Unlike many of the bantams you may see listed here, American Game Bantams (AGBs) are distinct from their namesake large fowl counterparts in that the bantams are an accepted breed by the major breed organizations while the large fowl counterparts are not. AGBs owe this to the work of Frank Gary of New Jersey, who worked with the ABA in the 1940s to develop a standard breed predominantly using bantam game birds (now referred to as either "pit bantams" or "mini-games") with Red Jungle Fowl bred in to improve hackle and saddle feather length and other show qualities. Thus the original variety of AGB was the Black Breasted Red (BBR). Unfortunately, it does not appear that the AGBs available today are descended from Frank Gary's lines.
- Breed Purpose:
- Egg Productivity:
- Egg Size:
- Egg Color:
- White to Ivory
- Breed Size:
- APA/ABA Class:
- Game Bantam
Currently, there are 12 accepted varieties of AGBs, but two of these are only accepted by the ABA. Varieties currently accepted by the APA are Birchen, Black, BBR, Blue, Blue Red, Brown Red, Golden Duckwing, Red Pyle, Silver Duckwing, and White. Brassy Back and Wheaten are listed in the ABA only, although Quail was apparently accepted at one time, but no one seems to know how it was replaced by Brassy Back.
My experience has been that these are very vigorous birds, forage well, and are good fliers. AGB hens tend to be much better layers than other game bantams, which is partly attributable to their greater weight compared to Old English Game Bantams (OEGBs) and Modern Game Bantams (MGBs). AGB cocks average 30 ounces and hens at 27 ounces and should have a more substantial feel to them. As with OEGBs and MGBs, they are required to be dubbed for show, but in manner similar to OEGBs (high dub) rather than MGBs.
Males should be well feathered with long, wiry hackle and saddle feathers that spill out over the shoulders and back and should have a tail held at a 50 degree angle with long sickle feathers that form a semi-cardioid (half heart) shape - a defining characteristic of the breed! Tails should be well spread on females. Feathering should be hard in the manner of game fowl. The birds should have a graceful, upright stance and carry themselves with pride so they have, as close as possible, the shape and carriage of large fowl American Games (scaled down, of course).
As many lines of AGBs have recent infusions of large fowl games, they are very aggressive towards other AGBs and other game breeds (but not humans), but can generally be kept in communal grow-out pens until six months. After that, males must be kept separate. Females can also be aggressive among themselves and may even have tiny spurs, but will generally accept other pullets/hens after they "work things out". They can go broody easily, but my experience is that they tend to want to stay on unhatched eggs rather take care of the chicks they've hatched.
AGBs are listed as "Not Common" in the ABA standard, but I have trouble understanding why. They are everything you'd want in a bantam and then some: active, brave, disease resistant, good layers, graceful and beautiful. Consider keeping a trio.
American Game Bantams
- Average User Rating:
Chicken Breed Info:
Breed Purpose: Show/ornamental
Comb: Strait, 'high' dubbed in males
Climate Tolerance: Hardy when dubbed
General Egg Info:
Egg Productivity: Fair to good, 5/week but seasonal
Egg Size: small
Egg Color: white to ivory tinted
Aggressive to other birds of the same gender, rarely aggressive to humans
Breed Colors / Varieties:
Official: Birchen, Black, Blue, Black Breasted Red, Blue Red, Brassy Back, Brown Red, Golden Duckwing, Red Pyle, Silver Duckwing, Wheaten, and White. Also known in Quale, Red Quill, and blue versions of standard varieties (Blue Golden Duckwings is featured on the back cover of Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds).
Chicken Breed Photos:
Recent User Reviews
Pros - very very sweet hens and good layers
Cons - eggs are quite small (but i still love them)
My first 4 chickens I got from the "assorted bantam bin" at Big R about 4 years ago now, still have them and 3 of them have grown into the sweetest little hens you will ever meet. 1 of them grew into the most handsome and fiesty little rooster. Until now I had no idea what breed they were until I saw a picture of a old english game bantam in the color silver duckwing and it looks just like em!
"my first two hens, still have them"
Pros - Super foragers, wonderful mothers, super hardy, independent
Cons - cant find any
I just wrote all about my first two Game bird Mix hens on the American Game breed heading, didn't realize that they weren't talking about bantam breed! I will try to repeat what i wrote there but have had these hens for almest 4 years now, they are still healthy and going strong. They raised their first brood of chicks together. Not their first but the first they had since coming to live with me.
An excellent durable, loveable bird.
"lovely birds but i never knew they were called..."
Pros - great mums, lay quite alot of eggs, wide range of colour, great weeders, can be free range, great beginner chickens
Cons - they can be flighty at first to pick up, rats/birds of prey/raccons might try and kill them, do not like dogs
I own only 2 at the moment and they are silver Dutch bantams, we keep them in with our partridge pekin bantam cockerel. They have 2 chicks that are 6 weeks old now and they are a cross between dutch bantam and pekin bantams.