They are feathery, they are wacky, and they are distinct!
The Silkie chicken breed is among the most unusual types of chickens, offering backyard chicken owners amusing characters, friendly personalities, and beautiful looks to boot.
This chicken breed is noteworthy in the chicken world.
Although Silkie chickens vary considerably from other popular breeds, making it among the less typical breeds you can raise is a distinctive alternative that every homesteader needs to think about for their backyard flock.
The Origin of Silkie Chickens
This bizarre-looking chicken breed is thought to have originated from Asia. It is unidentified from where (or when), precisely, these breeds stemmed. However, the most well-documented prospective origin is ancient China.
A popular trade product on the Silk Road, the geography of the Silkie chicken provides itself naturally to the name of this breed.
That being said, the Silkie chicken can be traced back to other places in Southeast Asia, too, such as India and Java.
Marco Polo initially mentioned a “furry chicken” breed in the recount of his 13th-century Asian journeys, with the very first naturalist account of the chicken released in 1598 by Ulisse Aldrovandi.
Silkie Chickens ultimately took a trip west on the Silk Road and reached North American soil soon after the maritime trade.
It was acknowledged formally in North America in 1874, rising to appeal rather quickly in the United States.
Due to its special look, the Silkie chicken is surrounded by some intriguing myths.
For instance, early Dutch farmers informed customers that the breed was the outcome of mating chickens and rabbits.
Popular in carnival freak shows and circuses, these silkie chickens were soon thought to have real mammalian fur, too.
Today, the Silkie chicken is among the most common and renowned breeds of chicken typically kept in household farms and homesteads.
Generally kept as show birds or pet chickens, they are also wonderful moms and can hatch the eggs of other chickens and poultry breeds.
Silkie Chicken Colors, Size, and Appearance
This section will check out whatever you need to learn about the Silkie chicken breed’s typical colors, qualities, and looks.
A lot of Silkie chickens available for purchase or hatching in North America are bantam Silkies. This indicates that they are mini variations of standard-sized chickens.
Normally, bantam Silkies will weigh about half the normal weight of a common chicken, and their eggs will be about a 3rd smaller size than typical eggs.
You can find standard-sized Silkies in Europe and other areas, however sadly, they aren’t prevalent in the States rather yet.
Typically, Silkies found in North America grow to about 8 to fourteen inches high and will weigh around 4 pounds at most.
Silkies tend to be relatively compact with rounded bodies, short, and squat legs.
Among the most distinguishing features of the Silkie chicken is the muff of ear plumes and beard that each of these chickens has.
Your birds need to have these qualities to certify if you are keeping Silkie chickens for poultry shows or breeding purposes.
You can buy Silkie chickens that are bearded or non-bearded. Bearded Silkies will usually have an additional muff of plumes under the beak area.
Silkies have purplish-black combs and wattles. These can often be challenging to see versus the dark skin of the type.
Silkies are likewise special because their plumes do not have barbicels.
Barbicels are little hooks that lock the individual hairs of a plume together. This absence of barbicels is what makes a Silkie chicken appearance so fluffy– the hairs grow loosely and have the appearance of a thick clump instead of individual plumes.
These chickens have a tuft of plumes on the tops of their heads.
These normally grow rather long and curl around their faces.
Below this leading crest, they will have a vaulted skull that provides a susceptible area at the base of the head.
This can trigger some severe damage or perhaps death if your chicken discovers itself, to name a few aggressive chickens who wish to peck the top of its head.
Silkie chickens likewise grow plumes down their legs, another identifying function of the type.
Below their plumes, they are distinct from other types because they have black skin and bones. They have brilliant blue-green earlobes, too.
Another breed-standard attribute of the Silkie chicken?– These birds have the polydactyly gene, which suggests everyone has an extra toe on each foot.
This toe is on the back of a leg and looks like the dewclaw on a dog.
Silkies aren’t the only chicken breed to display this distinct quality– other types like Sultans, Faverolles, and Dorking chickens also have this feature.
In addition to informal color mixes like lavender and cuckoo, Silkies are readily available in numerous colors acknowledged by the American Poultry Association.
These consist of:
Silkies are treasured for their plumage, and now lots of breeds have been intermixed with Silkies to offer offspring with this distinct feathering.
What Is It Like to Own a Silkie Chicken?
This section checks out the character, broodiness, and character of Silkie chickens.
Silkies are incredibly friendly and widely acknowledged for their calm personalities. They are well suited to other chickens and can quickly be raised in confinement.
If you have kids, a Silkie chicken is one to think about since it will be well suited to children of all personalities.
These birds are typically raised as pets. They enjoy being pets and are offered great deals of attention.
Broodiness of Silkie Chickens
Silkie chickens are well-known for their propensity to go broody.
Although many breeders have selectively reproduced this broodiness out of other chicken breeds to take full advantage of egg production, Silkies have been raised specifically for this particular feature.
