True bantam breeds


The beguiling, fluffy Silkie is thought to originate from China Marco Polo wrote of ‘fur-covered fowl with black skin’ has a topknot and is unusual in that it has five toes instead of four. Silkies are gentle birds that can’t fly and make excellent broodies. They’re long-lived, with an average lifespan of 12-14 years. They can be bearded or non-bearded, in grey, blue, buff, white, black and partridge


Bred by Sir John Sebright in the early 1800s, they’re one of the oldest British breeds. Two main varieties exist, gold and the silver. They’re known for their sociable characters, but can be difficult to breed. Unlike other males, the Sebright cocks don’t have long sickle feathers


Belgian bearded bantams are alert and proud and lay tiny eggs. A good breed for young children


The shortest-legged breed, male Japanese have towering tails. They have three types of feathering: normal, frizzled and silky

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Introduced to Britain from Peking, in about 1860. They’re friendly and make great pets for children and beginners. They have abundant plumage and sit like a tea cosy on the ground


Another of the oldest British breeds, they’re small and bright, with particularly striking head features. The black variety is especially popular, followed by white and blue versions


There are 13 standard colours in Britain, where they first appeared in the 1960s, with many more in Holland. Good breeders that lay mostly in the late spring and summer