The Malaysian Serama Bantam is the smallest and lightest bantam chicken in the
world taking the position once held by the Dutch bantam.
Whilst the complete ancestry of the serama is uncertain and there are many claims
and myths regarding it's origin. Some theories date as far back to the 1600s and to
the Thai King Sri Rama, although there is no documented evidence to prove this.
The serama seen in Malaysia today is said to be due to the many years work by
Wee Yean Een from Kelantan in Malaysia, who had a fascination with chickens
and bred many varieties from early childhood.
Wee Yean Een obtained some Ayam Kapans in 1971 weighing 22 oz/ 650 grams,
which were similar in type to the th UK's own Modern Game Bantam. However,
these birds did not conform to any written bantam standard. Firstly Wee Yean
Een intended to cross breed the Kapans with Silkie feathered Bantams with the hope of
producing Kapan sized Silkies. From the first breeding and to his surprise he only
bred normal feathered offspring. As the offspring had the desirable compact bone
and body structure of the Silkie. Wee decided to continue with his breeding programme
and tried to breed out the undesirable traits of the Silkie. For example, the leg
feathering and the extra toes. Despite his attempts he never truly managed to
completely breed out these undesirable traits as occasional throwbacks such as
silkie feathering and leg feathering still occurs even to this day, and although In
the UK breeding of silkie featherd serama is encouraged, in the home country of
serama it is a serious fault and all specimens displaying this are culled. Also there
are programmes in the USA breeding the booted serama, also deemed undesirable in
In 1985 Wee Yean Een introduced the Japanese Chabo Bantam into his breeding
program for their colour and erect tail carriage. His plan was to try to produce a
bantam with a large breast and a confident, regal style. The vertical wing carriage
that was close to or lightly touching the ground and a compact body were also traits
he aimed to reproduce within his project.
The Japanese outcross was successful so he line bred the offspring to lock in these
features. As with all poultry line breeding parent to offspring causes the resulting
offspring to be smaller in size so he continued with the breeding program and again
aimed to reduce size further.
By 1988, the line offspring were breeding in a recurring simillarity and weighing less
than 500 grams. Wee Yean Een decided to name the breed Serama after Raja Sri
Rama a mythical character from shadow puppet plays, which Wee Yean Een had
enjoyed as a child. Wee Yean Een thought that Raja Sri Rama who is famous for
his beauty, majestic and regal bearing an ideal role model for his Seramas.
To popularise the Serama and to help fund his breeding program, Wee Yean Een
started selling off excess breeding stock to the public. And they became very popular.
In 1990 with sufficient Serama in public circulation, the first ever Serama show was
held in the district of Bukit Batu Pahat in the northern Malaysian state of Perlis.
It was held in alongside a state government organized event featuring songbirds and
As Wee Yean Een was now considered by most to be the founder, expert and pioneer of
the Serama breeding program, he was the obvious choice to judge the exhibited birds.
Since that first show (beauty contest) the popularity of the Malaysian Serama Bantam
has grown making Serama the most popular pet in Malaysia. Today Seramas even
out number cats and dogs as domestic pets. In Malaysia it is not usual to have three
or four shows held in the same week, shows have also been held in Thailand,
Singapore and Indonesia.
In Malaysia and other eastern countries the popularity of the Malaysian Serama
Bantam is mostly due to its physical beauty and the small size making them suitable
for keeping even in urban areas or even as house pets.
Breeding still progresses to perfect them even further and improve their small size,
temperaments, physical structure and over-all physical beauty. The downsizing of the
Serama is still ongoing with a few specimens weighing in at 6ozs (185gms) for cocks
and 5ozs (155gms) for hens.