Keeping Pet Chickens

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A Guide To Keeping Chickens At Home

Silkie Chickens

August 16th, 2010 at 17:39

Silkie Chickens Make Great Pets For The Family

Silkie Chickens Background

silkie chickenSilkies 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

silkie cockerelSilkies 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.

Silkie Show winner

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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22 Responses to “Silkie Chickens”

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  22. Sylvester Says:

    Strange to see Silkies without beards as most of the ones in the States have a full fluff of silky feathers completely surrounding their head, face, and chin with no wattles making them completely adorable. Regardless of their cherubic appearance they can be quite hardy, alert to predators and sounding barnyard alerts, and friendly to any human offering them treats. Some Silkies can be subdued and quiet while others can be very vocal and noisy. An excellent pet for children as long as adults are aware of the strong broodiness of this breed. Silkies will set on imaginary eggs in a nest box and will brood to death if you don’t intervene to make sure they get nourishment. Breaking a Silkie broody is nearly impossible so you must intervene for their own health or else give them some fertile eggs to set. If one Silkie goes broody many if not all the others follow. They can be the busiest foragers in a mixed flock but not recommended to mix them with any breed larger than 4 lbs as these gentle chooks can be bullied easily. As for egg colors, the range is a chalky cream to a glossy pinkish tan, and if not brooding or moulting a hen can lay 5-6 small eggs per week. During rain or mud conditions these little fluff balls have to be kept in a dry enclosure because of the delicate condition of their feathering which goes completely down to their toes. Because of their feathering Silkies don’t fly but they can run and jump extremely fast when motivated. Not recommended for open field ranging but great as backyard pets or surrogate broodies.

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