Buff Orpington Vs Bantam

Buff Orpington Vs Bantam – The Ultimate Face-Off!

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As someone who has kept both Buff Orpingtons and Bantam chickens for over 5 years now, I often get asked which breed I prefer for small backyard flocks.

And let me tell ya, after an unfortunate incident involving my prize Buff rooster Ralph and a forgot-to-latch chicken coop door one cold winter morning,

I definitely have a strong opinion!

But before I dive into the nitty gritty details, let me give you a quick rundown of the key differences between these two popular backyard chicken breeds:

Size

This one’s pretty straightforward. Buff Orpingtons are big, fluffy balls of feathered joy. The hens typically weigh in around 8-10 pounds with the roosters getting even bigger at 10-12 lbs. They’re one of the largest heritage chicken breeds out there.

Bantam chickens on the other hand are miniaturized versions of standard sized breeds. The hens weigh just 1-2 lbs and the roosters may reach 2-3 lbs max. To give you an idea of just how tiny they are, I could hold one easily in one hand!

When it comes to housing, those petite bantams take up way less coop and run space than the lumbering Buff Orps. 4-5 bantams could comfortably live in an area that would only hold 1-2 Buffs. Something to consider if you’re tight on space.

Egg Production

When it comes to laying eggs, Buff Orpingtons really shine. The large brown eggs a Buff hen lays are naturally big to match her size.

An average Buff Orp will give you 4-5 nice big brown eggs per week, consistently.

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My Bantam girls on the other hand? Let’s just say they march to the beat of their own drum when it comes to laying. Some weeks I’d get tiny little eggs daily from my more punctual gals. Other times? Total egg strike across the bantam coop!

For a steady supply of big brown eggs, Buffs win this round easily. But if you think speckled bantam eggs are just too darn cute to pass up, then I wouldn’t count those tiny troublemakers out completely in the egg department.

Broodiness

If your goal is to hatch out some ridiculously adorable fluffy butt chicks, you’ll have much better success with a Bantam.

In my experience, they tend to get broody more often and stay broody longer than the bigger Buff Orpington breed.

Buff Orpington Vs Bantam

And despite their tiny size, Bantam hens make incredibly nurturing, protective, and responsible mommas.

It’s like their fierce devotion and meticulous attentiveness is inversely proportionate to their petite frames. I’ve even seen my tiny silkie bantam Big Momma successfully raise 8 standard sized chicks all on her own – it was utterly heartwarming!

Meanwhile my Buff hens have all been rather lackadaisical about the whole reproduction thing. They’ll go sit on some eggs when they feel like it and hatch out a couple chicks maybe every other year or so.

So if you’re looking to breed your backyard flock, you simply can’t beat those determined little bantam mamas.

Personality

When it comes to personality, I have to give this point hands down to the always affable, people-loving Buff Orpington.

They didn’t earn the title of “the golden retrievers of the chicken world” for nothing! Buff Orps are known for being super friendly, calm and laid-back.

Buff Orpington Vs Bantam

My Buff ladies follow me around the yard like puppies, begging to be pet and cuddled. And they happily plop down in my lap for extended snuggle sessions. If you’re looking for a sweet backyard chicken pet, you really can’t go wrong with a Buff.

Bantams on the other hand can be a bit more… spirited. Flighty, skittish, mischievous – they certainly keep you on your toes! My bossy Silkie rooster Chico is the self-appointed king of the bantam coop and keeps everyone under his tyrannical rule.

And one of my little Partridge Cochin hens, Chip, is the troublesome toddler of the bunch. She constantly sneaks out of the run seeking adventure and mischief. Though I have to admit, she’s so darn cute it’s hard to ever stay mad at her shenanigans!

So when it comes to personality, bantams bring plenty of charm and entertainment value. Just be prepared to contend with some strong – ahem – bantitude from those spicy little nuggets!

