9+ Small Chicken Breeds Perfect for Any Backyard

Discover Affordable Miniature Fowl: Top Picks for Compact Backyards Begin at Just $3 Per Chick.

small chicken breeds

When looking for the perfect chickens to suit your backyard, most people choose smaller, more docile chickens. Having small chickens provides you with friendly and charismatic little fowls that often have bigger personalities than their small stance, which offers entertainment and a steady supply of eggs even though they are smaller.

Some popular breeds of small chickens for any backyard are Ameraucana Bantam, Belgian Bearded d’Uccle, Brahma Bantam, Cochine Bantam, Cubalaya Bantam, Rosecomb Bantam, Sebright Bantam, Silkie Bantam, and Wyandotte Bantam which provide a friendly disposition and generally make keen companions.

Finding the perfect small chicken for your backyard can be daunting with so many breeds available. In addition, you want your backyard resident to be of a willing temperament that can interact well with children and provide some form of entertainment and companionship. We list our top nine breeds of small chickens that are perfect for your backyard.

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Small Chicken Breeds Perfect For Any Backyard

Chicken Breeds 9+ Small Chicken Breeds Perfect for Any Backyard

Although over 400 recognized breeds of small chickens are registered with the American Poultry Association, narrowing it down and choosing a few can be hard to do. We selected the nine best backyard chickens to help you decide your favorite.

Ameraucana Bantam

Ameraucana Hen in a backyard chicken coop looking left in the shade of the chicken coop

Ameraucana bantams are a newish breed compared to other bantam breeds. This unique breed was accepted into the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1979. 

This American breed of chicken is a miniaturized version of the larger counterpart bred from South American poultry in Chile, the Araucana.

The Ameraucana comes in various colors, of which eight colors are recognized by the APA, and weighs between 24-30 ounces. The hens are occasionally broody and lay between 180-200 eggs a year, and they are famous for their blue, green, and blueish-green colored eggs.

Both the hens and cocks have beards and muffs that make their faces seem puffy. They carry a well-spread medium tail at 45 degrees, with a prominent breast, clean legs, curved beak, and pea comb. Their earlobes are small and round with little to no wattle, which is red.

These docile birds are active, making them excellent foragers that don’t do well in confinement. If your backyard allows it, then these birds are a perfect option for your backyard. 

Quick Facts

  • Weight: between 24-30 ounces
  • Disposition: Calm and friendly
  • Egg Production: Lay 100 eggs a year 
  • Type: True Bantam
  • Classification: American
  • Temp Tolerance: cold and heat tolerance
  • Lifespan: 7-8 years

Belgian Bearded d’Uccle

Rooster Mille Fleur Belgian Bearded

Belgian Bearded d’Uccle are true bantams originating from Belgium, and they do not have larger counterparts. 

The Belgian Bearded d’Uccle is often mistaken for Bootleg bantams, but what sets them apart is the breed’s full beard and muffs with tiny to no wattles. They also have heavily feathered legs and feet called boots.

The breed has stock necks, broad breasts and back, and a prominent tail. Both the head and tail are held high, giving the chicken a V shape between the head, neck, and tail,

They are ornamental chickens that add a variety of colors to your garden with eighteen different known colors, of which ten are officially recognized by the American Bantam Association (ABA).

They make excellent backyard chickens as they are relatively quiet. They are friendly and easily trainable and great for beginners. They are lively and good foragers who enjoy space but are open to smaller areas as long as they have enough space to spread their wings in the coop. 

They are child friendly; however, the males can get aggressive during mating season. Hens tend toward broodiness but make excellent layers, with hens laying an average of 100 eggs yearly.

Quick facts

  • Weight: between 22-26 ounces
  • Disposition: Calm and friendly
  • Egg Production: Lay 100 eggs a year 
  • Type: True Bantam
  • Classification: Continental
  • Temp Tolerance: cold tolerant, needs plenty of shade in the summertime
  • Lifespan: 8 years

Brahma Bantam

Close up photo of Brahama chickens are white and gray - Brahma Pootra, Burnham, Gray Chittagong, Shanghai

The Brahma bantam is a larger-sized bantam that is a miniaturized version of its larger gentle giant counterpart. 

