The Malaysian Serama bantam is the smallest breed of chicken in the world, weighing less than 500g. They are only 15-25 centimetres tall and are the result of crossing Japanese bantams with Malaysian bantams. The modern version of this breed was created in the early 1970s by WeeYean Een from Malaysia but the origins of the breed are reputed to date back to the 1600s. They are supposedly named after the Thai king, Raja Sri Rama, who, like these little birds, was renowned for his majestic appearance and proud carriage. There are 3 categories for this breed and they are graded according to their weight with the smallest and most desirable weighing just 350g. They are very upright little birds with a small neat comb. The breast is high and pushed upwards with the wings almost touching the ground, giving the impression that they are standing to attention and the tail is held at 90° so that it almost touches the back of the head.
Serama bantams make excellent house pets and are one of the most popular pets in America as they are friendly, confident little birds and love to be with people. The cockerel’s crow is very much quieter than that of a larger breed which makes them an ideal house pet but cockerels shouldn’t be kept together to avoid fighting. They are difficult to breed because they carry the Japanese Bantam “lethal gene” which means that around 2% of embryos fail to hatch or that some chicks will die shortly after hatching. The incubation period for their eggs is shorter than most other breeds with the eggs hatching after 19-20 days. They come in all colours and don’t breed true to any colour or even size with some chicks being very tiny and others being larger than the parent. They mature at 16-18 weeks and are all year round egg layers. Unusually, they moult continuously and lose a few feathers each day. They come from tropical areas and although they are pretty hardy, they may need to be protected from very cold temperatures. Due to their size, they also cope better with layers mash than pellets. Their eggs range in colour from pure white to dark brown and it takes 5 Serama eggs to equal one large graded egg!