Malaysian Serama Bantam Chickens

Malaysian Serama Information

The following information is from the website of Jerry's Seramas, the original importer of Malaysian Serama into the United States, used by permission. For more information go to his site and also the site of the Serama Council of North America.

Introducing the Serama

The Malaysian Serama is the smallest and lightest bantam chicken in the world and highly prized as living works of art. The weight range for ‘champion grade’ cocks is from 8 to 12 ounces while hens range from 6 to 10 ounces. The height standing upright, measured from the ground to the top of the comb ranges from 6 inches to 10 inches, with a girth measured from the chest to the vent, 2 inches shorter than the height. The Serama originated in Kelantan, Malaysia and is the result of selective cross breeding of many bantam breeds. Their chesty, regal and confident bearing is a joy to behold and they have been described as the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolly Partons of the bantam kingdom.

About Serama

The Serama makes a beautiful pet and companion, both indoors and outdoors. Their small size requires very little space and a pair or trio can comfortably be caged in a 24 inch by 18 inch enclosure. Seramas should only be let out of their cages when they are safe from predators such as dogs, cat and birds of prey. Seramas usually raise a racket when an unfamiliar animal or object is sighted and are safe on their own as long as there are people within earshot who can recognize when they are under threat. They make great companions while gardening and enjoying the mornings/evenings on the porch. Their regal appearance and natural beauty adds to the splendor of any garden or home. They are inexpensive to rear as each Serama consumes only about one pound of feed per month. As a domesticated and naturally breeding pet, the Serama is a great substitute for wild caught pets, especially wild caught birds. Promoting the Serama as a mainstream cage pet will reduce the demand for wild caught birds.

My birds are bred for TEMPERAMENT, (like a puppy, they are very, people friendly and actually crave human interaction and attention) CONFORMANCE, (think Arnold Schwarzenegger for cocks and Dolly Parton, for hens in full body building pose) and SIZE, (hens 6-12 ozs, cocks 8 – 16 ozs). COLOR comes fourth, much like color markings in dogs and the Serama are judged accordingly, based on the above criteria.

The SERAMA is not your ‘every day, common bard yard bantam’. Coming from the jungles of Malaysia where temperatures average 90-110 degrees they do get stressed when temperatures drop below 40 degrees, but, keep indoors in a well lighted area and given a source of heat (I use 75 watt bulbs in each cage), something they can move to or away from as the need arises, they will thrive. They are no more difficult to rear than any other quality bantam.

SERAMA come in all colors and do not breed true to any one color. Any two birds are capable of throwing off as many different colored chicks as there are eggs that hatch. Over 2000 different color variation have been documented in Malaysia . I presently have on hand, over 250 different colors.

SERAMA eat regular chicken feed, a 50/50 mixture of game bird breeder feed and chicken crumbles. A little grain (red wheat) may be feed weekly as a treat. SERAMA make great moms, laying, hatching and taking care of their own chicks.

I will share my experiences and knowledge of the Serama as my contribuition to bring people together to enjoy this magnificent pet. I will assist and contribute to the organization of Serama beauty contests as a means for the Serama community to come together physically to compete and appreciate the beauty of the Serama. I will serve the Serama community by sharing my experience to improve the beauty, health and vigor of the Serama as living works of art. With shared experiences, I hope that the Serama will be kept knowingly in conditions that will ensure that they are at their best.

Characteristics of Seramas

Serama, known at the smallest and lightest of the world's chickens, is divided into grades, according to their size:

Grade A Serama weighs less than 350 grams should be no more than 7.5 inches in height for the full grown male and 5.5 inches for the female.
Eggs should weigh between 12-16 grams.

Competitions:

Competitions are rare in the USA, but are starting to happen. However competition rules and regulations are still being perfected at this moment. In general, judges for Seramas are looking for birds which possess the following characteristics:

1. Conformity in terms of body weight, body posture, wing & feather layout
2. Good health - bird must be lively with character.
3. Beauty- luster on the feather, color, body shape etc.

