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    Japanese Bantam

    Chicken Breed

    Learn about these friendly and relaxed shorties.

     

    Authored by Sam Peterson



    Breed type

    Ornamental


    Egg color

    Cream


    Pen or free-range?

    Works well in both


    Temperament

    Docile

    Japanese Bantam quick facts

    Lifespan: 13-15 years

    Weight: 1-2 pounds for hens (female), 2-3 pounds for roosters (male)

    Appearance: Birds can be an array of colors and patterns, including black, white, blue and red.

    Egg Production: 75-150 eggs per year

    Good for Beginners: Yes


    History of Japanese Bantams

    The Japanese Bantam, also known as the Chabo, is a unique ornamental breed. It is one of the ‘true bantams’, meaning it is a miniature chicken with no large-sized counterpart. As you may have expected, Japanese Bantams are a product of Japan, having made their way to Europe after the opening of Japanese trade during the 1800s. It is theorized that the ancestors of these birds came from China or Southeast Asia hundreds of years before. These bantams, reaching anywhere from 7 to 12 inches in height, carry the name well. They have been selectively bred to carry a gene that causes their legs to be especially short, a type of skeletal dwarfism commonly called the ‘creeper gene’. The short legs of the Japanese Bantam hold the birds only a short way off the ground, giving them a very compact profile.

    Temperment and good-to-knows

    The temperament of Japanese Bantams is relaxed and friendly. They are well-adjusted to close human contact and should show no signs of aggression towards owners or their children. Heavily socialized birds may want to be picked up or follow their owners around, so for those in search of a good family bird, this chicken breed makes a great option.

    As ornamental birds first and foremost, Japanese Bantams will not ‘wow’ with their egg production. They are sparse layers of small, bantam-sized eggs, usually around 70-150 eggs per year. The eggs themselves have cream shells. If you plan on using your Chabo eggs in cooking, keep in mind that the average Japanese Bantam egg, being so small, only constitutes half or even a third of a standard-sized egg. This goes for most of the true bantam breeds. For those looking to hatch eggs, however, your Japanese Bantam hens will make great mothers. Having not been bred for industrial egg production, these hens retain the broody gene and will be more than happy to sit on their eggs—whether you like it or not!

    Visual characteristics of birds

    Japanese Bantams come in many different colors. Each country’s respective breed association lists different colorations, so there is no standard for what color a Japanese Bantam should be. Some of the more popular colors include black-tailed buff, mottled varieties, and the simple black-tailed white. The identity of the Chabo is built upon its tall, upright tail and short legs. The tail—adorned with long, graceful feathers—usually reaches far above the head of the bird. Alongside their uniquely stubby legs, these traits are what make the Japanese Bantam what they are. Their combs are large and upright. Roosters typically sport especially tall, serrated combs. The legs and small stature of Japanese Bantams means they will be hard-pressed to tear up your landscape when compared to larger breeds. They make great additions to backyard coops or gardens.

    Japanese Bantam health and care

    Caring for you Japanese Bantams should offer no more stress than other breeds. They are a strong and healthy breed. Owners should make sure that their chicken runs are clean and dry. Since the Chabo sits so close to the ground, they may get dirty or muddy easier than other breeds with more clearance. Those looking to hatch eggs from their Japanese Bantams should know that because of their history of selective breeding for the creeper gene (which gives them their short legs), many of their eggs will be unable to hatch. In addition, this breed is not especially cold hardy. Their tall combs and small size make them vulnerable to frostbite. Take care that your bantams are kept sheltered during winter months. Though they are able to free-range, bantam birds are vulnerable to predators due to their small size. Japanese Bantams are also good fliers, so owners may wish to keep a topper over their run to prevent unwanted escapees.

    Frequently asked questions about Japanese Bantams

    How big do Japanese Bantams get?

    These birds reach anywhere from seven to 12 inches in height.


    What is the creeper gene in Japanese Bantams?

    The creeper gene is a type of skeletal dwarfism that causes the short legs of these birds.


    Are Japanese Bantams good for families?

    Yes, their temperament istemperament is docile and friendly, and they are well-adjusted to human contact.


    What is the egg production of Japanese Bantams?

    As ornamental birds first and foremost, Japanese Bantams will not ‘wow’ with their egg production. They are sparse layers of small, bantam-sized eggs, usually around 70-150 eggs per year with cream shells.


    Are Japanese Bantams easy to care for?

    Yes, caring for Japanese Bantams should offer no more stress than other breeds. Owners should make sure that their chicken runs are clean and dry, and they are not especially cold hardy.


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