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Big fun with tiny chickens

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What they lack in size they more than make up for in personality, friendliness and impressive color combinations. Imported from Malaysia in 2001, Seramas are a new breed of chicken in the United States and are rapidly gaining popularity.

Mature cocks weighing from 12 ounces to 20 ounces and hens ranging from 10 ounces to 18 ounces, the world’s smallest breed of chicken is poised to make a name for itself as a pet, 4-H project and exhibition breed in the US.

“Due to their small size and minimal space requirements, Seramas are more popular pets than dogs and cats combined, in Malaysia,” said Kristy Scott, Oklahoma State University agricultural education, communications and leadership graduate student. “Seramas are usually housed in guinea pig or rabbit cages indoors, which are set out on the ledges and balconies of high-rise apartments in nice weather.”

As a Serama owner and breed advocate, Scott is working to develop a 4-H curriculum as part of her graduate work.

“They bring a little bit of the farm to families, individuals and 4-H’ers that might not have the space for a goat, lamb, calf or horse, and can be kept even in situations not conducive to larger breeds of fowl,” she said. “Urban agriculture is a growing movement in the U.S., and these tiny chickens are a part of that.”

Due to their small size and people-loving personalities, Seramas are ideally suited to handling by responsible children. Easy to catch and eager to meet new people, Scott sees a bright future for the birds.

“They don’t require much space or feed, and their calm personalities make them very adaptable to a variety of situations; from home to classroom to nursing home to exhibition poultry shows and Serama-specific tabletop shows,” she said. “Because of this, the Serama has great potential as a 4-H project, which could go in many directions according to the situation and interest of the student(s) involved.”

For the 4-H group or individual interested in exhibition of Seramas, opportunities are increasing rapidly. The Sooner Serama Council has held three tabletop shows in the state in the past two years. One was in conjunction with the established poultry show at Shawnee, and the other two were stand-alone Serama shows in Mannford and Stillwater.

The shows themselves are unique in the sense the birds are judged on more than just the traditional appearance. The character and performance of the chickens also are part of their overall score.

The next opportunity to see these little chickens in action in Oklahoma is Feb. 7 at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 East Robinson, in Norman. This tabletop Serama show will be held in conjunction with the annual Oklahoma Poultry Showcase put on by the Canadian Valley Poultry Club.

Tabletop judging begins at 10 a.m.

“Don’t worry if you can’t make it there until a bit later in the day, though, as the second and third tiers of judging, in which three or more competitors are on tables at the same time, get even more exciting,” Scott said. “These performance-based tiers of competition take place after the first tier is completed, usually beginning in the early afternoon.”

The event is free and open to the public.

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