Serama Chicken: How to Raise This Small Breed

The tiny Serama chicken is one of the breeds with a huge personality (and price tag). As a true bantam, the Serama chicken is relatively new to the Western world but has been a popular breed in Singapore and Malaysia for many years. In North America, the number of Serama chickens is still low compared to Asia, but the population is gradually rising as more people fall in love with this cute yet capable bantam breed. Is the Serama chicken an ideal addition to your flock?

Keep reading to find out.

serama chickens

Serama Chicken Breed History

The beginnings of this bantam breed can be traced back to the early 1600s in Malaysia’s Kelantan province. However, that strain of Serama chicken is no longer around. The current breed was created by Wee Yean Een in the 1970s. Japanese bantam chickens were mixed with local Malaysian bantams to create a truly unique breed. He named the breed “Serama” as an ode to King Rama, a Thai king.

In 2000, Jerry Schexnayder imported the breed into the US for the first time. This is considered an achievement, since the Asian bird flu had paused the import of Asian breeds into the US.

Perhaps this was also fortunate for the breed, as the Asian flu nearly wiped out all the Serama chickens in Asia. Thankfully, due to the popularity of the breed and efforts of breeders, the Serama has bounced back.

Later, Schexnayder formed an organization he named the Serama Council of North America to set up a breed standard. In 2004, the United Kingdom saw its first batch of Serama chickens. These birds were a mixture of North American and Malaysian bloodlines.

Serama chickens tend to hatch in a variety of colors, feather types, and sizes. You may have small and larger birds from one batch, but none of them will be larger than 10 inches. Also, some may be frizzled, while others are silky.

Physical Characteristics of Serama Chickens

Serama chick

The breed standard for Seramas states the following:

  • The bird weighs between 13 and 19 ounces (within the four classes)
  • When standing erect, the body is in a V-shape
  • They are no bigger than 10 inches tall

Serama chickens are known as the smallest breed of chicken in the world. Ranging between 6-10 inches, these tiny birds can easily sit in the palm of your hand. There are also four weight classes:
Micro, where females weigh no more than 8 ounces and males up to 13 ounces;
A-class, for females under 12 ounces and males under 13 ounces;
B-class for females up to 15 ounces and males up to 16 ounces;
and C-class, for males and females over 16 ounces but not exceeding 19 ounces.

This breed is also available in a rainbow of colors, including black and white. Many poultry associations have recognized a variety of colors for this breed, which can make it rather confusing. For example, in the US, both silky and frizzled feathers are accepted. In Malaysia, only silky feathers held close to the body are considered up to the breed standard.

Speaking of the body, Serama chickens stand very upright, often with their chests thrust forward and their heads and tails high. In some cases, the back of the bird is so short that there is little space between the neck and tail. When upright, the wings are long enough to touch the ground. Muscular shoulders accommodate these almost too large wings.

Atop their puffed up chests is a small, elegant head. Their short combs and earlobes are both red. Legs are well muscled, featherless, and yellow.

Serama Breed Personality

serama chickens flock

Although Serama chickens look like they want to fight all the time, especially when standing erect, they are incredibly friendly. Serama chickens love attention and will even interact with you. For this reason alone, many people bring home Serama chickens as pets, since they are not ideal for laying eggs or producing meat.

This breed is gentle, approachable, and unique. The personalities of these chickens are strong, so much that you would be able to tell them apart by their behavior alone. Being low maintenance and good with small children, many people will even keep their Serama hens and roosters indoors.

The only issue with Serama roosters is that, when other males are present, they can be aggressive. However, this can be easily amended by keeping only one rooster. Both hens and roosters are more quiet than the average chicken. Serama males have a softer cry that is far less disruptive to your neighbors in the morning (if they hear it at all).

How Many Eggs Do Serama Chickens Lay?

When looking at numbers, the amount of eggs a Serama hen can lay — about 4-5 a week or 180-200 eggs a year — is impressive. Each egg can range from light to dark brown in color. Serama chickens also lay throughout the year, though they tend to lay more eggs between February and November. The size of the egg is the problem. Because Serama chickens are so small, they do not lay an average sized egg. In fact, it takes between 4-5 Serama eggs to match the size of a regular chicken egg.