Now that you know more about the key differences, which backyard chicken is the right fit for you? Let me tell you a funny story from my early days as a chicken keeper…

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It was a sunny Spring morning when I first let my beloved flock out into the run after a long winter cooped up indoors. My champion Buff rooster Ralph was happily stretching his legs, strutting his stuff, keeping a watchful eye as his ladies scurried about scratching up bugs.

As I latched the coop door securely, I noticed one of my smallest baby bantam hens Chip had slipped right between my feet and dashed out past me. Darn it! That girl was so tiny she could fit through any gap or hole.

“No problem,” I thought confidently, “I’ll just gently pick her up and put her right back into the run with her bantam buddies.” But as I bent down to scoop up the fluffy brown runaway, my Buff rooster Ralph apparently took offense.

He must have thought I was nabbing his favorite lady Trixie or something. Because before I knew what was happening, all 10 pounds of feathered fury launched up into the air claws first and came right at my face!

I yelped in surprise and pain as Ralph’s claws scratched me good across the cheek. After the initial shock wore off, I retreated slowly, holding a rag to my bleeding face. So much for Buff Orps being so sweet tempered and friendly I thought grumpily!

But looking back now, good ole Ralph was just being a diligent guardian of his flock. Can’t really fault him for that. And despite the occasional drawn blood, I gotta admit there’s nothing quite like having a devoted rooster patrol on duty protecting his girls.

So in the end, when it comes to choosing between big, fluffy Buff Orpingtons and tiny, fiery Bantams for your backyard flock, I recommend going with…

Feeding Requirements

With Buff Orpingtons being nearly 3 times bigger than most bantams, it’s no surprise their dietary needs differ quite a bit. Let’s dive into the ideal feed for each…

Buff Orpington Vs Bantam

A full sized Buff Orpington is a BIG bird with a big appetite! They’ll devour about 1/4 pound of feed per hen daily. I give my Buff ladies an organic layer feed supplemented with scratch grains, mealworm treats, vegetable scraps and free choice oyster shell calcium.

Bantams on the other hand eat way less thanks to their petite size. Each bantam only needs about 1-2 tablespoons of quality feed a day. Though they never fail to beg for special snacks like mealworms!

Something important to note – bantams should NOT be fed medicated feeds intended for standard flocks. The medication is too strong for their tiny systems. So be sure to source an unmedicated feed specifically formulated for bantams.

Also offer insoluble grit to aid digestion, which they lack the appetite and capacity to consume as much of as the larger breeds. Keep an eye to make sure your bantams are getting enough grit intake. If not, you may need to supplement.

And provide free choice oyster shell calcium for strong bones and eggshell development. Though take care that overzealous bantams don’t overdose on the oyster shell buffet. It can be hard on their sensitive kidneys.

Finally, establish set feeding times rather than free feeding for optimal nutrition and to prevent selective feeding. This goes for both breeds but is especially important for miniaturized bantams to ensure balanced nutrition intake from quality feed.

Climate and Environmental Considerations

The sheer difference in size between these two backyard chicken breeds also leads to some variations in their ability to tolerate temperature extremes and environmental conditions.

Being overweight as it is, the Buff Orpington handles cold winter weather like an absolute champ. Their fluffy feathers provide ample insulation from the elements. Snow? Ice? Wind? Bring it on! My Buffs will be out scratching around quite contentedly through it all.

Bantams on the other hand, do NOT fare well in frigid temps. Lacking the ample feather coverage and body mass of larger fowl, they quickly succumb to frostbite and hypothermia. Bantam owners absolutely must provide supplemental heat and draft-free shelter in winter.

When it comes to heat tolerance though, the tables turn. The tiny bantams handle hot summer temps and humidity much better than my poor panting Buffs! All that excessive feathering does my big girls no favors in sweltering heat.

So proper ventilation, cool resting areas, and plenty of fresh water are a must for large fowl in summer. The petite bantams shake off the heat no problem as long as they have shade available.

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And when it comes to foraging and roaming land, bantams are at a disadvantage needing very level terrain they can navigate. Meanwhile the substantial Buff Orps handle varied terrain with aplomb thanks to their longer legs and bigger frames.