Competitions are normally divided into 6 classifications:
SIZE CLASSES:

1) MATURE CATEGORY:

Cocks
A - up to 13 oz (350 gm)
B - up to 16 oz (500 gm)
C - up to 19 oz (600 gm)

Hens
A - up to 11 oz (325 gm)
B - up to 14 oz (425 gm)
C - up to 17 ounces (525 gm)

2) YOUNGSTERS:

Cockerels – One Class Only
Up to 16 oz (500 gm)

Pullets – One Class Only
Up to 14 ounces (425 gm)

Serama Type Standard

Used with permission of Serama Council of North America.

Serama Council of North America Standards and Judging
AMERICAN SERAMA TYPE STANDARD

(As it appears in the SCNA Website)

SCNA WEIGHT STANDARD adopted 5/24/08

The Serama Council of North America (SCNA) Standard of Perfection calls for the following acceptable weights based on our pending ABA proposal for acceptance.

Cocks –16 ounces with a 20% variable either way, or 12.8 to 19.2 oz (358-537 gm), without disqualification

Hens - 14 ounces with a 20% variable either way, or 11.3 to 16.8 oz (313-470 gm), without disqualification

Cockerels - 14 ounces with a 20% variable either way, or 11.2 to 16.8 oz (313-470 gm), without disqualification

Pullets - 12 ounces with a 20% variable either way, or 9.6 to 14.4 oz (368 to 403 gm), without disqualification

Serama would be entered either as a Cock, Hen, Cockerel, or Pullet, at all combined ABA/APA sanctioned
(In-Cage Judging) Shows and SCNA Tabletop Shows.

SCNA, Stand-Alone (Tabletop) Shows, will observe the A, B & C classifications for both Cocks and Hens, along with a Cockerel and a Pullet Class. Acceptable weights will be as taken with no weight variation.

SIZE CLASSES:

1) MATURE CATEGORY:

Cocks
A - up to 13 oz (350 gm)
B - up to 16 oz (500 gm)
C - up to 19 oz (600 gm)

Hens
A - up to 11 oz (325 gm)
B - up to 14 oz (425 gm)
C - up to 17 ounces (525 gm)

2) YOUNGSTERS:

Cockerels – One Class Only
Up to 16 oz (500 gm)

Pullets – One Class Only
Up to 14 ounces (425 gm)

Type - 30 points or 30% of total
Character - 25 points or 25% of total
Tail Carriage - 15 points or 15% of total
Wing Carriage - 10 points or 10% of total
Feather Quality - 10 points or 10% of total
Condition - 10 Points or 10% of total

Total Possible Points: 100 pts. = 100%

Shape of the Male

Comb: Single, medium, set firmly and evenly on head, straight and upright, evenly serrated with five regular and distinct points, the middle points the same length as the width of the blade, moderately arched, blade should extend well over back of head.

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.

Ear Lobes: Small, oval, fitting closely to the head.

Head: Small, carried well back in a proud manner.

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

Tail Coverts & Saddle: Slightly curved, sword shaped hanging over the abdomen and covering back, widely spread, overlapping the tail and lesser sickles.

Tail: Moderately large and upright, carried in an upright position so as to almost contact the back of head.

Main Tail: Feathers wide, moderately spread in a neatly overlapping manner, rising above the head, “A” shaped from the rear view.

Main Sickles: Medium to long, strong, firm, broad sword-shaped slightly curved.

Lesser Sickles: Well-spread, medium length slightly upright, sword-shaped sickle feathers covered with coverts.

Coverts: Abundant, becoming very broad, flowing well up tail.

Wings: Large, long, closely folded, carried vertically not quite touching the ground, Shoulders and Fronts: Prominent, slightly concealed by hackle.

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 the vertical line drawn from point of beak, broad and well rounded, from head to neck to breast – S shaped profile.

Body & Stern: Body- short, good depth and width, sloping from front to rear. Stern: Fluff, short, abundant.

Legs & Toes: Legs- average length, widely set, parallel to each other without bowing or knocked knees, well proportioned.

