Unique, gentle, calm, broody with lots of love to give.
The silkie is a bred that really is unlike any other chicken that you are likely to come across. The most obvious feature is the strange, fur-like feathering, which gives the bird an unusual; some would say almost comical, appearance. It resemble a ball of fluff, with feathered legs and for good measure, a powder puff-like crest of top of its head. If that were not enough, there are also bearded versions, which have earmuffs as well as beards.
These are not the only unusual features of this ancient Asian breed. The silkie is one of an exclusive groups of breeds that feature 5 toes on each foot. It also has dark purple (almost black) skin and similar coloured comb and wattles. The earlobes are blue.
Like many of the other old poultry breeds, nobody is quite sure about the origin of the silkie, but it is widely accepted that the bird has been around for many hundreds of years – a’ furry’ chicken was documented by Marco Polo during his travels to China in the late 13th Century- many have written that it was indeed Marco Polo who bought this fantastic species back to the UK. Trade routes set up between East & West brining the Silkie to European; records show that in the Netherlands the birds were sold as the product of crossing a chicken with an angora rabbit.
Even though the silkie is officially classified as ‘large fowl’ its diminutive size means that people often mistake the birds for bantams, the genuine bantam version, which was finally standardized in Britain in 1993, is, infact only a third the size of the large fowl.
We hope that you find the information listed below of some help when opting for Silkies
The silkie has a wonderful gentle and calm character, making it ideally suited to being kept in the back garden, however they do not mix brilliantly with other larger more dominant breeds and are best kept with something similar in temperament, such as pekins, Poland’s
and bantam Orpington’s.
The silkie is a docile breed, which makes it extremely easy to tame. It doesn’t have a flighty bone in its body, which is another factor that contributes greatly to its general appeal. As these birds aren’t fliers, you’ll need little more than a four-foot high fence to keep them in place.
The fact that silkie hens so much of their time being broody means that egg production over a period of a year is lower than that of the domestic ‘brown hen’. You should however be rewarded with 100-175 cream tinted eggs per year. When all said and done the silkie have a reputation for laying the sweetest of all the bantam eggs you’ve ever tasted
It is commonly known that silkies are the world’s best broodies, give them a golf ball and for sure they will try to make it hatch. Many breeders keep silkies for this reason – a resident hatching hen, who will happily hatch anything you put under her, be it chicken, duck, turkey or even peacock eggs they will sit tight until hatch day, with this of course brings along the problems of the dreaded mite who like nothing better than to feast upon a sitting bird so take note and check your bird daily, where possibly isolate her from the others else she will collect every egg laid.
DAY TO DAY CARE
Two factors make the silkie a particularly good bird for the hobby keeper: it doesn’t fly, and it is quite happy to live in reasonably close confinement. A disadvantage of the breed, however, is that the unusual feathering makes it a little more susceptible to wet or muddy conditions, scaly leg is something to be aware of as in many breeds with feathered legs, however it is fairly easily treated.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
Feeders and drinkers must be carefully chosen to prevent the crest from getting wet or dirty, which in turn can lead to parasitic infestation and sometimes eye problems, the most common of these infections, are of course the dreaded mite. Again, regular inspection of your bird will help you pick up infestation, and like everything caught early it is treatable, leave it too long and you risk the life of the bird.
HAMBLE VALLEY POULTRY – stock the most suitable feeders & drinkers for the silkie.