Silkie Chickens – Breed Profile & Facts
Silkie chickens are among the most adorable and docile chicken breeds. These chickens have fluffy plumage, making them look lovely. They have unusual qualities, such as blue earlobes, black skins and bones, and five toes on their feet. Silkie chickens are also decent layers and meat producers.
Where do Silkie Chickens Come From?
Silkie chickens are native to Asia, specifically Japan and China. There are also Silkie chickens in India. Early documentation shows that these chickens were prevalent in China before they became popular in Asia and the rest of the globe.
How to Recognize a Silkie Chicken?
Silkie chickens are easy to recognize. These small-sized chickens come in two varieties: the non-bearded and bearded varieties. The bearded Silkie chicken has a muff of feathers beneath its beak area.
These feathers help cover the chicken’s earlobes. Overly, Silkie chickens come in various colors, including gray, partridge, black, blue, and buff. Some Silkie chickens can also be red or lavender.
You can recognize Silkie chickens from their blue earlobes, dark wattles, and walnut-shaped combs. These chickens have five toes on every foot. All Silkie varieties have bluish or black skin. Their bones are also bluish or black, while their meat is grayish-black.
How Big Do Silkie Chickens Grow?
Silkie chickens are pretty small. They can grow between 8 and 14 inches tall. Silkie roosters are relatively bigger than hens. Roosters weigh between 1.4 kg and 1.8 kg. Hens weigh between 1 and 1.4 kg.
Are Silkie Chickens Easy to Care For?
Yes, Silkie chickens are pretty easy to care for. These chickens require similar care to other chickens. Silkies are hardy, and they are also highly cold-tolerant birds, unlike other chicken breeds. You will hardly lose your Silkie chickens in winter due to freezing or frostbite.
Thanks to their tiny size, silkie chickens need much smaller cages than other chickens. While these cute birds are pretty easy to care for, they still require plenty of water and food. Silkies can live long, provided you keep your birds healthy and clean. Below are a couple of tips on taking proper care of your Silkie chickens.
- Housing – Good housing is mandatory for Silkie chickens. Silkies thrive well in good living conditions. Prepare the coop before you take these birds home. Being small as they are, Silkies don’t need a large living space.
- Bedding – Bedding is crucial for Silkies. Although they have a thicker plumage than most birds, they still require bedding to keep them dry and warm. You can use various bedding materials such as sawdust, wood shavings, newspaper shredding, hay, or pine needles.
- Feeder and waterer – have sufficient numbers of feeders and waterers according to the number of Silkie chickens you have in your flock. Buy water feeders rather than filling up containers with water to avoid Silkie chickens from falling and drowning in water containers.
- Protect your Silkies from predators – Keeping your Silkie chickens safe from predators is a crucial part of taking care of your Silkies. Since Silkies can’t fight predators due to their tiny size and docile nature, predator-proof their coop to keep your Silkies safe from predators.
What to Feed Silkie Chickens?
Silkie chickens need a proper diet like other chicken breeds. Feeding your Silkies with a good diet is crucial to keeping happy and healthy Silkies. Consider providing your Silkies chickens with layer crumbles instead of pellets, which are too large for the Silkies to swallow without choking.
You can also feed your Silkie a mash from bran, carrots, a couple of vegetables, and grated fruits such as apples or tomatoes.
Such a mash will provide your Silkies with a complete diet which will be crucial for their growth. Vegetables such as kale, cucumber, and lettuce are vital for chickens, including Silkies. The fiber in vegetables will keep your Silkies feeling full, hindering them from overeating. Vegetables are also crucial for strengthening your Silkies’ immune system.
Protein is vital for Silkie chickens, particularly laying Silkies. Protein helps Silkie hens lay highly nutritious eggs. It is also essential for egg development.
Some good protein sources for Silkie chickens include fish meal, which packs plenty of protein. Free-range Silkie chickens have access to protein from bugs, although you can sprinkle some fish meal on your yard for the chickens to pick them up while they are roaming outdoors. Calcium is vital for Silkie chickens since it will help your Silkie chickens develop stronger bones.
Furthermore, calcium is suitable for laying Silkie hens for it helps hens lay quality eggs. Calcium deficiency can make the Silkie hens lay eggs with soft shells.
While it is essential to feed your Silkie chickens with a good diet, you equally need to avoid feeding your birds with wrong food choices. Corn, for instance, isn’t good for Silkies because it is too large for Silkie chickens to swallow and digest effectively. Furthermore, corn has excess calories, which makes Silkies, especially inactive Silkie chickens, obese.
Replace corn with rice or wheat. Silkie chickens also need to eat grit occasionally to help their stomach digest food faster and with ease.
What Kind of Coop do Silkies Need?
Silkies need smaller cops since they aren’t as large as most chicken breeds. Install wire mesh on one side of the coop to allow fresh air in the coop and give your birds enough light. The wire mesh shouldn’t have holes that exceed 0.5 inches wide. Furthermore, Silkies require a coop with comfortable bedding since these birds als0 need warmth during cold months.
Bedding makes it easier to clean up the coop since you will only remove the bedding once it wears out and then replace it with new bedding. Silkies will occasionally need to keep warm in the cold weather, and installing a heat lamp in your birds’ coop will provide your Silkies with enough heat to keep them warm.
Most importantly, Silkies need a secure coop that is free from predators. Proof the coop to discourage predators from attacking your Silkies.
What Health Problems Do Silkies Have?
