam chicken breeders today.

These really are very striking birds. The roosters sport distinctive, flat and textured combs that end in a point (called a “rose comb”, hence the name). Rosecombs can also be recognized by their white earlobes, compact body shapes, and especially the roosters’ very lush tails. Many color varieties are available. The breed’s personality is good; they can be flighty and the roosters can be a little overly assertive, but generally speaking, rosecombs are friendly.

This really is an ornamental breed. Don’t expect very much in the way of eggs, let alone meat—rosecombs are just not really suitable for eating. The hens aren’t known to be good moms and the roosters can have fertility issues, so you may need to gain some experience with raising chickens before trying your hand at breeding rosecombs.

Rosecomb bantam hens and roosters in a chicken coop

Conclusion

There you have it: 6 very small chicken breeds perfect for folks who don’t have a lot of room but would still like to raise a flock of their own. They only require around 3 square feet per bird in their indoor space and around 10 square feet for their outdoor foraging space. You shouldn’t expect too many eggs from your bantam hens, but if you socialize your mini chickens properly, most will be very friendly and likely even up for gentle cuddles.

PS: We’ve barely scratched the surface here in terms of bantam chickens. There are many more small chicken breeds, but we specifically wanted to select the very smallest for this list. If you don’t mind a slightly larger bird, why not check out:

  • Belgian d’Uccle chicken
  • Barbu d’Anvers chicken
  • Nankin bantam chicken

Aside from these true bantams, there are also bantam versions of many other popular chicken breeds. There are bantam Sultan chickens, bantam Polish chickens (with awesome crests), bantam Cubalayas, bantam silkies, and much more. And if those are still not small enough for you, why not consider raising quail instead?

Belgian d'Uccle rooster in the grass.

The regal Belgian d’Uccle is a real feast for the eyes—and only weighs up to 1.7 lbs.

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