If you’re like most homesteaders, you’re always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to use your land and resources. Especially if you are a homesteader with a small piece of land.
So if you’re thinking about raising chickens, why not consider some of the smaller breeds? Not only do they take up less space, but they also require less feed and still produce eggs just as well as their larger counterparts.
If I have piqued your interest. Then this blog post is for you. In this post, we will discuss 10 small chicken breeds that are perfect for homesteaders with limited space. So, if you’re ready to learn more, then keep reading!
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This post is about helping you find small chicken breeds that will fit your lifestyle and space.
Standard Chickens Vs Bantam Chickens
Do you want to provide fresh eggs for your family? A bantam flock of chickens might be perfect for you! These delicate little creatures are fascinating to watch and easy to care for. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy delicious, homegrown eggs every day!
Just keep in mind that you will likely need two bantam eggs for everyone called for in a recipe of you to use eggs for baking often.
Bantam chickens are small in comparison to standard chickens. They lay small eggs, about half the size of a standard chicken egg. Bantams are good choices if you have limited space because they don’t need as much room to roam as their larger counterparts.
They are also good choices if you want a smaller chicken as a pet.
Bantam chickens come in different colors and varieties.
The Benefits Of Raising Small Chicken Breeds On A Homestead
They Eat Less
Small chicken breeds generally require less food. With the rising costs of (well almost everything) both human food and livestock feed, you may want to raise chickens that need less food. Being smaller in size they are going to do better at getting enough feed being free-range.
They Take Up Less Space
They also take up less space (duh right) making them ideal for urban farmers to have a flock. If you don’t have the room for a large coop or you have limits on the size you are allowed then you will be able to have more chickens than if you have a huge breed like a Jersey Giant.
There will be less poop so that means cleaning less often.
Cons Of Raising Bantam Chickens
Small Eggs: Their eggs are smaller causing you to need more eggs in a recipe or for a breakfast meal but they do lay almost as often as standard breeds.
They Can Escape: While some are calmer they can still get out of the pens and jump over fences giving them access to your entire property. And they would be able to dig up gardens, landscaping, and poop right on your front porch while they wait on you to come out and feed them.
So if you want them to stay put make sure to pen them in on all four sides and the top.
Short Man Syndrom: You know how smaller dudes can seem to want to make up for their lack of height with personality. Well, bantam chickens and especially roosters can be the same way.
Bantam Chicken Breeds
Poultry Show Class: Feather Legged Bantam
Weight: Hen 32oz – Rooster 36oz
Temperament: Docile and make a great family pet.
Egg Production: About 120 a year. (They should start laying around 20-22 weeks old)
Surprisingly they are a desired meat supply in Asia with several health benefits. But due to their small size, they are not eaten in the United States.
We tried raising these but found out they are very touchy. They can not take abuse from larger chicken breeds at least until they are fully grown. They would do best if raised separately from the rest of the flock until they are stronger.
They are great mothers and go broody VERY easily.
Show Class: Feather Legged Batam
Weight: Hen 26oz – Rooster 30oz
Egg Production: 160- 180 per year (while their egg per year number seems low I have always had good success with them laying all year round and personally think they are decent layers)
Also known as Pekin Bantams, Cochin bantams are primarily ornamental and come in a variety of colors, such as partridge, buff, golden laced, barred, white, black, mottled, and red.
We are currently raising both cochin bantams and standard and the version of Cochins. I LOVE THEM because of their stocky build and large amount of fluffy feathers they tend to keep laying throughout the winter much better than other breeds because they are able to stay warm.
Their wide shape (just like the standards) helps keep them from flying too much and getting over pens and digging up gardens.
Booted Bantam (Sablepoot)
Weight: 2pounds for both the hen and rooster.
Eggs:150-180 tiny white eggs each year- Although Booted Bantams lay a lot of eggs for their small size, they are rarely not really that efficient since they are so little.
The Booted Bantam (Sablepoot) is one of the rarest and oldest Bantam breeds and are a true bantam breed meaning they don’t have a standard size counterpart.
