Chicken Breeds : ‘Silkies’

Silkie hen with newly hatched silkie chicks

These are photos of keeping chickens newsletter subscriber Marcelo Lacayo’s newly hatched silkie chicks with their mum Juana :-)

In the day when the weather is nice, they go outside.

To be certain that Juana and her chicks did not get too cold out in the coop they were relocated to a new broody ‘coop’ indoors – the Lacayo’s bar :-)

Blue Silkies

Blue Silkies hen and rooster
“Silkies may be described as a compromise between the large Fowls and the Bantams; the Blues, like the Whites and the Blacks, are great favourites among lady fanciers. The plumage consists of fluffy feathers resembling silk or hair. Both sexes have crests, thoses of the male birds being like silky manes, while those of the females are globe-shaped, somewhat resembling powder-puffs. The face of the Blue Silky is a mulberry colour, and the toes are very fine. The cocks weigh about 3 pounds and the hens about 2 pounds. The latter make ideal mothers, and they are good layers of either tinted or white eggs according to the strain”

Blue Silkies Chicks Video

Sexing Silkies

Silkies can be quite late to mature (perhaps as much as 8 or 9 months old). Because they take so long to develop it is very hard to know if your silkie chicks are cockerels or pullets, particularly if they are not from the same genetic line. Silkie cockerels tend to be bigger in size and the comb will usually develop sooner than on a  pullet but the first more obvious sign is at around 4-6 months when their hackles start to develop ‘streamers’. Even so it is often not 100% certain until they begin to crow or lay an egg!

A Silkie Rooster and Hen

Silkie Chickens

Silkies are believed to have originated from China where they are used in Chinese medicine and also considered quite a cullinary delicacy. In other countries their fluffy feathers and black bones and skin ensure they are almost always kept as pets. Exactly when the breed was established is not known, but records of them exist as far back as the end of the 13th Century.

These photos of Silkie Chicks are from Keeping Chickens Newsletter subscriber Sue K : “Just wanted to show you our adorable Chinese bearded Silkie chicks Maggie, Casper and Billie. We actually hope they are hens, but do not know yet. It is my first experience with having pet chickens and it has been such a joy. Here they are having a little parade in the back yard at 3½ weeks old. Enjoy your newsletter very much.”

There are six standard colors for silkies: black, blue, buff, white, partridge and gray. In Europe and Australia, there are both standard and bantam Silkies. In the United States and Canada, the only Silkies are bantams.

Silkie hen and chicks

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Seperating the Pullets