The Silkie or Silky is a unique chicken breed that weighs around 1.5 to 3.5 pounds. It is famous and loved for the fluffy and furry hair plumage that resembles silk and satin.
Every other characteristic of this chicken breed is unique and unusual. From black bones and skin to blue earlobes, Silkie has it all.
Unlike other chicken breeds, Silkie has five toes that make its appearance even more unusual. Silkies are generally showed up for poultry shows due to their attractive physical appearance.
These rare chicken breeds are known for their calm and friendly behavior. You can bring them into your poultry farm, and they can easily get along with other chickens as well. The hens are particularly affectionate and care for their young ones as well.
Silkies are generally used to lay eggs from other breeds and birds species. You can easily pet these chickens and keep them in your home. They are friendly with children, but you need to give them extra care and support.
Silkies: The Origin
There is no particular evidence when and where the single combination of the chicken attributes first appeared in the world. But, it is often stated that Silikie originated in the Southeast Asian region back in the 1200s.
Even Marco Polo, in the 13th century, mentioned about a chicken that had fur-like feathers and black skin, and he definitely referred to Silkies.
Gradually, this unique breed made its way to North America. In 1874, Silkie was accepted as the North American Standard of Perfection. There are 6 standard colors approved by the American Bantam Association: black, blue, buff, partridge, white, gray, and splash.
Other colors of Silkie, which are popular but not accepted as the standard color, include red, porcelain, lavender, and cuckoo. Silkie is also deemed as an ornamental chicken breed due to its unique colors and characteristics.
Silkie Chicken Breed Profile
Now, that you have learned a lot about Silkie, the unique fluffy chicken breed, let’s take a look at its breed profile to sum up all the information scattered above.
Name: Silkie, Chinese Silky Chicken
Bread Purpose: Ornamental, eggs, meat or petting
Temperament: Calm, easy to pet, friendly, quiet, and docile.
Country of Origin: China, Japan or India
Varieties Available: Black, white, gold, partridge, triple laced silver partridge, red, buff, grey, and blue.
Weight: Male – 1-1.5 kg (2-3 lbs): Female – 0.5-1.75 kg (1.5-2 lbs)
Eggs Count: 80-100 eggs annually
Egg Size: Small
Egg Color: Tinted or cream
Comb: Single and walnut-shaped
Toes: Five and feathered
Heat Tolerance: Not much tolerant of heat
Silkie Physical Characteristics
It is quite evident that Silkie is a unique chicken breed that is solely known for its unusual characteristics. Whether it’s the fur or bones, Silkie has got some unconventional chicken characteristics that you would not find anywhere.
Here are some physical characteristics that make Silkies an attractive breed.
Silk-like feathers are the bizarre features of this unusual chicken breed that has bagged this birdie plenty of fame.
Everyone is often curious to know that why Silkie has such silky soft feathers that people adore. The feathers of the Silkie are not barbed to hold the strands together which allows the feathers to form individual strands.
This makes the feather more silky and soft, just like satin. It also gives the chicken a fluffy look and silky softness to the fur.
Silkie’s feathers are not just restricted to its body, and they have a few silky feathers on their legs and middle toe as well. Their plumage can get waterlogged as their feather doesn’t allow the easy drainage of the water. Hence, these unique chickens cannot swim.
Wattles is one of the distinctive features of Silkies that makes them different from the others.
Wattles is the fleshy part below the beak. When it comes to wattles, the non-bearded Silkies have much longer wattles compared to the bearded ones. Both bearded cock and hen Silkie have smaller wattles.
Bearded Silkies are the ones that have a fluffy beard around the bottom of the beak. The earlobes of the bearded Silkies are also hidden due to the fur.
Topknot or Feathery Crest
Topknot or the feather crest is the hairy crown that is grown on the top of these chickens’ heads. Both bearded and non-bearded Silkies are blessed with this enticing topknot.
These chicken breeds also have a fleshy area on the top of their head, which is called the comb. Unlike, the other chicken breeds, Silkies have quite a different comb altogether.
The comb resembles a wart-like lump on their forehead, unlike the spiky one found in other chickens. Another important feature of the crest is that some Silkies are born with a domed skull that means their heads are arched upwards, making the crest even more prominent.
Dark Bones, Meat and Skin
The dark bones and skin is yet another unique Silkie feature. Silkies have blueish blackish skin, bones, and meat. This uncommon feature of their black skin is known as melanism.
While melanism is also found in a few other chicken breeds as well, it is more studied in Silkies than any other breed. Marco Polo also mentioned the dark-skinned chicken that had furs and dark bones and skin.
Colored earlobes are not common among chickens and certainly not turquoise earlobes. Silkies are blessed with unique turquoise earlobes that make their appearance even more unique than the others.
There is no scientific evidence regarding this pigmentation on the earlobes. The turquoise pigmentation is often connected with the black skin of the Silkie. Anyhow, the blue earlobes are one of the significant attractions of Silkie chicken.
