Nankin chicken

Gallus gallus domesticus

Nankin chickens are a bantam breed of chicken. The word bantam is often used to describe "miniature" breeds of poultry, and there are many different bantam breeds. A nankin is one of the 17 types of true bantams, which means they have no full sized counterpart. Nankin chickens are thought to be one of the oldest known breeds of bantams. Their history goes back beyond all known records. The nankin was used in the development of other bantam breeds.

Nankin chicken behavior and facts

  • Nankins are friendly and calm.
  • The nankin hen is known for being very broody. They can be used to hatch eggs laid by other poultry.
  • Nankins tend to stay together as a group. This defense mechanism increases their chance for survival.

Chicken lingo

  • roosters: males
  • hens: females
  • chicks: babies

From birth to death

  • Incubation: 21 days
  • They are chestnut in color. Hens tend to be lighter with a black tip on their tail feathers.
  • Roosters are darker in color with black tails and flight feathers
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years

Vital statistics

  • Males: approx. 24 oz
  • Females: approx. 22 oz


Nankins are listed as critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. There are fewer than 500 breeding birds in the United States, with five or fewer primary breeding flocks. The global population is estimated to be less than 1,000.

Nankin chickens, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's nankin chickens are part of its Youth Volunteer program. At the zoo they live in the Family Farm. Teen volunteers care for the chickens by cleaning their yard and feeding them. They also train the nankins on different behaviors such as targeting to a certain spot and jumping on and off small platforms. They eat chicken feed, mealworms and lettuce leaves.