Its history is controversial and confusing. It was developed in the United States and became a recognized breed in 1898, but it is said to have come from breeding birds from the Chinese ports of Shanghai. These were crossed with Malay-type birds, such as the Grey Chittagong.

The Brahma bantam has three recognized colors, light, bark, and buff variations. The birds have pea combs with broad heads and brows that protrude over the eye with small wattles. They have smooth with a soft down layer of plumage and have feathered legs and feet. 

The hens can get broody during matting season only and lay between 120-150 large eggs throughout the year. They fall into the larger size of bantams weighing between 34-38 ounces.

Even though they are larger, they have a friendly disposition and a fun-loving personality. They are active birds that love to forage but will remain close to the coop.

Quick facts

  • Weight: between 34-38 ounces
  • Disposition: Docile and calm
  • Egg Production: Lay 120-150 eggs a year 
  • Type: Miniature Bantam
  • Classification: Asiatic
  • Temp Tolerance: cold tolerant, but don’t do as well in heat due to the heavy down plumage
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years

Cochin Bantam

Close up photograph of a very fluffy cochin hen standing outside in the grass in the springtime. The feathers on her head are dark, nearly black, but fade to a lighter gray further down her body.

Cochins are tiny, sweet, and adorably quirky little miniatures of their larger counterparts originating from Cochine, China. 

Used for ornamental purposes due to their extravagant feathers, they are not as hardy as most other bantams, as their feathers can get wet and tend to make Cochine bantams sick and miserable. 

These adorable bantams have a single comb type with excessive plumage covering their legs. They come in many colors, of which the APA recognizes thirteen. These little fowls weigh in at between 22-26 ounces.

The Cochine lifespan is 5-8 years, and the hens can lay 100 eggs a year. They are relatively broody but make excellent sitters and mothers for any other poultry breed.

They are charming and friendly and are so chilled and relaxed that they lean on the lazy side, preferring to eat in one dedicated area rather than foraging; unfortunately, this can lead to obese birds, so providing them with some foraging space will help their weight issue.

Quick Facts

  • Weight: between 22-26 ounces
  • Disposition: Calm and friendly
  • Egg Production: Lay 100 eggs a year 
  • Type: True Bantam
  • Classification: Continental
  • Temp Tolerance: cold tolerant, needs plenty of shade in the summertime
  • Lifespan: 8 years

Cubalaya Bantam

Roosters and chickens, called gypsy chickens or Cubalaya by the locals of Key West, Florida, do as they please around the town.

Cubalaya bantams are miniaturized versions of their larger counterparts. They are a recognized Cuban breed, but their roots can be traced back to the Philippines, where the Cubalaya was developed from the Sumatran and Malay bird.

They are specifically bred to have a large extended lobster tail typically held upright at twenty degrees. In addition, they have a pea comb and curved beaks with long hackle feathers.

They come in various colors, but the black-breasted variety is the most common. The roosters have red necks and backs, and the hens have a dark wheat or cinnamon coloration. The cocks are bred spurless so as not to hurt the females during mating season, and the breed is slow in maturing, reaching adulthood at three years of age.

The hens are consistent layers, laying between 150-200 cream-colored eggs yearly. They are calm and friendly, and although cocks were bred for cock fighting, they have a very affectionate personality towards their human owners.

They are curious with an independent will to roam freely and, given the space, make excellent forgers.

Quick facts

  • Weight: between 20-25 ounces
  • Disposition: Calm and friendly
  • Egg Production: Lay 150-200 eggs a year 
  • Type: Miniature Bantam
  • Classification: All other standard breeds
  • Temp Tolerance: cold tolerant, needs plenty of shade in the summertime
  • Lifespan: 8 years

Rosecomb Bantam

A colorful rose comb leghorn rooster standning next to a tree with a dull background.

