Silkie ChickensAugust 16th, 2010 at 17:39
Silkie Chickens Make Great Pets For The Family
Silkie Chickens Background
Silkies are a light breed of chicken approx 1.5kg – 2 kg that arrived from China to the western world around the 1300′s. It is reported that Marco Polo was responsible for introducing the birds to the USA.
Silkys Appearance and Characteristics
Children love Silkies as pet chickens, as they’re fascinated by the unusual feathering, some describe them as the poodles of the fowl world. The beautiful plumage has helped them become extremely popular as pets.
There are a great deal of popular strains and Silkies come in an array of colours which include white, black, partridge, cuckoo, red buff and lavender, all with super blue ear lobes.
The comb of the Silkie is called a mulberry or cushion comb and is eliptical in shape, the cock has a rather spiky crest whilst the hens is more like a ‘powder puff’. There are also some strains that are bearded, which as you’ve probably guessed means they have a fluffy beard around their chin, instead of the wattles of the un-bearded type.
One defining fact is that both sexes have an extra toe at the back of each foot and it’s typical for them to have a dark skin tone colour and skeleton.
The reason the feathers are so fluffy is due to the fact that their feathers lack barbs. The lack of the hard shaft is what gives them the beautiful, puffy, hair-like feathers instead of standard feathers.
Caring For Silkie Chickens
Silkies are a very easy breed to keep and love, and they’re quite sweet tempered and even the cocks are friendly towards their owners.
One thing to be aware of is due to the lack of a firm center shaft of the feathers, the air goes through the silk like feathers instead of around them. This is why silkies can’t fly any real distance. if at all, so you’ll need to provide a low roost area, just an inch or two high. But if you’re going to adopt more than one Silkie, you’ll find they’ll cuddle up together on the floor of the coop when they sleep and it’ll seem you’ve got a silky carpet laid out.
Always give them access to a dry run and warm coop as muddy conditions can seriously clog up their plumage. It’s also very important to keep them away from any ponds or pools outside the run as their feathers will soak up the water and could cause them to drown.
Eggs And Brooding
Silkies lay a creamy brown egg and can be expected to produce between 100 – 120 eggs before becoming broody. The hens are legendary for their brooding and mothering instincts and stories abound of silkie hens hatching and caring for other breeds of chickens, ducks and geese, as well as their own chicks. So if your other breeds don’t come up to scratch as mums, then your Silkies are the best natural incubator you could use.
Feeding Your Silkie Chooks
Often normal pellets are too large for silkies to eat, so feed them layer crumbles or chick grower. You can also feed them a mash made of bran, grated apple and carrot mixed with meat meal and a little vegetable oil once or twice a week. Grass is essential and if the chooks cannot run on grass, acceptable alternatives include cabbage or a little lettuce.
Health And Lifespan.
Silkies have a lifespan of 8 – 10 years. They are susceptible to the odd infestation of lice, but if your hen is brooding then check them more often as they don’t tend to leave the nest to take dust baths etc. Regular health checks for lice, mites and other ailments is required (just the same as other breeds) and they should be wormed every 3 months or so.
Silkies are an ideal bird to introduce both the novice and children to poultry keeping and pet care…
Watch the video to see an assortment of Silkies scratching around
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