Nankin Bantams

General Information

Breed Purpose
Dual Purpose
Climate Tolerance
All Climates
Egg Productivity
Egg Size
Egg Color
Cream to Light Brown
Breed Temperament
Calm and Personable
Breed Size

Nankin Bantams (aka Nankeen bantams) is one of the oldest known bantam breeds. It’s origins are obscure, but it is thought to have originated in Southeast Asia in the Nankin or Nanking region of China. The breed is believed to have arrived in England prior to the 1500’s, where it found use on the country estates of Britain for its ability to hatch and rear game bird chicks. It’s exceptional ability as a broody have kept it popular to the present time. The breed has contributed to the formation of many other bantam breeds over the years. They have become more widely found in the United States in the last ten years, with a breed club forming in 2006, and they were recognised by the APA in 2012.

Nankins have a calm temperament, the hens are very sweet, the breed is popular as pets, broodies, and show birds, especially for children. They are usually very flock oriented, with a tendency to want to stay very close together, with individual birds rarely wandering far from the rest of the flock.

The Nankin is a true bantam, currently not found in a standard size. Nankins come in only one color, their bodies are a rich chestnut color with a black tail, the hen’s body color is slightly lighter than the males. It can have either rose or single combs.

It was recognized by the APA in 2012 and is on The Livestock Conservancy's Critical list.

Note: Ideal Poultry carries Rose and Single combed Nankins.

Nankin chicks

Nankin hen

Nankin rooster

For more information on this breed and their owners' and breeders' experiences with them, see our breed discussion here:

Latest reviews

Pros: Very social, sweet, cannot say enough good things about the breed!
Cons: Hard to find good breeders.
Have had SCCL Nankin since 2015. Best breed of bantams I have ever had!
Pros: Super Friendly, Great with Kids, Great Broodies & Parents - even the roosters! Great conversation starters.
Cons: VERY hard to find! Slow to mature - late layers. Cover your brooder - these babies fly early!
These little birds are full of personality! They are super friendly - even when they aren't handled much as peeps - and are curious to a fault! Ours are home-bodies, staying close to the coop and under the cover of our awnings and shrubs to avoid hawks. They will venture out whenever they hear people and usually end up on someone's knee or shoulder. Ours will actually walk on a leash - which makes them great candidates for petting zoos and Farm Day demonstrations.

Nankins are not prolific layers, but they are steady. We generally get three, sometimes four eggs a week, with a definite slowdown through the colder months. Hens go broody really easily, which is good, because incubator results are inconsistent. Hatching rates are definitely higher with a broody. Once they start setting, Nankin hens make very good mothers.

Roosters are just as friendly and laid back as the hens. Roos raised together tend to get along well, even with younger ones coming up through a new clutch. In a smaller flock like ours, the rooster will sometimes stay with the chicks while Mama is off feeding or bathing, and I've seen a roo actually take over an older batch of chicks while Mama went back to set another clutch. Pretty cool!

The only bad thing I can say about Nankins is that they are virtually impossible to find. When you do find someone with extra breeding birds, they're usually cockerels. To start a flock, you'll likely need to start with straight run chicks - if you can find them. Be patient, though. These little gems are well worth the extra effort!
Purchase Date
May 2017
Pros: Wild, curious, very broody, adorable, street smart, good foragers, good flyers, charming roosters
Cons: Clutches too big to cover well
I love these adorable bantams! For me, the gamier the breed the better, and Nankins combine a bit of calm domesticity with behaviors true to their ancestors, making them perfect for someone who wants a game breed that at times can be a good lap chicken. They forage very, very well, they do not take up much space, they are wary of predators, they fly very well, they go broody at the sight of a clutch, and they are very skilled mothers. They are wary of humans, but their natural curiosity makes them easier to tame if you desire a friendly chicken. The roosters are good fathers, and get along well with other roosters and chicks. I can keep this breed at a 1:1 ratio with no issues. They will be protective, but not to any length that one could call aggressive. I like that the hens are seasonal layers and that they do not lay often because I feel that is how a chicken was meant to lay. I also love their dull coloring that lets them blend in better to many surroundings, and their bug-eyes are adorable! They only thing I can say I do not like about them is their tendency to lay an egg that is large in proportion to their body size, making it hard for them to cover an average sized clutch, especially when their feathers are hard and do not fluff up very well.
Overall, they are a very cute chicken that can take care of itself, and I love that trait about them.


Interesting - I have one lone little Nankin who hatched from some shipped eggs, sex unknown as yet. I didn't know there was a local breeder here in the PacNW. As you aren't interested in selling any of your little birds, would you mind sharing the name/contact information about your source? I've read some very interesting things about the history of this breed, nice to know they get along wit d'Uccles, my main love.
there are a few good breeders in the pacific north west, if you look at the nankin thread most of them are on this site
There are several breeders in northern california with nice birds, just depends on what area you are in. I am surprised chickensaresweet posted that they are hard to catch. We have to watch where we step because they are always underfoot looking for attention. Several of them will jump up to your arm or shoulder to get closer and see if they can get a little more attention
Did you mean to give this breed a 1/2 star?

You may want to head over to the BUY SELL TRADE section.

I hope you find some.

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