I never thought I’d be interested in keeping bantams. Even now, I have only a few tiny birds in my flock. But once you meet Serama chickens, you’ll always want a few in your flock.
Bantams are often miniature versions of larger chicken breeds, but a few breeds are only bantam-sized birds. Seabrights, Pekins, and Seramas are purely bantam breeds. In fact, Seramas are the smallest chickens in the world.
As beautiful, easy-to-handle pet chickens, they can provide companionship, entertainment, and consistent, small-sized eggs.
Standing at only 6-10 inches tall, Seramas are tiny, upright little birds. They’re beautifully ornamental, with lush feathering and large, bright eyes. Modern Serama chickens are a new breed, with a long history of various similar bantam breeds before it.
The modern Serama was developed in the late 1970s by crossing Japanese and Malaysian bantams to produce a tiny, friendly bird that stands at attention with a puffed-out chest and a stern expression.
Small chicken breeds were all the rage in Malaysia at the time, and the passion for tiny chickens led the first breeder of Seramas, Wee Yean Een, to develop an incredibly tiny little bird that could make a delightful pet or a decorative layer.
Serama chickens are muscular birds with prominent, puffed chests and an extremely upright posture. Serama wings point vertically downward, which emphasizes the impression they give of being a tiny, feathered warrior. They come in silkie, drizzle, and typical feathering.
Serama chickens are less hardy than Seabrights, but these sweet, personable birds are the ideal small-space chickens. Seramas hail from Malaysia and their diminutive bodies aren’t cold hardy in the slightest.
Serama chickens look like minute warriors looking for a fight. But in reality, they’re incredibly friendly birds. Seramas are curious, engaged, active birds who want to chat with you as they wander through the yard.
Being small birds, they’re fun to carry around, perched on your hand and chattering to you as you walk around the house. A lot of Serama owners do keep these tiny birds as house birds, and they do very well as pets.
They come in four size classes, and any bird outside one of these classes isn’t considered a true Serama chicken. The classes are:
- Class Micro: Males (up to 13oz) and Females (up to 8oz)
- Class A: Males (under 13oz) and Females (under 12oz)
- Class B: Males (under 16oz) and Females (under 15oz)
- Class C: Males (under 19oz) and Females (under 19oz)
Seramas also do well with other chickens, though the roosters do not get along with other roosters of any breed. Serama roosters are sweet and well-behaved towards hens and humans, though.
They’re active, curious birds always looking for opportunities to explore and discover. Seramas like to be busy, and they are sociable enough to want to share that busyness with you and the rest of the flock.
Serama chickens can come in a few colors; three are currently approved as show colorations in the US. These are white, black, and exchequer. But other colors – including splash, cuckoo, and chocolate are growing in popularity.
They have clean, light yellow or white legs, and deep red, single combs. The combs are serrated and set firmly on the head. Roosters’ combs are much larger than hens and protrude behind their heads. Serama beaks are short and yellow, with a stout, broad base.
Seramas are not an auto-sexing breed. You won’t be able to tell until the chicks start to feather out. Then, you might notice longer, pointed tail feathers in the males. Males also have larger, and faster-growing combs.
While many ornamental breeds are mediocre layers, Serama chickens give a consistent four eggs a week year-round. Seramas don’t have a molting season – another reason they do well as housepets! – and they can maintain laying all year long.
Overall, Seramas can lay about 200 eggs each year. But their tiny, white, or medium-brown eggs are truly bantam eggs – they’re about the size of quail eggs. You’ll need three or four Serama eggs to equal one or two medium chicken eggs.
But tiny eggs can be an absolute delight. Mini hardboiled eggs look gorgeous atop an autumn salad or a bowl of ramen. Pickled bantam eggs are a delicious treat – and the perfect size to garnish a bloody Mary.
