In addition to being the smallest chicken in the world, the Serama is also one of the most expensive. Despite its relative newcomer status to the Western world, it has a long history in Malaysia and Singapore and is unique in that it is a true bantam breed because it has no large counterpart.

Despite being regarded as a rarity in this country, the number of Seramas is rising. Discover what this tiny chicken is all about and find out if it could be a good addition to your flock.

new little chicken divider Quick Facts About Serama Chickens

Breed Name:Serama Chicken
Place of Origin:Malaysia
Uses:Eggs, pets
Size:Under 19oz
Color:White, black, brown, and orange
Lifespan:7+ years
Climate Tolerance:Not hardy
Care Level:Reasonably easy
Production:Good layers

Serama Chicken Origins

Apparently derived from the crossing of Japanese and Malaysian bantams, Seramas originated in Kelantan, Malaysia. Another story involves a gift of chickens from an ancient Thai king to a local sultan. Ayam katik (pygmy chickens) and ayam cantik (pretty chickens) have long been popular pets in this area. Wee Yean Een from Kelantan is credited with creating the modern breed named Serama after Rama, the Thai king.

The breed debuted in 1990 and many birds were culled in 2004 due to government concerns about the Asian bird flu epidemic.

two Serama Chickens
Image Credit: Augustine Bin Jumat, Shutterstock

Serama Chicken Characteristics

The breed has no written standards in its native country. Malaysia does, however, have an overall guide on scoring and judging for competitions. Some breeders have a specific type or style that they breed to, but many breeders keep several “styles.” Breeders often use these names to describe a bloodline of a champion (such as Husin, Mat Awang) or to describe more general characteristics (for example, slim, sublime, or dragon).

As a result, there is quite a bit of diversity in Malaysia, but an overall theme is that of a small brave chicken depicted as a fearless warrior. Shape, behavior, temperament, and size are the most important characteristics of a bird. Several judges score them during open tabletop competitions (often called “beauty contests”) where prizes can be substantial for the winning birds.

Uses

Serama chickens are the smallest breed of chicken in the world and it goes without saying that Serama eggs are very small. A standard chicken egg equals about five Serama eggs! In general, Serama hens lay up to four eggs a week (200–250 per year), but there is a lot of variation from strain to strain. Make sure you ask the seller how many eggs they lay as egg numbers can vary from bird to bird. There is a range of colors for eggs from white to dark brown.

Seramas mature early, so they can begin laying around 16–18 weeks and are excellent year-round layers. Although it is possible to eat a Serama, they are not bred for meat because of their minuscule bodies.

Sneaky Serama chicken in the Flowers
Image Credit: Jenna Pennington, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

Serama chickens are popular for their ornamental plumage. The Serama stands only 6–10 inches tall and is a very small chicken. Standing very upright, their chests are thrust out, heads are held high, and tail feathers are held at attention. There is almost no space between the bird’s neck and tail feathers due to its very short back. The tail feathers are held almost vertically above the head and they have very large wings in comparison to their body size.

The shoulders are set high so that the wings can be accommodated. They have a very small head with a single comb and red earlobes. There is a bay red color to the eyes, and the beak is short and stout. The legs are straight and muscular with yellow shanks. There are a variety of colors available, including black, white, and orange, although the color palette can vary greatly as they are not bred for color.

Population

Although the Serama population in Asia dropped dramatically in 2004, due to government-mandated culling in response to the Asian Bird Flu pandemic, numbers have since recovered, and there are now around 250,000 birds of this type in Malaysia alone.  The population of Serama Chickens in Asia is growing, and the breed is becoming more popular in other parts of the world. Serama Chickens are a relatively new breed outside of Asia, and there is still much to learn about their biology and behavior.

Chicken Serama
Image Credit: Gede Supartha, Shutterstock

Distribution

The Serama Council of North America is one of several organizations that promote the Serama in the United States. This council introduced the Serama to North America through various poultry shows. The American Serama has now been accepted by the American Poultry Association and the American Bantam Association, with the white color variety being the first to be approved.

Another group was formed in 2012 to get more varieties of Serama accepted by APA and ABA, called the American Serama Association. They are becoming more popular in the United Kingdom, France, and other European countries.

Habitat

Serama chickens are well-adapted to hot, humid climates and can be found in many tropical and subtropical habitats throughout their range. They prefer to live in open habitats where they can roam freely, ideally in areas with plenty of trees and brush. Seramas can also be kept in cages or aviaries. They are good foragers and are omnivorous, eating a variety of foods, including seeds, insects, fruits, and vegetables.

Serama chicken
Image Credit: Encik Nort, Shutterstock

Temperament

Seramas are assertive and confident in appearance, but they’re calm and manageable in personality, so they can be handled easily. They are natural snowbirds—they shake their wings, pose, walk with pride, pull their heads back to reveal a big chest, lift their legs, and sometimes have vibrations in their heads and necks similar to a pigeon. Despite all their posturing, they are actually very sweet and good with children and other animals.

new little chicken divider Are Serama Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

The Serama chicken is typically kept as a pet or used for backyard farming because it is relatively easy to care for and is a prolific breeder. They require little space, making them an ideal choice for backyard chicken keepers. They are also relatively docile and easy to handle, making them a good choice for novice chicken owners.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay