You can’t avoid thinking about lunch whenever you talk about chickens; but in this side of the world, those cute furry little friends actually serve more roles than just being meals on your plates.
In place on good looking models, well-groomed chickens particularly the ‘Serama’ breed can be taken to center-stage and be evaluated for their beauties and their conducts. This is a common practice at least in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
For both countries, rooster pageantries have brought good businesses to a lot of people that some even went on setting up establishments that solely caters to Serama breeds, which were padded well with numerous competitions that yields considerable prizes.
Despite the sizable craze abroad, Brunei has yet to latch onto such craze. Rooster pageantry is still an exclusive sport in the sultanate that only a handful circle of enthusiasts know about it. But that circle, led by long-time Serama enthusiast Emran Hj Damit is about to make it the next big thing for Brunei.
What is Serama?
Serama is a breed of chicken native to several countries in the Asian region. It is mostly bred for ornamental purposes.
Distinguishable features of a Serama include broad shoulders, puffed-up chests as well as short skinny legs. A well-shaped Serama are those with legs that are parallel and proportional to is body structure.
Emran also added that all Serama has a ‘prideful attitude’, meaning they would automatically flaunt their breasts and flap their wings whenever they are brought into crowds.
Serama market overseas
A standard-bred Serama in Malaysia may cost around RM150 to RM400 ($48 to $129); in Indonesia, they may range around Rp250,000 to Rp2,000,000 ($23 to $190).
The more competitive the Serama is, the higher it could be priced. Emran said that a Serama that is pageant-ready could cost over RM1,000 ($300) and they are an uncommon sight on both Malaysia and Indonesia.
“I visited several Serama shops across the border where hundreds of roosters are being kept and sold to enthusiasts. Prices may depend on your negotiations with the sellers, but most of the rates set depend on whether the chickens you are going to buy are competition-ready or just meant for breeding,” he said.
For competitions, Emran said that prizes may only yield up to $100, but there are various categories a contestants can participate into. There are also held frequently, keeping breeders busy all year round.
Within the past years, Emran said he had entered into several of those contents but had never won any due to the tough competition he faced. He however learnt a lot from them and is now looking to implement his knowledge into Brunei.
Breeding the right genes
While food still matters, the hardest part in raising a competitive Serama is to mix breeds and get the best out of both genes.
“All of those puffed chests, broad shoulders and colourful furs can be obtained via breeding – but doing it is actually harder than it sounds,” Emran said.
After identifying the features you want to incorporate into its next offspring, breeders also need to learn several techniques groom and stimulate chickens to mate. The process would usually take about two to three months.
Chickens too have their own lifespans, but there is no sure way to get the features that you want in their next offspring. All you can do is just to keep breeding them until you get those with the genes you finally wanted,” he said.
Growing the niche in the local scene
Emran and several of his friends are now in the process of establishing an association for Serama enthusiasts in the country, which may serve as a base for them to grow their niches.
Prior to getting approved, the Serama enthusiasts are now starting to host Serama exhibitions and planning to make them frequent – with the first ones held at the capital during on Bandarku Ceria weekends.
“We know that the niche is either still small or close to non-existent, so the first thing that we need to do is to educate the public on the specialties of a Serama that other countries developed a kind of sport just to cater to this type of breed,” he said.
“At the same time, we also wanted to get to know other Serama enthusiasts and learn the best breeding practices from them,”
“I have spent two years just to gather the current 10, so I do hope that the smaller exhibitions that we started recently can be a stepping stone to something bigger – something that could contribute well to the country’s economic growth,” he added.
Waqiuddin Rajak | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN