What can you get from raising chickens that weigh about 500 grams? Well, you’ll get Serama chickens – the smallest chicken breed in the world! But what can you get out of them aside from their being cuteness overload? Well, they have many other characteristics you don’t expect from a chicken. So if you want to know everything about them, read this comprehensive guide until the end.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where Did Serama Chickens Originate?
- 2 Serama Chickens Appearance
- 3 How Heavy are Serama Chickens?
- 4 How do Serama Chickens Behave?
- 5 Are Serama Chickens Cold Hardy?
- 6 What and How Should You Feed Serama Chickens?
- 7 Are Serama Chickens Great Egg Layers?
- 8 Are Serama Chickens Good for Meat Production?
- 9 Do Serama Chickens Have Health Issues?
- 10 How to Take Care of Serama Chickens?
- 11 Serama Chickens Pros and Cons
- 12 Conclusion
Where Did Serama Chickens Originate?
The Serama chicken breed has its origin in Kelantan, Malaysia in the 1970 and 80s. At that time, Malaysian breeder Wee Yean Een crossed Japanese Bantams (or Chabo) and Ayam Kapans, a silkie-feathered Malaysian bantam breed that has a rose comb, dark skin, and five toes. But to his surprise, the resulting breed had no silkie feathers. But originally, Mr. Wee wanted to create a new Kapan-sized Silkies breed by crossing the Kapans with silkie-feathered bantams. Sometime in 1985, he introduced the Japanese Bantams to his flock. And as he continues to breed their offspring, the result became smaller and smaller but still with the same features and characteristics. In 1988, the resulting breed weighs up to 500 grams only. That same year, Mr. Wee named his breed Serama after a mythical character named Raja Sri Rama, from his favorite shadow puppet play when he was still a child. He introduced his breed in a show in Bukit Batu Pahat in 1990. Since then, Serama’s popularity grew further. Claims were saying that Serama already existed in Malaysia since the 1600s. There were also speculations saying that the breed was given to a Malaysian by a king of Thailand. However, there were no official documents that can prove it. Nevertheless, Serama is recognized as a real bantam breed and it has no standard-sized counterpart. This Malaysian Serama chicken breed was first imported to the US in 2000 by Jerry Schexnayder of South Louisiana. In 2003, he founded the Serama Council of North America, a non-profit organization that promotes the American Serama chicken breed. In 2004, Serama breed-only show was held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That same year, Serama chickens were imported to the UK directly from Malaysia although some of them came from the US. But unfortunately, the breed was among those that got infected by the H5N1 avian influenza epidemic, and lots of Serama chickens were subjected to slaughter, and production was greatly affected. In 2005, the group Serama Club of Great Britain was formed and the Poultry Club of Great Britain (PCGT) recognized the breed in 2008. In 2011, both the American Poultry Association (APA) and the American Bantam Association (ABA) recognized the American Serama as a bantam breed, and the white was the first recognized variety.
Serama Chickens Appearance
As mentioned above, Serama chickens are true bantams and they have no other sizes. They have a single red comb, red wattles, while their earlobes can be red or white and red. However, males have bigger combs and wattles than females. Their body is V-shaped, erect, and extremely muscular, and they usually stand 6-10 inches tall. Serama bantams have a small head, broad shoulders, short back, and upright tails. These tiny but mighty birds also have perpendicular wings that almost touch the ground when you hold them upright, and there is almost no space between their neck and tail feathers. They also have yellow unfeathered legs and have four toes on each foot. Aside from having a pronounced breast, another distinct physical characteristic of Serama bantams is that they have very short legs. They probably inherited this feature from short-legged Japanese bantams. And because of this, breeding can be a bit challenging. There is a 50-50 chance that their offspring will also have short legs. Serama chickens also have bay red eyes, short beaks, and relatively straight, sickle feathers. So far, there are three different sets of standards for Serama chickens – American type, the British type, and the Malaysian type. In Malaysia, Serama chickens are being categorized based on shapes. This includes apple, dragon, slim, and ball. Interestingly, these tiny chickens are not bred for color which means you can produce any color regardless of the color of their parents. For example, breeding a black rooster to a black hen does not necessarily mean that their chicks will always be black. There are more than 2,500 available colors but the APA has only recognized 33 of them. They are as follows:
- Black-tailed buff
- Black-tailed red
- Black-tailed white
- Black-breast red
- Blue wheaten
- Brassy black
- Brown red
- Ginger red
- Golden duckwing
- Lemon blue
- Light brown
- Red Pyle
- Self blue
- Silver duckwing
How Heavy are Serama Chickens?
Being the smallest chicken breed in the world, Serama chickens are classified into weight classes. They are as follows:
- Class Micro: Males – up to 13 ounces; Females – up to 8 ounces
- Class A: Males – below 13 ounces; Females – below 12 ounces
- Class B: Males – below 16 ounces; Females – below 15 ounces
- Class C: Males – below 19 ounces; Females – below 19 ounces
If a Serama chicken weighs heavier than Class C, it is not accepted. On the other hand, some breeders have produced smaller than the Micro class. However, these birds may have trouble in laying eggs and would not be fit enough when it comes to breeding.
How do Serama Chickens Behave?
