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History of Dutch Bantams

Article written by Kristi Van Greuen. 
Property of Kristi Van Greuen.


This article was derived primarily from information from The Dutch Bantam:100 Years of History, written and published by the Hollandse Kreilenfokkers Club in 2004)

Origins of the Breed

The Dutch bantam breed was predominantly created and standardized in the twentieth century. A first standard for the breed was adopted by the Dutch Poultry Breeds Club in the Netherlands in 1906. The birds seen at that time, however, were quite different from the Dutch bantams we see at shows today, as there was a gap between reality and the ideal image set in the 1906 Standard.

Apparently, it was not until the 1960s that breeders in the Netherlands were able to achieve the desired full, well-spread, tail with well-curved sickles that is seen in the Dutch bantams of today and depicted in the art of C.S.Th. van Gink. Van Gink was a poultry man and Dutch artist. He was asked in 1912 by early Dutch bantam breeders to draw an ideal image of the breed. Van Gink was only 22 years old at the time. He was asked to do this because of complaints regarding the Dutch bantam type and the judging of the breed.

Van Gink then drew a number of sketches. From these sketches and comments by early Dutch bantam breeders, van Gink completed a watercolor painting of Dutch bantams for the Holland Standard. This painting below—a pair of light brown Dutch bantams—was published in the October 17, 1913 issue of Avicultura magazine (in the Netherlands, this color is called patrijs, which translates to “partridge” in English). Below is a reproduction of (taken from The Dutch Bantam:100 Years of History).

Over the years, in the 20th century, van Gink continued to produce many drawings and paintings of Dutch bantams. Some of the varieties of Dutch Bantams he portrayed were not yet in existence at the time he painted them. For example, van Gink painted Mille Fleur patterned Dutch bantams before the variety existed in the breed. The Mille Fleur variety in Dutch bantams was standardized in the Netherlands in 2001. This color variety is not yet a recognized color in the U.S. by either the ABA or APA. Montana breeder C. Jean Robocker, however, has been working with this color in the U.S. since 2000. Thanks to Jean’s work, many other breeders in the U.S. are currently working with this variety.

The origins of the Dutch bantam breed appear to be from the old Dutch breeds such as Drente and Friesian. A DNA test done on Dutch bantams in Holland confirmed that the genetic characteristics of the Dutch bantam belongs to the same lines as these old Dutch breeds. This contradicts the theory that ancestors of Dutch bantams were Southeast Asian bantams imported to the Netherlands from the former Dutch East Indies.

It is possible that Rosecombs and Phoenix in Holland were bred into Dutch to improve the plumage and type of the early Dutch bantams. In the first chapter of The Dutch Bantam: 100 Years of History, the author of that chapter—Ad Boks—wrote the following (this is an English translation from the original Dutch in the book):

It is unknown whether Rosecomb bantams contributed to [the] development [of Dutch bantams]. Van Gink indicated this in several publications. If it is true, it clearly had no effect on the DNA pattern. Van Gink stated in his article of 1918/1919 that Rosecomb bantams had been developed by the English from a cross between feather-legged animals with red ear lobes, imported from Java, and a small black Dutch bantam cock with white ear lobes and a rose comb. It was evident that the Hamburgh had had a decisive influence on the gene pattern of the Dutch bantam, linking it to the old land races.

Popularity and Spread of the Breed
The Dutch Bantam Breeders Club (Hollandse Kreilenfokkers Club) in the Netherlands was formed in December of 1946. The main objective of the club was to promote the breed and the breeding and keeping of Dutch bantams in the Netherlands.

In Germany, the first Dutch bantams were bred in the early 1960s. The first Dutch bantam standard in Germany occurred in 1963. The breed is popular in Germany and poultry shows have been attracting large entries averaging around 500 since the mid 1990s. In England, the first Dutch bantam eggs were imported in the mid 1970s. The Dutch Bantam Club in England was formed in 1982. The breed is said to be one of the ten most popular breeds in Great Britain.

In the United States, the first Dutch bantams were probably imported just after World War II. Dutch bantams were shown then but allegedly did not attract much attention at that time. In the early 1980s several breeders imported Dutch bantams from Europe. At this point, more interest for the breed occurred and the American Dutch Bantam Society was formed in 1986. The American Bantam Association recognized a standard for Dutch bantams in the 1980s, prior to the formation of the American Dutch Bantam Society and the American Poultry Association first recognized Dutch bantams in the Standard of Perfection in 1992.

Unfortunately, deviations in type from the Dutch bantams that were imported to the U.S. occurred by these birds being crossed with Old English Game bantams, Rosecomb bantams, and Leghorn bantams. In the 1990’s, however, more birds or eggs were again imported from Europe and Dutch bantam breeders in the U.S. are breeding to recreate the original type. The American Dutch Bantam Society is assisting in that work, and more varieties have been added to the APA and ABA standards than were originally recognized by the clubs. Quality in type of these new varieties and existing varieties is emphasized, as well as the reasonable addition of new varieties. This is evidenced by seeing Dutch bantams on Champion Rows at shows throughout the U.S.

Dutch Bantams are also popular in South Africa and eggs have been imported there from the Netherlands and England. Dutch Bantam eggs have also been imported to Sri Lanka and I have seen photos of Dutch bantams of good type that are being raised in Sri Lanka.


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