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Rosecomb Bantam Chicken

Kathryn Copeland

March 8, 2021

The Rosecomb Bantam is thought to be one of the oldest breeds of “true” bantams. They originated in England – the black Rosecombs were kept at the Angel Inn in Grantham, Lincolnshire, as far back as 1483. It was here that King Richard III discovered these birds and took a fancy to them, which ended up making this breed quite popular amongst the English aristocracy.

Today, the Rosecomb Bantam is a small and lively bird and is prized especially as an ornamental and show breed. But they are not particularly broody.

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Quick Facts about the Rosecomb Bantam Chicken

Species Name: Gallus gallus domesticus
Family: Phasianidae
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Friendly, shy, noisy, calm
Color Form: White, black, blue
Lifespan: 4 to 8 years
Size: 1.4 to 1.6 pounds
Diet: Layer feed, crumbles, or pellets
Enclosure: 4 sq. ft. fenced run and 2 sq. ft. coop

Rosecomb Bantam Overview

rosecomb bantam
Image Credit: Jon Sullivan, Flickr

While the Rosecomb had its origins in England, no one really knows when it arrived in North America. But they were accepted in the American Poultry Association’s first edition of American Standard of Perfection in 1874. As already mentioned, the Rosecomb goes back as far as the 1400s, but it has likely been around for much longer than that.

A Bantam is essentially a smaller version of a standard-sized chicken. However, the Rosecomb Bantam is considered a “true” bantam, which means it is a naturally small chicken that does not have a full-size or larger version.

One of the primary uses of the Rosecomb is for exhibition and not so much for egg production. The hens are not typically known for being broody, and the eggs tend to be relatively small, both in size and number. On average, the hen lays about 1 or 2 tiny eggs each week.

It has been said that the Rosecomb is not the best chicken for first-time chicken owners. Partly because of their limited egg-laying capabilities and the fact that they are one of the few chicken breeds that can fly.

The offspring tend to mature quite slowly and need extra care, so if you’re interested in having eggs hatched, you will need to invest in a broody hen or an incubator, and you’ll need to take special care of the chicks.

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How Much Do Rosecomb Bantams Cost?

Rosecomb Bantams are quite common chickens, so they are very reasonably priced. You could expect to pay anywhere from $4-$10 for one Rosecomb.

They are easily found through a search online or on social media. You can also visit any local farm stores or order them through an online hatchery, where they can be shipped directly to you.

You can have a look at the Rosecomb Bantam Federation for more information on this bird, or you might want to become a member.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

If the Rosecomb Bantam is socialized and raised with humans from an early age, it will be a very calm and friendly bird that can be quite easily handled. However, like many bantams, the roosters can be fairly aggressive.

They are quite robust and hardy birds that are active and do well in all climates. The Rosecomb also does well while in confinement.

Appearance & Varieties

The defining comb is what gives the Rosecomb its name. The comb is relatively flat and broad and lies close to the head. It forms into a point that protrudes over the back of the head, giving it a rather uniquely shaped comb. The Rosecomb is also known for its distinctive white earlobes.

The Rosecomb has a strong and sturdy build and large tail feathers that are held at an upright angle, giving it a gorgeous profile.

The American Poultry Association has accepted black, blue, white, and black-breasted red as the color varieties of the Rosecomb. However, the Rosecomb does come in a much larger variety of colors – as many as approximately 25.

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How to Take Care of the Rosecomb Bantam

Habitat, Coop Conditions & Setup

Coop

The bonus for owning bantams is they take up much less space than their larger counterparts (a few bantams can be kept in an area that would typically hold one standard-sized chicken). Because bantams are small birds, they will require a coop or housing that is at least 2 square feet for each bird and has at least one perch that is 1 foot long for each bird.

The coop should be dry and ventilated well in order to keep the birds cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The coop also needs galvanized wire mesh and a lock to help keep out any predators.

Chicken Run

And we don’t mean the movie! Your Rosecomb will need access to the outdoors, and one of the safest ways to give them this is in the form of a chicken run, which is usually attached to the coop. Also, keep in mind that the Rosecomb can fly, so ensure the run is covered to not only prevent it from flying away but as protection from any prey birds, such as owls and hawks.

At a minimum, the run should be 4 square feet per bird, but it should be larger if you are planning on keeping your birds confined all winter (particularly if you live in a cold and snowy climate).

Bedding

Hay and straw are very commonly used for bedding in nest boxes and coops. You can also consider pine shavings, sand, and even recycled paper (just be sure to avoid paper that has been heavily treated and processed). Pine shavings might work best for the coop and sand would work quite well in the run.

Environmental Conditions

The Rosecomb does quite well in both hot and cold weather, but care must still be taken. You should look into insulating the coop if you live in a particularly cold climate. You need to be sure to use ventilation even when it’s cold, so it gives the air inside a chance to circulate.

You could also add a layer of hay or straw to the floor to provide extra warmth, and having more than one chicken gives them a chance to roost and keep each other warm.

Do Rosecomb Bantams Get Along with Other Pets?

Rosecomb Bantams will get along with other pets provided they have been socialized together at a young age. They are small birds, and while they can defend themselves, they could be considered prey by a cat or a dog.

In the long run, it would be safest to keep the Rosecombs, and other pets separate but if they do seem to get along, always ensure any interactions are closely supervised.

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What to Feed Your Rosecomb Bantam

You can feed your Rosecomb a diet appropriate to its age. Pellets, crumbles, and whole grains are all nutritious for Bantams, but in general, the feed should be balanced with minerals and vegetables. However, the smaller your Bantam, the smaller the feed might need to be, so using layers crumbles might work best. You might expect your Rosecomb to go through approximately 1 pound of feed each month.

The food needs to be kept dry, and be sure to toss away any stale feed. Your Rosecomb should be encouraged to scratch for its food and always ensure it has fresh water.

Keeping Your Rosecomb Bantam Healthy

Rosecomb Bantams are healthy birds with no known health issues, but this does not mean they won’t succumb to illness or experience any problems. While living in the outdoors, there’s always the possibility of parasites that you need to watch out for.

If you notice your Rosecomb acting differently or you’re concerned for its health, be sure to bring your bird to a veterinarian with experience in treating chickens.

Breeding

Breeding the Rosecomb typically occurs in the spring and starts with the male circling the female and drooping one of his wings towards the ground. After he mounts her, the event tends to only take up to 15 seconds (this is called treading the hen).

The hen could lay her fertile eggs up to 14 days after mating, but she should be mated every few days after the initial one, just to be sure. You can mate one rooster with up to four Bantam hens. You’ll need to decide if you want your hens to sit on the eggs, or you might consider purchasing an incubator (unless you want the eggs for eating).

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Are Rosecomb Bantams Suitable For You?

Rosecomb Bantams are beautiful, little birds that are a mix of friendly yet shy that won’t need a huge amount of space. If you have a medium-sized backyard and are able to place them in a coop that will protect them from the elements, that’s a good start.

Remember that not only do Rosecombs have the ability to fly, but they actually enjoy it, so having a covered run is absolutely necessary. They will do best with other Bantams over standard-sized chickens or other domestic animals in case of bullying or becoming prey.

The Rosecomb Bantam makes a great pet, provided you socialize them from an early age, and they can also make wonderful show birds. Their unique comb combined with their beautiful plumage makes these birds showstoppers – what more could you ask for?


Featured Image Credit: Bulltus_casso, Shutterstock

Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.