Rosecomb Bantams are some of the oldest true bantams. The earliest record of these ornamental chickens dates back to the 14th century when they originated in the United Kingdom.

They get their name from the bright red colored large comb they sport. They also have large round white earlobes that seem almost out of proportion on the medium head carried by a well-arched neck. 

Although there is a list of twenty-five different color variations, only three more common colors are recognized by the APA, black, blue, and white.

Rosecomb bantams are not great egg layers but can still produce 120 small eggs yearly, even though they reduce egg laying in the winter months.  

Rosecombs have a strong personality despite their size. However, they are still gentle and friendly birds, with the males having a tendency to be a bit more aggressive. 

They require little upkeep, as they can adapt to both free-range or confined spaces and are hot and cold-hardy.

Quick facts

  • Weight: between 22-26 ounces
  • Disposition: warm and friendly
  • Egg Production: Lay 120 eggs a year 
  • Type: True Bantam
  • Classification: English
  • Temp Tolerance: cold and heat tolerant 
  • Lifespan: 4-8 years

Sebright Bantam

A hen, Sebright chicken breed walking on the ground

Sebrights are another true bantam breed developed in the 1800s by Sir John Sebright in the United Kingdom in his quest to create the perfect chicken. These stunning little bantams became an established breed when the APA recognized them in 1874.

Males and females are sometimes hard to differentiate as they have similar plumage, but males sport a bright red rose comb. In addition, they have short backs with full convex chests and wings that hang down while their body creates a U shape between the head, neck, and tail.

Female Sebrights are not the most incredible mothers and produce between 50-80 eggs yearly; they are not very broody, and much prefer being social. Males are not aggressive, but this breed is fiercely independent while still being social, friendly, and sweet.

They are not great at foraging and prefer scratching near the coop and socializing with humans and other birds. 

Quick facts

  • Weight: between 22-22 ounces
  • Disposition: Fiercely independent but friendly and sweet
  • Egg Production: Lay 50-80 eggs a year 
  • Type: True Bantam
  • Classification: English
  • Temp Tolerance: cold and heat tolerant 
  • Lifespan: 8 years

Silkie Bantam

Photograph of a free range silkie hen standing outside among the tall weeds during the summer in Maryland.

The exact origin of Silkies is murky, but the most documented point of origin for silkies comes from China. Another vague fact is whether or not these are true or miniaturized bantams. Some countries only have bantam-sized fowl, while others have what they consider a standard size.

The APA first recognized these furry little birds in 1874, with the American standard identifying their weight as 32-35 ounces. However, countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom prefer the Silkie bantam size to be between 18-22 ounces.

Silkies’ plumage is soft and fluffy with silky, almost fur-like plumage, which makes these birds unable to fly. There are eight officially recognized colors, with six more awaiting recognition.

To the untrained eye, males and females can be challenging to tell apart. Although both males and females have dark wattles with turquoise-blue earlobes, they also have black, blueish skin and bones. In addition, their unique feature of five toes and legs is covered by plumage. 

The most distinctive difference between the two is that males have a small walnut-shaped comb, and females have a V-shaped one.

Silkies tend to be highly broody but can still produce 100-120 eggs yearly. Thanks to their down-like plumage, they are ideally suited to cold and warm conditions. In addition, they are a quieter breed, not chatting excessively, with a sweet, docile temperament making them perfect pets that love cuddles and getting groomed.

Quick facts

  • Weight: between 32-34 ounces
  • Disposition: Lovable, sweet, and friendly 
  • Egg Production: Lay 100-120 eggs a year 
  • Type: True Bantam
  • Classification: Asiatic
  • Temp Tolerance: cold and heat tolerant 
  • Lifespan: 7-9 years

Wyandotte Bantam 

Wyandotte chicken roaming freely in a farm. Wyandotte chickens are kept for there free range eggs. The birds are allowed to roam freely.

