Silkie chickens
Chickens

Silkie Chickens (Complete Guide): Color, Eggs, For Household

Silkie chickens are quick, fuffy, and definitely, they are unique. The silkie chicken breed is one of the most bizarre breeds among the chickens.  These chicken breeds are an entertaining personality, a gorgeous appearance to boot, and sweet temperaments.

This chicken breed stands out in the world of chickens. Although the silkie chicken breed differs hugely from the other chicken breeds, this makes it the least common breed that you can raise, it is one of the great options for homesteaders to consider this breed for their backyard chicken.

Breed Profile:

Name: Silky, Silkie, and Chinese silk chicken.

Varieties: Black, White, gold, blue, white, partridge, triple laced partridge, triple laced silver partridge, cuckoo, grey, red, and buff.

Silkie Chicken Weight: Female chicken weighs: 0.5–1.75 kg (1.5-2 lbs); Male chicken weighs: 1 to 1.5 kg (2-3 lbs).

Eggs: 80 eggs yearly.

Silkie Chicken Cost: $20 to $120.

Rarity: Rare.

Purpose: Ornamental, meat, and eggs.

Comb Type: Wall-Nut Shaped Comb/ Single.

Feathered Legs: Yes.

Number of Toes: Five.

Egg Laying: Poor.

Egg Color: Tinted or Cream.

Egg Size: Small.

Personality: easy, docile to handle.

Cold Hardiness: Hardy in winter.

Heat Tolerance: Not especially heat hardy.

Buff? Grey? Splash? Take Your Pick! – Silkie Chicken Recognized Varieties and Colors

Silkie Chicken Origin

This bizarre-looking chicken breed is supposed to come from Asia. Exactly it is unknown from where this breed originally comes from however the most well-documented potential origin is from China. 

The popular trade item on Silk Road, the geography of the silkie chicken presents itself from the name of this breed naturally. It is also being said that this breed can be tracked back to other locations in southeast Asia as well like India and Java.

Macro Polo first wrote that the “furry chicken” breed is a recount of his 13th-century Asian travel, with the first naturalist account of chicken published by Ulisse Aldrovandi in 1598. 

Eventually, silkie traveled west on the Silk route and reached northern American soil shortly after the maritime trade. It was organized in 1874 in North America Rising quite popularly in the United States.

Due to its unique appearance, this chicken breed is surrounded by some fascinating folklore. Like, early Dutch breeders told consumers that this breed was an outcome of mating chickens and rabbis.

Popular in carnival and Circus freak shows these chicken breeds were supposed to have actual mammalian fur, too. But today this silky chicken is one of the most iconic and ubiquitous breeds of chicken usually kept on family Farms and homesteads.

Normally kept as pet chickens or ornamental, also they are very fascinating mothers and used to hatch the eggs of other poultry breeds or chickens.

Breed Standard

The silkie was accepted into the American Poultry Association standard in 1874 and the British poultry standard of perfection in 1865.  Silkie chicken is also accepted by Australian standards in 1998. 

Interestingly, all silkies in the Canada and USA regardless of size are considered to be bantam. Every other country in the world knows both large fowl types and bantam.

In the United Kingdom, the large fowl silkies should be approximately 3lb (48oz) for the female and 4lb (64oz)  for the male and bantams should be approximately 500g (18oz) for females and 600g (21oz) for males.

Accepted Colours include grey, white, black, blue, splash buff, and partridge. There are many other colors available like the red, cuckoo, and lavender, however, they are not accepted in the APA.

The next is from Italy where Aldrovandi in 1598 speaks of a chicken that has “fur like a black cat”. When this breed was first introduced to the European people then it was said that this breed is the offspring of a rabbit and a chicken, this was not so unbelievable thing back in the 1800s.

Several illegal traders sold Silkies to gullible folks for curiosity and it was used as a ‘freak show’ item exhibited as a ‘bird mammals’ and traveling sideshows.

