I have recently bought some Japanese bantams that have very short legs. A friend told me that they are not suitable to be put outside. I wanted them to be able to have the run of my garden but I am not sure whether this is a good idea or not. Can you advise?

Terry Beebe says:

Japanese bantams are normally bred by dedicated enthusiasts who keep them mainly for exhibition.They have to reach a standard high enough in quality for the show pen and, to qualify for this, they are bred with the shortest leg possible to comply with the standard set by the breed club.

There are many chicks that hatch with a slightly longer leg and, although these are not to standard, they will make excellent pets and can be a pleasure to keep.

If very short legged birds are kept outside, there is a need for caution, especially in poor weather. The feathers soon soak up the water and become badly soiled.

It is worth considering having an indoor run when the weather is poor. Japanese bantams take up very little space and do not need large runs.

Make sure you check the birds regularly to ensure the wing edges, plumage and the feet do not get to dirty. The feet easily pick up waste and this builds and hardens until it makes it very difficult for the birds to walk normally.

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