Serama Chicken: Full Breed Guide

Serama Chicken Featured Image
Serama chickens (also known as the Malaysian Serama) are a very hardy and friendly chicken breed, making them perfect for young families. But while they lay 4 to 5 eggs per week, their eggs are notoriously small so they don't make the best breed for egg production. 

Through this article, we’ll help you decide whether the Serama Chicken breed would be ideal to introduce to your backyard garden or homestead. Let’s begin!

What is a Serama Chicken?

Serama Chickens, also known as the Ayam Serama, are the smallest breed of chicken in the world and are a true bantam breed originally from Malaysia. They are quite friendly and many people keep them as house pets.

These little birds are docile and do well as backyard chickens, who can enjoy a free-range lifestyle (with supervision) but aren’t averse to living in chicken coops. If you’re interested in learning all about these adorable bantam chickens, you’ve come to the right place.

Where do Serama Chickens Come From?

Serama Chickens are a unique breed of chicken, having been bred by crossing a Japanese bantam and a Malaysian bantam. The first known modern Serama Chicken was bred 50 years ago, and first exhibited in 1990, though Malaysian bantams can trace their origin of to the 1600s.

Malaysian bantams are often referred to as pygmy chickens, or “ayam katik“ in Malaysia. However, they were given the named Serama chickens after Rama, the title given to Thai kings by Wee Yean Een from Kelantan, whose breeding efforts have led to the modern Serama chicken breed as we know it.

While there are no strict breed standards in Malaysia, the American Serama (an offshoot of the Serama breed) had standards set forth by the American Poultry Association. In Europe, the Serama bantam was accepted as an official breed by the Poultry Club of Great Britain in 2008, and the standards for the breed were created by the Serama Club of Great Britain.

What does a Serama Chicken look like?

Serama chickens are the smallest of all chicken breeds and stand only 6 to 10 inches tall. They come in a variety of colors with the most common being orange, black and white. 

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Serama chickens, while being small chickens, have long, gorgeous wings that nearly touch the ground. They hold themselves upright and have a proud stature, holding their head upright, with tail feathers at attention. They have short backs and a noticeable “V“ shape silhouette when standing.

Serama Chicken standing up
The infamous “V“ shape silhouette of a Serama Chicken

Their feathers are nearly vertically in alignment with their body, and they only have a single comb atop their heads and usually a single wattle. They have red earlobes and red eyes, with a short beak.

They also have fairly muscular legs which are clean, and their shanks are yellow. They are stout in appearance and have been called “toy soldiers” and “archangel chickens” because of their shape.

Serama chickens come in both silkie and frizzle feathered varieties, and you will find both in America and Europe, however, in Malaysia, only birds with normal feathers are considered Serama chickens.

How small are Serama Chickens?

There are 4 possible classes that true Serama chickens fall into and are based on weight: 

  • Micro: (up to 13 ounces for Serama roosters, and 8 ounces for Serama hens)
  • A Class: (Serama roosters under 13 ounces, and Serama hens under 12 ounces)
  • B Class: (Serama roosters under 16 ounces, and Serama hens under 15 ounces)
  • C Class: (Serama roosters under 19 ounces, and Serama hens under 19 ounces)

Any chicken that weighs more than this would not be recognized as a Serama chicken. 

What is the Serama Chicken’s personality like?

Serama’s are highly active birds and love to run around their coops and through open spaces to be active. They are friendly and get along well with humans.

Serama’s are also social and vocal, and you will often hear them chattering away amongst themselves. However, they aren’t incredibly loud, so you don’t need to worry about excessive noise.

The loudest noise you will hear is from a cockerel or rooster and compared to other breeds of chicken, it is not as loud, though it is can register a bit higher in pitch.

Do Serama Chickens Lay Eggs?

Serama chickens definitely lay eggs! Serama chicken egg production is quite high and they are good egg layers, producing on average 4-5 eggs per week, which equates to 200-250 eggs per year. However, the eggs, just like the chicken, are very small, similar to the size of a quail egg

It can take up to 5 Serama eggs to equal one commercial chicken egg in volume:

Serama Chicken egg size comparison

The colors of their eggs can vary from white to brown, and are not standardized, even amongst a single flock. Serama pullets will reach the point of lay somewhere between 16 and 19 weeks. The good news is that they do lay eggs year-round, and Serama hens make wonderful mothers. They are not as broody as some breeds can be, but you must ensure they do not have too many chicks to take care of – 4 or 5 should be the maximum that a single hen can handle due to her wingspan.

