When selecting birds always choose healthy specimens. A healthy bird will usually display a healthy redness to the comb & face, though young stock may not have achieved this yet and can be paler. Do not purchase birds with purple tinges to the face or comb as this can be indicative if underlying illness. Select active birds who appear clean & well groomed, as a bird who is sick will often look tatty. Do not confuse sickness with natural moulting though. Ensure the birds eye's and and nose are clean & clear of any crusting, swelling or discharge. Odour plays a huge part in selecting stock, birds with an extremely foul odour around the vent or face are to be avoided at all cost as these can be indicative of internal infections or the severe illness myoplasma.
Ensure that the birds appear well looked after, clipped beaks & nails etc. Ensure the housing is clean and that none of the other birds appear unwell. Ask the seller of their worming & parasite treatment routines. Check your birds legs for deformities, blisters, scabs etc, avoid birds with any form of leg problems as if a bird can't walk then it cannot live let alone breed or produce useful offspring.
The wry tail seems to be an increasing problem in serama with many specimens displaying this serious fault being exhibited at show The serama standard states that the wry tail is a serious fault, this means such a bird is not suitable for exhibition purposes. Wry tail is deemed by the Poultry Club of Great Britain to be a skeletal deformity and states in the Poultry club standards book that birds displaying such deformity should be passed or penalised by a judge should they be encountered at exhibition, meaning that the bird should not be allowed to be placed in the top rankings on the show bench over birds who do not posess such deformity. The wry tail is hereditary therefore such birds displaying the fault should not be bred from. In short birds with wry tails are only suitable as pets. Avoid such birds when purchasing stock regardles as to the severity of the wryness of the tail (Remember: wry tail is still a fault and is still hereditary whether it is minor or severe), it is also wise to avoid lines which have occurances of wry tail as it is passed through generations, a bird from a line which has repeated wry tail incidences may not display the fault but may be a carrier of the responsible gene. Such a bird may pass the genetics for this deformity on to its offspring.
Check that beaks are straight and not crooked, over or under shot. Beak deformities are considered serious faults by the PCGB. Beak deformities can cause problems with feeding so birds with beak faults must be avoided.
Below - An undershot beak.This is a serious fault, though not usually the cause of eating problems unless it is particularly long. Though may be hereditary. Avoid when selecting stock.
Ensure combs are straight & single with 5 serrations (though 4 or 6 serrations on a neat comb with an overall nice shaped, quality bird will be tollerated & can be bred out though sensible pairing).Ensure combs are not burried within the head, & do not have side sprigs, fish tails or flop to one side etc. Ensure wattles are even, smooth & free of nodules or creases/folds etc.
Below - A beautiful comb displaying even serrations, good height and of course is tending towards flyaway type (slighlty over shooting the back of the head with a slight lift to the blade). This is an ideal comb. Also the wattles are of a good standard, being free from folds or creases and of a neat size. Earlobes are also neat, free from over feathering and free of creases or folds.
Below - A useful comb, which has the correct amount of serrations, all evenly placed, fly away type with no major faults such as sprigs or flopping to one side. Though this comb is very large and far too big to meet the standard of perfection. The wattles are well formed and free of creases and wrinkles but again too big. This bird is useful in the breeding pen provided he is bred with a hen who displays a very small comb. Large combs are more often seen in silkied serama.
Below - A very poor quality head. This bird should not be bred from as it posesses many undesirable faults. Firslty is the fact that this comb is far too short in the blade, and is not of fly away type. Secondly the serrations are not uniform with the centre spike higher than the rest plus it is not straight. There are only 4 serrations, where 5 are required. Also the comb twists at the front instead of being straight. The wattles are heavily creased with the lobes being also creased. Such a bird is only suited as a pet.
Check the wings for splits (a gap between the primary & secondary wing feathers) do not confuse this with a missing feather due to moult. The easiest way to check for this is to count the feathers and should there be the correct amount of feathers (there being 15 secondary feathers & 10 primary feathers) but there still being a gap then there is a problem which is hereditary and must be avoided.
The above image shows the split wing fault and how it appears from above when the wing is fully extended.
Check that toes are also straight & not crooked. Ensure that the birds have 4 toes & no more or less. The UK standard states that serama should have clean legs, meaning there must be no feathering on the legs or toes.