Lower Thighs: Short, stout at top and tapering to hocks.

Shanks: Short, smooth, round, evenly scaled.

Toes: Four, straight, well and evenly spread, evenly scaled.

Appearance: Small, broad, compact, active, tame, standing up majestically.


Shape of the Female

Comb: Single, small, set firmly and evenly on the head, straight and upright, evenly serrated with five regular and distinct points, the middle points the same length as the width of the blade, moderately arched, blade should extend well over the back of the head.

Beak: Strong, stout, and well curved.

Face: small, rounded, smooth, fine in texture, free from wrinkle or folds.

Eyes: Round, conspicuous.

Wattles: Small, round, fine in texture, free from wrinkles or folds.

Ear Lobes: Small, oval, fitting closely to head.

Head: Small, carried well back in proud manner.

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

Cushion: Short, feathers broad and plentiful.

Tail: Moderately large and upright, carried in an upright position so as to almost contact the back of head.

Main Tail: Feathers wide, moderately spread in a neatly overlapping manner, rising above the head, “A” shaped from the rear view.

Coverts: Abundant, becoming very broad, flowing well up tail.

Wings: Large, long, closely folded, carried vertically not quite touching the ground, Shoulders and Fronts: Prominent, slightly concealed by hackle.

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.

Body & Stern: Body- short, good depth and width, sloping from front to rear. Stern: Fluff, short, abundant.

Legs & Toes: Legs- average length -- widely set, parallel to each other without bowing or knock ed knees, well proportioned.

Lower Thighs: Short, stout at top and tapering to hocks.

Shanks: Short, smooth, round, evenly scaled.

Toes: Four, straight, well and evenly spread, evenly scaled.

Appearance: Small, broad, compact, active, tame, standing up majestically



Malaysian Serama

Male Standard Drawing

by Catherine Stanevich

These drawings shows the ideal form of the American Serama male and female. They represent the type breeders should consider as their main goal and what they should be working towards. The breast is very large and somewhat exaggerated in this drawing to stress the importance of it. The head and tail are shown touching. This is described as “in pose>” and shows an extreme amount of reach, with full large breast, and head and tail touching. Note that the wing is not touching the ground. This is very important. The wing should clear the ground and allow a small amount of the foot to show. This will keep the wings clean and from being tattered because they are longer than the foot. A medium length leg is essential to achieve this wing carriage, as the short legs allow the wing to drag. In selecting birds for your breeding plans and pens , remember to select toward these points of form. The males will be easier to breed into this form, as it is more natural for them. The females are further from this idea at this time and will take longer to select to this level. By selecting height, breast, and reach-in-pose on the hens, while still keeping soundness and reproducibility in mind; we can produce this form without hurting the breed.


Malaysian Serama

Female Standard Drawing

by Catherine Stanevich

JUDGING SERAMA GUIDELINES

Serama are judged in a Tabletop-judging scheme. The birds are individually judged and evaluated while standing free on a table in front of one or more judges. This sets the Serama apart from what most chicken breeders are used to since all other breeds are simply picked up then placed back into their cages. Therefore, the Serama must not only fit the standard in appearance but it must also have the correct behavior and be easy to handle.

SIZES

The size of Serama must not exceed the size limits for a given category. When a bird has been entered in a given category and it is found to weigh more than the standard weight for that category; that particular bird should be disqualified from that category and moved into the proper category.

POINTS

The assignment of points to a particular Serama are general guidelines that in their distribution and number of points allotted show the most important traits of the Serama standard. Type, temperament, and tail set are the most important traits of the Serama and these traits set it apart from other breeds.

TEMPERAMENT AND TYPE

These are the two most important traits for any Serama intended for showing. These are the basis for what makes Serama a distinct and unique breed. Both of these factors are awarded the largest number of points in the point scale—thus, they should in no way be ignored.

