Serama Bantam Questions

marlaw

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
55
198
106
My husband and I are going to be first time chicken owners in the next couple of weeks! We've been fanciers for about a year now and finally taking the next step.

Trying to proceed cautiously since we are rookies and have chosen such a small bird. I really want to give them an awesome life. I've been browsing the forums and online for advice specific to this breed but having trouble getting some questions answered. I have a lot of questions so I'm just going to throw them out there. Any insight is appreciated! FYI: We are building them a very secure coop with a roomy run that has lots of vertical space. The chickens will be our pets and don't have any commercial interest in them at the moment.

1) Chicken Feed: We know we need crumble instead of pellets...what macro nutrient should we get? Do they have different protein requirements at different stages of life if they aren't being used for meat/eggs, etc?

2) We're planning to buy 1 rooster and 3 hens from an established breeder. Is this a good ratio to start with?

3) Possibly stupid genetics questions: I know they don't breed true...But they'll still kind of resemble their mom and dad, right? For example, if I have a mating pair of brassy blacks, the baby will technically be a brassy black too, right? Or could 2 brassy blacks possibly give me a black tailed buff?

4) What's the deal with diatomaceous earth? I work at a rural supply store and I notice people buy it a lot for chickens. I always thought it was for them to take dust baths in but some people have said they mix it in with their food. Would it be safe to make them an area of DE that they could bathe in anytime they wanted?

5) Worming: Is it general practice to worm chickens periodically or only when you notice symptoms of internal parasites?

6) Free ranging: The coop will be inside a fenced in garden area. I thought it might be nice to let them out in the garden with me under supervision while I work. I'm really terrified that one will fly out of the fenced area out of reach or get nabbed by a hawk. Am I being too paranoid or am I better off keeping them in their run since they are so tiny?

7) Is it true that they need those nipple type waterers because they will drown in the trough type?

Those are my most burning questions. Thanks for your time! I am still poking around the forums looking at Serama threads and am so grateful for the resource!
 

Trimurtisan

Flying by the seat of my pants!
May 22, 2019
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I'll give this a go, but @WVduckchick might be able to be of more/better help.

2) We're planning to buy 1 rooster and 3 hens from an established breeder. Is this a good ratio to start with?
I would assume so, but I wouldn't go less than 1:3. I have 1:3 with no issues
4) What's the deal with diatomaceous earth? I work at a rural supply store and I notice people buy it a lot for chickens. I always thought it was for them to take dust baths in but some people have said they mix it in with their food. Would it be safe to make them an area of DE that they could bathe in anytime they wanted?
DE is great for many things. It is super absorbent, I use it in a brooder to help keep things dry. https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/keeping-my-wood-brooder-floor-dry.75108/
It is also good for pest management (invertebrate specifically, a quick google search can explain). You could let your chickens bath in it, but with it being so absorbent, it would likely dry their skin out. I would suggest just letting them dust bath in the dirt, or if anything mixing the DE with dirt/sand. DE is around 96% silica, the same thing that is in the little "dry packs" in pill bottles.
5) Worming: Is it general practice to worm chickens periodically or only when you notice symptoms of internal parasites?
I've read you can us DE for this, however I've ran worm farms and it is completely safe for earthworms, so I'm not sold on that idea just yet. The dewromer used on animals will kill earthworms, but DE won't kill earthworms (it's actually beneficial to their farm).
From https://thefrugalchicken.com/diatomaceous-earth-chickens/
One study performed in Vancouver showed that diatomaceous earth is effective in controlling internal parasites, and the chickens were heavier and laid more eggs when fed diatomaceous earth.

However, studies in the US have been largely unsuccessful.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, just that some studies show it works while other studies show diatomaceous earth does nothing to reduce internal parasites (like worms) in chickens.
In regards to the actual answer for your question, I would assume periodically is best.
6) Free ranging: The coop will be inside a fenced in garden area. I thought it might be nice to let them out in the garden with me under supervision while I work. I'm really terrified that one will fly out of the fenced area out of reach or get nabbed by a hawk. Am I being too paranoid or am I better off keeping them in their run since they are so tiny?
In short, yes it is best to keep them 100% secure at all times. That's not what I do though.
I give my Seramas supervised free range time daily, however, if you have hawks in your area, they WILL still attack your tiny chickens with or without you being there. I had my favorite pullet snatched from 2 feet right in front of me. After that, I reduced the time from "as much as possible" to 15-30 minutes. If I see or hear a hawk everyone is put away immediately. Hawks are very smart and fast. In regards to flying off, if they are coop trained, and know where home is I would not worry much. I at least have not had that problem.
7) Is it true that they need those nipple type waterers because they will drown in the trough type?
Baby chicks, maybe. I've not had any under 5 weeks old though. At 5 weeks there was no scare of them drowning. I could see it still being beneficial though as they would not be able to poop in it, or scratch and throw debris in it.