Lifespan

Generally, the standard silkie chicken lifespan is around 7 to 9 years, but all depend upon the care given to these chickens. These chickens are well known to live longer, provide them a few extra TLC so that you can have their love for many years.

Size

Most silkies available for hatching or purchase are bantam silkies in North America. This implies that silkie chickens size is the miniature variant of the regular-sized chickens.

Normally, bantam silkies would weigh approximately half the normal weight of a standard chicken and their eggs would be approximately one-third smaller than normal ones.

In Europe and other locations, you can find standard size silkies but sadly they are not common in the states yet. Usually, these silkies found in North America only develop around 8 to 15 inches tall and will weigh approximately 4 pounds at most. 

Silkies tend to be fairly compact with rounded bodies and squat, short legs.

Silkie chickens colors

One of the most offensive characteristics of this breed is the beard and the muff of ear feathers that each of these chickens has. If you are having silkie chickens for the breeding purpose used on poultry shows then these chickens should have these traits in order to qualify. 

You can buy silkie chickens that are non-bearded or bearded. Typically, bearded silkies have an additional muff of feathers beneath the beak area. These chickens have purplish-black wattles and combs. Sometimes this can be tough to see against the dark skin of this breed. They are unique as their feather does not have barbicels.

Basically, barbicels are small hooks that latch the individual hair of a feather collectively. The lack of barbicels in chickens makes them very fluffy- the hair on the body grows loosely, you will see dense clump instead of the feather individually.

They also have a tuft of feathers on the top of their head which usually grow curl and quite long about their face. This can lead to some serious damage and sometimes death of chickens if your chickens find themselves among other aggressive birds who wish to peck on the top of the head. 

These chickens also grow feathers down their legs which is another distinctive characteristic of this breed. Below their feathers, these breeds are unique from the other ones in that they have black bones and skin and also they have bright turquoise earlobes.

Now, what is the other breed’s standard feature of the silkie chicken? These chicken have the polydactyly gene, which implies that each one has an additional toe on every foot. This toe is behind the leg and seems not unlike the dewclaw on a dog.

Silkie chickens are not only chickens that show this unique characteristic, other chickens such as Faverolles, Dorking, and Sultan chicken also have these qualities.

Moreover, apart from the unofficial color combination such as cuckoo and lavender, silkie chickens are available in many colors which are well known by the American Poultry Association.

Silkie chickens colors include:

White

Black

Buff

Gray

Splash

Blue

Partridge

Silkie chickens are valued for their plumage, and now several breeds have been intermixed with silkies to produce offspring that has this unique feathering.

What Is It Like to Own a Silkie Chicken?

In this section, we will talk about the broodiness personality and temperament of silkie chickens.

Temeperament

Silkie chicken is one of the sweetest and charming chicken breeds that you will come across. They are docile and come, eggs-friendly so they are ideal pets particularly for children.

They will happily sit on the lap without any hesitation,  grasping up close and lapping up all the attention and love. Unlike few chickens who become fighty around human beings, silkie chickens love human interaction and have flying skills, making hugging and handling them a breeze. 

Have neighbors in close proximity? Silkie chicken breeds are very quiet, only piping up when they have boastfully laid one egg or if there is any danger.

They are also well recognized for awesome mothers and they often adopt other chickens as their own which makes them beautiful personalities. There is no foul play when it comes to these chickens.

Personality

Are silkie chickens friendly? Silkie chickens are universally recognized for their calm disposition and they are remarkably friendly. These chickens are easily getting along with other chickens and can be raised in confinement. 

If you have small children then you might consider silkie chickens as they will get along with your children very well. In fact, these chickens are usually raised as the pet. They are given lots of attention and love to be a pet.

Noise Levels

Are silkie chickens loud? These chickens are too quiet chickens. Even the song of their egg is sung very quietly. The fact that they are very quiet is one of the factors that makes them ideal as home pets.

The hens will rarely make noises but of course, the rooster will definitely crow. Few folks feel this silkie rooster is less noisy as compared to the others but still, it can be noisy for the neighbors.