1) TEMPERAMENT

Temperament is of the utmost importance in Serama. Temperament is based on both nature and nurture. The selection for calm and friendly temperament must be stressed in the breeding pen to heighten this important trait through each generation because genetics and inheritance play a very large role in the temperament of each generation. This is nature. In addition, young Serama should be brought to shows so that they become accustomed to the handling and crowds they will encounter at such shows in their later years. Therefore, it is very important to start handling and training your birds for show at as young an age as possible. This is nurture. Aggressive birds that attack the handler should be disqualified and must not be used in the breeding pen. Wild, frightened birds that try to flee from the cage or the handler also should be disqualified. Only friendly calm birds should be used for breeding or showing.

2) TYPE

Type is the essence of any breed. Without proper type, a bird is not recognizable as a member of a given breed. Type refers to the silhouette of the bird and is the general outline of the bird. In Serama, type also refers to the way the bird poses or its carriage. Some Serama have perpetual pose, wherever they stand, they appear as if posed at all times. This is unnatural and should not be treated as something special. You can recognize such birds by the fact that they are always in pose and never relax and they appear as not evenly balanced when mating, feeding or perching. No extra points are to be given to such birds. What is to be preferred though is a Serama with auto-pose—this is where the Serama carries itself in pose without being handled or posed by the owner or judge, but can relax, while the bird is able to move its tail at will whether upwards or downwards. The proper type and carriage of Serama is for the body to be at a 90° angle from the ground. The balance should not be affected and with proper carriage it is not. The head carriage of the Serama is also very important to the type. The proper head carriage is for the head to be pulled back as far as possible, so that the back of the comb touches or nearly touches the main sickles and the eye is behind the leg when viewed from the side, that is if you were to draw an imaginary line from the front of the eye down to the leg. Thus, the breast will be held out at maximum extension. Neck carriage refers to the way the neck is held to allow for the head to be held fully back, the breast fully forward, but yet the wattles do not hang on or lay on the breast. To do this, the neck must have sufficient length. Breast fullness refers to the well-extended breast that is required to have proper type. The breast should be well muscled, held far forward, and yet high and not at all low to the ground.

BODY

It is vitally important to the breed that the Serama's body be full and well muscled, especially the breast. Thin birds, without full, solid breast muscling should be disqualified. The muscling of the bird is an indicator of vitality. Thin birds are of no use to the breed, as they are very susceptible to disease and are lacking in vitality and are generally of poor reproductive qualities.

TAIL

The tail must be well held, solidly set on the body. Poorly set tails and wry tails must be disqualified. Low tails are to be discouraged. The very high angle of the tail is of great importance in creating the outline of the breed and is a major factor in the type of the Serama.

True Main tail feathers - Thin and sparse main tail feathers are a detriment to the breed. Birds with less than five main tail feathers on each side should be disqualified. While five feathers on each side of the main tail is the fewest allowable, more than five on each side is preferred.

Sickles - Again, thin or sparse sickles are undesirable. Straight sickles are not desirable nor are less than five sickles on each side of the tail, while more than five per side are preferred.

Secondary Sickles - Sparse, thin or poor textured secondary sickles are undesirable.

Saddles - Sparse, broken or thin saddles are to be avoided.

WINGS

Wings that are held above the vertical line are undesirable. Birds with wings nearly horizontal should be disqualified. Wings should not drag along the ground to the point of damage or tattering . They should clear the ground just enough to be intact and well groomed. Wings that drag along the ground and are constantly dirty, tattered and broken are an unpleasant sight.

LEGS

Legs should be long enough to keep the wing just above the ground. Very short legs are often the result of the creeper gene, and this is very undesirable in Serama, as this is a Chabo (Japanese bantam) trait, and is also a lethal gene. Very short legs make for ragged, tattered wings that drag the ground. Short legs are to be disqualified. Legs should be of medium length, but not long either. Very short legs, which are so short as to have little or no actual shank, are also a disqualification. Further, more than four toes is also a disqualification.

FEATHERS

Thin, sparse, picked, broken, ruffled, partially frizzled or coarse, or rough feathering are undesirable. Only smooth, well-textured, medium tight feathers are allowable.

