Nankin Chicken

The Nankin chicken is a true bantam chicken breed. That means the breed is naturally small and it has no large counterpart. Nankin chicken is one of the oldest bantam breed originating somewhere in Southeast Asia.

It has been known in England since at least the 1500s. The breed was named for the ancient inland seaport of Nanjing (previously known as Nanking), which is located on the Yangtze River in east-central China.

Once Nankin chicken was a popular breed in England. And it began its decline in numbers during the mid 1800s. The breed was widespread throughout Europe by the 18th century.

Nankin chicken played an important role and used for developing numerous bantam breeds. It was used in the development of Sebright breed. In England, Nankin bantam hens were used to brood pheasant, quail and partridge eggs.

The breed is recognized by the American Bantam Association, and it has been accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection as of 2012.

Now it is a very rare chicken breed. And the status of the Nankin chicken is considered Critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Physical Characteristics of Nankin Chicken

Nankin chicken is mainly known for its rich chestnut colored feathers. The males tend to be darker in color with black flight feathers and black tail. And the hens are a light chestnut color with the end of their tail feathers being black.

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There are two varieties of Nankin chicken which are differentiated by their comb type. This two comb types are rose comb and single comb. The rose comb variety has a medium sized one ending in a single spike comb. And the single comb variety has a large comb with five points.

The single comb Nankin chicken variety is prone to frostbite and not suitable for the northern climates. Both color varieties come in a single color, with black tails and buff on the body. They have bright red earlobes, faces and wattles.

The golden hue is deeper and more lustrous in roosters. And they have the longer sickle feathers common in roosters. Their legs are of slate blue color. They have light horn colored beaks.

On an average Nankin bantam males weight about 0.68 kg and hens about 0.625 kg. Photo from LivestockConservancy.


Despite being a beautiful chicken breed, Nankin chicken was once more importantly recognized for its usefulness as a brood chicken. Nankin hens often go broody and are remarkably good mothers. They lay good number of small white/tinted eggs.

Nankin bantam chicken is calm and very friendly in nature and they are best choice as barnyard pets. They are slow maturing birds and not suitable for meat production. But it’s very easy to rear them. They tend not to wander when allowed to access free range, and bears confinement very well.

This chicken breed has a calm disposition and likeable personality . It is a very talkative and active breed. The roosters tend to be aggressive and will run to the defense of a hen if she calls out in distress.

The feeders and drinkers of Nankin chicken should be separate. Because they can’t compete for food with larger sized chicken breeds living in the same area. They love to stay in groups, very close to each other. However, review full breed profile of this chicken breed below.

Breed NameNankin Bantam
Other NameNone
Breed PurposeDual Purpose
Breed TemperamentFriendly, Talkative, Bears confinement well, Calm, Personable
Breed SizeBantam
CombSingle and Rose
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Egg ColorWhite/Tinted
Egg SizeSmall
Egg ProductivityMedium
Feathered LegsNo
VarietiesSingle & Rose comb variety
Country of OriginSoutheast Asia

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