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Manteca Unified hosting NorCals first Serama chicken event
Emily Soly, left, and fellow Sierra High FFA members Austin Kinlaw and Liana Bassett examine one of the Serama chickens at the Manteca Unified School Districts Ag Farm if its infected with bugs or mites. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Saturday, March 3, promises to be a beautiful fowl day in Manteca.

That’s when the first-ever Serama chicken competition will be held not just in Manteca but in Northern California.

The event is the NorCal Serama Spectacular jointly sponsored by the Golden State Serama Council and the Manteca Unified School District Poultry Students. The daylong extravaganza will be highlighted by the competition, but there will be plenty of other attractions as well such as a raffle table and birds for sale. The public is invited.

Gates will open at 9 a.m. at the Manteca district farm facility, 2271 West Louise Avenue, and the American Serama competition will begin at 10 a.m.  There will be silkied and frizzled class, as well as open and junior classes offered as well. Featured in the TableTop Judging will be Edgar Mongold, a licensed SCNA (Serama Council of North America) judge.

The Table Top chicken competition will have the Serama birds standing on tables for the judge to examine and rate based on the birds’ attitudes.

The event will put Manteca on the map with breeders from four states – Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and California - attending the competition and show.

The dozen or so FFA Poultry students from the five high school campuses in the district are already training their Serama chickens for the upcoming competition. Giving them pointers on Monday at the poultry farm was Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer who, as a former 4H student in his younger days, also raised chickens at his family’s farm in Calaveras County.

The district’s poultry project currently has around 100 to 110 birds. The FFA poultry students are entirely responsible for their upkeep, which they do after school. The chores include feeding the birds, cleaning up their cages which include replacing dirty wood shavings in the trays beneath the birds’ cages with fresh ones, gathering the eggs and putting them in the incubator which they regularly monitor, checking the birds for any diseases and being responsible for their treatment. All these are part of the lessons that the poultry students learn by being involved in the program.

The students’ efforts were repaid big time this year when one of their Buff Brahma birds named Tony won Best of Show at the San Joaquin County Fair. One of their female birds also won Best Asiatic at the fair.

The students also received some exciting news from Messer on Monday. Jerrys Seramas LLC, a premier Serama breeder in the world owned by Jerry Schexnayder of South Louisiana, is donating two birds for each of the poultry students to raise either at their home or at the Ag Farm poultry facility. Even better news for the students is that somebody is donating the shipping of the birds, Messer said.

“I think that’s pretty awesome! It’s cool to get some free birds – why not?” was Manteca High FFA student Maureya May’s reaction when she heard that bit of news from the superintendent.

May is the first one in her family to be involved in FFA. “I want to be a farmer someday,” she said.

The FFA poultry program is not designed to make money but mostly to provide the students the experience in raising chickens, Messer explained.

The program used to be under the Manteca Unified Student Trust (MUST), a non-profit foundation that makes it possible for students to be involved in after-school art and sports activities which fell victim to the severe budget cuts in education. When MUST declared its fiscal independence from Manteca Unified late last year, the school district took over the running of the program.

For more information about the district’s FFA poultry program and how to help the students with donations, or for more details on the Nor Cal Serama Spectacular and how to take part in the competition, call Superintendent Jason Messer at (209) 456-0254, send him an e-mail at or visit and scroll down to the NorCal Serama Spectacular.