Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seramas & Their Mama

Seramas aka Sri Ramas- One of my favourite and one of the most charismatic breeds in all of chickendom.  They are a relatively new breed believed to be created from a mix of Silkies, Japanese, and Malaysian bantams about 40 years ago.  They were developed for apartment living; purported to outnumber cats and dogs as domestic pets in their native country.  Serama are also considered to be the tiniest/lightest breed- weighing less than 450 grams; ideally less than 350. (My Modern Games, and the Old English Games that live at Pistils Nursery are physically smaller than the Seramas that reside both at the nursery, and the ones that live at my farm.  I haven't weighed any of them, so don't know who's lighter!)  They were first imported into this country in 2001 by two different pioneering individuals, KJ Theodore of Illinois (a woman), and Jerry Schexnayder of Louisiana.  I hatched my first Seramas in 2009 from fertile eggs I received from McCallum's Flock-  They have a shorter incubation period than most chickens- 18-19 days as opposed to 21.  While they hail originally from Malaysia, they are hardy outdoors in the northwest Oregon climate.
example from:
will you rub my tummy?
These birds are usually incredibly friendly, with lively dispositions and amazing posture, with tails nearly touching the backs of their heads, and wings carried forward.  This gives them a sassy little strut.  One of my clients carries a Serama about with her as an ersatz lapdog.  Hazel the chicken, sports a harness and leash!  Guinevere, a Serama hen who resides at Pistils, often amazes visitors with her insistence on flying up to a shelf about 5 feet off the ground and nestling into a cover crop bag where she lays her wee, creamy coloured egg.  Lancelot, who now lives at my farm (so he won't mate with Guinevere, since they are likely related as they came from the same source as fertile eggs), loves to lay on his back in the crook of my arm while I rub his belly.  He often falls asleep that way.

One of the many traits I enjoy about this breed is their precociousness as hatchlings.  These tiny chicks which are not much bigger than a quarter (25 cents) practically jump out of their egg, marching about almost immediately with a seemingly acute awareness of their surroundings.  In contrast, Penedesencas seem dopey and exhausted by the effort of freeing themselves from their shells.
Serama egg w/an enthusiast
Right now, I have seven hatchlings that are due to be weaned from their mother in a few weeks.  They hatched at the end of November from fertile eggs I acquired from  (Great person to deal with by the way.)  Five of the seven exhibit frizzling; two at least, are cockerels.  One started crowing today.  I will have to record the tiny squeaky crow, because it is odd sounding and utterly adorable.  Their mother is a devoted grey Silkie, Noni who incubated them. They all reside in a metal sheep stock tank in my utility room.  Though they have their mother to keep them warm, I have one of my trusty ceramic heat emitters (with a moderate heat output) clamped to the far end of the tank to provide more warmth if needed.  I also play classical music on the radio 24/7 as I believe it is soothing and acclimates the birds to the sound of human voices.  Grassy divots get added to their environment to give them something to explore, a source for greens, and hopefully some bugs to devour.
room for one more under there?
Noni, the foster mom, came to me last summer from some friends.  She was a sorry little mess.  This poor hen was infested with lice,  and scaly leg mites. After a good bath, I administered one my favourite remedies- lavender oil, both topically on her feet, as well as a few drops orally.  Lavender oil is one of the most useful in my arsenal of herbal treatments as lavender is a powerful antibacterial, anthelmintic, and antiseptic, as well as emotionally calming.  After a couple of weeks of treatment, she fully recovered and looked like a healthy Silkie should.  Like most Silkies, she is a fantastic mama.  She gently takes greens and treats- like wheat bread, from my hands, breaks them into smaller pieces, and feeds them to her chicks with her beak.  She always puts herself between me and her young ones if she is suspicious of my activities, like trying to take photos or cleaning out their brooder.  Noni is constantly singing to them and cuddling different ones.

These are MY babies...
will a harness effect my curls?
I will be keeping some of these chicks for my breeding program, but anticipate there will be a few extras available.  Maybe lap chickens will become a trend....

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