COMB/WATTLES

Combs should be small to medium to present an elegant and refined look. Combs of less than five points are to be disqualified. Wattles also should not be overly large. Long pendulous wattles, very large combs, or combs that flop over and combs or wattles with folds and thumb marks are to be strongly discouraged.

APPEARANCE

The condition of the bird is the essence of good rearing and show preparation. Bad looking birds that are dirty, with excessively broken, roughed or tattered feathers, pale faced or showing any kind of disease or physical problems should be disqualified and removed from the show.

AWARDS SYSTEM

Because countries have different ways of establishing awards in the colors they choose for the first, second, third place, etc., SCNA uses 1-purple, 2-blue, 3- red, 4-white while other colors are used in horse/dog/cat competitions in the US. In chickens there are no rosettes but Cups with an inscription on the plate. In the beginning of the last century there were medals as well, but that stopped in the ‘70’s though still used in Germany, they have vanes also that have embroidery on them. So, various countries have their own traditions concerning awards. With that said, below is the awards system as used by SCNA, the leading Serama organization in America.

Tier One -- Judging - Quality Awards

Each Serama in each class is individually evaluated and awarded a score up to 100.
Serama awarded a score of 95 - 100 earn a Purple Ribbon
Serama awarded a score of 90 - 94 earn a Blue Ribbon
Serama awarded a score of 85 -89 earn a Red Ribbon
Serama awarded a score of 80 -84 earn a White ribbon


Tier Two -- Judging

The top three (3) scoring birds in each class compete against each other.
One is selected Class Champion, another is selected Class Reserve Champion
Classes consist of Cock, Hen, Cockerel, and Pullet
In Stand-Alone Serama-Only-Shows, the Cock and Hen classes may be further divided by weight, A, B & C


Tier Three – Judging

All Class Champions compete against each other.
One is selected Show Champion, another is selected Show Reserve Champion
In case of a tie, the exhibitor with the most SCNA Purple Awards is declared the winner. If still a tie, blue, red, and then white awards are counted as tiebreakers.



Serama Facts

The Serama is a new breed of bantam, having been developed within the past 15 years.
Malaysian Serama The complete ancestry of the SERAMA is uncertain. However, it is believed the Red Jungle Fowl, the Common Malaysian Village Bantam, (a hodge’ podge’ of many breeds), and the Japanese Bantam contributed. There is also a school of thought which believes the Silkie, played a roll along with a few other ‘secret’ genes.
The downsizing of the Serama is still on going with a few specimens coming in at 6ozs for cocks and 5ozs for hens as current breeding methods continue.
Serama mature at 16-18 weeks.
Incubation period for Serama eggs is 19-20 days.
The Serama carry a ‘diluted’ lethal gene (Japanese Bantam Ancestry), which means 1 to 2 percent of embryos will develop fully but fail to hatch or the chick will die within 24 hours of hatching.
Serama are not color bred, nor do they breed true to any one color. It is not uncommon to hatch as many different colored chicks as there are eggs that hatch.
Serama do not breed true to size. Out of a clutch of 10 chicks, one can expect 1 or 2 to be very small, 2 or 3 to be rather large and the remainder to be within the normal size range for serama.
The color of Serama eggs range from the purest white to the deepest brown, with dozens of shades in between.
Malaysian Serama Serama make excellent house pets. The crow of the cock is one third the volume of a regular chicken.
It takes approx. 5 Serama eggs to equal the volume of one Grade ‘A’ Large egg.
Serama are year round layers and have no particular laying season. Although, peak fertility and egg production occurs during the months of November, December January and February.
Serama are in a continuous molt, dropping a few feathers each day.
Serama are tropical birds and need to be protected from cold temperatures.
The Serama is the most popular household pet in Malaysia , surpassing both, cats and dogs in numbers.
In Malaysia , “Serama Specialty” Shows are held each weekend throughout the year averaging 300-400 entries.
By the year 2010 the Serama will be the most popular bantam in the U.S.


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