Serama Bantams, The Smallest Chicken in the World
Small is the Word!
A new breed of Bantam, to most countries.
The Serama Bantam or Malaysian Serama Bantam, is a relatively new breed of domesticated chicken (fowl) to many parts of the world, originating in Malaysia (in the name).
This tiny breed of bantam chicken is a lightweight even compared to the other smaller breeds of bantam chickens such as the Dutch bantam and the Sebright bantam, only weighing in at an average of 350g (12.3oz), Dutch av weight 565g (20oz) and the Sebright av weight 600g (21oz). So that's two thirds the weight of the once thought small Dutch and Sebright. There not that tall either at an average of 20-23 Cm (8-9in).
They don't need that much space to live in, so they're ideal for small urbanised gardens or they can even be kept as a house pets! I have a trio of these delightful little birds, that is a cockerel (rooster) and 2 hens. In my own experience and opinion any breed of chicken needs companionship of there own kind so a trio is a minimum amount to keep. You can keep all hen Seramas or a cockerel (rooster) with 2 or more girls, but no more than one cock bird in the same pen as fights may or will occur (having said this I've heard that some do keep more than one cock bird in their flock with out any problems, but I never have myself. Also if a clutch of eggs hatch the cockerels from the clutch normally live together OK as a pecking order has already been establish from them being chicks).
You maybe thinking I can't have a cockerel (rooster) in my area? But with the Serama this may not be the case, as the cock bird of the little breed hasn't that much power in it crow, its normally 1/3 of a large fowls cockerels crow. In some instances they do a little croak, or some have a none existent crow (they don't crow at all)! But I suggest before you do make that purchase to check with your local council of laws relating to owning cockerels on your land, or buy from a reputable breeder and ask them if any of their cockerels have a weak crow or none at all.
As I mentioned before they don't take up much space my trio are housed in a 122cm (4ft) rabbit hutch with a run around it measuring 182 cm (6ft) by 122cm (4ft). My run is made up of 61cm (2ft) treated wooden stakes in the ground and around it a good quality galvanised chicken wire (2.5 cm/1 in) holes. The wire is held at the bottom with pegs (mine I use wooden dolly pegs!) to hold the wire to the ground. The top I use a predator mesh (or plant/crop mesh can be used) held on the wire with cable ties 3/4 of the way across the run. This is to prevent the banties from flying out (they are quite flighty little ones! Wing clipping can be done, but myself I don't practice it with any of my chickens). Also to stop predators, such as Hawks, cats etc having a tasty snack! Please note this arrangement isn't 100% predator proof. On my days of work and weather permitting I let them have a roam and a scratch around the whole garden, but again keep and eye out for cats etc, these are tiny birds ( a garden dove size) and are no match for a neighbourhood cat, unlike a large fowl such as a Rhodie or Marans (which sometimes they scare of preying animals through their noisy clucks!).
They eat normal chicken feed (layers pellets), I do crush it a little more, split maize and mixed corn. I give them fresh greens on a regular basis, such as cabbage leaves, spinach, Brussel sprout leaves, grated apple etc. The odd bit of bread is given. Fresh drinking water is always in supply, and a small container of smaller grit is given (normal poultry grit I find is to big, so I give them aviary bird grit or pigeon grit). If you only keep a few Seramas I advise to only get a small bag of pellets and not big bags or sacks as they don't eat a great amount, and a sack would last months and spoil.
If you want a breed for eggs solely, the Serama isn't the one for this purpose! They only lay about 60 eggs or so per year and you need about 4-5 Serama eggs to match a 'normal' hens egg. As with all pets there may come a time when your Serama may unfortunately become ill, with this some signs are the bird doesn't eat and/or drink, their feathers are fluffed up, diarrhea, sickness, comb (crown) and wattles are very pale, nostrils running etc. Anything which doesn't seem normal take your bird to a veterinary surgeon strain away. Also buy a small rabbit hutch/cage to keep it away from the other birds and a heat lamp may help, but please contact a qualified vet.
As for breeding I always use a broody hen for the Serama eggs, as I find the hatch rate better than artificial means. I have two Pilkies (Silkie x Pekin bantam) which make excellent mothers, I find this cross excellent and a pure Silkie can some times suffocate these small Serama chicks with their fur like feathers. I am going to write another Hub in due course on my methods/experiences on using my broodies. I hope this has given you a little useful information.