Feeding

What do silkie chickens eat? Silkie chickens can consume approximately ¼lb  of food every day. You can use a regular 16% layer feed. Supplementing their feed with an occasional treat and fresh greens will keep them active, healthy, and happy.

Broodiness

Silkie chickens are popular for their tendency to become broody.  In fact, several breeders have selectively bred this broodiness out of other birds in order to increase the production of eggs, silkie chickens are particularly grown for this feature.

Silkie chickens are great mothers, they have usually grown to rear the children of other chickens including geese, ducks, and other breeds of chickens. This chicken becomes broody many times in one season, usually spending many months of the year resting on the nest of eggs.

Once the eggs are hatched silkies mothers are considered as being observant mothers, caring for their young ones after they have developed. If your chickens become broody then the simplest way to this problem is by allowing her to do so.

If you require lots of eggs but you are not able to break her from this habit by keeping her in a wired-bottomed cage away from the remaining other chickens.

Health and Wellbeing

You should be careful about owning your silkie chicken in an aggressive group of chickens. Due to the reason that we are already mentioned the silkie chicken will not fight back if enter into dispute and the soft spot at the top of the head makes it unsafe to attack.

Moreover, silkie chickens have notably weak eyesight as compared to the other chicken breeds. Because their facial feathers and feathery crests can grow to obscure their eyes, you might require to take additional care to add your chickens to see better.

Fortunately, silkies are easy to manage and handle, therefore it won’t take too much effort on the part to catch them. As a buyer or a breeder of silkie chickens, you can gently pluck the feathers from the face of the chickens to help them to see more clearly.

You can also remove the crest back using a Zip tie or hair. If you are polite then none of this behavior will harm your chickens. Simply ensure that you are very careful about doing this if you are planning out entering your chickens into the competitive show because the plumage required to be the tip-top shape. 

As the feather of these chicken come down to the feet so you need to be very careful if you are keeping your chickens in a cold or wet area.

Silkie chickens are great in cleaning their own feet feathers as they do with other feathers, however, if you keep them in a muddy pen then they might have a tough time remaining dry. This can result in some health problems.

Ensure that you keep the living area neat and clean all the time and give a dry roast for sleeping. Moreover, because the feather on silkie chicken is not like as compared to the other chickens and more alike to a down material, these chickens don’t do well in the wet climates.

Their feather is not waterproof as you need to give them sufficient shelter during the rainy seasons. The same rule goes for snow, although this breed can resist the cold, wet precipitation of any sort is a major issue.

Health Issues

Silkie chickens are not known to have further health problems other than normal chickens have. But, because of their fluffy plumage, they are sensitive to lice and mites infestation, thus it is necessary that they should be examined for parasites regularly.

If parasites are there make sure that it is treated correctly either by vet or yourself because these infestations are known to spread and can lead to severe health problems among the chickens.

Dust bathing is also necessary to help in preventing mites, fleas, and lice, therefore ensure that you give your chickens dust bath amenities.

Just like all other chickens make sure you routinely worm your chickens as this is also another ailment that can cause problems if not treated well.

Silkie Chicken Yields (Meat & Eggs)

Meat and eggs are some of the primary reasons that why people own chickens (although some may keep chicken as a pet).  So, we are going to tell you what kind of yield you should expect from the silkie chickens.

Silkie chickens meat

Do you know that the silkie chickens meat is considered a delicacy in a few parts of Asia? This is due to the meat is has a gamier, richer flavor as compared to the meat of other chickens and also it is somewhat darker.

As a result, it is used in several traditional Asian dishes like Chinese soup, broths, braising recipes, curries, and more.  Even it is believed to bolster the immune system and strengthen the muscles.

For many years this was largely regarded as folklore, recently the Ministry of Education at Nanchang University conducted a survey that measures the amount of naturally occurring peptides in the breed than other popular breeds of the chicken.