With males rarely growing over two pounds, booted bantams are tiny. It has big wings with broad backs and has been a popular backyard pet for years due to its high intelligence.
They are, however, exceptional parents. Because booted bantams are prone to illness and struggle with climate changes like swinging temperatures. So this would be a constant concern.
Show Class: Rose Comb Clean Legged Bantams
Weight: Hen 20oz – Rooster 22oz
Egg Production: Sebrights are good layers of small white eggs.
Temperament: They can be docile but do have a tendency to be flighty. They shouldn’t be outright aggressive but they scare easily.
The Sebright is a small, true bantam breed. They have no large counterpart. Sebrights are elegant birds that are known for their lacing of silver or gold feathers. The hens lay small white eggs. They are great for busy farmers because they are low maintenance.
Buff Brahma Bantam
Show Class: Feather Legged Bantam
Weight: Hen 34oz – Rooster 38oz
Temperament: The standard version of this breed is very docile, good for first-time chicken owners. But like with any bantam breed they can be a bit more active.
Brahma Bantams are a small version of the Standard Brahma chicken which are normally HUGE. They for the most part have all the same characteristics as the large fowl but in a smaller package. The buff Brahma bantams are a tan color around the body and have black feathers around the neck, tail, and tips of the wings.
Buff Orpington Bantam
Show Class: Single Comb Clean Legged Bantam
Weight: Hen 34oz – Rooster 38oz
Temperament: The Orpington is a very gentle chicken, good for first-time chicken owners. They are known to be one of the best sitters and make great mothers.
I have raised standard Orpingtons and they do come in many different colors. But they are also an easy-going breed. They should not give you any trouble with aggressiveness.
These are going to be my first choices in bantam breeds because they will do well in the colder weather (we don’t raise chickens to have to buy eggs from the store right) and keep laying through the winter if you are providing them with 14hrs of daylight.
Some other common bantam breeds are:
- Belgian Bearded d’Uccle – These are another small intriguing bird but the ones that I have had experience with are often pretty bossy with other birds and can be rough on small kids.
- Japanese Bantam – This breed was realy designed to be an ornamental chicken breed which they do well. They typically weigh about two pounds. While they are fun ornamental birds but they can be quite feisty. They don’t lay well compared to the other bantam breeds. Not recommended for first-time backyard chicken keepers.
Small Chicken Breeds
Here are a few breeds that are small but lay well throughout the year. All with a max weight of 6 pounds or less.
Weight: Hens 3 Pounds Roosters 4lbs (These are one of the smallest chicken breeds and it can be hard to tell the difference between a bantam silkie and a standard silkie)
Egg Production: No egg number available but is stated as “good” by Cackle Hatchery. They lay small size eggs.
This little ornamental breed is one of the most popular small chicken breeds because they are extremely docile breeds and are great pets and easy for kids to handle. But you will mainly find the bantam variety in the US. It’s pretty hard to find standard Silkie Chickens
Weight: Hen 4.5lbs – Rooster 6lbs
Temperament: Very active according to Cackle Hatchery breed facts. Meaning they are going to be all over the place and do have the possibility of being slightly aggressive, especially with a rooster. But you run the risk of having to put a rooster in its place no matter what breed you get.
Egg production: 220-300 per year: A white leghorn breed lays LOTS Of eggs and was designed to be one of the smaller chickens taking up less feed while still producing large eggs.
Which they do. They would even do well in the winter IF they are able to stay warmer and have a light to give them 14hrs of daylight. They are not a dual-purpose breed so they would need help to stay warm if you want to raise them in the northern states.
Weight: Hen- 4pounds – Rooster 5 pounds
Temperament: These are good layers for a rare breed and will do well in small spaces. But they are a bit flighty. They do best in a calm environment.
Egg production: 200+ eggs per year and the eggs are medium sizes.
Cinnamon Queen or Golden Comet
Weight: Hens 6-7 pounds
Egg Production: 250-320 eggs per year.
