Big Hen, Little Hen

One query that I frequently get asked is, “Can bantams and big hens live together?”

Bantams are tiny hens, no more than about two pounds. A standard-sized hen weighs in at four or more pounds.The worry is that the big hens will shove the little ones around, that the pecking order will never settle down, and that day in and day out the bantams will be harassed.

This could, I suppose, be the case, but it doesn’t have to be. You can have a peaceful mixed flock, it just takes adjusting the environment for the hens’ needs.

Bantams tend to be quicker and flightier than their more earthbound cousins. Provide them with outside and inside roosts so that they can separate themselves from the bossy big girls. Also, if the nesting boxes are hung about 6 inches off of the ground, the bantams can go under to hide out, and the large hens can’t reach them. Make sure that food and water dispensers are hung so that there are no corners that the banties get trapped in. And, as always, give the chickens an interesting environment so that there are things to think about other than how jealous the hens are of each other.

Do that and you will have this.

Edwina and Betsy

Edwina, an almost 8-year-old Barred Rock, with Betsy, an almost 6-year-old Bantam White Leghorn

Sweet, isn’t it?


  1. My silkies and full grown hens get along fine. There is a pecking order of course but my silkies have not problem standing up for themselves!

    • The one silkie that I had years ago was a timid soul. Interesting to hear from you and others about how dominant some can be.

  2. I always like seeing a small bantam rooster with his flock of large hens. That way the hens can’t be over breed, and the hens can boss if around if need be. As you have said before Terry, it’s the personality of the chicken who determines who is going to be boss. Size will come second.

  3. They do look very sweet together. I am interested in this because I would like to add bantams a few years down the line but worried that they may not be accepted. I love the bantam leghorn.

    • I was thinking the same thing Carol, about adding bantams some day and loving that bantam leghorn! I have never seen bantam chickens other then in pictures and am intrigued.

  4. Geez..I don’t know what happened in my flock but the banty girls live in the barn by themselves. For some reason the big girls were pestering them I was worried about the GIANT leghorn rooster and his amourous ways :) It works out good. Once in while I put them in so they can hang with the big girls but they are always happy to wander back up to their home in the barn.

  5. I’m curious, do the hens notice that Candy is missing? In the past when I’ve lost a cat, the rest of the feline family notice something is off. I haven’t lost a hen yet, mine aren’t quite a year old yet. When you lost the hen late last year, did the other hens notice her missing?

    • I honestly can’t tell. The hens that she lived with are very quiet and old and their behavior is the same as always. The goats might be looking for her.

  6. I have a mixed flock and as in all things, it’s all about attitude and not size. I’ve had bold bantams and timid big girls. It cracks me up to see my tiny game hen grab a delicious morsel away from one of the big girls. I really enjoy my bantams, especially my extremely sweet D’anvers, but it seems to me bantams go broody more than big girls. Maybe it’s just me.

  7. Oh so very sweet….it did my heart good today at the sight of these two precious hens.

  8. I have about 10 bantums in with my flock of 50 or so large fowl (and a few roosters). The bantums are my favorite, we watch and care for all of our birds, but I have let myself and my boys name the bantums, and really enjoy picking them up. We rehomed the bantum roosters to a family looking for bantum roosters after a predator attack.

    Two of my bantums last year went broody, and I have to admit they are my favorites because of how well they raised their brood. They were eggs I bought locally to hatch (first time for us, it was awesome). But when they were integrated the bantums more than stood up for the large fowl babies. So much so that even as the babies were the size of regular small hens, they roosted with the moms. Really funny to see a large light brahma rooster cowering beside the very small old english game hen that hatched him.