If size doesn’t matter, though, or if you have other chickens that lay eggs, the Serama still has a place among your flock. You see, the hens get broody and are incredibly good mothers who dote upon their chicks. Around 5 months old, the females begin producing eggs of their own. You can incubate other eggs with Serama hens, but keep in mind that they can only sit on a couple of eggs at a time.

Serama eggs hatch much more quickly than other breeds — around 20 days. Do note that Micro and A-class Serama are incredibly difficult to hatch.

How to Care For Serama Chickens

gold serama rooster

Is raising Serama chickens any more difficult than other breeds? Not really. Serama chickens may be tiny in size, but they have a will to thrive. Here are some tips to make keeping Seramas a breeze:

Known Health Issues

Overall, Serama chickens are a hardy and healthy breed without many health issues. The gene pool is diverse, though. Your Serama chickens could develop disease, particularly if it has inherited a gene from Japanese bantam chickens that causes death prior to hatching. Should the chick hatch, its legs will be too short for it to move. This tends to happen most with Micro and A-class Serama.

If you are concerned about this, it is best to ask the breeder about the lineage of their Serama chickens.

Aside from that devastating gene, Serama chickens are vulnerable to the same parasites as other chicken breeds. Mites, worms, and lice can affect them at some point. The best way to combat that is to provide plenty of poultry bathing dust. Chickens dust their feathers to stay clean.

Furthermore, Serama chickens do not molt on the same schedule as other breeds. In fact, they seem to molt throughout the year. Do not worry if you see your new Serama dropping feathers like crazy while all the other members of the flock are fine. This is perfectly normal. 

Lastly, because Serama chickens are so small, they should not be exposed to wet environments or continuous drafts. Otherwise, Serama chickens are rather tolerant of heat and cold.

Feeding Serama Chickens

serama chickens pair

Despite their size, Serama chickens need to eat the same high quality diet as other breeds. Up to 16 weeks old, chicks should be given a 20% protein crumble that is broken up or mashed. After your chicks are 16 weeks or older, switch to a 16% protein layer feed. Since Serama chickens are smaller, their mouths cannot eat the same sized pellets that an Orpington would eat. You will have to break up the crumbles or mash the ingredients the same way you did for the chicks. Don’t skimp on the oyster shell grit either!

If you wish to provide your Serama chickens with snacks, be sure that the pieces have been broken up small enough to facilitate easier digestion.

Fresh water is also a must for your Serama chickens. During the summer, you can opt to add in a vitamin or electrolyte powder or unflavored Pedialyte to ensure they are getting all the minerals they need.

Free-Ranging

The Serama chicken breed likes to have a little bit of freedom. Sadly, their tiny size makes them appetizing to many predators, including larger birds of prey. If your Seramas are going to roam, they will need to be supervised or within a secured space. Provide at least 4 square feet of outdoors for your Serama chickens.

You can also add perches, swings, and other forms of entertainment for your birds. Dust baths, logs, hay, and tasty snacks (like cabbage hanging from a hook or mealworms) will keep your Serama chickens content throughout the day; it also provides you with some comedy.

serama draft chicken family eat cabbage

Coop Setup

One of the joys of keeping bantam chickens is that they take up far less space. This means you do not need an enormous coop. That said, Serama chickens do like their space and will tolerate confinement so long as they can roam occasionally. Plus, Serama chickens are adept at flying and will happily roost higher than you would assume. Therefore, you should give your Seramas more vertical space in the coop instead of horizontal.

Provide around 2 square feet of space per chicken. For perches, there should be enough room for each Serama chicken to roost 6 inches apart from the others.

Provide around 2 square feet of space per chicken. For perches, there should be enough room for each Serama chicken to roost 6 inches apart from the others.

As for the nesting boxes, 3 hens can fit inside one, so you may not need many. With Serama chickens, the more space you provide, the happier they will be, but it is not mandatory.

Final Thoughts on Serama Chickens

If you consider yourself a chicken enthusiast, then the Serama chicken breed is an excellent choice for your flock. Interesting to see in person and interact with, Serama chickens make for wonderful pets who also lay quite a few eggs. Anyone who likes chickens is going to love this small breed. Raising them may take a bit more work than your average chicken, but it is definitely worthwhile.

Finally, you can watch this video of these chickens in the move!

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