Malaysian Ayam Serama Chicken: The smallest Chicken in the World
BREED NAME: Serama Chicken
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The smallest chicken in the world is the Malaysian Ayam Serama; aka ayam cantik = pretty chicken, or ayam katik = pygmy chicken; and further described as brave warrior, toy soldier or archangel chickens. Volumes have been written about this tiny chicken in its brief history.
First exhibited in 1990 and hit hard in 2004 by government fears over the Asian bird flu epidemic, this small but significant chicken has stood its ground and achieved enormous world-wide popularity.
Standards vary with three current divisions: the original Malaysian, the American and the British styles. Three types in Malaysia are “Apple”, “Dragon” and “Submarine”.
Commonly weighing 12 – 20 ounces, a full grown rooster can be the size of an average pigeon, in fact Malaysian folk-lore tells of a chance cross breeding between a pigeon and a chicken resulting in the breed.
Current efforts to further miniaturize the breed have resulted in 6 ounce cock birds and 5 ounce hens, only increasing favor as a house pet and with breeders from Malaysia across the globe.
Serama, The Facts:
Class: True Bantam
Size * : Male: 15 - 20 oz. / Female: 9 - 12 oz. / Bantam Male: 6 oz. / Bantam Female: 5 oz (* already considered a bantam breed, but further miniaturization has been accomplished)
Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: Red wattles and single comb, ear lobe red or red white mix. Hen combs are minimal and red with slight wattles and lobes.
Color: Malaysian Serama culture has placed all concerns on the breed’s size and stature, there is currently no color standard, thus coloring is widely varied and any is acceptable. Other standards will vary.
Place of Origin: Malaysia, with possible beginnings in Thailand. Wee Yean Een from Kelantan, Malaysia named the breed and is considered the pioneer and founder of Ayam Serama. In 1971 he obtained several 20 oz Ayam Kapans and crossed them with Chinese Silkies with thoughts of further reducing Silkie size.
By 1988, with his efforts producing repeated similarities and smaller size, though not his original plan, he named his new breed. He chose a beautiful and majestic mythical character depicted in popular puppet shows, “Raja Sri Rama”, as the name-sake.
Conservation Status: Flourishing world-wide
Special Qualities: Its friendly and calm demeanor plus lack of size are probably the Serama’s most favored qualities. Small roosters make equally small sounds, making it possible to keep Serama as house pets without disturbing residents or the neighbors as much as a larger rooster might, though some of these boys are louder than others.
Ayam Kapan, Chinese Silkie bantam and the Japanese Bantam were used in developing the breed. Due to the short legged influence of the Japanese Bantam a lethal short-leg gene can occur that seems to make a chick unable to move inside the egg to hatch.
Serama hens are all year layers, some producing best in the summer months, some November-February. It can take 5 or 6 Serama eggs to equal one large egg. There is no standard for egg color so anything from white to dark brown and all colors between are possible.
Malaysian lines of Serama Chicken are known not to breed true to color or size, often surprising breeders with a little of everything in each clutch. Currently breeders in the US and others are working on standardizing lines that will breed true.
Though certainly lending to its appeal, color breeding hasn’t been a priority in the Serama’s homeland. Each weekend throughout Malaysia shows are held with many hundreds of entries competing to be the most beautiful Ayam Serama.
Serama shows are frequently held in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia as well as all other nations where this little chicken has become a big deal in the poultry world.
In true Bantam style little Serama hens are excellent mothers and brooders. She is able to brood only 4-6 egg clutches. Incubation can complete as quickly as 15 days in the smallest of the breed, but 17-21 days is most common.
Though some strains are slower, maturing at 18 months, some Seramas can become sexually mature by 16 – 18 weeks.
In Malaysia the Serama are more popular as house pets than cats and dogs. In non-tropical climates the house may be the best place for these little guys, as they are unable to tolerate cold temps.
Hatchlings may need supplemental heat for 8 weeks or longer as they become fully feathered. The average life span of Serama is 7 years with some living as long as 10.
The first Serama chickens were exported to the US in 2001, to Illinois and Louisiana. By spring 2004, in Baton Rouge, the first all Serama show was held in the US.
Serama chickens were exported from the US and Malaysia to the UK in 2004. By 2008 the Serama Club of Great Britain became fully recognized as an affiliate of the Poultry Club of Great Britain.The British style Serama chicken is less extreme and least like the Malaysian ideal.
The American style is extreme like the Malaysian, though often without the split breast, is shorter, stockier and more of the Apple type.
Popularity continues to grow for the Serama chicken through Europe. The Netherlands may have the most outside the UK with birds and eggs imported from the US and UK.
The breed was first admitted into the APA in 2011.