Serama

“World’s smallest chicken with the persona of a warrior.”

  • Rarity: Exotic
  • Origin: 1971, Malaysia
  • First U.S. Import: 2001, Louisiana, Illinois
  • This bird is for you if you have limited space or plan on keeping backyard chickens in the city. Each bird weighs about 1 pound, 1/5 of the size of normal chicken. That means you can have a small flock of five that only eat as much as one standard chicken and need very little space for confinement.  That said, it takes 5 eggs to make one standard “Grade A” egg… but hey… your deviled eggs are about to go to the next level. Also, smaller birds equal quieter birds who are more manageable. In Malaysia, Seramas rival dogs and cats as people’s first choice for a new house pet.

  • Size: Bantam (8-20 oz) A full grown “roo” is the size of a pigeon
  • Egg Production: Fantastic broody layers of very tiny eggs
  • Personality: Docile, Broody, Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Good for Kids: Yes! They love to be handled.
  • Climate: Cold Hearty, Extremely Heat Tolerant
  • Housing: Due to their small size, they can be confined in a relatively small space as small as 1 square foot per bird.  For a flock of five, we recommend a 3’x5′ foot chicken tractor that can provide protection against predators, a small roost bar and nesting boxes, as well as a way to move them around for a constant supply of tasty bugs and weeds.
  • Lifespan: 7-10 years
  • Alternate Names: Malaysian Serama, Ayam Katik, Ayam Cantik, Pygmy Chicken, Archangel Chicken

History

According to legend, in ancient times, a local sultan gifted these pygmy “brave warrior” chickens to the King of Thailand. It’s also said they were first bred from a chicken and a pigeon! More accurately, the Serama first originated about 50 years ago in the Malaysian state of Kelantan by crossing Japanese and Malaysian bantams.

Wee Yean Een, a man from Kelantan, is credited as the founder of the breed when in 1971 he crossed Ayam Kapans  with Chinese Silkies and Japanese Bantams. He kept breeding the size down until 1988, when he named his new breed “Serama” after “Rama”, the title of the King of Thailand. Seramas were first exhibited in Malaysia in 1990 with table top competitions where money prizes were awarded for the most beautiful bird. The 2004 Asian bird flu hit the Malaysian population hard and many birds were culled in response to government concerns.

In the United States, Brian Sparks of Wisconsin was a major advocate of the Malaysian type and created a strong type with small size as seen in true Malaysian birds. When breeders in Malaysia found this out, they were impressed and he was widely featured in Malaysian news articles.

Egg Production

  • Size: 18-22 oz. (It takes 5 to match a “Grade A” egg
  • Color: White, Cream, All shades of Brown
  • Egg laying begins around 16-18 weeks
  • 70-80 eggs per year
  • Year round, 4-5 eggs per week for 3 weeks, 1 month rest, repeat. They lay best from November-February.

Breeding

  • Highly prone to going “broody” and make great Mamas
  • Lines that are heavy in Japanese Bantam lines may result in a “short leg” gene that makes it unable for the chick to hatch from inside the egg.
  • Incubation period of 15-21 days depends on type (19 is most common)

Seramas are bantams and this makes breeding them slightly different from “full size” chickens. After laying an egg, it takes 19 days of incubation (brooding) at 99.5 degrees for the chicks to develop and hatch. This is a couple of days earlier than the 21 days required for most breeds to hatch.Once hatched, chicks are extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations due to their small size. Once hatched, Seramas mature in 16-18 weeks or about 4 months. At that point, they begin laying eggs and hatching babies of their own.

SCNA Incubation and Hatching guidelines

Fancier Associations 

In the U.S. the leading organization is The Serama Council of North America (SCNA), which was established in 2004 to help introduce the breed to American Poultry Association (APA) shows. They put forward one written standard for The American Serama, which has been accepted by the American Poultry Association since 2011 when the breed was recognized.

They are also recognized by the American Bantam Association (ABA). The first show was held in 2004 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There is also the American Serama Association, which splinted from the SCNA in 2012. A third group has come on the scene more recently, Serama-USA, which prizes the extreme style of Serama found in their home country of Malaysia since the bird flu epidemic in 2004. 

Breed Characteristics

The Seramas are small, the smallest breed of chicken in the world–weighing anywhere from 8 ounces to 20 ounces. More recent efforts have seen Roosters at 6 oz. and Hens at 5 oz.  Just less than a pound is near perfect.  They have an upright posture, full breast, vertical tail feathers held upright and tight to the body and vertical winds held down nearly touching the ground. In Malaysia, they are called “archangel chickens” because of their very human like appearance. In Malaysia, they have three body types: “Apple”, “Dragon” and “Submarine”.

