Monday, 20 May 2013

"Why bother raising bantams?"

So, why bother to raise bantams?

If I am honest, I don't know the answer to this. We had always sworn we would not own or raise bantams, as they defeated the purpose. As a smallholder (hobby farm), our birds are ultimately raised to benefit the table- whether that is with eggs or meat, or best case scenario both. And realistically bantams are not really ideal for either; as their small stature would not make a substantial meal for one! And their eggs are significantly smaller too


Blue breasted Red OEG rooster

We don't 'show' our birds, well at least not seriously. And showing poultry is a serious and competitive business! We have dabbled, entering a few of our birds in the local show last year "for fun" and out of curiosity. But bantams are exceptionally popular with the poultry clubs and those who do show. They also make very popular pet, particularly those with younger children or less space- more suburban gardens.

So you're probably wondering why someone with a larger block, raising our poultry more as livestock than pets and with no (human) children- though to be fair our fur-babies (dogs) are not exactly poultry friendly!
Why we would collect bantams?

Again I don't know! Although our most recent acquisition, was really my fault, as I failed to query whether they were standard or bantam chickens before I sent Matt to collect them. I had intended for the hens to supplement our laying flock and we would see how the rooster settled; if he didn't he could serve another purpose... So not exactly to plan!

Many bantam owners I know love their smaller counterparts. And for some reason I am quite taken with our new additions... Guess we will see how our new trio settle in.

I think the hens look more like doves than chooks?
Silver Duckwing rooster & Red Pyle hens- OEGB's
What do you think?

OEG cross or Indian Game?

If you have ever had OEG's (Old English Game's) then it would be obvious that is what they are.  We had a 'Blue breasted, Red Old English Game' rooster in the past. And still have 2 hens; the result of him over our laying flock. One of whom we put in with Ronnie, our original Indian Game rooster when she began laying; the young roosters and pullets from this were the last chicks we hatched. So we are familiar with the shape.
OEG x Indian Game pullet- few weeks old

We had wondered whether you would be able to tell the difference between the OEG-Indian game crosses and the pure Indian Games (as we hatched a fe
Indian Game pullet- few weeks old
w at the same time). So we marked the eggs, and the chicks as they hatched- as they looked surprisingly similar... not sure why this surprised us, given they are all 'game fowl'. But as they grew, the marking was not necessary. As all the OEG crosses had the distinct OEG shape; smaller, slender and now I've seen it in a white breed (pyle) and I guess the similarity in the size also helps, but they are very much, 'dove like'.

So now to work out how and where to keep them. I am hoping if I house them separately out the front, then they can free range. I guess it's just a case of seeing how the rooster behaves. As Old English Games, especially bantams were historically bred and raised for cock fighting. Something Indian Games were intended for, however their larger size and docile nature meant this was not successful. Space also helps with all poultry tensions, generally birds are (not surprisingly) a 'flight' animal. In that, in case of danger they look to escape, as opposed to fight. Though usually at our the danger is generally the dogs, and the birds per will run and flap, as opposed to the safer option of actual 'flight'! So am hoping the 'cock fighting' label would only be a problem if he is confined with another rooster. Else I maybe seeking an alternative arrangement of him.


  1. Some people keep bantams because they are good mothers, good for hatching eggs. Are the game birds more tasty? At least they won't eat much!

  2. Thanks Liz, I hope they are. As for the food, have read that they eat the same, though I can't see how... they're tiny! Though so far the scoup of pellets have lasted a week. But by comparison to our other games, that's alot- as they freerange and mostly graze (or steal from the pigs)

    As for our Indian Games (or cornish) they do make very tasty table birds, not at all gamey. Though we culled ours around 5 months. These birds are the basis from which most boilers/ meat birds are cross bred from.

    We had ate our (standard size) OEG rooster, but he was older and the meat was very dark.