The silkie chickens meat was found to have twice the amount of these peptides as compared to the meat from the standard Plymouth Rock. The takeaway- the meat of silkie chickens is really good for you.

Silkie chickens eggs

Each year silkie chickens produce a moderate amount of eggs and these eggs are of light cream color, with each female chicken lay approximately 100 to 150 eggs each year.

Sadly, silkie chickens have the ability to lay an excellent quantity of eggs, their period of laying is often made short by their tendency to become broody.

The exact quantity of silkie chickens eggs will differ based on the condition in which they are living as well as on the individual chickens.

Some silkie chickens will produce one egg every day throughout the year while others might only lay one egg per week. Thus, it is not good to keep silkie chickens only because of the production of eggs as you might be dissatisfied.

Silkie Chickens Baby: Raising Silkies as Chicks

Silkie chickens egg take around 21 days to hatch. In some instances, take they might take a little longer if you are using a broody chicken or even an unreliable incubator to hatch the eggs.

This chicken hatch pretty slowly, pecking in the eggshell with a small attachment on their beaks is known as an egg tooth. If you are hatching your own silkie chickens baby, then leave them in the incubator till they are completely dry.

This will be fluffy and nice by the time they are set to be transferred. Then you can transfer it to the brooder that is well stocked with chick feed, a good heat lamp, and water.

Chicken should be kept in a new box for approximately six weeks. It might be frustrating to move your silky cheeks to an outdoor pen as they are covered with dense feathers but you should actually ensure that they have sufficient feathers to tolerate the colder temperature.

You might have to wait till springs have actually arrived in to move your chickens.  Silkie chicken reaches full size approximately takes 3 to 4 months. During this period of growth, they will put several sequences of new feathers when they are shedding their old ones.

You might find that these chickens leave a large amount of dust behind as they put on new growth. It is practically impossible to know the differences between female and male Silkies chickens until they reach approximately 6 or 7 months old.

There are not many differences among different sexes, and we usually would be able to figure out until the rooster start crowing or silkie hen start producing eggs.

Benefits of Raising Silkie Chickens

Silkie chickens

There are many benefits of rising silkie chickens  that make it a great preference as compared to the other kind of chickens:

Appearance: chickens have an awesome fluffy coat which makes them famous for the poultry competition. They are also amazingly soft to pets.

Broodiness: Silkie chickens are one of the best breeds for hatching their own eggs and the eggs of other chickens.

Friendliness: the chickens are are some of the most loving and gentle creatures that you will find. Also, they are a great option for keeping around the chickens.

Ability to domesticate: several people keep silkie chickens inside the house and you could keep these chickens inside the apartment. They love human company and are docile.

Excellent for Gardner: silkies love to roam around in the garden and are not destructive when they are given the chance. This will enable them to access the insect, weeds, and worms growing in the garden.

Ability to withstand Confinement: if you don’t want to allow your birds to roam free range all the time then silkies is a great preference. They can be put in the small run or chicken coop with minimal side effects.

No Need for Wing Clipping: these chickens can’t fly too high so you would not be required to bother about clipping their wings for keeping them inside the tall fence.

Challenges of Raising Silkies

There are several benefits with rising silkie chickens but on the other side, there are few challenges that you must be aware of. You should avoid keeping silkie chickens if you live somewhere that is especially hot the area in which you raise your silkie chicken is muddy, wet, or cold.

Moreover, there are few major challenges involved while raising silkie chickens:

Poor position in the pecking order: as these chickens are so trusting and calm, so they might be bullied by other members of the group of chickens.

Poor meat and egg production: silkie chickens are mainly raised as pets. They are very small, so they don’t produce a good amount of meat in return for the amount of food you provide to them. The production of eggs is often cut because of their broodiness.

Prone to predators: the chickens have poor eyesight, they don’t run quickly, and can’t jump very well or fly. Thus, you will require exceptionally safe housing if you prefer to keep them.

Inability to tolerate heat: as these birds are covered in a very dense mat of feathers, they do not work properly in too much heat.

