When adding Serama to your flock, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself.
What are you seeking in quality?
Do you want to show your Serama?
Do you want Serama that represent the written standard?
Are you prepared to pay for quality?
It is important to have an understanding of what you are wanting before seeking out available birds. Many people are attracted to the Serama breed because of table top showing. While table top showing is fun no matter the outcome, new exhibitors are often discouraged when birds they purchased as ‘show quality’ do not do well at a show. Just because a breeder says that birds are of good quality, that does not mean that the Serama are up to standard. It is up to you as the buyer to do your homework. Compare the birds you are buying to the written standard. Recognize the quality for yourself, and if you aren’t sure, ask someone. There are many SCNA Licensed Judges that are willing to assist in recognizing quality. One important thing to note is that it is not proper etiquette to post birds you are potentially buying publicly, it is not respectful to the breeder. Ask your questions privately, preferably ask people who have experience in judging or breeding Serama to standard.
If you are seeking quality Serama that represent the standard, you may not find them on your first browse. Many people breed Serama, but there are not many people who actively breed birds to standard and have extra birds of quality to let go of on the spot. Find yourself a few select breeders, let them know what you are seeking, and if they do not have anything, be patient. Waiting a few months for quality birds to start your breeding program will save time on bettering your stock in the long run anyhow. Many people jump on the first birds they find available and end up replacing them with better birds eventually. It is also not necessary to buy tons of birds when you first start out. Save your money and buy a few select birds to breed from. Refined breeding will yield far more consistent results, and you will end up with fewer cull birds.
Understanding buyers’ etiquette will be an important part of your journey in finding the right birds. Prices will vary depending on the breeder and the quality of the birds. Well typed, up to standard Serama can range from 100-200+ dollars a piece. American Serama that have been bred for color and standard type will often cost more. Breeding Serama to the standard takes time, dedication, money, work, and patience. Expecting high-quality Serama for the price of pet chickens is not a realistic expectation to have. If you are not willing to pay what a breeder is asking, you do not have to. Simply decline the offer and continue your search.
Be mindful of sellers who may try to boost their sale birds to appear higher in quality than they are through pictures. Pictures can be deceiving. It is always great if the seller can send you a video. A good video showing the bird moving around will hide no faults. If no video, ask for side profile shots of the bird. At the right angle, a long-backed and flat-chested bird can appear decent in quality if the rest of the bird is sound. Some sellers will try to justify a bird’s potential based on the bird’s parents. This is not a good practice. Even show quality birds can produce offspring that should not move forward in breeding future birds. Make your decisions based on the type of the birds you are being offered, not on anything else.
Do not buy birds that are younger than 10-12 months and expect nothing to change. Serama can take up to 18 months to fully develop and fill out. Yes, potential can be seen by an experienced eye as early as 3 months, however, Serama change immensely from adolescence to adulthood. A bird that looks great at 5 months of age could look a lot worse as an adult. A bird that looks off and unbalanced at 5 months could develop out to a show-stopping example of the standard. It is important to be aware of this when purchasing young birds.
If you decide to show your purchased Serama, give credit to the breeder. It is not right to show with someone else’s work and claim the birds as your own. Also, understand that even the best birds can fall flat at a show. Character and performance make all the difference in whether or not a bird displays its type fully.
-David Mills, SCNA Licensed Judge and Governing Council Member.