Silkies are susceptible to many health problems like other types of chickens. Understanding these health conditions that affect Silkies is crucial since you will seek treatment for your birds before they succumb to any health problems that affect Silkies. Below are a couple of health problems that Silkies have.
– Marek’s Disease
Unlike chickens, Silkie chickens are highly susceptible to Marek’s disease. This highly contagious viral disease claims many Silkies annually. It paralyzes Silkies on their wings, neck, and legs. Silkies with this disease also lose weight over time.
The other symptoms of Marek’s disease include vision impairment and gray iris or abnormal pupils. This disease can spread rapidly among your Silkie chickens, and it helps to isolate the sick birds before the contagious illness extends to the healthy birds.
– Fowl Cholera
The chronic disease affects nearly half of the Silkies across the globe. It affects the joints, wings, and legs of Silkie chickens. Silkies suffering from this chronic disease experience loss of appetite, grow ruffled feathers, have swollen combs and swollen purple wattle. Other apparent symptoms of fowl cholera include oral discharge, nasal discharge, swollen joints, and lameness.
This disease affects all types of birds, including Silkie chickens. The parasitic health condition damages the gut in Silkie chickens. The disease starts when silkies consume food or water with Coccidian protozoa, a group of parasites that damage chickens’ intestinal cells, ultimately causing an untimely death.
Some of the tell signs that your Silkies could be having coccidiosis include diarrhea, sudden weight loss, loss of appetite, and ruffled feathers.
– Avian Influenza
The health problem is a common health issue in the Silkies due to a group of viruses known as Orthomyxoviruses. Wild aquatic birds carry these viruses and then spread them to domestic birds. Diarrhea, infection in the combs and wattles, and nasal discharge are some of the symptoms of Avian Influenza in Silkies.
Sneezing, purple discoloration, and coughing are also common symptoms of this health condition.
– Fowl Pox
This health condition is also popularly known as Avian Pox. It is a highly contagious and deadly disease that affects Silkies in different conditions. For instance, Silkies with this condition can either experience wet pox or dry pox.
Silkies with Avian Pox have bumps that appear like warts on their wattles and combs. Fowl Pox also makes young Silkies experience stunted growth. The condition can also hinder Silkie hens from laying eggs.
– Newcastle Disease
This acute respiratory condition can spread rapidly among the Silkies. The disease can affect your Silkie chickens’ nervous, digestive, and respiratory systems. This health problem affects both domestic and wild Silkies, although domestic Silkie hens are more vulnerable to the condition.
The bacterial disease usually affects young Silkies. Older Silkies can also contract the disease and succumb to it like their younger counterparts. Silkies acquire the condition orally. Symptoms of Salmonellosis include closed eyes, diarrhea, thirst, sadness, and ruffled feathers.
Nonetheless, the disease doesn’t claim many Silkies, and it is pretty easy to detect and treat, unlike other health problems.
How Many Eggs do Silkie Chickens Lay?
Silkie chickens are decent layers, notwithstanding their tiny size. They can lay between 100 and 120 eggs annually. They can cease laying eggs during the hot summer months. Eggs production in Silkies can also stop during winter due to cold.
Can You Eat Silkie Chicken Eggs?
Yes, Silkie chicken eggs are suitable for consumption. While these eggs are tiny compared to chicken and duck eggs, they still pack equal nutrients like proteins and essential minerals, like duck and chicken eggs. Furthermore, Silkie chicken eggs are delicious and taste awesome like the eggs from other larger chicken breeds.
Are Silkie Chickens Good for Meat?
Silkie chickens are fantastic meat producers, although they don’t produce large chunks of meat like other larger chicken breeds. Silkies are known for their black and delicious meat. Their meat packs plenty of protein despite their meat being smaller than that of larger birds such as ducks and hens.
How Long do Silkie Chickens Live?
Silkie chickens are some of the hardiest and most resilient domestic birds. They can thrive in both warm and cold climates. On average, Silkies live for around seven years. With good care, though, Silkies can live for approximately nine years or even more.
However, wild Silkies have a shorter lifespan than domestic Silkie chickens. Wild Silkies have a shorter lifespan since they are constantly under predators’ attack and diseases, which significantly reduce their lifespan.
Are Silkie Chickens Friendly?
Yes, silkie chickens are pretty friendly. They have a pleasant and calm temperament, unlike larger chicken breeds that can be rather unfriendly and aggressive. Due to their friendly temperament, Silkies make exceptionally wonderful bird pets. Silkies tend to be quite affectionate towards their owners, especially when they accord them proper care.
Can Silkie Chickens Get Wet?
Silkies can get wet like other chickens since their feathers aren’t waterproof. Although they have thicker and more feathers than other chickens, they can get wet, especially when their feathering is too loose. Silkie baby chicks are more likely to get wet than adult Silkies since they don’t have thick feathers like their adult counterparts.
Silkies that get wet are at risk of getting hypothermia. Therefore, prevent your Silkie chickens from getting wet in the rain since the wetness from the rain can make your Silkies sick.
How Much Do Silkie Chickens Cost?
There isn’t an actual price for Silkie chickens since the cost depends on the size of a Silkie chicken. Furthermore, the price varies from one place to the other. Silkie chickens are likely to cost more in areas where there aren’t many people raising these chickens. Nonetheless, a Silkie can cost anywhere between $3 and $ 10.
Silkie chickens are extraordinary little chickens. These chickens are adorable and pretty easy to look after. You can raise Silkies as pets since they are pretty friendly and affectionate towards their owners. Alternatively, you can raise Silkie chickens for either eggs or meat. Either way, Silkies will make a great addition to your flock.