Check the feet and legs of the bird as a birds ability to walk has a massive impact on its breeding and show potential. Crooked toes can lead to lameness, disablility and even infertility if the male has deformed feet he may not beable to tread a female as their grip may be affected.
See below crooked toes, this is most often caused by humidity fluctuations on hatching though can be a genetic fault. A bird with such a fault is not suitable for exhibition purposes. If this is not a herditary fault then breeding is still a prospect for such a bird, provided the bird can function normally without, pain or hindrance.
The fault know as "Duck foot" is shown below, this is hereditary and highly undesirable. This is not only unattractive but detrimental to the overall stance of the bird as balance is affected. Such birds are not suitable for breeding or exhibition as the standard for the British Serama club declares this to be a serious fault, meaning that a bird posessing this fault would not be placed at show.
While not a serious fault, overly splayed toes are not ideal for the breed as they will cause reduced balance. Such a fault is not really noticable and birds posessing this fault may be bred from with caution, pairing to a bird with no such fault. If this fault is not stikingly noticable a bird posessing it may still be exhibited sucesfully.
Serama although small are very muscular and poweful considering their tiny stature. As such they should have a good thickness to their legs. Legs being too fine as shown below are not desirable in the breed. Legs being too long is also deemed a fault.
As was stated above serama's legs should not be overly fine, but they must not be too thick either. See the diagram below showing the comparison between the short thickened legs of the Japanese bantam (right) and the correct leg thickness and length of the serama (left)
The serama is in general a slow maturing breed, with most specimens reaching their true adult shape at approx 18 months. Though some lines mature slowly others may mature more quickly, while some birds may tend to mature at a faster or slower rate to their siblings. When purchasing birds it's best to go to the breeder's home, and view the birds in their own environment. This way you can see the birds moving in a relaxed state and make better judgement as to whether they will be of use in breeding or for showing or if selecting for pets you can select a bird with a good nature, who enjoys human interaction etc. A nervous bird will often squat and fail to show it's true potential. Another plus to visiting the breeders home is that you can view the parent or sibling stock to get a rough idea of what your birds may turn out like. Always ensure that the birds seen at the breeders home are in good healthy condition and have spacious clean housing, in the case of unhealthy birds or birds housed in poor conditions, do not purchase birds as these too, although they may appear healthy could be harbouring a disease. Avoid purchasing from a breeder who will not allow a home visit, this is usually because they have something to hide.
Be very careful if purchasing birds just by looking at pictures on the internet, as I personally have been caught by such a scam and ended up with poor quality birds, some of whom had entire toes missing, one female had two split wings, the male had a twisted beak, all of whom were covered in mites and had to undergo antibiotic treatment as one female had a severe respiratory infection. I paid £150 for pet grade birds who's pictures showed beautiful quality stock, I then had to pay £53.97 for mite treatment and £57.46 for baytril injections. I travelled many miles to collect these birds whilst heavily pregnant, and spent a small fortune on fuel to collect them, which I have not included in the total cost. In all I spent £301.92 on terrible quality birds that were only fit for pets. I managed to sell four of the females to pet homes at £10 each (not the £25 each I had initially paid for them) while a female with 3 entire toes missing was rehomed as a pet with the cockerel as a companion, for free. I lost over £261.92 of my money. So a warning from experience be very careful.
When it comes to picking adult birds for breeding or showing the points to consider are as this image shows. Larger birds of B size make better breeding birds while smaller birds of A size if they are of good type make for better exhibition birds as they can sometimes be poor breeders, though this is not always the case. Never buy a bird of poor type just because it is small as type is always the most important factor.
It is easier for beginners to pick adult birds, though more experienced breeders may be able to see promise in an otherwise rather unpromising looking bird.
Always avoid birds which do not conform to the required standard even if the breeder claims that they have "show parentage" or have "pedigree". If in doubt at all to the quality or legitimacy of the birds offered then walk away, do not spend vast sums of money if you are not 100% sure that you are happy with what you are buying.
Buying chicks is always a gamble, as you cannot see how they will turn out. If you decide to buy chicks always ensure you see the parent stock. If they are poor quality then the chances are their chicks will be too.