Silkie Chicken

Gallus gallus

Last updated: October 7, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Silkie hens are excellent mothers and will tid-bit food with her young. This means she goes over to the food or treats, has a bite, then calls the chick over to her to share. Silkie hens will raise any bird as their own and have been known to patiently sit on a clutch of duck or geese eggs until they hatch.



Silkie Chicken Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Galliformes
Family
Phasianidae
Genus
Gallus
Scientific Name
Gallus gallus

Silkie Chicken Conservation Status

Silkie Chicken Locations

Silkie Chicken Locations

Silkie Chicken Facts

Name Of Young
chick
Group Behavior
  • Flock
Fun Fact
Silkie hens are excellent mothers and will tid-bit food with her young. This means she goes over to the food or treats, has a bite, then calls the chick over to her to share. Silkie hens will raise any bird as their own and have been known to patiently sit on a clutch of duck or geese eggs until they hatch.
Biggest Threat
racoons
Most Distinctive Feature
Fluffy feathers
Other Name(s)
Silky or Chinese Silk Chicken
Gestation Period
Incubation period- 20 to 21 days
Litter Size
10-14 eggs
Habitat
farm, yards
Predators
Racoons, Bobcats, Foxes, Coyotes, Weasels, Birds of Prey, Skunks, Snakes, and Rodents
Diet
Omnivore
Type
bird
Common Name
Silkie
Origin
China
Group
flock

Silkie Chicken Physical Characteristics

Colour
  • Grey
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
7-9 years
Weight
1.5-3 pounds
Height
8-14 inches
Age of Sexual Maturity
Hens- 8 to 10 months, Cockerels- 10 to 12 months
Age of Weaning
Wean from heat lamps at 6 weeks

Silkie Chicken Images

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“The chicken with unique, fluffy feathers.”


Also known as the Chinese silk chicken, for its country of origin, this bird may be most known for its exotic plumage and unique appearance, but it has more to offer than looks. This exceptional brooder will happily sit on a clutch of other chicken, duck, or goose eggs. In addition, their friendly, gentle temperament makes them a great choice for novice chicken owners.

For those looking to eat silkie chickens, expect black meat. The unusual color meat is perfectly safe and considered a delicacy in some regions.

4 incredible Silkie Chicken Facts!

  • The silkie is a polydactyl, meaning it has extra toes on each foot.
  • The silkie chicken has black or dark blue skin and black bones.
  • In addition to its dark skin, the bird has bright turquoise ears.
  • They are considered excellent mothers and will sit on any eggs in a nest and raise the young as their own.

Silkie Chicken Scientific Name

Gallus gallus

Silkie Chicken Appearance

The most recognizable feature of the silkie is its fluffy plumage. The fluffy body of a silkie is unlike any other. Their head resembles a pom-pom, while their body is a bundle of fluff. Don’t let their delicate, fluffy appearance fool you; underneath they have sturdy bodies.

Size and Weight

Weight (Male): 2-4 pounds
Weight (Female):1-3 pounds
Height (Male):8-14 inches
Height (Female): 8-14 inches
Silkie Chickens are small, weighing only four pounds.

Behavior

The silkie has a calm and docile temperament. They generally get along well with others and make a great chicken for inexperienced owners. They are also quieter than many other types of chickens, making them a good choice for those with close neighbors.


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For those with multiple chickens already, adding silkies to the flock can present challenges. The birds’ peaceful temperament can make them the target for bullying by other types of chickens. Providing sufficient room and resting spots can help, but care should be taken to ensure the silkies are getting enough to eat and are not being bullied.

Silkie Chicken Habitat

Unlike most other breeds, the silkie doesn’t really care to roost. You are much more likely to find these birds piled together sleeping on the floor. A raised platform gives them a space off the ground to sleep while allowing them to group together.

When building or buying nesting boxes for the silkie, remember that these chickens do not fly. Placing the nesting boxes close to the ground allows easy access.

Letting your silkies outside to range will keep them happy, but they are prone to predators. In addition to fencing to keep out raccoons and other types of animals, covering the top of the pen is necessary to keep them safe from hawks and other birds of prey.

Having around eight square feet per bird gives everyone room to move around and allows you to keep the area clean. Sanitary conditions and protection from predators help your silkies reach their maximum lifespan.

Diet

Silkies often prefer layer crumbles rather than pellets. The pellets can be a challenge for the small chicken to eat. Supplement the regular diet with fruits and vegetables like grated carrots, apples, and table scraps. Adding a little vegetable oil and meat meal a few times a week can help them maintain a healthy weight.

Like other birds, the silkie uses its gizzard to help digestion. This means adding grit to their diet if they are unlikely to get this elsewhere. While birds that are extensively free-range may manage without supplemental grit, adding some that they can access free choice is a good practice.

