Anyone who likes chickens for more than wing dings and eggs cannot help but love the booted bantam chicken. More formally named the Dutch Booted Bantam, this tiny but gorgeous bird is popular all over Europe and in the new world as a show bird and as a pet.
The Booted Bantam is a true bantam, not a larger breed that has been miniaturized over successive generations. The origin is disputed, but many believe the chickens were alive and well in the Netherlands in the 1500s. You can find different versions of its history on different websites.
The Booted Bantam is tiny, with the British show standards limiting cocks to thirty ounces and hens to no more than twenty seven ounces. The American Poultry Association standard sets even lighter weight for birds to be accepted in a show. The small size does not make this a fragile or sickly type, however. They are not hardy in cold weather but otherwise can take care of themselves just fine.
Even though these birds are prized for exhibitions, they are even more popular as pets. Bantams of all types that are hand-raised are very calm and friendly and readily accept special companion animal status, but the booted bantams are more so. They are neither aggressive nor timid, are good foragers, and (fond owners say) their feathered feet keep them from being too destructive in the garden.
They have one special characteristic that sets them apart from almost all other breeds of chicken. They have what is called ‘vulture hocks’, which means that their legs sweep sharply back to the lower joint. It is hard to tell this from pictures, because their legs and feet are heavily feathered, the ‘boots’ that give them their name.
The many different colors are all dramatic, with the Millefleur being the most popular. Even in this category, there are variations, however. The patterns and colors truly have to be seen to be believed, so check the poultry catalogs, online sites about fancy chickens, and club websites. The cocks have big, red, upright combs with five sharp points and red ears and wattles as well. Their wings sweep down and back, at the same angle as their dramatic hock feathers. They stand very upright and their fully-feathered tail stick up, too. The whole effect is perky.
Although they do not have much meat on their frames, what they do have is well-proportioned. Their value is more ornamental than utilitarian, though, so check them out for their beauty and their charm. Online sites have great pictures of the more popular varieties, such as the Millefleur. You will not believe your eyes when you see how splendid some of the birds are, although they also come in black and in white, where their shape and gracefulness is the main attraction.
The Booted Bantam chicken must be seen to be believed. Not only are their feathers and colors gorgeous, but their upright shape and perky feathers make them very appealing.