Pondering About Breeding Seramas
So I am going to buy the incubator today as my hen laid another egg yesterday and I am going to need it soon. I am told seramas are fussy, hard to hatch, and hard to raise. This attracts me like a moth to the flame. I like challenges. Still, what do you breed for in seramas? I know most people breed solely for size. Most use B sized breeding pairs and some are lucky enough to have A sized breeding pairs, although birds that small are notorious for fertility problems.
I am brought back to my older breeding ethics with the other animals I have dealt with. I have never bred for breed standard for anything and that’s because health and temperament were always more important to me. I know the ‘extreme seramas’ fetch a high price ($100-500 a bird) but they look so unnatural I have a hard time believing such an altered stance doesn’t do something to their health. Many extreme dog and cat breeds are riddled with health problems and I find that disturbing and preventable. For example flat-faced breeds of both dogs and cats often have breathing problems and get respiratory infections very easy because water goes straight up their nose whenever they drink water and their tongue hits it. I have found no reports of seramas having any issues due to their stance but I still can’t rule it out.
Some breeders are trying to make seramas into a show breed. They have started by only breeding the white ones together for many generations, completely obliterating any other color genetics in their background that may cause chicks to come out looking different from their parents. This seems a dreadful idea to me. Part of the seramas charm is that they do come in every color under the sun and you never can predict with 100% accuracy what you are going to get. Other breeders have crossbred seramas with frizzled and silkie bantams in order to change their feathers. These can be quite charming, probably have a wider gene pool, and they intrigue me. Still other breeders are only allowing crow-less roosters into their breeding programs. These birds pop up naturally in the breed from time to time and are probably more suited to a pet environment as they are much quieter. Bizarrely some people think its cruel to breed for this quality, stating a rooster is an animal that needs to crow, as if they’ve been surgically de-crowed or something. We have at least one barkless dog breed, Basenjis, that are physically incapable of barking and they do not live miserable lives. Why would they? They never knew what it was like to bark in the first place. I think crow-less roosters could be a good thing, especially for pet hobbyists…
The last thing I found people breeding for was temperament. You’d think this would be higher up on the list! I found one breeder who stated if the seramas were not naturally friendly towards people without ever being handled or socialized then they were not worth allowing into abreeding program. I sort of agree… which makes my hen a lousy candidate but I have to start somewhere and she’s not mean or anything. She’s actually getting used to me and doesn’t mind handling so much. She’s just not super affectionate.
In any event I wish to make a nice little serama coop and run next week that will be a little more chicken friendly than the 4 level cat cage they’re in now. I cart it outside and back in at night but with a coop they can manage that themselves and be able to peck at the grass. I really want to ship a few more hens in and am contemplating getting into contact with the guy who first imported them. He seems like the largest breeder out there and I think will have the best possibility of selling me exactly what I want – affectionate natural looking birds with good health and a high propensity for throwing many colors. They’ll all likely be smooth but if that little project works I would just love to get into the frizzled ones as well. I have added photos of other people’s birds to show you what I have been talking about here.
This is a micro serama – they are even smaller than a size A and I haven’t found any accounts of them ever being fertile so they’re hard to obtain!
This is a Size A serama, which also have a lot of fertility issues due to their size but some of them are able to produce offspring.
This is a frizzled serama (the the left) – as you can see the feathers are curled compared to the smooth serama on the right.
And here is a silkie serama, which in adulthood will still have mostly the down feathers of a newborn chick.
Finally this is an extreme serama – when he stand his head literally flings backwards and touches his tail.