They make wonderful pets, and are one of my favorite breeds. They have great personalities, and are just freaking cute!

Best of luck and be sure to post some pictures when you get them.:)
 

marlaw

Songster
Apr 24, 2019
55
198
106
I'll give this a go....Best of luck and be sure to post some pictures when you get them.:)

Thanks so much for taking the time to go through all those questions!

I kind of daydreamed about having little chickens out in the garden with me but then started thinking about what I've seen go down around here--I'm glad to know I wasn't being too paranoid. I'm awfully sorry to hear about your little pellet, too! :(

We are going to look at them tomorrow and will hopefully have pictures to post soon. Thanks again!
 

Compost King

Free Ranging
Apr 19, 2018
3,304
11,504
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Salisbury, North Carolina
I had had Seramas free range fine when they were hatched by a broody hen (not a Serama) and started out free ranging as part of a brood. If a Serama has been in a cage since birth it does not adapt well to free ranging. Maybe they can adjust over time but I didn't like how they handled free ranging after living in a cage they just stood around like targets with no alertness to threats. Hawks would fly over and other chickens would take cover but the seramas just stood around without a clue that a threat was over head. The Serama I had in a brood growing up developed better instincts than the chicks they hatched with so they are capable of free ranging.
 

Trimurtisan

Flying by the seat of my pants!
May 22, 2019
6,780
30,325
1,032
A cypress swamp in FL
3) Possibly stupid genetics questions: I know they don't breed true...But they'll still kind of resemble their mom and dad, right? For example, if I have a mating pair of brassy blacks, the baby will technically be a brassy black too, right? Or could 2 brassy blacks possibly give me a black tailed buff?
I don't really know the answer to this, but mine don't really look like their parents in regards to patterns/colors.

Parents...
12617.jpeg


Nugget
20190804_200942.jpg


A'pollo
20190803_082328.jpg


A'pollo at 5 weeks old.
12683.jpeg
 

Trimurtisan

Flying by the seat of my pants!
May 22, 2019
6,780
30,325
1,032
A cypress swamp in FL
I had had Seramas free range fine when they were hatched by a broody hen (not a Serama) and started out free ranging as part of a brood. If a Serama has been in a cage since birth it does not adapt well to free ranging. Maybe they can adjust over time but I didn't like how they handled free ranging after living in a cage they just stood around like targets with no alertness to threats. Hawks would fly over and other chickens would take cover but the seramas just stood around without a clue that a threat was over head. The Serama I had in a brood growing up developed better instincts than the chicks they hatched with so they are capable of free ranging.
I don't have any experience with fully free ranged Seramas, but I would have to agree with you. Mine do not seem to have the predator awareness that I feel they should. They where in a run at all times prior to getting them.
 

Compost King

Free Ranging
Apr 19, 2018
3,304
11,504
707
Salisbury, North Carolina
I don't have any experience with fully free ranged Seramas, but I would have to agree with you. Mine do not seem to have the predator awareness that I feel they should. They where in a run at all times prior to getting them.
I was actually shocked that the one Cockerel that hatched out with my Old English Game Bantams did so well, I watched him closely for the first week and noticed that he was the leader of that brood. Very alert and finding all the feeding spots ahead of the 4 mama birds (group hatch).
 

Trimurtisan

Flying by the seat of my pants!
May 22, 2019
6,780
30,325
1,032
A cypress swamp in FL
I was actually shocked that the one Cockerel that hatched out with my Old English Game Bantams did so well, I watched him closely for the first week and noticed that he was the leader of that brood. Very alert and finding all the feeding spots ahead of the 4 mama birds (group hatch).
That's pretty awesome!
 

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