Table of Contents
The Silkie is known for many unusual qualities and it soft silky feathers. These little Bantam Chickens are one of the friendliest, docile and calm chickens. They make excellent little pets and are tough for their size. They are easy to handle, love to be cuddled and to play with the kids in the garden.
Their fluffy soft silky feathers make them look like puff balls and they come in a variation of beautiful colors. They also have blue earlobes, five-toed feet with black skin and bones. These little hens are exceptional brood hens that will sit on their eggs and other chickens’ eggs. They are commonly used to hatch other breeds that are not broody/sitters’ eggs. They also make excellent mothers to both their own and foster chicks.
With their bodies covered in plumage from head to toe, they make excellent show birds too.
|Country of Origin:||China|
|American Poultry Association:||Recognized as a breed of chicken in the United States|
|Chicken Category:||Bantam Breed|
|You may Also Like:||TOP 10 BANTAM CHICKEN BREEDS FOR BEGINNERS|
|Chicken Class:||Feather Legged|
|Bantam Variety Available?||There is only a Bantam breed|
|Good Starter Chicken?||Their sweet nature and tendency towards broodiness make them and good started chicken|
Eggs: They are mediocre egg layers.
They lay small/Bantam sized cream/tinted eggs up to 120 per year
They will lay throughout the year
They start to lay eggs from around 20 weeks old.
Meat: Not good meat birds being so small and having bluish/black meat. In some countries, they are considered a delicacy
Breeding: If you are breeding the Silkie for show choosing the correct hens and rooster bloodline is crucial. These fluffy Bantams do have a strict Standard of Perfection, it is advisable to get information from a registered breeder of Silkies if a first-time breeder/breeder of Silkies.
For advice on breeding please check our guide to breed poultry.
Foraging: They love to scratch and forage about. They make a beautiful ornamental fowl for the garden.
Show Bird: They make a great show bird
Pets: Their sweet, docile, calm friendly nature make the exceptionally great pets.
Other: They love to garden with their humans, scratch
Scratch out weeds and get rid of pesky pests that your garden can do without.
They will give your organic garden a lot of nutritious fertilizer to ensure great blooms and tasty vegetables.
|Flyers?||They cannot fly|
|Noisy Birds?||They are a quiet little chicken|
|Interaction with other chickens:||They get along well with other chickens. As with any flock if you are introducing new birds it is best to slowly socialize them with the flock.|
|Good with kids?||They are good with children and are quite tough enough to endure being picked up and loved by them. These little gals will have the tendency to become quite attached to their human kids.|
Silkies have an ancient history of which their exact origin is unknown.
One point in their origin that is well documented is Ancient China as such the birds were once known as Chinese Silk Chicken.
Marco Polo wrote of a “furry chicken” he encountered during his travels to Asia in the 13th Century. This is the oldest surviving documented account of the Silkies.
Ulisse Aldrovandi who was a naturalist and writer at the University of Bologna, Italy wrote of “wool-bearing chickens” in a treatise on chickens he published in 1598. He also mentioned chickens that were “clothed with hair like that of a black cat” which we can assume he must have been referring to Silkies.
Their soft feathers are like silky satin to the touch and do tend to softly encase the chicken’s body as if it were fur.
Through maritime trade and the Silk route, the Silkies were taken West. Silkies were admitted to the Standard of Perfection by the American Poultry Association in 1874.
Due to their unusual skin coloring, features and fur like feathers as soon as the chickens became known to the West many a myth arose about them.
They became a popular breed for sideshows in which they were displayed as oddities, chickens that were covered with mammalian fur.
Some early Dutch breeders will tell their buyers that the Silkies were the offspring of the pairing between a rabbit and a chicken.
The 21st century has these beautifully sweet Bantams used as ornamental, pets, show birds and most commonly as a brood hen. They have been used to incubate and raise the offspring of not only other chicken breeds but ducks, pheasants, geese, quail and game birds.
The Silkie is considered to be a Bantam breed in some countries whereas in other countries they are classed as a large fowl. In the USA all breeds of the Silkie are the Bantam class of the breed. It should also be noted that even the large/standard fowl classification of the Silkie does not get very big averaging only four pounds.
The Silkies feathers have no functioning barbicles which leaves the Silkie not able to fly. This characteristic is what makes their feathers similar to that of down feathers on other chickens.
Appearance/Body: Silkies are either bearded or non-bearded. The bearded Silkies have and extra muff feathers under their beak. This muff covers their earlobes. They crested heads make them appear as if they have a pom-pom on them. If they have a comb it will be a dark mulberry/black color with blue wattles and earlobes. Its beak is a dark grey, with black eyes and each foot should have five toes. They have short grey colored legs and feet that are covered in feathers.
Color(s) Black, Partridge, White, Gray, Blue and buff
Comb: They have a walnut comb
Ave. Weight: Hens/Pullet 21 – 28 oz.