So factor your climate and property terrain into your breed selection! Extremes of hot or cold along with very uneven or wet ground favor hardy bantams, while moderate temps and adequate space suit the Buff Orpington personality.

Predator Protection

When it comes to deterring hawk attacks, having a devoted rooster on guard duty is a must no matter your flock size. But the difference in size between bantam and standard roosters changes their approach…

My massive Buff Orpington rooster Ralph protected his flock by acting as a feathery battering ram. With his substantial size and weight behind him, one powerful strike from Ralph could deck most intruders.

He once knocked a young raccoon clear off the coop roof with one mighty body blow! I found the stunned critter flat on his back wondering what on earth just happened. Meanwhile Ralph nonchalantly went back to crowing over his domain.

But when you’ve only got 2-3 lbs of rooster like my Partridge Cochin Chico protecting tiny bantam hens, brute force isn’t gonna cut it. Instead the little guys rely on speed, agility and deception.

I’ve seen Chico stage ambush attacks from cover, bravely battling hawks to a standstill. He darts and dodges blows twice his size, while aggressively pecking his foe’s feet and face. Sure he’s 1/5th the size of those predators, but Chico fights like a champ to defend his girls!

So while the sheer bulk of my Buff rooster Ralph could intimidate most dangers, never underestimate the fierce devotion of a tiny bantam defender!

Enclosure and Fencing Needs

Thanks to the major size difference between bantams and standard size birds like Buff Orps, their fencing and enclosure requirements differ quite a bit.

My fully grown Buff Orpington hens stand over 2 feet tall. So keeping these jumping jack giantesses contained required installing 5 foot tall reinforced fencing around the entire perimeter.

But for my tiny Partidge Cochin bantams? Basic 2 foot poultry netting does the trick nicely. Though I still have to patrol for holes thanks to my little escape artist Chip constantly testing the fence boundaries!

Bantams also do well housed in smaller scale coops. Just make sure to allow adequate perch space for each bird. Crowding those limited coops will stress your mini flock.

Meanwhile, Buff Orpingtons have substantial height, width AND fluff to accommodate in coops! Make sure to size the doors and interior spaces generously so these big girls don’t end up stuck.

For covered outdoor runs, allow 4 square feet per standard sized bird. But tiny bantams only need 1-2 square feet of sheltered run space to stay happy. Less real estate needed means bantam owners can maximize area for large free range pens.

So calculate enclosure size, spacing and fencing based on whether you’re housing itty bitty bantams or chunky Buff Orpingtons!

Breeding Considerations

Thanks to their diminutive size, breeding bantam chickens requires some unique considerations…

The most important rule when breeding bantams – NEVER pair them with larger standard size males! Those big roosters will literally breed the petite hens to death.

Even standard size hens can easily injure tiny bantam roosters during mating. So ONLY breed miniatures to other miniatures or serious harm can occur.

You should also carefully monitor breeding activity and behavior with bantams. Separate the pair after a successful mating to prevent overbreeding the hen.

And give broody bantam mamas a break from egg sitting duty every few days. Mini hens can lose too much weight rapidly incubating those eggs for extended periods.

Finally, allow bantam chicks extra time to fully feather out before introducing them to the big coop with adults. Those little fur-balls are just too temptingly cute not to get picked on by grumpy seniors!

So take extra precautions when breeding petite bantam flocks. But the reward of fluffy bantam chicks tap-dancing around the brooder is absolutely worth it!

Showing and Exhibition Considerations

Both Buff Orpingtons and bantam breeds are popular exhibition chickens on the poultry show circuit. But the size difference affects judging…

For standard size Buff Orpingtons, judges focus heavily on body conformation. Ideal specimens should have a broad, rounded appearance from front to back. The fluffier those big birds are, the better!

Any thin or narrow Buff Orps are penalized in judging. Judges check for proper feathering coverage and depth of fluff across the breast, body and thigh areas.

