Nankin Bantam chicken is a popular breed of chicken native to Southeast Asia and the United Kingdom. They are commonly buff-colored and have a single rose comb with five points. Their short, white-bluish legs and red arrows help them stand out from other varieties.

This particular broody chicken is one of the 17 different varieties within the bantam breed–and one of the oldest. Nankin Bantam chickens have no similar counterpart and are actually one of the smallest breeds in the species. They are very docile and can become quite friendly to humans. They, however, have a conservation status of “Critical” due to excessive breeding for human consumption and the potential for extinction. Continue reading to learn more about this chicken breed.

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Quick Facts About Nankin Bantam Chickens

Breed Name:Nankin Bantam
Place of Origin:United Kingdom
Uses:Ornamental, breeding
Rooster (Male) Size:24 ounces
Hen (Female) Size:22 ounces
Lifespan:5-8 years
Climate Tolerance:Most moderate climates
Care Level:Easy
Production:Limited due to conservation status


The Nankin Bantam chicken is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom by way of India and Asia. They are thought to have arrived in Britain around the year 1803 and became popular in America around 1960. Originally used as a quality breeding prototype, Nankin Bantam chickens are known for their ability to hatch and then carefully tend to their baby chickens.

Within the past 30 years, interest has increased in Nankin Bantam chickens, resulting in a breeding club that was established to support this popular chicken breed.


Nankin Bantams are known to be relatively calm birds that are fairly hardy and less flighty than other related species. They have a light frame and small size overall, making them excellent flyers. They’re known to wander about free-range farms, so it’s best to ensure that you have solid fencing and even some roofing (for indoor farms) if you plan to breed them.

Given the Nankin Bantam hen’s broodiness, these hens actually aren’t good egg layers. Despite this, they make for excellent mothers and will spend the entire day sitting on an egg in an effort to hatch it. Once the eggs are hatched, even roosters will assist with rearing the baby chicks, helping them find nearby food sources.

Nankin Bantam chickens are known for their calm, affable disposition. They tend to stay close together as a small group and individual hens and roosters rarely ever wander away from the flock–a living style that helps them to improve their chances for survival.


Nankin Bantam chickens are used for meat and breeding. They are used as a broody chicken and are kept on game farms mostly in the United Kingdom. Their eggs are a creamy white color and relatively small  compared to other chicken breeds. The average hen will lay anywhere from three to six eggs a week, which is about average for farm chickens.

Appearance & Varieties

This chicken breed has a light chestnut-colored body and black tail feathers. The roosters are usually a bit darker with black flight and tail feathers. Both male and female chickens have single rose combs with bright red wattles, earlobes, and faces.

They have short white-bluish legs, which makes them appear bluer than female chickens. And although the roosters are also typically darker than the females, they aren’t that much bigger than them. The average weight for both genders is about 22 to 24 ounces.


To date, this particular breed of chicken is usually kept in captivity and their population has dwindled over the years, which is why their conservation status is considered to be in critical condition. Today, they are considered a rare breed, and you won’t see them used as common livestock and chickens, even in the UK.

According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, there are less than 500 of these birds in the US, and their population is estimated to be less than 1,000 globally.

Are Nankin Bantam Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Though they were historically kept as backyard chickens, interest in this chicken breed over centuries almost caused them to go extinct. It’s for this reason (their critical conservation status) that they may not be the best for small-scale farming.

Though the chickens have experienced a resurgence and their population, they may be more expensive to purchase both locally and internationally–particularly in comparison to other chicken breeds.

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Final Thoughts

Nankin Bantam chickens are a popular chicken breed that originated in the United Kingdom. They are renowned for their broodiness and friendly demeanor. Though their population is not fully used to be, there is a growing interest in these chickens.

Featured Image credit: Adrian Delsi, Shutterstock