Serama hens often go broody. Their eggs take less time to incubate than many larger breeds, and Serama hens are sweet, attentive mothers to their brood. But, since they are such small birds, and their chicks hatch relatively quickly, they’re not ideal to use as sitters for other chickens’ eggs.
The largest variety of Serama tops out at barely over a pound, so these birds don’t really produce any meat worth speaking of. When people try to harvest meat from Seramas, it’s lean.
Obviously, a 19-ounce or under chicken housepet will not make an ideal meat bird. Raise your Seramas for beauty and unique eggs, not meat.
Serama chickens are enthusiastic foragers. They love scratching around for seeds and sampling bits of this or that. Because they’re so tiny, Seramas don’t need much food to stay full and healthy. But, as tiny birds, they’re easy prey for hawks, owls, and foxes.
Thankfully, Seramas are alert. They keep a sharp lookout and can fly or run to safety quickly. Still, they’re small enough that a neighbor’s cat could easily catch one, and if your Seramas are used to being friends with everyone, they may not recognize potential threats.
Like all bantam breeds, Serama chicks are susceptible to chills as temperatures drop. Keep the chicks warm and make sure they have access to plenty of water and food to help them maintain their precarious body temperature.
Seramas are not cold-hardy at all. While they can handle heat better than almost any other chicken breed, they will freeze to death quickly. Your Seramas can get fatally chilled when temperatures dip below 40°F.
Because of this, Seramas should be kept indoors in cold climates. A heated coop or a house pen will keep your birds safe from chilly temperatures.
Health and Wellness
Seramas are generally very healthy birds. They’re strong and resilient, and as a very new breed, they still have a lot of genetic variety to draw from. But Seramas do carry a fatal gene from their Japanese bantam ancestors that causes them to have fewer successful hatchings than other breeds.
This gene, called the short-legged gene, makes it impossible for affected chicks to hatch well. Chicks affected by the gene can’t right themselves in the egg and end up dying at hatching time because they can’t break out of the shell.
Chicks that do successfully hatch are not adversely affected, though. Once a Serama hatches, he has as good a chance at growing up healthy as any other bantam.
Of course, even the hardiest chickens will suffer if they don’t have the right conditions. Keep the coop clean, make sure your chickens have fresh, clean water, and watch for common pests and diseases like parasites, crop issues, Avian flu, and respiratory issues.
Also, keep your birds safe from predators by building a secure coop with solid doors and no holes for predators to sneak through. An invading fox, weasel, racoon, or fisher can kill a healthy flock in one night.
Serama Pros and Cons
Ranging in size from less than 8oz to almost 19oz, the tiniest chicken in the world is a joy to know.
Serama chickens are an absolutely unique and truly ornamental bird. This flashy little bantam makes a great home companion, a beautiful addition to the chicken yard, and a productive layer of tiny eggs.
Seramas are good layers of attractive, tiny eggs. Their eggs make great garnishes and delightful snacks. And, since Seramas lay throughout the year, you can use their eggs at Christmas and New Year’s to adorn festive dishes and cocktails.
They are beautiful birds with unique plumage and eye-catching, upright bodies. These showy birds stand out from the crowd, whether they’re on an apartment balcony or in a rural chicken yard.
Seramas forage well and don’t need much food to maintain their health. They’re good foragers who like trying new treats.
Seramas are also incredibly sweet, calm-tempered birds. They do well with children and in small spaces. They’re easy to handle and fun to have around
No bird is perfect. Seramas are lovely little birds, but they aren’t for everyone.
Seramas are not meat birds. They are tiny, with little meat to offer. If you’re looking for a dual-purpose layer, stay away from bantam breeds in general and Seramas in particular.
These bantams do have a genetic defect that causes them to have fewer successful hatching than other breeds. While they’re often broody and make good mothers, raising Seramas can be frustrating because of the short-legged gene.
Seramas are far from cold hardy. If you live anywhere where winter temperatures dip below 40°F, ensure your birds have a warm, heated home to overwinter in.