Did you know the Belgian d’Anvers’ cousin, the Dutch bantam, actually has a history as egg layers? The poorer Dutch farmers were required to turn over all large eggs to the land owners, and so they raised a personal flock of these little hens for their own use. Dutchies lay plenty of small but delicious little eggs.
So, just what are the differences between bantam eggs and regular chicken eggs? Aside from the obvious size difference.
I often hear you need three bantam eggs to one large egg, but that’s not exactly true. Just like large breed eggs can vary in size, so do bantam eggs. Itty bitty little Seramas might may a 3:1 egg, but on average it works out more as two bantam eggs for every one large egg. On the left is an ISA Brown hen’s egg weighing in at 55 grams, and on the right is one of Sel’s eggs at 30 grams. I find Zeste and Sel tend to average around 27 grams.
Second is the colour. Because large fowl have been bred predominately for their eggs it’s relatively easy to find everything from white to blue to every shade of brown and even green. While you can get bantams that lay coloured eggs, that dark speckled brown is something rarely seen in the mini hens. The vast majority of bantams lay white or very lightly tinted eggs.
But what about under the shell? Are bantam eggs just smaller versions of large eggs, or is there more to it? The answer is yes, and this is where bantams become truly undervalued as egg layers. You can see when boiled and cut in half, the yolk in Sel’s egg is nearly the same size as the large chicken’s egg.
When weighed the large egg’s yolk was 14 grams while the white was 35 grams, making it 29% yolk. By comparison, the bantam egg’s yolk was 9 grams and the white was 17 grams, making it 35% yolk. Yolks are what give eggs flavour. As you can imagine, egg sandwiches made with bantam eggs need very little mayonnaise to hold together and are absolutely delicious. When used in baking they produce slightly denser but more flavourful results.
Bantams really don’t deserve the snub or the reputation as useless that they frequently receive. I like to think of their eggs as quality over quantity