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Malaysian Serama chicken beauty pageant featured on BBC

When you talk about chicken in Malaysia, you think of this guy and how his beautiful 11 herbs and spices recipe has made the world a better place:

kfc colonel sanders finger licking good

Image from s3.amazonaws.com

But BBC’s travel programme Dara & Ed’s Road to Mandalay showed people that there’s more to chickens than just being lunch. Meet the Malaysian Serama… a chicken so bengkok it looks bongkak.

 

OMG why does this poor chicken look like an experiment gone bad?

serama chicken chest out

Skip every day but chest day. This is what happens. Image from The Star

The Serama chicken, native to Malaysia, has a chest that is so puffed out, a head pulled so far backwards, and skinny legs, that it looks like it was either born with a push-up bra, or did the limbo and broke its back. But whatever you do, don’t say that to Serama lovers coz this avian is bred to look like that and breeders are very proud of their chickies. They are bred mainly for ornamental purposes rather than as food.

“The chick is very fragile and its body structure can go out of shape as it grows. It’s also difficult to get the right colouring. The preference is for golden yellow and the next is black. The batik plumage is not so popular.” – Lee Kok Hoong, Serama enthusiast, The Star

Seramas are the smallest breed of chicken in the world, typically weighing under 500g each (nearly the weight of a can of Coke), some as light as 250g. Three types of this breed in Malaysia are the ‘Apple’, ‘Dragon’ and ‘Submarine’. According to experts, there are approximately 250,000 chickens in the country. But why da heck are they shaped like that?

serama chick 4 weeks old

A 4-week-old chick with the signature Serama shape. Image from serama-bg.blogspot.my

There are few origin stories to the modern Serama. One is that adamantium was infused into its body…no, that’s not it. Its parents died when it was young and it overcame its fear of bats then… just kidding. Okok, the real story is that it is the result of breeding Malaysian wild fowls with miniature Japanese chickens in the 1970s by Wee Yean Een from Kelantan, as explained by a breeder on the BBC travel show. Another story is that small chickens were given as a gift by the King of Thailand to a Malay Sultan in ancient times.

Now, there is a growing community of Serama enthusiasts here, in fact, there are real fan clubs! But it’s no longer just a thing in Malaysia coz enthusiasts and fan clubs have been springing up all around the world. Ahmad Fauzi Mohamed, President of the Malaysia branch of the World Serama Federation, said people come from the US, Canada, Belgium, Greece, Spain, France, Kuwait, Mexico and Brazil to Malaysia, just to learn about this breed and also to buy eggs and chicks.

“They come to Malaysia to learn about the Serama to the extent that one couple from Belgium visit here twice a year. There are many Serama breeders overseas, some of whom have even crossed the breed with chickens from over there. And the eggs can be sold for about 150 euros (RM708) each.” – Lee Kok Hoong, Serama enthusiast, The Star

 

And there are chicken beauty contests in Malaysia!!

serama beauty pageant contest winner champion

Don’t get too cock-y now :p Photo from The Art of Serama Facebook page

Since the bird is bred for beauty purposes, beauty pageants are held in Malaysia and they’re very popular among the community. Not to be mistaken for cock-fighting k, no animals are harmed in these beauty pageants. The birds are just made to strut on tables. This reminds us of the time we discovered that there are cow beauty pageants as well! 😆

So what on earth does a judge look for in a chicken beauty contest anyway? Well, they follow the 3T rule – type, temperament and tail. Type refers to the silhouette of the bird, the way it poses (90 degree angle from the ground, with chest puffed upwards). Some competitors will oil their birds’ tails for extra shine 😀

Seramas are also described as ‘warriors’ or ‘soldiers’ because of the way they stand, and when they strut, they look like goose-stepping soldiers.

ayam chicken serama soldier askar

Too sexy for my coop. Image from Ernest Goh on businessinsider.my. Check out more of his work here

For all the effort a breeder puts into pampering his Serama, not bad la, a pageant winner can fetch its owner a pretty henny penny, about RM33,000. In the 1990s, one bird can fetch up to RM38,000, though now prices have gone down to about RM15,000, Lee Kok Hoong an enthusiast, told The Star. Lee’s own pet named Trouble Maker, which he bought as a juvenile for RM2,500, is now worth RM7,000.

“There are people who want to buy my bird. But I am not selling it. It is part of my family.” – Mohammad Hatta, Serama enthusiast, whose prize-winning bird is worth RM33,000, Daily Mail

 

So if you’re bored of cats or dogs, why not keep this cutie?

cat dog serama chicken

Images from imgarcade.com and Rachel Austin on Pinterest

If you’ve had a dog or a cat and are thinking of trying a different pet, why not a Serama? These chickies are small, cute and friendly. Their good-natured, manageable disposition make them quite easy to keep as pets in Malaysia. Indoors or outdoors, it’s fine, and thanks to their tiny size, they don’t require much space.

“These beautiful tiny birds give you great pleasure to own. They are warm and tame and this allows you to hold them, making Serama birds adorable household pets.” – Norzamini Tukiban, Heads the district chapter of Malaysia’s Serama association, Daily Mail

Not only that, they’re also inexpensive to raise eating only about one pound (0.45kg) of feed per month. We did a quick search and found some selling on Mudah.my, from 50 to 2,500 buck buck buuucks. Or you could consult experts on where you can find prize Seramas. Since there is a community of Serama lovers here, it’s easy to get advice and stuff. Or…

i can just wing it chicken serama article malaysia ayam

Hurhur

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