To better understand the numerous types and kinds of bantam chickens, we need to understand the actual definition of the word. When used in relation to fowl or chickens, bantam is used for any extremely small fowl. The way most people have understood this rating is by understanding that for most of the regular breeds of chickens there are some bantam counterparts. These are most often one-fourth to one-fifth the size of the standard chickens, thus earning them the addition of miniature or bantam to their original name.
When taking into consideration the original namesake of bantam, this chicken or fowl has no standard counterpart. The most popular and commonly known bantam chickens are the Dutch bantam, the Sebright bantam, the Japanese bantam and the Dutch bantam. Due in part to their size and ease of care, bantams have rapidly risen to the top of the list as pets used primarily for shows or competitions. Because of their size, they require far less food, space, and maintenance resulting in their previously mentioned status as preferred pets.
Some of the most widely known breeds of bantam chickens are the Cochin, Japanese Bantams, common Bantam, Barnevelder, Old English Game, Polish chicken, D'Uccle, Pekin, Serama and the Sussex bantams. The following are brief descriptions of them:
The Cochin bantam is one of the largest breeds of bantams with the male known for weighing in at a surprising 5 Kg. (11 pounds). This particular bantam breed was introduced in China as the Chinese Shanghai and later exported to America and Britain. Another bantam breed closely related and developed from this breed is the Pekin bantam.
Japanese bantams most commonly referred to as Chao, are literally spread world wide. These chickens are mostly used in shows and as pets.
Barnevelder bantam is among the most popular breed of chickens for shows, carcass, and egg production. Producing rich brown eggs is their specialty and they are natural foragers on top of being a medium heavy breed which makes them excellent for either gaming or food.
Old English Game bantams also make excellent pets for children and are a source of special shows in the United Kingdom for this specific popular breed. This bantam breed is almost opposite to it's standard counterpart, the Old English Game chicken in that it lacks an aggressive nature.
The Polish chicken is primarily bred for their show abilities due to the fact their appearance is almost beautiful. Boasting such colors as pink, purple, and blue, these bantams do not sit on eggs, but produce stark, white eggs.
Uccle is a town on the outskirts of Brussels, Belgium and is the namesake of the Barbu D'Uccle bantam with soft feathers. This chicken received it's name from the French, translating as Bearded of Uccle.
The Pekin bantam, sporting feathers on their legs and feet combined with plumage that hangs to the ground, have often been referred to as a "walking tea-cosy". Noticeably smaller, measuring in at 20 - 30 centimeters and are well known for their mothering instincts.
The Serama bantam breed of chickens is basically still in production. Although they are currently ranked as the smallest chickens in the world, their breed has not been bred true as of yet, meaning breeding them could result in any color, shape, size, etc.
The Sussex bantam is one-quarter the size of it's standard counterpart, better know as the most common of backyard chickens in different countries around the world.