American Serama Bantam
The Serama (also known as Ayam Serama or Malaysian Serama) is a relatively new breed of bantam. Developed in Malaysia. The complete ancestory of this breed is not fully known but much of its development was by Wee Yean Een from Malaysia starting in the early 1970s when he combines silkie bantams with Ayam Kapans and later with Japanies bantams. His goal was to produce a very small, tame large breasted breed with an upright appearance, short back and vertical wing carriage. By 1988 he had birds with these traits weighing less than 500 grams. As time progressed, the Ayam Serama became the most popular household pet, outnumbering dogs and cats in Malaysia. Refinement of temperament, physical structure and over all physical beauty continues to be an ongoing activity and table top showing is a very common practice to the Malaysians and also gaining popularity in other countries. In 2001, KJ Theodore and Jerry Schexnayder separately imported the first Serama bantams to the United States. Jerry’s import consisted of 135 birds and the amount brought in by KJ Theodore is not fully known.
Today, the serama is known to be the smallest breed of bantam chicken and is getting very close to acceptance by the American Poultry Association. The main difference between this breed and a regular chicken is its small size, friendly temperament and upright physical appearance. The crow of serama rooster is generally not very noisy and often only about 1/5th as loud as the crow from standard breeds. Because of this, many people are successful in raising them in urban environments. Because of their small size, serama are more vulnerable than other bantam breeds and are most often housed in cages. They can however, be kept free range as long as predators do not have access which usually includes cats and dogs. When kept outdoors, they require ready access to shelter kept above freezing and also free from drafts and moisture.
Eggs from the serama are much like ordinary eggs purchased from the store but are about 1/5th the size. Color ranges from a very light cream or almost white to dark brown and hens lay them most any time of year with winter and spring being the peak laying seasons. Hens become broody frequently and make very good mothers but can generally only cover about 4-6 eggs at a time to keep them all warm. Incubation period for eggs is about 19 days at 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity about 45% which is slightly different than other breeds. Chicks are very tiny, requiring brooding heat for up to eight weeks or until fully feathered. Serama are old enough to breed and lay eggs by about 6 months of age but do not fully mature until 12-18 months. The average life span is about 7 years but many are known to reach 10 years of age.
Most serama breeders have yet to breed them true to color and focus more on refining their physical appearance. There are documented over 2500 color varieties, with single pairs possibly producing offspring much different from themselves in color and pattern. However, most recently, some breeders are producing solid color birds and moving closer to having the solid white serama as the first recognized by the American Poultry Association.