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Is it Easy to Breed Serama Chickens?

Serama chickens are not difficult to breed unless you are trying to breed micro or class A birds. They have a fairly diverse gene pool which makes for overall good health.

The bad news is that this breed can carry what is called the lethal gene- which is inherited from Japanese bantams. If your chickens have this lethal gene, roughly one-quarter of all chicks will be unable to hatch and will die in their shell.

The reason for this is due to their short stature – some have such short legs they cannot orient themselves into their hatching positions within the egg. Be sure to discuss this with breeders that you may be considering purchasing chicks from.

Serama chickens do best in warm, tropical climates, hence the reference to Malaysia. They do not handle cold temperatures well, so if you are breeding them in a cold climate, be sure to provide them with adequate shelter and warmth.

The incubation period for Serama chickens is 19 to 21 days and temperature is key for their health and survivability.

What type of Food do Serama Chickens Eat?

Serama‘s enjoy hunting and love to peck seeds and other types of food from the ground. It’s a good idea to encourage this behavior by scattering seeds throughout their environment, so they have something to hunt. In addition, provide a high-quality chicken feed. For chicks under 16 weeks, their feed should have no less than twenty percent crumble.

Once chicks reach 16 weeks, it is safe to change their feed to 16% layer feed. Do not use pellets as these birds are too small to easily handle them; mash or crumbles will be more effective. They will require a separate container for oyster shells, and you can give them grit in their own container.

As with any animal, always provide plenty of clean, fresh water to drink. If you notice any signs of dehydration, you can add electrolytes, or vitamins to their water once a month.

How much does a Serama Chicken cost?

A Serama Chick will cost between $10 and $80 on average. Malaysian Serama specimens that have highly desirable traits can cost hundreds of dollars. Clearly they are not a cheap birds, but the extra cost may be worth it if you are interested in their small size and charming personalities.

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Are Serama Chickens right for you?

Serama Chickens are highly sought after for a variety of reasons and they are a great chicken for beginners to have. Due to their having risen in popularity in recent years, they are easier than ever to find, especially in Malaysia, America, and parts of Europe.

One thing to consider while choosing the breed that suits your needs is that Serama chickens do molt year-round. This is no cause for concern in this particular breed as they will lose feathers, but this may mean that you need to clean their coop a bit more often.

Serama Chicken in coup

If you do decide that Seramas are right for you, ensure that you provide for all of their needs when setting up their coop. Serama’s do like to fly, and although they are small, be sure to give them enough space to fly about.

Each chicken should have at minimum, 2 square feet of designated space. Perches should be 6 inches and placed at differing heights so they have somewhere to land when they are flying.

If you plan to breed your Serama chickens, nesting boxes can be shared, but no more than three hens per box. Boxes can be placed next to one another or stacked. However, ensure the temperature of the coop is kept above 40 degrees at all times, and the closer to tropical temperatures, the better.

While Serama chickens do enjoy roaming, be sure to keep an eye on them as they have a long list of natural predators due to their small size. Do not allow them to roam without keeping an eye on them, to ensure their safety, and make sure that their coop has a roof. This will keep out predators and to ensure they do not fly out of their coop unsupervised.

Lastly, you should consider that these chickens live for an average of 7 years, though some can live up to 10 years. If you’re looking to create a close bond with a friendly and docile bird, they can be a great choice. While they are the smallest chicken in the world, with proper care, they can be a wonderful addition to your backyard coop.

Visit a local aviary or breeder to get a feel for these chickens, and ask other owners about their experience to ensure that you are picking the best breeder for your needs.

Christina

A longtime resident of Southern California, Christina recently moved across the globe to Austria, where she bought land specifically to build a small house with room for a backyard chicken coop. Christina spent her childhood summers on a farm, raising and caring for a flock of hens owned by her grandparents, which prompted a lifelong love of chickens, and other farm animals. Christina is passionate about writing, having written hundreds of articles for well-known websites, and uses her English degree in service of her love for animal welfare, most recently taking on a writing position at Chicken Care Taker in 2022.

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