There are three distinct styles of Seramas: The Malaysian type, the European type, and the American type.


MalaysianAmerican


Split breast, Shorter, Stockier, More Apple Type




SCNA Traditional Serama StandardSCNA Ayam (Malasian) Serama Standard
Overall:
Carriage and Temperament:
Assertive with confident bold stance yet calm and manageable. Should be easily handled and show no aggression. The bird should pose readily and when viewed from the side should create a vase like or wide “V” shape outline. They shake their wings and pose, walk with pride, pull their head back to reveal a large chest, lift the legs, and in some styles have neck/head vibrations similar to that of a pigeon.
Small, broad, compact, active, tame, standing up majesticallyThe main characteristics for the Ayam Serama include: a short back vertical wings, and a very erect, proud stance.

Character and Performance: Performance is defined as how the Ayam Serama is behaving. It should flap its wings, make vocal sounds, lift its legs like a soldier on parade, and have a tremulous neck (the neck shivers when the bird becomes excited). A bird that squats, lacks confidence, style or presence, or remains still for too long is penalized and awarded a low score.
Comb:

Single, medium, set firmly and evenly on head, straight and upright, evenly serrated with five regular and distinct points (pointed, not a rounded   nub), the middle points the same length as the width of the blade, moderately   arched, blade should extend well over back of head.

Disqualifications: Comb foreign to breed, single comb failing below the horizontal plane on level with top of the head, single comb with side spring, split comb, inverted comb.

Defects: Thumb marks. Large combs

Beak:

Strong, stout, and well curved

Face:

Small, rounded, smooth, fine in texture, free from wrinkle or folds

Eyes:

Round, conspicuous

Wattles:

Medium, round, fine in texture, free from wrinkles or folds.

Defects: Large wattles. Wattles with wrinkles or folds

Ear Lobes:

Small, oval, fitting closely to head

Head:
Head should be small and carried well back. Head is required beyond the level of the feet and held in position of more than 90 degrees from the feet. The single comb is small to medium in size with a minimum of five serrations preferred. The comb should be straight smooth, free of folds or any deformities and tending towards flyaway type. Wattles are to compliment the comb, smaller being preferred and free from folds and wrinkles. Not crested.Small, carried well back in proud manner

Defects: Narrow head, crow head
Head: This means the head and its attributes, including: comb, wattles, and beak. The head of the Ayam Serama must be held at over 90 degrees, leaned back and lowered down as far as possible, with some birds head position being lower than the top of the breast (this characteristic is very desirable and called by many “the submarine type”). The head of the Serama is small and broad, with a strong curved beak, which should be yellow (if the legs are yellow) or a dark color (if the legs are dark in color). The comb should be relatively small and smooth with 4-6 serrations, which should be neat and fine.
Neck:

Medium length, backward arched showing off breast, full, tapering   gracefully from shoulders to head.

Hackle:

Abundant, flowing naturally from front of neck reaching far back   covering both shoulders.

Back:

Short, broad, in profile, shaped like a V with neck and tail forming  the vertical sides. 

Male only: Slightly curved, sword shaped hanging over the abdomen and covering   back, widely spread, overlapping the tail and lesser sickles

Defects: Long or narrow back


Cushion:

Females only: Short, feathers broad and plentiful.
Tail:
Tail is full and carried high, pointing upwards and held close to the body of the bird with no space between the body and tail. The sickle feathers are relatively straight and spear like. A minimum of one inch longer than the other tail feathers, but ideally no more than a couple of inches above the head is desirable. The remaining tail feathers should ideally be no higher than the top of the comb when the bird is standing to attention. The Main tail feathers should be broad and should over lap neatly. The tail should be open and when viewed from behind should be open to an angle of 45 degrees creating an open ‘V’ shape.Moderately large and upright, carried in an upright position so as to almost contact the back of head

Defects: Wry Tail, Squirrel Tail
Tail There should be at least 5 main tail feathers, of complementing lengths (they should taper in size neatly) for example there should be no short feathers in between the long feathers. The main tail feathers should overlap slightly and uniformly. The Lesser Side Sickles (soft glossy, shaped feathers that hang on each side of the tail) should be well curved and have a lustrous shine, and slightly concave at the end of the back. The tail should not lean left or right. Both sides of the tail must be equal in feather quantity. The tail should be of medium fullness and not overly fanned or overly tight. From behind, the opening of the tail forms an A shape.
Main Tail:

Feathers wide, moderately spread in a neatly overlapping manner, rising above the head, ‘A’ shaped from the rear view. 

