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Posted by Shelby Stone on Nov 20, 2021 5:34:00 AM
Shelby Stone

Meet the short-but-snazzy Modern Game Bantam 


The Modern Game Bantam…truly a unique and quirky little bird! Though not the best egg layer, and not bred for meat, these chickens are striking show birds. They make remarkably great pets and are perfect for backyard chicken parents who have room for an active lap pet. 

Modern game closeup

Fighting no more

The Modern Game bird originated in Britain and was developed by Malay and Old English Game in the 1860’s to the 1900’s. Their larger counterparts suffered during First World War but the bantam faired better being smaller and thus consuming less feed. 

The Modern Game long legs and erect stature make them stand out

Though categorized as game chickens from their fighting heritage, these birds, especially the bantams, were not bred for fighting. They are considered strictly ornamental or show chickens. 


Hard to overlook

One of the first things you will noticed about Modern Game Bantams are their rather interesting presence. They stand very upright with unusually long and slender legs, very flat bodies with a fine tail and tight feathering. Their wings are small and nicely curved. 


They have been called the Italian greyhounds of the chicken world! 


These pint-sized birds top out at 4-5 pounds (easily fitting in the palm of a hand) and come in many different colors including black red, black brown, duckwings, piles, and brichens. The skin is white and the wattles are deep red with small combs. Roosters commonly have their combs and wattles removed to enhance their slim and trim figure. 


Modern Game birds are categorized into two main groups: black legs with dark eyes and yellow legs with red eyes. 


Friendly, but don’t mess with me

Modern Game Bantams make great pets and are quite friendly. They make wonderful additions to backyard flocks but do require quite a bit of room to roam as they are active little birds! 


They do love their humans and come running when approached with their favorite treat. They are even known to recognize faces. 


Modern Game Bantams can hold their own with their bigger cousins; in fact, they can actually be fairly aggressive towards their flockmates. They are also very chatty, so warn close neighbors! 


Modern Game Bantams are adventurous and love climbing all over the coop investigating every nook and cranny. They are rather tidy little birds that do not scratch, so keeping them within garden beds is well suited to their nature. They are quite curious, personable and curious little critters for sure. 


All for show, not productionThis Modern Game pair is at a poultry show--their long legs really stand out!

These birds do quite well in heat but are not cold hardy, so adequate shelter and a coop heater during colder months is necessary. Modern Game Bantams are slow to mature, often taking longer than other breeds. Their long, slender, rather naked legs are susceptible to mites. 


Egg production: If you are looking for a prolific egg layer, Modern Game Bantams will NOT fit that category! They produce very few eggs, maybe only 1 a week. They are also known to be rather broody. 


All about the look 

Modern Game Bantams are certainly an eye-catching, tiny bird! They would make a fun addition to any flock, but are definitely not great egg producers. They are loud, active and friendly… not to mention just plain cute! 


About the author

Shelby Stone is a writer and communications mechanic at Small Pet Select (shop.smallpetselect.com) when she isn’t busy with her chickens, her horse Percy, Mango the parrot, and the many other animals in her family. 

Tags: Chicken Chatter


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