Ideal Living Conditions for Silkie Chickens

Silkie chickens can’t fly very well so you don’t have to bother about building tall fences. You can easily keep chickens in the backyard or a run which is having a low fence.

But this can make a problem with predators as silkie chickens actually fall instead of fly and might have a tough time getting away from the predators. Thus, you should give a completely enclosed run that safeguards your chickens from predators but also provide enough space to run about. 

They favor perches that are close to the ground and low so that it is simpler for them to jump without hurting themselves. Every silkie chicken will require approximately 10 square feet of run area and 4 square feet in the chicken coop.

It is advisable to provide your chickens with more space as too much small space can result in birds picking on each other. They usually borrow on the floor instead of perching on the roost, so you have to provide them additional space for this.

If you don’t have sufficient space to borrow close together then this can result in suffocation and other severe problems.

If you should pick up or handle your chickens then you must place them down correctly on the ground thereafter. Dropping them from the height as you do with other chickens can lead to severe injuries.

Silkie chickens also to be given a huge amount of dust to bathe in.  All types of chickens producers dust as they grow their feathers, with the shaft dropping off like a feather grow out. This is especially popular in the spring seasons however it can also occur as a molt in the fall.

When you are silkie is molt then they will produce a huge amount of dust. Providing them too much space to clean themselves can aid to decrease the quantity of debris they produce.

Silkie chickens thrive in captivity, however, they do best when they are provided some time outdoors. They will enable them to nibble on bugs and brass and soak up the sun.  These chickens are moderately resistant to the cold temperature but they are too sensitive towards the high temperature.

Ensure that they have sufficient shade and cold water when the mercury rises. If the temperature is above 100 degrees then you might be required to give a fan for some sort of cooling system in their coop.

Silkie Recognized Variety

Silkies Chickens were initially identified by the American poultry and in 1874, Bantam Associations as a bantam breed. On the other hand, the British poultry standard recognizes the breed as a large fowl chicken breed in 1865.

At present, there is a different color of silkie chickens that are well recognized by the United States.  5 of these breeds apply to both non-bearded and bearded kinds of Silkies and the rest 3 apply to bearded Silkie chickens only.

Here is the complete analysis of the silkie chicken Recognized Variety:

Black Silkie Chicken

For both male and female black silkie chickens, their plumage should be entirely black with occasional gleams of green. This chicken is well-recognized by the British and American Poultry Associations for both non-bearded and bearded Silkie chickens.

However, The British Poultry Association, allows this kind to have a small coloring in the area of the hackle, however, it is not deemed an acceptable trait.

Buff Silkie Chicken

For both male and female buff silkie chicken, their plumage has a uniform hue of the golden buff from end to end. This variety is identified by the British and American Poultry Associations for both non-bearded and bearded silkies.

The British political Association confirmed the presence of darker feathers in the chicken’s tail area in both genders. In the United Kingdom, this color variation is known by the name of gold.

Grey Silkie Chicken

For both female and male grey in silkie chickens, their plumage must be completely grey, varying from light to dark tones.

The American Poultry Association recognise this variety for both non-bearded and bearded silkies. To this date, the British Poultry Association has not recognised this variety.

Partridge Silkie Chicken

Female Partridge Silkie chickens have either a red head with bay hues or a completely red head. The rest of the body is pencilled in red with both black parts and bay hues. 

Male Partridge Silkie chickens also have either a red head with bay hues or a completely red head. Their back, saddles, and hackles are colored in bright green with a black hue and embellished with red lacing.

Black is found in the forepart of the body, breast, and neck. To have an idea of the color needs set by the British Poultry Association have a quick look at the sixth edition of their British Poultry Standards.  

White Silkie Chicken

For both male and female white silkie chickens, their plumage must be completely Snow White and vary from glossy to matte. This variety is recognized by British and American Poultry Associations for both non-bearded and bearded Silkie chickens.