Male only: Medium to long, strong, firm, broad sword-shaped slightly curved. Well spread, medium length slightly upright, sword-shaped sickle   feathers covered with coverts


Coverts:

Abundant, becoming very broad, flowing well up tail

Wings:
Fairly large wings in proportion to the body they should be held in a vertical position just clearing the ground and leaving the feet partially visible. Shoulders should be set high on the bird. Primaries are long of medium width with secondaries moderately long and broad.Large, long, closely folded, carried vertically not quite touching the   ground, Prominent, slightly concealed by hackle

Disqualifications: Horizontal Wing

Wings: The wings on an Ayam Serama are very important to the entire stance of the bird, and must be held in a vertical position when the bird is relaxed. An excited bird must not pull the wings backwards and up, this is poor form and such birds lose points. When excited the Serama should lift its wings forward in front of the legs as though a puppet lifting its arms. The wings should not be too long so as to prevent upright chest carriage or so as to cause a bird to lean forward to accommodate its wings. The perfect length of the wing is to the level of the foot and not dragging the floor. When standing, the wings are vertical but pointing a little towards the back.
Bows:
Well rounded.

Coverts:

Feathers broad, forming two distinct bars across wings

Primaries

Moderate width, rather long, completely concealed by secondaries

Secondaries

Broad, tapering convexly to rear, wing bay well exposed

Breast:

Highly lifted, well developed, full, carried prominently forward beyond   vertical line drawn from point of beak, broad and well rounded, from head to   neck to breast ‘S’ shaped profile

Defects: Shallow or narrow breast

Body & Stern:The body is well muscled with breast carried high, full and well forward. From above the shape is somewhat elliptical, tapering towards the tail. The body should be short.Body- short, good depth and width, sloping from front to rear
Stern: Fluff, short, abundant
Body: The body must be held upright, with a full breast and short back so that the neck should touch the tail without leaving a gap, but the head should not touch the tail. A well developed and muscular body is desirable with a double breast being very popular in competition. The tail should not bypass the perpendicular line that goes through the legs (no squirrel tail). The body should be strapping and round. When viewed from above the breast should appear larger than the rear portion. When viewed from the side the body appears V-shaped, the chicken should be short in the back and broad in the shoulder portion.
Legs:
The legs are of medium to long length, straight and set wide apart to allow for full and muscular body. They should be strong and stable. Thighs should be of medium length and well muscled with shanks of good thickness. They should not appear soft and weak. Four toes on each foot. Legs are not feathered.Legs- average length, widely set, parallel to each other without bowing   or knock knees, well proportioned.
Leg Length: should be proportionate to the bird, at least enough so   that wings do not touch ground.
 Short, stout at top and tapering to hocks

Disqualifications: Creeper Legs

Defects: Short Legs
Legs: The legs should be long enough to carry the wings off the ground.
Shanks:

Medium, smooth, round, evenly scaled

Toes:

Four, straight, well and evenly spread, evenly scaled

Feathers:Only normal feathered birds are accepted in Malaysia. Feathers held tight against the body and should not be long or flowing.
Silkied feathered birds are accepted in America and much of Europe. The silkied gene was believed to be carried by some birds imported from Malaysia.
Other mutations (e.g. frizzled, rumpless and booted) have been introduced in America and some parts of Europe by crossing to other breeds.They can have a range of varieties in color and structure.

Feather condition: Ayam Seramas must be beautiful, and so the condition of the feathers plays a big role in their appearance. All feathers should be intact and in good condition with no signs of damage, fading, or wear.
Color:Like some other Asiatic breeds, they are not colour bred in their native country.All Variety (AV) Serama
COMB, FACE, WATTLES, EAR LOBES, BEAK, EYES, SHANKS & TOES: No color requirement
PLUMAGE: No color requirement
  
Color: The more beautiful the color and the more shine on the feather the higher the points allocated. Colors that are given preference are reds, golden, lemon/ yellow-buff, black-red, and brown. Less desirable are whites, dirty whites, mottled and grays. Beautiful vivid and bright colored birds are far more likely to gain higher points at a contest. The feather color has to be symmetrical on the Ayam Serama body. The wings and sides of the Ayam Serama will carry the colors distributed symmetrically on both sides.
Weight:
Mature Cocks
Class A – up to 350 grams (12 oz)
Class B – up to 481 grams (17 oz)
Class C – up to 539 grams (19 oz)

Mature Hens
Class A – up to 325 grams (11 oz)
Class B – up to 425 grams (15 oz)
Class C – up to 482 grams (17 oz)

Cockerels
One Class Up To – 500 grams (18 oz)

Pullets
One Class Up To – 425 grams (15 oz)
 
*Notice there is no lower weight limit on Class A Cocks/Hens, Cockerels, or Pullets.

Suggested Reading:

The Malaysian Serama by Malaysian Serama Bantams

Ayam Serama Malaysia

The Serama Thread on Backyard Chickens