Fresh, clean water should be available at all times.

Silkie Chicken Predators and Threats

Chickens are vulnerable to many different predators, and their small size and inability to fly make the silkie even more vulnerable. It is important to recognize what animals may pose a threat to your silkies and take steps to keep them safe.

Animals on the ground that may try to make a meal out of your chickens include raccoons, weasels, foxes, and snakes. Loose dogs are also culprits. From the air, hawks and owls both pose a threat to your chickens.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Silkies are known to have exceptionally broody behavior and are excellent mothers. While many people choose to hatch eggs in an incubator, if you have silkies, you may want to skip over this step and let her sit on her clutch.

During the time she sits on the clutch, you may notice her turning them to make sure they are evenly warmed. If you notice her push an egg out of the nest, it means it is unviable and shouldn’t be returned to her. After about 21 days, the eggs will hatch.

After hatching, the chicks absorb the nutrients from the egg into their body, giving them a strong start in life. These nutrients keep the chick going for as long as three days before he needs to start eating on his own.

Provide starter crumble to give your chicks the nutrients they need to sustain their rapid growth. Their mother will take care of their other needs, keeping them warm and shepherding them to the food and water. Having a heat lamp to provide supplemental warmth is a good way to give your silkies the best chances of success. While their mother will tuck them underneath her wings to provide warmth, additional warmth is beneficial for chilly nights and very young chickens. After hatching, having an area where the temperature is a consistent 95 degrees F and draft-free helps keep the chicks healthy.

As the chicks grow, you will notice them begin to develop their real feathers. At the same time, you can add a few handfuls of grass to the brood area as well as a container of grit if you haven’t already done so.

By the time the silkies are about five weeks old, they will be able to maintain their own body temperature and not need supplemental heat from their mother or a heat lamp. By the time they are eight weeks old, they are ready to spend time outdoors, although they need careful protection from predators.

By now they have their adult feathers and are looking more mature. Hens are considered sexually mature at eight to ten months, but it may be a year or more before they begin laying eggs. Once they start laying, most silkies produce around three eggs a week. In the hot summer months, they may stop producing entirely. Males reach sexual maturity between 10 and 12 months. The silkie has a lifespan of seven to nine years.

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Silkie Chicken FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are silkie chickens carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

They are omnivores.

What are silkie chickens good for?

In some areas, their meat is considered a delicacy in China, their country of origin. The eggs, while smaller than a typical chicken egg, are just as flavorful and nutritious. Many people keep them for novelty or to show.

How much are silkie chickens worth?

The price of a silkie surprises many people. Rather than think of a silkie as a chicken, it is helpful to treat it like a pet. Their friendly, docile nature and enjoyment of being around humans make them a popular choice and good companion. The price of silkie chick ranges from $3 to $10. If you want an adult hen, expect to pay between $15 and $50 for one.

Do silkie chickens lay eggs to eat?

Yes, although the eggs are not as big as the ones you see at the store, they are perfectly edible and safe to eat.

Why is silkie chicken meat black?

The black meat of the silkie is considered a delicacy to some. Black meat is the result of a genetic mutation resulting in hyperpigmentation. The bone, skin, and meat of the bird are black.

Why are silkie chickens so expensive?

Silkies are wonderful pets and make great companions. They are not highly productive egg layers, and many people avoid their meat, so there are fewer breeders interesting in producing them. The low supply leads to higher prices.

How long do silkie chickens live?

7 to 9 years.

What is a silkie chicken?

Also known as the Chinese silk chicken, this small chicken with unique feathers has a fluffy appearance and gentle behavior. In addition to their unusual looks, the birds are quieter and calmer than many other breeds of chicken.

Where do I buy a silkie chicken?

Expect to pay a higher price for silkies than other chickens. You can find them online from hatcheries or at your local farm store at certain times of the year.

What does a silkie chicken look like?

The silkie has a compact, sturdy body covered in fluffy feathers. In addition to their unique feathers, they have black skin and bright turquoise ears. They come in a range of colors. They may be black, gray, blue, buff, white, partridge, lavender, or splash.

How do I determine the sex of a silkie chicken?

The male has a more upright body carriage, with their neck elongated and chest out. The female has a more horizontal posture. Also, the female’s comb is shaped like a “V”, while the males is shaped like a “U”.

How do I bathe a silkie chicken?

You should not bathe a silkie chicken. Their fluffy plumage does not provide the insulation that other bird’s feathers provide. They can easily develop hypothermia in a situation where they become wet. If your silkie does get wet, it is important to grab a towel and dry it as quickly as possible.

Sources
  1. modern farmer, Available here: https://modernfarmer.com/2014/10/silkies/

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