Everything You Need to Know About the Silkie Chicken

Posted by Paige Cerulli

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The Silkie chicken is known for its beautiful plumage and sweet personality.

The Silkie chicken is one of the most popular ornamental chicken breeds today. Silkies are known for their incredibly friendly, pet-like personality, which, combined with their unusual appearance, adds to their appeal.

The exact origin of the Silkie chicken is partially a mystery - no one's really sure of when the chicken that we know today first originated. However, the breed may have begun in China, India, or possibly elsewhere in Asia. Somewhere, the Silkie was created, and the chicken gradually made its way into North America.

Cool fact: Silkies were written about by Marco Polo in the 13th century, who wrote of 'chickens with fur-like feathers' in logs from his Asian travels.  

Silkies are present in North America, Asia, and Europe. Many breeders now focus their programs on developing and enhancing the unique characteristics of the Silkie chicken.

According to the expert resource Backyard Chicken Coops, Silkies are excellent mothers. These wonderful mothers are known for being broody hens and happily sit on a clutch of eggs until they're ready to hatch. "Many people also choose to keep silkies as they make such fantastic mothers, and will often sit on less maternal chickens eggs through to hatching- perfect if you're wanting to breed lots of baby chickens for many years to come." 

Silkie chickens are known for their black or dark blue skin and blue earlobes! They are non-bearded with fantastic feathering. You can free range these birds as they are hardy despite their appearance. And they're calm and docile too!

Some chicken keepers take Silkies to poultry shows and show off their beautiful chicken feathers.

A good resource is the American Silkie Bantam Club.

Hover over the image for more information.

General Appearance

Silkies have a notable, easily recognizable appearance. They are relatively lightweight and have small, stout bodies. Silkies have blackish-blue skin and sport a fifth toe on their feet. Most notable of all, the Silkie is covered in fine, fluffy feathers which give the impression of the bird being covered in silk. Their plumage is made of these silky feathers, meaning that Silkies cannot fly.

Feathers

Silkies come in two main varieties: Bearded and Non-Bearded. Bearded Silkies have extra feathers beneath their beaks which also cover their earlobes. Non-Bearded Silkies lack this extra feathering.

Coloring

Silkies come in a variety of different colors, including Buff, Black, Blue, Grey, Partridge, and White.

Laying

Silkies are not known for being great egg layers, but they do make excellent mothers. Silkies will foster eggs for other chickens. They typically start laying eggs around December, but they stop laying eggs during the summertime.

Temperament

Silkies are known for their excellent temperaments. They are regarded as being highly intelligent, friendly, sweet, calm, and docile. It can be enjoyable to keep Silkies, but caution needs to be taken to protect the chickens from being bullied if they are in a coop with other breeds.

Body Image: Liz West via Flickr

Do you have a Silkie? Show us in the comments below!


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Everything You Need to Know About the Silkie Chicken