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Bantam Waterfowl

By Lou Horton, West Chicago,Il.

Bantam waterfowl are the miniatures in the duck family; they are made to order for today's hobbyist or breeder of exhibition poultry. They are small ( about 2 1/2 lbs. or so) and thus are more easily cared for because they require much less space. They eat much less than larger forms of waterfowl. they also tend to be more ornamental in nature.

Calls are by far the most popular of all of today's breeds of waterfowl which are kept for exhibition purposes. Originally developed as live decoys in the U.S. over 100 years ago, they evolved into their present body type (shape) primarily in the hands of breeders in England and Holland. Today, as they are standardized in the U.S. and England, Calls feature short and deep bodies and heads which are high crowned, wide in skull, and a bill which is very short and very wide.

Today, calls are bred in a number of colors with more color patterns being introduced all of the time. The two most established colors were also the first and are still the most popular: the Gray (Mallard colored) and the White. These two varieties dominate at the shows when "Champion Call" is picked.

One common characteristic of the Call needs to be taken into consideration if noise would be a problem: the females have a loud quack or call. Even though they have not been selected for their calling ability for many generations, they retain a tendency to be noisy when excited. If you have neighbors in close proximity, Calls may not be the best choice of bantam duck for you. There is another type of popular domestic bantam duck which is not normally as loud as the Call and which is noted for beauty of plumage: the Black East Indie. The East Indie is probably almost as old a breed as the Call but it's origins are more shrouded in mystery. It has always been bred for itŐs beauty rather than for any utilitarian purpose. Good specimens are solid black with a overlay of brilliant metallic green. In bright sunshine, the effect can be stunning. A few ounces larger than the Call, the East Indie is nevertheless a small duck; the American Bantam Association Standard calls for weights which range from 30oz. for the old male to 22oz. for the young female. The body type is also somewhat different from that of the Call; the East Indie being a somewhat longer duck with a head which is more oval than round and a bill which is 25-30% longer. The color , however is what really sets the East Indie apart and it is the color which is primarily responsible for the popularity which the breed presently enjoys.

The Black East Indie female tends to be a more reliable setter than the average Call female which is an advantage for the small scale hobbyist who wishes to raise a few each year without the use of an incubator.

Are you interested in learning more about bantam waterfowl or about exhibition poultry in general? Follow the related links provided at this site, contact me at

or write the Poultry Press for the most important periodical publication in the poultry fancy. They can be reached at PO Box 542, Connersville, In. 47331. Yearly subscriptions are $16.00 per year for 12 issues.

A backyard set-up suitable for two matings of bantam ducks. Facility designed and owned by Lou Horton, West Chicago, ILL.

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