Cockerel 28 – 32 oz.
|Life Expectancy:||The average lifespan is 6 – 8 years|
|Health:||They have been known to be susceptible to Marek’s disease. Some breeders have bred their Silkies to be hardier against it. This is a point that should be checked when purchasing Silkies. Check with your local vet for vaccinations against the disease.|
|You may Also Like:||HOW TO TELL IS A CHICKEN IS SICK|
|Temperament:||These little chickens are calm, docile, friendly and nurturing|
|Socialize Behavior?||They get along well with all other animals|
|You may Also Like:||HOW TO SOCIALIZING YOUR NEW CHICKENS|
|Known predators:||They can be easy targets due to their size it is always best to keep an eye on dogs and cats. If hawks and or foxes are in your area it is always best to take precautions.
Check with local animal shelters, zoos, vets, animal control and or pet stores about common predators in your area.
|Conservation Status:||These birds are not listed on any conservation.|
|Garden Size:||These great birds adapt well to any garden size and do well in confinement. They do love to be able to frolic and forage around the garden.|
|Ideal Climate:||They are very weather hardy little birds that do well in both the heat and cold.|
|Ideal Coop:||The rule of thumb for any coop is 50 cm x 50 cm per hen/rooster in the coop.
Ensure there is a good space for the nesting boxes and nightly roosting rails at least 1.5 inches wide.
Good ventilation for air but not too drafty especially in winter.
It is always a good idea to raise the coop off the ground to give the birds a dry place to roost and lay especially in wet weather.
|Ideal Coop Run:||They cannot fly but for the chicken’s safety it is best to completely cover the coop run.|
|Ideal Flock Size:||They like to socialize so there should be more than one chicken in the flock for them to free-range around the garden with and mother.|
|Special Instructions:||Their feathers need to be kept clean from mud and pests.|
|Accessories:||The following accessories are ideal for your coop:
Straw for the boxes and roosting area
Animal carrier for transport purposes
|You may Also Like:||45 FREE DIY CHICKEN COOP PLANS, TUTORIALS AND DESIGNS|
WHERE TO FIND THESE BIRDS TO ADD TO YOUR FLOCK
Silkies are quite a common breed in America and can be found at most live poultry outlets and farms. You can also find them for sale on websites such as Purely Poultry. To get your Silkies from a registered breeder you can find these listed on the American Silkie Bantam Club website. This site has heaps of information, advice, tips and tricks about the Silkie breed. If you plan on breeding your chickens, you will want to make sure that they are from a good bloodline.
The breeders club will also be able to help with any special requirements, attention or care they may need.
CARING FOR THE BIRD(S)
Please click here for our full guide to “Taking care of chickens”. This is a comprehensive guide to owning chickens. It covers where to start from choosing your ideal flock, the coop that would best suit your garden, your bird and you to buying and bringing your bird(s) home.
These are the most precious pets that bring the Aww factor to your flock. These special little chickens is a true family pet.
As they are a very weather hardy chicken they do not have a lot of special requirements other than the grooming requirements for their feathers.
Other than the preferred dust baths that all chickens enjoy as a grooming routine they do not require much in the way of this. Added herbs to help with pests in their dust bath can go a long way in helping your Silkie groom. It is a good idea to regularly check them for mites, lice and various other parasites. This should be done at least once a week. Always get your birds de-wormed on a regular basis especially if they are around other animals or interacting with kids.
DIET AND NUTRITION
Make sure your Silkies get an early morning feeding of either chicken pellets, grains, chicken mash or grain mix from 8 weeks old and older. It is advisable to feed them in the morning before they are let out to forage.
For baby chickens, the best is always Chick Starter when they are under 8 weeks old.
Laying hens should get extra protein and calcium in their diets to ensure the quality of their eggs and to keep them in tip-top health.
Please see our comprehensive guide to “Feeding your chickens” for more information of the different types of chicken feed for chicks, hens, laying hens, roosters, etc. and where to buy the feed and approximate cost of the feed.
SOCIALIZING THE BIRD(S)
The Silkie is a really easy bird to socialize with other the same breed or other breeds. Their sweet, gentle nurturing nature makes them really easy to get along with. It also makes them an easy target to be bullied by a more aggressive chicken.
Always check on how well a breed will get on with your current flock before buying them as you do not want to upset your coop or stress your current flock.
If you want to introduce another breed with your Silkies, try a breed that has a gentle nature that will match theirs.
As with any newcomer to the roost, you will have to quarantine the bird for 7 – 31 days to ensure it does not have any unwanted critters or disease that could spread to your current flock.
Even though they are a docile breed, even they have a pecking order, so it is advisable to socialize newcomers slowly and determine when it is right to allow them to become a permanent part of the flock.
NOTES / SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS
As they are not registered on conservation lists they are no special instructions other than the guidelines that govern keeping poultry in the area where you reside. For advice on what a bird’s conservation status and orders are, please check with your local conservation department.
For breeders, it is imperative that you always check your bird’s bloodlines and ensure you are buying your birds from a reputed breeder/farm. In order to sell birds of such stature, they have to be recorded and documented, always check with local animal breeding organizations for these records.
These legitimate documents are also required should you wish to show your bird(s) in various poultry shows/competition showings.
For information and advice on adopting rescued animals, you can visit or contact your local animal welfare center.
- Caring for your Chicken
- Socializing your Chicken
- Breeding Chicken
- Raising Chickens A-Z
- Hatching Eggs
- What is Molting
- Animal Shelter (ASPCA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- American Poultry Association
- American Animal Welfare Society
- American Animal Control
- American Animal Husbandry Society