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Wing defects like twisted flight feathers or uneven carriage also negatively impact Buff Orp scores. And the signature pom pom tail must be full, plush and well-rounded balanced over the tail.

With bantams, judges pay more attention to overall proportionality thanks to their smaller frames. The minute details like comb shape, earlobe color purity and foot feathering also factor more prominently.

And since feather miniaturization defines true bantam breeds, plumage quality is essential. Any frayed feathers or thin spots automatically deduct major points. The judge will actually part the feathering assessing fluff depth and density.

So aim for a super fluffy marshmallow-esque profile in your pampered Buff Orps. And smooth feather perfection down to last toe feather on those showbound bantams!

The Best of Both Worlds:

If you’ve got the room in your coop and run, I wholeheartedly endorse getting a mix of Buff Orps and Bantams! Each breed brings uniquely delightful qualities and quirks to your flock.

The calm, friendly Buff Orps make wonderful pet chickens for the whole family. They’ll happily plop on your lap for leisurely afternoon cuddle sessions! Just beware if you’ve got a protective rooster on patrol.

And the spunky bantams bring endless entertainment with all their antics, attitude and adventures! Fair warning though – they will test your patience at times with their mischief and defiance. But just one look at those tiny fluff balls and all is quickly forgiven.

Together these two breeds strike the perfect balance of hearty egg production, broodiness/breeding potential, charming personalities and ideal flock protectors.

Just make sure you double check that latch each night on the coop door. Wouldn’t want any early morning rooster surprises!

 

Buff Orpington vs Bantam Comparison Chart

Buff Orpington Bantam
Size Large (8-12 lbs) Miniature (1-3 lbs)
Egg Production 4-5 large brown eggs per week Variable, smaller eggs
Broodiness Less frequent, less dedicated More frequent, dedicated
Personality Friendly, calm, laid-back Spirited, flighty, mischievous
Feeding Requirements 1/4 pound of feed per hen daily 1-2 tablespoons of feed per bantam daily
Climate and Environmental Considerations Tolerant to cold, less heat-tolerant Less cold-tolerant, more heat-tolerant
Predator Protection Size and weight offer protection Rely on speed, agility, and deception
Enclosure and Fencing Needs Requires taller and reinforced fencing Basic 2-foot poultry netting is sufficient
Breeding Considerations Normal considerations, watch for overbreeding Never pair with larger roosters, monitor breeding activity
Showing and Exhibition Considerations Body conformation, feathering Proportionality, plumage quality
Feeding Requirements 1/4 pound of feed per hen daily 1-2 tablespoons of feed per bantam daily
Climate and Environmental Considerations Tolerant to cold, less heat-tolerant Less cold-tolerant, more heat-tolerant
Predator Protection Size and weight offer protection Rely on speed, agility, and deception
Enclosure and Fencing Needs Requires taller and reinforced fencing Basic 2-foot poultry netting is sufficient
Breeding Considerations Normal considerations, watch for overbreeding Never pair with larger roosters, monitor breeding activity
Showing and Exhibition Considerations Body conformation, feathering Proportionality, plumage quality
The Best of Both Worlds If you’ve got the room in your coop and run, I wholeheartedly endorse getting a mix of Buff Orps and Bantams! Each breed brings uniquely delightful qualities and quirks to your flock. The calm, friendly Buff Orps make wonderful pet chickens for the whole family…
Adaptability Adapts well to various climates and environments May require more care in extreme temperatures
Noise Level Generally quieter, especially hens Can be noisier, especially roosters
Ease of Handling Easy to handle due to their larger size Requires gentle handling due to their smaller size
Colors and Varieties Standard colors and varieties available Wide range of colors and feather patterns
Life Expectancy Longer life expectancy Shorter life expectancy
Community Integration Blends well with other chicken breeds May exhibit dominance behaviors
Free-Range Behavior Good foragers, cover more ground Limited foraging due to smaller size
Health Concerns Generally hardy and robust May require extra care due to their small size

 

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