Being as though serama chicks are notoriously difficult to hatch, I am delighted to have two little bundles of fluff zooming about the hutch with Vera. However, I put so much effort, worry and time in to getting them to actually hatch,, that I deliberately ignored how difficult serama are to rear. There is no ignoring it now.
Vera is proving to be an exceptional mother. She calls them over to eat and drink, she sits to keep them warm at a moments notice, and she is wonderfully tolerant of me handling them. Really, I couldn't ask for more. However, there are some things that she can't do. Serama chicks suffer from a balance problem. They fall on to their backs, and can't get back up. Why this is is a bit of a mystery, but it is speculated that a short back coupled with tiny non-feathered wings doesn't help. Several times I have found one of them laying on their back in the chick crumb, legs cycling like mad and cheeping their hearts out. Vera seems unable to right them, but does take up a loud shrieking which alerts me to the problem. I think she's calling the chick rather than me, but it is immensely helpful. I was initially concerned that I would lose one through the night to this phenomenon, but like all good mothers Vera insists on an early bedtime for her young. She trundles off to the nest box at half six and they stay under her wings until breakfast. Between us, we're keeping them upright.
Another thing to be aware of with serama is their propensity to have pasted vents. For some reason, a lot of serama babies suffer from this problem. I noticed that Hoppy had poo stuck to his bum at 3 days old, and pulled it off. This morning, both Hoppy and the currently named Sylvie (because it seems a bit silvery in colour. Original, me) both were sporting a fetching berry of poo. Because I have done my reserach, I knew that the best thing to do in this instance was to steel myself and just rip it off. Of course, you can gently bathe the mess away, but as this is likely to be a recurring problem with these chicks a lot of breeders prefer the bald bum approach. It prevents the problem occurring again, and is over in a second. Still, I winced at the thought of giving such tiny chicks what amounts to a bikini wax. With a deep breath, I quickly tugged the blockage from Hoppy's derriere. He squeaked, understandably, and Vera pecked my finger in retaliation. Fair enough really. He is not hurt, though, just less fluffy and more exposed. Hopefully now I won't have to find him at death's door because his vent has been pasted shut. Sylvie proved a trickier customer, so I am keeping an eye on her today. I'm not convinced that her vent is actually blocked, more that her bum feathers are a bit dirty. She may get herself a trip to the bidet before the day is out, but eventually I suspect she will also be bald of bum. To steal a serama breeders quote: 'A bald arse is a clean arse'.
They appear to be developing well, but left to their own devices I can see why they have the reputation of being difficult to have success with. They are certainly not a beginners breed. However, with a large dose of luck and some intense hands on rearing, I am hoping to have at least one new flock member.
Now, back to ensuring that no-one drowns themselves/eats the bedding/blocks up their vent/gets stuck in an impossibly small space.