Despite having a fierce appearance, Serama chickens are gentle, super-friendly, and can do well with small children. In fact, they are the most famous pet in their home country Malaysia. Families like to pet them more than dogs and cats! These cute, tiny chickens are also docile, very easy to handle, and love human attention so much. Serama chickens also like to follow their caretakers even inside the house. And because they are small, they are ideal as indoor pets. They are curious about everything but will not complain if you pick them up to sit on your lap. On the other hand, they are very fragile and might get hurt if kids hold them tightly and carelessly. These teacup-sized chickens have a giant personality but are sometimes talkative. However, they are quieter as compared to other bantam breeds. Their males are noisier than hens and they produce a unique, high pitch sound. But still, they are not as loud as roosters of other breeds. Therefore, your neighbors will not in any way be disturbed. Serama chickens can also do well in confinement but they like free-range better. They are very active that you will see them always busy scratching the soil. These bantam chickens also love to fly, especially the roosters when they want to show off. Serama chickens are also friendly to other pets but quite aggressive to other roosters. They are too small to fight bigger breeds but roosters are very protective of their hens. In fact, these gentlemen let the ladies eat first before them. In some cases, they will peck on your hand if you lift their hens. But again, they are not really aggressive chickens. As a matter of fact, they tend to be at the low rank in the pecking order. Serama hens are quite broody, which means they are devoted mothers. And because their eggs are very small, they can sit at 4-5 eggs all the same time. And once the chicks are hatched, hens take turns in taking care of them even they are not theirs. Surprisingly, roosters also love to babysit the chicks. They are indeed, great parents!
Are Serama Chickens Cold Hardy?
Serama chickens are tolerant in both hot and cold weather. However, they are too small to handle lower than 40°F for a long time. Their legs have no feathers and therefore are not prone to frostbite, but are not thick enough to keep them warm. On the other hand, these tropical bantams do well in summer as long as they have enough shade.
What and How Should You Feed Serama Chickens?
Serama chickens have no problems when it comes to feeding as they eat anything that other breeds eat. Baby chicks should be fed with starter feed until they are 16 weeks of age. Nevertheless, they prefer eating crumbles or laying mash because of their small throats. But once they are already eating grower and layer feed, pellets will be fine. This high-chested breed can also be fed with treats and kitchen scraps as along they are only about 10 percent of their feed. And just like other hens, they may also need extra calcium for their eggs. If you think they are suffering from calcium deficiency, you can give them some oyster shells. But more importantly, they need a good supply of fresh and clean water.
Are Serama Chickens Great Egg Layers?
Serama chickens usually mature between 16-18 weeks of age and are therefore faster than most breeds. Hens can lay about 200-250 eggs a year, or 4-5 eggs a week, and all year round even during winter. Nevertheless, their laying peak period is during spring and summer. Egg color usually varies from white to dark brown. Needless to say, they are very small.
Are Serama Chickens Good for Meat Production?
Because of their unusually small size and weight, Serama chickens are not considered meat birds. But of course, if you have older hens that had already stopped laying eggs, you can subject them to slaughter. Some people who have eaten Serama claim that the meat is lean and tasty. However, there’s really nothing special about their taste.
Do Serama Chickens Have Health Issues?
In general, Serama chickens have no significant health issues. However, there has been some endless debate about short-legged genetics. Theoretically speaking, Serama bantams are very unlikely to mate with another bantam breed that has longer legs. On the other hand, two Serama bantams with short legs produce high-risk eggs and chicks. And because of this so-called lethal gene, it is being believed that 25 percent of chicks will die while they are still inside their shells. This is because their legs are too short and the chicks cannot maneuver to their proper hatching position. Likewise, some breeders claim some newborn chicks are also likely to die around 24 hours after hatching.
How to Take Care of Serama Chickens?
Although Serama bantams are cute to watch, their small size also poses some problems. Therefore, they need some extra care in a lot of aspects. First of all, they can easily be victims of predators and they cannot protect themselves. Therefore, always look after them if you allow them to free-range. You can also confine them more often. Also, you may not mix them with bigger breeds even those that are very friendly. This is because the bigger breeds may run over them especially during feeding time. For the younger ones, it may be better if you let them roam around inside your house. Just make sure your small children will hold them properly. Otherwise, they may also die. Serama Bantams are also flighty birds, which means you need higher fences and a roof over their coop. If your chickens have a very upright breast, they are likely not to properly see where they are going. Therefore, you must guide them. The molting period can be continuous all year round. So don’t be alarmed if you see their feathers falling off more often.
Serama Chickens Pros and Cons
Obviously, the petite size of Serama bantams is the major contributor to the pros and cons when raising them. Let’s summarize them so you can think it over if they are really the right chicken breed for you.
Advantages of Raising Serama Chickens
- Cute, adorable, and attractive
- Calm, docile, and very human-friendly
- Can produce any color variety
- True bantam
- Noisy but tolerable
- Ideal for families with small children
- Ideal for house pets
- Economical; require less feed and space
- Usually go broody, excellent mothers
- Fairly good egg layers
- Ideal for beginners
Disadvantages of Raising Serama Chickens
- Quite expensive, rare breed
- Too fragile, prone to accident
- Hard to incubate because of small eggs
- Breeding is a bit challenging
- Chicks difficult to hatch
- Prone to predators
- Not so cold hardy
Serama Bantams are bred as ornamental chickens but are easier to manage as compared to other show birds. Although the initial investment is a bit high, it is more economical in the long run as compared to bigger breeds. Well, some of the challenges are tough. But with the right attitude, even beginners can handle them with less effort.