Since Silkies are outstanding moms, they are frequently raised to rear the offspring of other birds, consisting of ducks, geese, and other chicken breeds.
Silkie chickens will go broody numerous times in one season, frequently investing several months of the year resting on a nest of eggs.
After the eggs hatch, Silkie moms are considered listening to baby chicks, taking care of their young long after growing.
If your Silkie chicken goes broody, the most convenient way to handle this is to enable her to do so.
If you anticipate or require a lot of eggs, nevertheless, you can attempt to break her from these habits by putting her in a wire-bottomed cage far from the flock.
Interactions & Temperament of Silkie Chickens
Since Silkie chickens are so docile and friendly, this, sadly, causes them to be bullied often by other breeds.
It might be best to prevent keeping a Silkie chicken in a blended flock, which can trigger some supremacy problems.
These animals are docile and friendly and are more than happy to reside in confinement.
Health and Wellbeing of Silkie Chickens
You need to be mindful about keeping your Silkie chicken in an aggressive flock.
For factors currently pointed out, a Silkie chicken will not resist if it participates in a spat, and the soft spot at the top of its head makes it susceptible to attacks.
In addition, Silkies have significantly bad vision compared to most other breeds.
Because their feathery crests and facial plumes can grow to obscure their eyes, you might need to take some extra care to help your silkie chickens in seeing much better.
Fortunately, Silkie chickens are easy to deal and handle, so it will not take a great deal of effort on your part to raise them.
As a breeder or a purchaser of a Silkie chicken, you can gently pluck the plumes away from the Silkie’s face to assist it in seeing much better.
You can also pint the crest back using a hair or zip tie. If you are mild, neither of these habits will damage the plumes of the bird.
Make certain you are exceptionally cautious about doing this if you intend on entering your chicken into a competitive show, as the plumage needs to be in good shape.
Since the plumes of Silkie chickens extend to their feet, you need to be cautious if you are keeping your flock in a damp or cold location.
Silkies are excellent about cleaning their own feet plumes, as they are with the rest of their plumes. However, if you keep them in a muddy pen, they might have a difficult time drying. This can result in some health concerns.
Ensure you keep their living location clean at all times and also supply a dry roost for sleeping.
In addition, since the plumes on a Silkie chicken are not like those of other chickens and are more comparable to a down product, these birds do not succeed in damp environments.
Their plumes are not water-resistant, so you need to supply them with adequate shelter during rainy seasons.
The very same guideline applies to snow– although this type can endure the cold, damp rainfall of any kind is a significant issue.
Perfect Living Conditions for Silkie Chickens
Silkie Chickens do not fly well, so you do not need to worry about constructing an unusually high fence. You can quickly keep them in a chicken run or a yard with a low fence.
This can show a concern with predators, nevertheless, as Silkies fall instead of fly and might have a tough time escaping a possible assaulter.
For that reason, you need to supply a confined run that secures your birds from predators; however, it also provides many areas to run about.
They choose low and close perches to the ground so that it is simpler to hop up without hurting themselves.
Each Silkie will require about 10 square feet of run area and 4 square feet inside the chicken cage.
Offering your Silkie chickens more area is certainly recommended, as insufficient space can trigger the birds to tease each other.
They frequently burrow on the flooring instead of setting down on a roost, so you’ll need to provide an additional area for this, too.
If they do not have adequate areas to burrow close together, this can cause suffocation and other possibly fatal issues.
If you should get or manage your Silkie chicken, you should set them down thoroughly on the ground later.
Dropping them from a significant height can trigger severe injury, as you may make with other chickens.
Silkies also like to be offered great deals of dust to bathe in. All chickens produce dust as they grow out their plumes, with the shafts exfoliating as the plumes grow out.
This is especially typical in the spring months. However, it can also take place as a molt in the fall.
When your Silkie chickens molt, they will produce a remarkable quantity of dust. Providing great deals of areas to clean themselves can help in reducing the number of particles they produce.
Silkie chickens grow in captivity. However, they do best when they are offered a long time outdoors. This will permit them to take in the sun and munch on lawns and bugs.
The Silkie chicken breed is relatively resistant to the cold but is extremely conscious of heat. Ensure they have lots of cold water and shade when the heat increases.
If the weather condition is above 100 degrees, you might need to provide a fan or some other kind of cooling system in your chicken cage.
Silkie Chicken Yields (Eggs & Meat)
Egg and meat yields are a few of the primary factors that individuals keep silkie chickens (although they also make excellent family pets).
This section will assist you in understanding what type of yields you need to anticipate to see from Silkie chickens.
Did you know that the meat of Silkie chickens is considered a specialty in some parts of Asia?
This is because the meat has a richer, more delicious taste than the meat of other chicken breeds, and it is also a bit darker.
As a result, it is used in numerous conventional Asian meals such as curries, Chinese soup, braising dishes, broths, and more.
It is even thought to reinforce the muscles and strengthen the body’s immune system.
