The Sablepoot or Booted Bantam, also called the Dutch Booted Bantam, is a bantam breed of chicken. Its name is derived from the bird’s extravagant feathering on the feet and hock joints, which are called vulture hocks or “sabels” in Dutch. With no large fowl counterpart from which it was miniaturized, the Booted is one of the true bantams. Males usually weigh in at around 850 grams (30 ounces) and females 750 grams (27 ounces). American standards dictate a smaller ideal size of 740 grams (26 ounces) for males, and 625 (22 ounces) for females.
Booted Bantams are angular birds with profuse plumage. They have broad backs, breasts carried well forward, and relatively large, downward-pointing wings following the line of the vulture hocks. They do not quite reach the floor though. Booted Bantams have a single upright comb with five points, horn-colored beaks, red wattles, and red earlobes. Almost exclusively an exhibition chicken raised by poultry fanciers, they appear in more than a twenty colour varieties. Colours accepted in shows include: Barred, Black, Blue, Buff, Cuckoo, Columbian, Gray, Golden Neck, Millefleur (the most common), Mottled, Partridge, Lavender, Lemon Millefleur, Porcelain, Self Blue, Silver Millefleur and White.
Long kept as pets in addition to being shown, Booted Bantams are usually friendly and calm. They are good foragers, and are said to do less damage to garden plants because of their heavily feathered feet. However, most breeders keep their Booted Bantams confined and on soft bedding in order to maintain these feathers. Hens readily go broody, and lay very small eggs that are white or tinted in color. Their egg production is respectable for bantams, especially in summer.
The Booted Bantam is closely related to the Belgian Bearded d’Uccle. The most significant differences in conformation between the two are the d’Uccle’s feather beard and the greater height of the Booted. Some sources assert the two breeds share a singular point of origin, with a Belgian breeder around the beginning of the 20th century. Other sources point to a clearly documented presence in the Netherlands since the 16th century, and note that the Booted Bantam is known to this day in the Netherlands, as the Nederlandse Sabelpootkriel (Dutch, Dutch saber-legged bantam). Whatever their exact relation, Booted Bantams and Bearded d’Uccles are only two of a handful of chicken breeds to possess vulture hocks, (Sultans do too).
Popular across Europe for hundreds of years, the Booted Bantam was imported to North America from Germany in the late 19th century. It was officially recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1879. It is also recognized by the American Bantam Association, and is classed in the Feather Legged group.