Chinese Silk Chickens, also known as Silkie or Silky chickens, are a popular backyard pet. They are a commonly found, ornamental breed. Silkies are known for being fluffy! They are named ‘Silkie’ because of their soft silk-like feathers which are more like fur or the down of other birds. Silkies are a light weight chicken. Males will weigh around 1.8kg and females will weigh 1.3kg. Bantam males are 600g and females 500g.
The chicken was first documented by Marco Polo, described as a white Silkie with black-blue earlobes and five toes instead of four. They are a domesticated breed used for poultry farming, egg production, and poultry shows and come in a wide range of colors. They have a calm demeanor and are broody, caring for their younger ones but the hens are not good egg-layers. Due to their friendly behavior, they are often targeted by more aggressive birds and predators.
Silkies are most recognisable by their fluffy feathers. They even have feathers on their feet. Silkies’ feathers lack barbicels. These are the tiny hooks that keep feathers neat and held together. This gives Silkies their furry appearance.
They have broad bodies with five toes instead of the typical four found on most other chicken breeds. Their skin and bones are black. Their beak is short. Silkies have a walnut shaped comb. The comb and their wattles are black or mulberry in colour.
Two Sizes Of Silkie:
1. The miniature or bantam Silkie – These are small with the males topping the scales at 600g (22ozs) and hens at 500g (18ozs).
2. Standard fowl – Large Fowl Silkies weigh in at 1.8 kg (4lbs) for the males and the hens at 1.36kg (3lbs).
What Is A Silkie’s Habitat?
The Silkie chicken is a domesticated breed so they are often found in backyards and farms where they are raised and incubated for their offspring for commercial use. With the help of the domestication methods, their natural habitats have changed into human settlements where they are reared and kept all their lives
How Long Does A Silkie Live?
The average life expectancy range of a Silkie chicken is estimated to be about seven to nine years.
How Do They Reproduce?
The mating characteristics of Silkie chickens are quite unusual where the roosters usually display a type of courting ritual by prancing around the female and clucking at her. Being poor egg-layers, the Silkie chickens require a bit of time every now and then for a successful mating process.
Copulation is not always required as the females can store the sperm in their bodies for at least a couple of weeks and sometimes much longer. One rooster is capable of easily mating with eight or a dozen hens while keeping all of them fertile. Silkie hens lay an average of 100-120 eggs annually which results in two to three eggs in a week, which is quite low in comparison to other breeds of chickens. Their eggs are whitish-cream in color
Are They Good Pets?
Silkies make great backyard pets! They are happy to sit on your lap or follow you around the yard, bonding with their owners. They are also tolerant of being picked up and fast movements. This makes them a great pet for young children, seniors, people with special needs and those who have no experience with chickens.
Experts accepted the Silkie chicken into the British Poultry Standard of Perfection in 1865 and the American Poultry Association standard in 1874. The Australian Poultry Standard accepted Silkies in 1998 (bantams only). Interestingly, all Silkies in the US and Canada are considered to be bantam regardless of size. Every other country in the world recognizes both bantam and large fowl types.
In the UK, large fowl Silkies should weigh around 4lb (64oz) for the male and 3lb (48oz) for the females, and bantams should weigh around 600g (21oz) for males and 500g (18oz) for females. Accepted colors are blue, black, white, grey, buff, splash, and partridge. Several other colors are available, such as lavender, cuckoo, and red, but they are not yet accepted in the APA.
What Is The Difference Between A Bantam And A Standard Silkie?
Silkies are considered a bantam breed in some countries, but this varies according to region and many breed standards class them officially as large fowl. The bantam Silkie is actually a separate variety most of the time and as the size varies from region to region it can be very confusing.
In the US only bantams are recognised, and there are very few that are larger than bantams. In other countries, different weights and standards apply. ALL Silkies began as bantams. Large fowl were bred up from the bantam.
How Big Do Silkies Get?
Silkies weigh about 2-3 pounds and are about the size of a Chihuahua dog.
Why Are They Called Silkies?
They’re called Silkies because their feathers resemble the down on chicks – and it feels “silky.”
How High Can Silkies Jump?
Because they don’t really fly, silkies can’t roost like other chickens. So, they can only jump a couple feet at a time. Do silkies roost? Well, they DO enjoy sleeping off the ground, even if they can’t roost up high. You’ll want to give your silkies an easy way to get higher. We put bales of hay in our coop for the silkies to jump up on – and they can get 5-6 feet in the air easily.
What Age Do Silkie Chickens Start Crowing? Do Silkies Crow?
If your silkie is a rooster, he should start crowing at about 7 months. However, not all silkies will crow. It depends on the individual chicken.
How Long Do Silkie Chickens Live For?
Silkies, like other chickens, can live for 4-8 years, when kept in ideal conditions and fed correctly. To give your silkie the best quality of life, you should keep them in a coop with fresh water and plenty of high quality feed. You should also give your pet chicken medical care when needed and herbal supplements to support her health
Are Silkies Friendly?
Yes, especially if raised as pets from birth. They’re quiet, and when they’ve bonded to their human, they often follow their owners around. Many seniors keep silkies because they’re friendlier than other chicken breeds and enjoy being around their humans.