While this was mostly considered folklore for several years.
The Ministry of Education at Nanchang University recently carried out a research study that determined the amounts of naturally occurring peptides in this type compared to other popular breeds of chicken.
Silkie meat was discovered to include two times the quantity of these peptides as meat from the typical Plymouth Rock.
Silkie meat is great for you!
Silkie chickens lay moderate quantities of eggs each year. These are a light cream color, with each hen laying around 100 to 150 eggs annually.
Regrettably, although Silkies have the prospective to lay a remarkable quantity of eggs, their laying season is frequently interrupted by their propensity to go broody.
The specific quantity of eggs you get from your Silkie chicken will differ depending on the conditions in which it is living, along with the individual bird
Some Silkies will lay an egg every day of the year, while others may just lay once a week.
For that reason, it’s not a good idea to raise Silkies entirely for egg production, as you will likely be dissatisfied.
Advantages of Raising Silkie Chickens.
There are several advantages to raising Silkie chickens that make them an excellent option compared to other birds.
These birds are a few of the mildest, caring animals you will find. They are also an exceptional option for keeping around kids!
These chickens have stunning fluffy coats that make them the star of the poultry competitors. They’re also extremely soft to the animal.
Capability to Domesticate:
Many individuals keep Silkie chickens inside– you might even keep among these chickens in a home! They are docile and like a human companion.
Silkies are among the very best breeds at hatching their eggs, along with the eggs of other poultry.
Capability to Withstand Confinement:
If you do not have the ways to enable your chickens to have complimentary variety at all times, the Silkie chicken is a great option. These birds can be kept in a chicken cage or a little run with very little ill results.
Outstanding for the Garden:
Silkie chickens are not harmful and love to stroll around in the garden when offered the opportunity. This will permit them sufficient access to the worms, bugs, and weeds growing in your plot.
No Need for Wing Clipping:
Because these chickens can’t fly high, you will not need to stress over clipping their wings or keeping them confined with high fences.
Disadvantages of Raising Silkie Chickens
While there are many advantages connected with raising Silkie chickens, there are also some difficulties to be familiar with.
You need to anticipate raising Silkies if you live someplace that is particularly hot or if the run in which you will raise your Silkie chickens is cold, muddy, or damp.
In addition to those issues, these are a few of the most significant disadvantages associated with raising Silkie chickens:
Silkie Chickens Cannot Withstand Heat:
Because these chickens are covered in such a thick mat of feathers, they do not carry out well in severe heat.
Silkie Chickens Have Poor Egg and Meat Production:
Silkie chickens are mostly raised as family pets or show breeds. They are small, so they do not produce amazing quantities of meat for the quantity of food you should feed them. Their egg production is frequently interrupted by their broodiness.
Poor Position in the Pecking Order:
Because they are so calm and friendly, Silkie chickens are typically bullied by other flock members.
Prone to Predators:
These chickens do not run so quickly, have bad vision, and can’t fly or leap well. For that reason, you will need incredibly safe housing if you choose to raise them.
Baby Silkies: Raising Silkies as Chicks.
Silkie eggs take about 21 days to hatch.
In many cases, they might take a bit longer if you are using a broody hen or perhaps an incubator to hatch your eggs.
These birds hatch rather gradually, pecking at the eggshell with a little accessory on their beaks called an egg-tooth. This tooth falls off a couple of days after hatching.
If you are hatching your Silkie chicks, leave them in the incubator till they have dried.
They will be nice and fluffy by the time they are ready to be moved. Then, you can move them to a well-stocked brooder with water, chick feed, and a great heat light.
Silkies ought to be kept in the new box for about six weeks.
It might be appealing to move your Silkie chicks to an outside pen sooner, given that they are covered in such thick plumes.
However, it would help if you waited to ensure they have enough feathers to deal with cooler temperature levels.
You might need to wait up until spring has embedded in to move your birds.
Silkies reach full size in about 3 or 4 months.
During this development duration, they will place on numerous new plumes, shedding their old ones as they do so.
You might find that they leave a great deal of dust behind as they place on new development.
It is essentially difficult to determine the distinctions between male and female Silkies till they reach about 6 or 7 months of age.
There aren’t numerous significant differences between the genders, and you typically will not have the ability to tell them apart up until the silkie hens begin laying eggs or the roosters begin crowing.
Is the Silkie Chicken Right For You?
If you’re interested in raising a Silkie chicken, know that it isn’t much you need to do to keep them happy and healthy.
Give them lots of healthy food and clean water.
Provide a safe coop so that they can leave the sun and escape from predators, and give great deals of dirt in which to scratch.
Sometimes, you might need to gently groom your Silkie chicken to make certain she or he can see and move with no concerns.
Otherwise, this chicken breed is among the easiest and most satisfying you can raise.
You might get a couple of curious glimpses from your neighbors– you might even have some individuals who do not think your Silkies are chickens!– however think of this, raising these eccentric birds is always worth it.
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