Blue Silkie Chicken

For both male and female blue silkie chickens, the head should vary from slate-blue to bluish-black, while the rest of their plumage has a uniform shade of slate-blue along with bluish-black lacing, according to the American Poultry Association.

For both male and female blue silkie chickens, their plumage should show throughout the constant shade of blue, according to the British Poultry Association.

This variety is identified by the American Poultry Association for only bearded Silkies, and for both non-bearded and bearded Silkie chickens by the British Poultry Association.

Self-Blue Silkie Chicken

Unlike the blue silkie chickens, for both male and female Self Blue Silkie chickens, the plumage must show a slate-blue color from toe to head.

These silkie chickens are identified by the American Poultry Association for only bearded Silkies. However, the British Poultry Association has yet to identify this kind of chicken.

Splash Silkie Chicken

For both male and female splash silkie chickens, their plumage is white with bluish-grey accents along with Slate blue spots that are placed irregularly around the feather.

This type of silkie chicken is identified by the American Poultry Association for only bearded Silkie chickens. So far, the British Poultry Association has not identified this variety of chicken.

Is the Silkie Right For You?

The silkie chicken is perfectly kids chicken. They are fluffy, tolerant, cuddly, love sitting in your lap, and even like cuddles. They are pretty calm and friendly chickens and interact quite well with people, they will accompany you around and talk to you.

This docility can result in being picked on by more aggressive chicken in the group, so try to keep your eyes open to see bullying. Silkie chickens are notably broody; these chickens can hatch for quite long.

Also, they make excellent mothers. Chicken keepers keep this breed in order to hatch eggs on other chickens. These chickens usually accept all kinds of eggs place under her.

If you live in the apartment and you wish to keep a chicken as a pet then you can do so as these chickens are pretty quiet.

But if you live in a place that is inclined to be muddy and wet then you should be aware that these conditions are not suitable for the silkie chickens as of the feathering, however, if you raise them then you should keep them dry and clean.

If a silkie chicken gets wet:

Drying your silkie immediately can be a difference between death and life for your feather Birds.

As the feather do not stick together on the chickens so they are not insulated as well as other breeds of chickens. This implies these chickens can catch a chill easily and they can die of hyperthermia particularly if they live in cold weather.

Tid-bitting is when a male chicken finds a tasty snack and calls his female chickens to allow them to munch on it. Usually, rooster clunk on them picks up the morsel and throws it in front of hens so that they can see it. Silkie chickens are recognized to do the same for the chicks as well.

Most roosters in this breed are quite friendly but there are few that are aggressive and territorial to strangers. But like all other breeds temperament can differ from chicken to chicken.

Where to buy Silkie chickens?

Where to buy silkie chickens? Like any other poultry, you required to ensure that you purchase from a genuine breeder. There are many chickens out there represented as a particular breed but in reality, they are truly a hybrid.

If you want chickens of that breed only then look out for the qualities that are described above in this article.  Make a decision about the breeder. Someone who is producing healthy, good chickens will talk enthusiastically and passionately about them.

Never purchase from the websites like Craigslist or e-bay. Few of them might be genuine sellers but most of them sell you chicken that is not the breed they are supposed to be.

Can You Eat Silkie Chicken Eggs?

Can you eat silkie chicken eggs? Don’t allow silkie chicken’s outlandish appearance to deceive you, as their small cream shell eggs are absolutely fine for consumption and it will taste the same as regular chicken eggs.

Final words

Most of the Silkie chicken always brings a smile to the people’s faces. Slightly unusual birds and oddball is certainly a crowd-pleaser. Although they will not keep you in the eggs rather they will supply you a huge amount of cuddles, smile, and, love.

When they become bound to their keeper then they would consider as dog-like in their affection. They will follow you, talk to you, and check out what are you doing as well as help too.

They are great chickens to have around if you wish eggs to be hatched but you don’t wish to fiddle around the incubator. All these funny small chickens give much pleasure and joy to their keeper. If you have your silkie chickens then we would love to hear them from you, so leave a comment below.


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