Friday, February 2, 2018

You should raise silkies!

Every once in awhile I like to do a mini profile on one of the breeds I raise and today, I'd like to discuss the silkie chicken. I started raising silkies about 8 years ago. I think they are the darn cutest thing ever, though many people don't agree with me! I think they look like fluffy muppets though and just adore the dozen or so I always have. 

I started raising silkies because I thought they were super cute. With their fluffy feathers, they almost resemble rabbits more than chickens. They are very soft and have the sweetest temperament of any chicken I've raised. Silkies also won the hearts of all the children that visited, letting themselves be carried around and petted for hours...and you'll want to pet them when you feel how soft their unique feathers are!

Raising silkie chickens

Though they are small in stature, silkies are big on personality! My silkies especially are total characters and are actually pretty smart. A silkie roo was the first chicken I trained to walk on a leash and I often took him to events to teach people about raising backyard chickens for eggs. 


all about silkie chickens

Interesting facts about Silkie Chickens

  • The earliest mention of silkies is in the writings of Marco Polo from his travels to Asia during the 13th century.
  • Silkie feathers lack barbicles which are the tiny hooks that keep feathers attached to each other, so they are not smooth but rather fluffy in appearance. 
  • Because of their unique feathers, silkies can not fly at all.
  • They are only available as a bantam in the United States, but other countries do have standard size silkies.
  • Silkies have crests which is just a way to say 'big poof of feathers on the head'.
  • They come in both bearded and non bearded.
  • Silkies have bluish colored earlobes, with an iridescent sheen to them.
  • They have a mulberry colored walnut comb and very small or no wattles.
  • Silkies have heavily feathered legs and feet.
  • They have 5 toes on each foot, with the extra toe coming out below the 'thumb' area.
  • Silkies have black colored skin and the meat of a silkie chicken is also black. 
  • In the American Standard of Perfection, the weight of a hen is 32 oz and the rooster is 36oz. Unlike many breeds, the silkie standard varies in other countries.
  • Silkies are available in many recognized colors including: blue, black, grey, white, partridge and buff and several newer colors: cuckoo, paint, lavender, red, splash and more.
  • Hens lay a small cream colored egg. They are very broody, often hatching several clutches of chicks a year. 
  • A hen will only produce about 100 eggs a year because  of their tendency to go broody.
  • Silkies are very devoted mothers. They will often raise other hens chicks, accepting them days or weeks after hatch.  
  • They have a mild temperament. 
silkie chicks are kid friendly

Though silkies are known for their sweet temperament, the roosters are fiercely protective of the hens especially from any threat. Whether it be a bear (rest in peace Rusty roo) or my ankles, silkie roosters will do their best to defend themselves and their ladies against anything that may come their way. They are also quite vocal, but thankfully don't sound as much like a squeaky toy as other bantam breeds!  

Adding to the uniqueness of silkie chickens, their meat is considered a gourmet food in certain countries. It has been eaten as a soup for it's believed medicinal qualities since the 7th century. Many recipes are available for it often calling it black chicken soup in reference to its colored meat. I've never tried it, but if you have I'm very interested in hearing your opinion!

black silkie chicken hen

What do you think? Are silkie chickens too cute for words or just plain weird looking?

~L

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11 comments:

  1. Is it hard to break a broody silkie? I can't have roosters so I have no need for a broody hen.

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    1. No harder than a regular chicken....you just might have to do it more often! lol

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  2. How are they with cleanliness with those cute feathers?

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    1. They're actually not too bad! The feet do get a little muddy from time to time, but they manage to keep themselves surprisingly clean!

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  3. I think they are adorable, too. however: the small size isn't what I'm looking for in a chicken. I am looking for them to have eggs and meat. The eggs are so small, that they wouldn't be much use, and not laying many a year, well.....Also, as much as I'd like to try the meat, lets face it, a quail might be cute, but try cooking a quail and not burning it to a char and then ...well, you'd have to eat about a dozen of them or cook a dozen .5 in order to have a meal...Same with Silkies, I'd imagine. On a working farm, you need livestock that can WORK or 'pay their way', something these really can't do.
    But they ARE cute!
    Carol L

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    1. Oh, I agree! I have some standard sized chickens too for eggs and meat. These guys are fun to have around though.

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  4. Are speckled sussex godd layers or decent

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    1. Hello! I have never raised speckled sussex so I don't know from experience....but i hear they lay well even in winter!

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  5. I totally agree with you. We started raising chickens last spring and got a few silkies as well. They are so cute and enjoyable to watch. They help me decompress after work.

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    1. They really do make a great pet, don't they?

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