Wyandotte bantams were miniaturized from their larger counterparts, developed in 1870 in the United States. The bantams are ornamental chickens with similar lacing as the Sebright, hence why they are sometimes known as the American Sebright.

These birds have medium bodies with broad backs and proud full chests. They have relatively close feathers, and their earlobes, face, wattle, and combs are red. There are reportedly thirty different colors as recorded by the Entente Européenne; however, only ten colors are recognized by the APA.

The hens are excellent layers producing about 200 eggs yearly. They are not as broody as other bantams but make amazing mothers to their chicks. Wyandotte bantams range from 24-26 ounces and enjoy a lifespan of six to twelve years.

They are excellent forages and enjoy a bit more space to roam freely while still being very social and docile birds that make great pets and get along well with other birds.

Quick facts

  • Weight: between 24-26 ounces
  • Disposition: docile and friendly with a curious personality
  • Egg Production: Lay 200 eggs a year 
  • Type: Miniaturized Bantam
  • Classification: American
  • Temp Tolerance: cold hardiness 
  • Lifespan: 6-12 years

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Chickens Can I Keep In My Backyard?

You can keep many more chickens together if you keep bantams versus their larger counterparts. As a rule of thumb, you need two square feet of space in your coop per bird, provided they are allowed some foraging time during the day.

The number of bantams you decide to keep depends on the space you have for them. You can add different species together as the birds are social and will tend to get along.

How Many Chickens Should I Start With?

Most bantams are social and docile chickens that enjoy the company of other birds, so keeping at least three to six birds together is ideal for them to interact and keep themselves entertained.

What Chicken Breed Is The Smallest?

The smallest chicken breed is the Malaysian Serama Bantam which originated in Malaysia, tracing back to the 1600s. It has a very upright stance, with the wings pointing downward, giving a standing-to-attention look.

They weigh less than a pound, with the smallest weighing only 8.8 ounces, and they do not get taller than nine inches tall. Their eggs are so small that you could fit five into a grade-A egg.

These confident miniatures make excellent house pets that are friendly and love to be with people. Still, roosters should be kept separate as they tend to be aggressive toward each other.

What Are Tiny Little Chickens Called?

Miniature chickens are called Bantams. They originated in Indonesia and were named after the Bantam port. They became popular worldwide and became known as Bantam Chickens.

The American Poultry Association (APA) lists over 400 species of bantam chickens, which can be classified into three types.

  • True bantams
  • Miniaturized bantams
  • Developed bantams

Most chicken breeds will have a bantam version, while true bantams are naturally small chicken breeds and do not have a large counterpart.

Bantams range from 0.7-1.9 feet tall and 1-2 feet long, with a weight of between 8 ounces for the smallest bantam, the Malaysian Serama Bantam, to about 2.5 pounds. However, larger bantams can reach 4.9 pounds.

Is There A Chicken That Stays Small?

True bantams are chickens that are naturally small and do not have a larger counterpart from which they were miniaturized.

Some well-known and popular true bantams are

  • Silkie
  • Belgian Bearded Bantam
  • Japanese Bantam
  • Nankin Bantam
  • Rosecomb Bantam
  • Serama Bantam
  • Brahma Bantam
  • Sultan Bantam
  • Dutch Bantam

What Is the Friendliest Chicken Breed?

When it comes to naming the friendliest chicken, it’s a bit difficult. There isn’t only one breed of chicken that stands out in this category, but our top five choices of friendliest chickens are

  1. Silkies
  2. Cochins
  3. Speckled Sussex
  4. Buff Opertington
  5. Buff Brahma 

Final Thoughts

Keeping small chickens in backyards allows you to add more variety than keeping standard-size fowls. Bantams are either true bantams that are developed as small chickens or miniaturized versions of a breed of chicken. Bantams are usually more docile and friendly, making better pets to keep in backyards with which children can interact. 

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