Regular Size and Bantams: To Mix or Not to Mix?
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Donna Belcher McGlasson I see folks with regular-sized chickens and bantams mixed together all the time. Is it wise? Do they get along? Can the larger chickens hurt the bantams? What is the best setting to mix different size chickens, if you do? Let’s face it, chickens are a lot more complicated creatures than folks give them credit for being. Their social order and even the personality of the flock could be a factor.
The wisdom seems to come in the way small and large chickens alike are brought together. Twice now, I’ve had regular size and bantams raised from chicks together and they do just fine. They get along, they share their roost, food, water and treats with just the usual amount of chicken scuffles. Rose & Violet, my Black Copper Marans who were raised with my silkies, Poppy & Daffodil, even choose to sleep in my silkies’ coop sometimes instead of with the bigger girls.
I believe some of the wisdom of it also comes from the amount of space your chickens share. Do they get to free range? Are they confined to a large or small run? Are they crammed into a coop that’s too small to sleep at night? How many are there together? These are questions I would advise asking yourself when chicken math hits and you want to combine your chicken sizes. Additionally, what is the personality of your flock? Do you have some wicked hens or maybe a mean rooster? Do treats bring out the worst in your feather babies?
My problem comes when I try to integrate the bantams with other larger chickens in the whole flock. Even though I’ve tried putting the bantams in with tried and true integration methods, some of my hens are just plain mean. I realize the pecking order is a great part of the larger girls picking on the smaller girls but I’m not up for chicken blood baths on a continual basis. That’s not to say that some bantams don’t “rule the roost” because they do, it just hasn’t been my experience. I’ve even built a large 35×10 covered day run with doors that open individually into it to keep all the arguments to a minimum but I have found that not only do I need to keep my older girls separate from the rest of the flock, I also need to keep my silkies safe as well.
Yes, larger chickens can hurt the bantams because they have size on their side. It’s not to say they definitely will but they can. When I had a couple of bantam white-crested black polish hens and now, I have my two silkies , they are not only small but also have top knot feathers that obscure their view which makes staying out the way a little harder.
So is there a magic formula for mixing regular size chickens with bantams? No. It is best to experiment with your flock according to how much space you have, if they were raised together, do they free range, are they confined, the number of chickens in your flock and even the personality of your flock.