Silkie is a feathered chicken known for its fur-like feathers, and their feathers grow on their toes as well.
There are plenty of other chicken breeds as well that have feathery legs like Belgian Bearded d’Uccle, Cochin, Langhshan, Brahma chickens, Langshan, Faverolle, and Sultan.
Due to their fluffy legs, Silkies are not able to swim as their legs become waterlogged, making them weigh heavily.
Generally, chickens have four toes, but Silkie has emerged as a unique chicken breed with its five toes built.
The extra toe of the Silkie is grown from the hind toe that eventually curves upwards. In the majority of the Silkies, the curved toes don’t touch the ground.
There are other chicken breeds as well that have five toes, including, Faverolle, Houdan. Dorking and Sultan. Genes are generally responsible for the extra toe in chicken breeds that have British and European origination. But, in Silkies, genes are not found to be responsible for the five toes.
Silkie hens are more popular for their broodiness and often used to hatch eggs from the reliable breeds of the other chickens and birds.
Generally, broody hens stop laying eggs, and Silkies have a low egg production. They don’t lay more than 100 eggs a year, but the eggs laid are of good quality.
As they age, Silkie hens start laying much fewer eggs. It is essential to understand their diet and help them lay nutritious eggs.
Calm and Friendly
If you are a poultry farmer, you would know that chickens are placid, primarily when they are raised in a homely environment.
Silkies, in general, have calm and composed behavior. They are friendly towards humans, which means you can easily pet them and bring them inside your home as well.
Compared to other roosters, the Silkie rooster can tolerate other roosters in the flock and even develop a friendly bond with them.
Due to their calm behavior, they are easily oppressed by other aggressive breeds. It is essential to take care of the Silkies when they are raised with other chicken breeds.
Things to Know Before Raising Silkies
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of raising Silkies:
- Silkies are the most beautiful and enchanting chicken that you can bring home.
- Silkies love getting attention from their human companion and adores their company. These are one of the friendliest birds you will find.
- Silkies have fur-like feathers that are silky smooth making them more attractive when they walk around in your backyard.
- Silkies make great pets and love being around humans.
- Silkies are easy to maintain and do not require any additional support to raise them.
- Silkies are great mothers. They love their young ones and care for them till they are old enough to grow on their own.
- Silkies are not good at laying eggs. They hardly produce 100 eggs a year.
- Silkies have small eggs and very small chickens.
- Silkies are only suitable for wet climates, so when you bring them to hot climates, you need to pay attention to their health.
- Silkies are vulnerable to other aggressive and dominant breeds.
- Silkies generally weigh less than other breeds of their age.
Fun Facts About Silkies
It is quite evident that Silkie is one of the famous chicken breeds for their unique physical traits.
They are fluffy, cute, and friendly chicks, and these are the characteristics that make Silkies unique from the other breeds.
They are easy to handle and pet, all you need is to give them as much attention you can.
Take a look at some of the interesting facts about Silkies:
Silkies are a Fluffy Chicken
You would have never seen a chicken as furry and fluffy as Silkies. The feathers do not have barbs that hold them together. Hence they are spread as individual strands, making them look fluffy and fury.
Due to their fury feathers, Silkies catch a cold in extreme weather conditions. You need to maintain an ideal temperature in the coop during winters.
Silkies are Good Pets
Unlike some other chicken, you can bring Silkie to your home and pet them. They are extremely friendly towards humans and love their company.
Due to their docile character, they are easy to handle and keep around the children as well. They don’t even make noise or barely fly as other chickens do. Hence, they are the ideal chickens for petting purposes.
Silkies are extremely cute, and they just need complete attention from their owners. So, when you bring home Silkies, make sure to give them your time. They can sit in your lap for the entire day and take the feed from your hands as well.
Silkies are Great Moms
When it comes to motherhood, Silkies make wonderful mothers. They have a tendency to go broody, which is much higher than any other chicken breed.
Silkies will care for their babies until they are capable of living on their own. Their motherhood is not restricted to their kids only.
Silkies can even raise the babies of their flock mates as well, and surprisingly baby ducks and turkeys as well.
Though it is quite unbelievable that a low weighing Silkie can raise a bunch of babies on their own. But, it is true as it can be, you don’t have nurse the baby Silkies as their mothers are capable enough to look after their young ones very well.
Silkies are a Delicacy
It is said that Silkie chicken meat has a great taste and restaurants sell Silkie delights with a handsome price tag.
In many cultures, Silkie meat is believed to have healing properties as well. They contain more nutritional elements than traditional chicken meat. Hence, they are preferred as a great delicacy.
In China, where Silkies were believed to be originated, women tend to eat Silkie meat after their delivery to strengthen their bones and muscles. It is quite challenging to get Silkie meat.
The Bottom Line
Silkie is one of the popular chicken breeds that is known for its fluffy style.
Silkie got its name due to its silk-like feather that gave this particular breed a unique identity. They look adorable and plenty of poultry farmers bring them into their farm due to their enticing look.