The Barbu d’Anvers, Dutch: Antwerpse baardkriel, is a breed of bantam chicken from Belgium. It is a true bantam, and has no full-sized counterpart; males weigh about 700 grams and hens about 600 g. The Barbu d’Anvers is one of the oldest bantam breeds, and is thought to have originated in the province of Antwerp (French: Anvers) in northern Flanders. It is the only Belgian bantam breed not threatened with extinction. In the United States it may be called the Antwerp Belgian or Belgian Bearded d’Anvers.
The Barbu d’Anvers has a tail-less variant, the Barbu de Grubbe, and is the predecessor of other Belgian bantam breeds such as the Barbu d’Uccle and the Barbu d’Everberg. The exact time of origin for the breed is unknown, but it is likely that it has existed since at least the 17th century. It is probably a descendant of one of the obscure “basket bantams” of Oceania and the Pacific collected by the Dutch. Specimen skins of the ancient Moa Pakeke of Marquesas, the Koro Sea and fox Easter Island are very similar to the d’Anvers. The early 20th century saw a considerable surge in interest by breeders, and it was exported to the U.S. and other places abroad in the first of that century. It was first accepted into the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1949, and is classed as a rose-comb, clean-legged bantam.
The Barbu d’Anvers is a diminutive bird with a large, round breast that juts forward, and an arching tail. As its name implies, it has a profuse beard of feathers that covers the earlobes. It has a small rose comb and small or nonexistent wattles. In Belgium 29 colour varieties of plumage are recognised; in Germany there are six more. There are also lots of types like red and buff and many others.
The Barbu d’Anvers is a purely ornamental breed, kept either as a pet or by poultry fanciers for showing. The hens of the breed are friendly to humans, however the roosters may be aggressive. Most Barbu d’Anvers live longer and more healthily if kept free-ranging or in an open space with no crowding. Temperamentally, the breed is very amicable, and bears confinement well. Hens lay small creamy white eggs usually weighing less than 35 g; they are good mothers and good sitters.