Silkie Chicken – Everything You Need To Know

There is a growing emphasis on gardening in a more environmentally friendly manner using less harmful chemicals. Silkie chickens roaming in your garden remains one of the best ways to achieve this. Silkies will keep your garden free of snails, caterpillars and other insects without destroying the plants. This medium-sized chickens with their unique feathery look and endearing temperament will not only be valuable in the garden but will soon become part of the family.


Silkie Chicken

Silkie Chicken – Profile

Breed Purpose Eggs
Egg Color Cream
Egg Size Small
Egg Productivity (per year) 100
Origin China
Comb Type Walnut
Breed Size 1.5 to 3lbs
Breed Color Black/ Blue

History/ Background

The Silkie breed according to legend dates back many centuries to the early Chinese dynasties and it is reputed that Marco Polo referred to them in his writings. The Italian naturalist Aldrovandi also described a chicken resembling the Silkie.
Although its exact origin cannot be established it is reasonable to accept that it came from Asia and originated in either China, Java or India. It moved along the Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Trade Route until reaching Europe. The Chinese “Wu-gu-ji” and the name Chinese Silk Chicken seems to indicate the origin of the Silkie.

Characteristics

The Silkie chicken breed has certain distinguishing characteristics that are fairly unique to them, namely:

Feathers – The feathers lack the barbicels which are little hooks that tie a bird’s feathers to enable them to fly and keep moisture out. This means that Silkies can’t fly or keep the wet out when it rains.

Toes – The Silkie unlike the majority of chickens has five toes instead of the usual four. They share this attribute with a few other other chicken breeds.

Earlobes – The Silkies earlobes is a turquoise colour which is unique amongst chickens.

Feathered legs – The outside of the Silkie’s legs is covered in feathers which extends to the toes. Only a few breeds share this.

Plume or Crest – The Silkie has a more spherical head covered with a crest of feathers, described as resembling cheerleaders “pom-poms “ they share this feature with a few other breeds like the Polish chicken.

Black skin – The Silkie derives its Chinese name “wu-gu-ji” which means black-boned chicken from the colour of their legs, wattles, comb, skin and beaks. Their eyes are also black. This phenomenon in birds is referred to as melanism. The only other birds which display this characteristic also originated in Asia.

Egg Laying and Broodiness

The Silkie is not known for their egg laying ability and they will lay between 100 and 120 eggs per year which translates to about one every third to the fourth day. The eggs are small to medium in size and are cream in colour. The eggs are fertile and the Silkie will easily become broody if the eggs are left in the nest.
The broodiness of Silkie chickens is one of the characteristics which make them such outstanding chickens to have around. They are very keen to brood which influences their egg-laying ability, it is well known that any chicken which gets broody stop producing eggs but in the Silkies case it can be used to great advantage, when you have fertile eggs from other chickens which are not good brooders and you want to increase your numbers, put them under a Silkie. The Silkie will accept the eggs and treat them like her own, and she will ensure that they hatch. She will also take eggs from other poultry species like ducks, guinea fowl, partridges and pheasants. You don’t need an incubator when you have a Silkie hen. A word of caution though ensures that the incubation period of the eggs corresponds with that of chickens, namely 21 days.


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