All About Silkie Chickens
“Sweetie” was my second Silkie to hatch and is still as sweet as ever.
Silkies! Just the name in itself makes them fun little birds to add to your flock. I currently have 3 little Silkie Bantams in our coop and they bring a lot of excitement to our backyard. If you’ve been looking to add this breed to your flock, but have some questions about whether it would be a right fit, I highly recommend the Happy Chicken Coops Ultimate Guide on the Silkie Chicken. It’s full of great information about the origins of the Silkie as well as the pros and cons of adding them to your flock. This week, I’m going to point out some of the features that are unique to this breed and some of my experiences with these cute little chickens.
My very first chicks I ever hatched myself with an incubator were Silkies! I ordered hatching eggs from Alabama Silkies and when they arrived it felt like Christmas! It was an exciting season and we learned a lot.
Silkies are tiny little chicks and only get cuter as they grow. They require the same care in the brooder as standard sized chickens, but they seem a little more fragile for the first couple of days. Silkies have 5 toes as opposed to standard breeds who only have 4 toes. They are super sweet and make great family pets. They’re not known for their egg laying abilities as they only lay an average of 120 small eggs per year. Most people keep Silkies for show birds, family pets, or to brood and hatch eggs. Their eggs are every bit as good as standard sized eggs, but they are small.
My first Silkie chicks
Silkies have bright turquoise ears. As a rule of thumb, if chickens have red ears, they’ll lay brown eggs. If they have white ears, they will lay white or cream eggs. Silkies are the exception with blue ears. They lay a white or cream and even pink tinted egg. The poms on the top of their head will sometimes cover their beautiful ears. I’ve had to trim my Silkie’s hair more than once so they could simply see!
Sweetie showing off her blue ears
Silkies have all black skin and bones. This makes them a delicacy in some parts of the world. There are other breeds with all black skin and bones such as the Mystic Onyx as well as the Ayam Cemani. Silkies combs are a “walnut” shaped comb and are dark or mulberry in color. They have black eyes and a dark or blue tinted beak.
Sid showing off his walnut comb
Let’s talk about their feathers for a minute. Silkies do not have a typical feather. Their feathers lack barbicels which are the hooks to hold the feathers in. This is what gives them their poofy look. Because they don’t have the standard feathers, they are not flyers. With that said, I’ve had younger Silkies seem to have no problem reaching higher perches. We have low perches in place for them, but a couple will find themselves near the top! Silkies feathers make them susceptible to getting too cold if wet. If your Silkies get significantly wet, towel or blow drying may be necessary. They seem to love the blow dryer though...a little spa day for your chicken! Some people say they are not cold hardy and while they don’t have the same plumage as other breeds, our Silkies have done fine in our Minnesota winters. They snuggle up with the others and do great.
This brings me to the next question I get often. “Do you keep your Silkies with your other standard breeds?” I actually approached this very carefully when I introduced my Silkies to the rest of the flock. I spent a lot of time integrating them into the coop to see if it was safe for everyone. Silkies are smaller, can’t fly and unless you give them a haircut, they can’t see, so defending themselves can prove to be difficult sometimes. Making sure the rest of the flock accepted them was very important to me, and I took a lot of time to make that happen. I didn’t want to keep them separate if I didn’t have to. So, right after our Silkies hatched, I went to our local farm supply store and purchased my Easter Egger chicks. When the Silkies were eating and drinking well (thanks to my Baby Chick Care Kit!) I combined the Silkies and Eggers together. This way they grew up together and integrated into the big flock together. It worked great!
A couple of the Silkies and one of my Easter Eggers hanging in the shade.
Silkies are docile, gentle and tolerant, so they make great family pets. Even the roosters are more laid back. I’ve had 3 Silkie roosters and kept them for quite some time. They did really well together, but I defaulted back to my “no rooster” rule. It’s a personal choice. I found them all really good homes and they are now happily watching over and protecting other flocks. Our silkies provide hours of entertainment. They’re silly and have such huge personalities for such tiny little chickens. My all black Silkie, Tango, is convinced that she rules the roost. Hahaha! She doesn’t of course but loves to boss her friends around. She is loud (most Silkies aren’t) but loves to cuddle and adores treat time.
If you’re considering adding this fun breed to your flock, I highly recommend them! They do go broody more than other breeds, but they’re sweetness and personalities outweigh their cons. They fit right in with the other girls around here and don’t take extra care for the most part. I have loved having them as part of the family!
Until next time,
--The Wing Lady