I wanted to touch on these because while they are good layers they do have attitude. We had a batch for a while and the one lead hen beat the snot out of a JERSEY GIANT ROOSTER.
There are quite a few small chicken breeds that fall into the bantam category. So, I will list a few of those as
Large Birds But Are Calmer And Less Active
These breeds a few pounds bigger but are calmer and would take up less space because they don’t need to move about and burn off energy. Making them a great choice for backyard chickens.
- Buff Orpington
- New Hampshire
Breeds That I Would Not Recommend
Rhode Island Reds – are TOTAL JURKES. Every time we end up with some of these they are the meanest breed of chicken we have had. Roosters are often very mean and not tameable. They are a dual purpose breed meaning they could be a meat bird but Rhode Island Reds are not worth the issues they cause.
Plymouth Rock – They are ok but still have a risk of being fussy.
Old English Game Breeds – They are just what they sound like. They are game birds and have a wild side to them. Do not get an old English game breed unless you are ready to handle them.
How To Protect Your Small Bird Flock From Predators
This is going to be a big issue whether you have small birds or not. But it will be a problem even more so if you have small chickens. The smaller the bird the more likely they are to be a target for predators.
Hawks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, weasel, and even domestic dogs have a strong prey drive.
They will go after small birds if they see them as an easy meal. There are a few things that you can do to protect your small flock though.
The first thing is to make sure that they have a safe place to sleep at night. A chicken coop is the best option for this.
NO Small Holes Or Openings
It should be sturdy and have no openings. You should check the permitter regularly. We had wire fencing stapled up around the edges on the outside thinking that was enough.
A weasel pushed the siding inward and got through a 1.5-inch hole and killed every single animal except the rooster. A brand new not yet laying batch of pullets is gone. We now have chicken wire on top of that small fencing that is still there and so far so good.
A Closing Coop Door
The door should close at night and not be easily opened.
We had a flap door that we would go out eeeeevery morning and eeeevery night to pull the string to open or close the door. It got to be a real pain. Now we have an automatic door and let me tell you that thing is AWESOME. It is worth every penny.
Not Close To Brush Or Hiding Spots For Predators
Another thing to think about before you put up a coop is to think about what is around it. You don’t want to leave a coop with places for predators to hide. They will be able to come in quickly nab a chicken and leave.
If there is a lot of weeds or brush. Find somewhere else or get rid of that so there is nowhere for the predators to hide.
We have had problems in the past with raccoons, opossums, and snakes eating the eggs. So we had to get rid of anything that they could use for cover.
Free-Range Is Still A Risk
It is good to let the chickens run out in the yard for a bit but you run the risk of losing them to hawks or any other predator that knows your flock is there.
Hawks are nasty and will keep coming back if you don’t get rid of them. You are within your right to protect your livestock so don’t let that cause you to leave your birds be a mid-day snack to a predator.
You Also Need To Be Able To Get In The Coop
This might be a “duh” statement but you would be surprised how easy it is to forget something important.
Be sure that you can get in the coop easily to clean it out and to gather eggs. The harder it is to clean the less often you will do it. So make your life easy and have a human-size door in your chicken coop.
Where To Buy Your Small Chicken Breeds
You can find small chicken breeds for sale all over the internet. My personal favorite place to buy mine is from Cackle Hatchery.
They have a great variety of small chicken breeds and are always my go-to when I’m looking to add more chickens to my flock. When showing poultry at our county fair as a kid we always got great compliments on our birds from the judges.
Quality birds are well worth the price of buying from a hatchery. Because you are able to choose the breed you want and you know they are healthy.
Cackle Hatchery also offers a great variety of rare chicken breeds if you are looking for something different to add to your small flock. They have a wide selection of bantams and Standard Chickens. You can find everything from Ameracaunas to long-tail verities and even water fowl!
No matter what small chicken breed you choose, they will provide you with tasty eggs that are far more nutritious than store-bought eggs.