Silkie Chickens: Pet Facts & Fiction

Silkie Chickens: Pet Facts & Fiction

Who doesn’t want to own Silkie chickens? They’re fun, sweet-natured, and they make you breakfast! In short, they’re the perfect pet.

 

Yep – you can definitely keep chickens as pets, and Silkies make GREAT pets, especially for households with children. I also know MANY seniors who keep Silkies because they’re easier to care for than a dog, and they’re great company.

 

For special needs children, Silkies can also be a great pet because:

 

  • They’re quiet
  • Submit to being held on laps (while other breeds of chickens will flap and squawk)
  • They look like fluffy balls straight out of a Dr. Seuss story, and
  • Their feathers are soft to touch – great for children with sensory issues.

 

In this article, you’ll find all the Silkie chickens information and facts you need to help you decide if you want to add them to your flock.

Silkie chicken pet facts and fiction
 

 

Silkie Chickens Information & Breed Characteristics

What are Silkie chickens?

 

Where do Silkies originate from?

Silkies are an ancient breed that has their origins in Asia, most likely in China. Because of their black skin, their Chinese language name is wu gu ji, which means “black-boned chicken.”

Marco Polo was the first Westerner to write about Silkies – and in his books about his travels on the Asian continent in the 1200’s, he referred to them as a “furry chicken.”  

Similarly, Renaissance writer Ulisse Aldrovandi referred to Silkie chickens as “wool-bearing chickens” and “clothed with hair like that of a black cat.”

As you can see, Silkies have made quite an impression on humans for centuries!

 

Why are they called Silkies?

They’re called Silkies because their feathers resemble the down on chicks – and it feels “silky.”

 

What do Silkies look like?

How big do Silkies get?

Silkies weigh about 2-3 pounds and are about the size of a Chihuahua dog.

 

What’s the Silkie breed standard?

When you think of Silkies, you probably think of the bantam size – and according to the American Standard of Perfection, the perfect size for a silkie chicken hen is about 2 pounds.

 

The American Standard of Perfection has very specific requirements for Silkies. The comb and wattles should be a “deep mulberry, approaching black” with a “Leaden blue” beak. The legs of both hens and roosters should be straight with no more or less than 5 toes.

 

What are their feathers like?

Funky feathers like fluff balls of joy! Silkies are a bit different than other chickens. Yes, the hens lay eggs, but did you know they also don’t have “normal” feathers like other backyard chickens?

Their feathers are similar to down, and it’s a bit like silk – hence the name “Silkie.” Because of their feathers, Silkie chickens can’t fly, but they do love to run for a treat!

Their feathers are structured different than other chicken feathers – they do not have barbicels, so they do not have the physical structure needed to allow Silkies to fly.

If you get Silkies for sale as chicks, you’ll love how they develop “Mohawks” when they turn into teenagers! It takes a while for the down to grow out to its full length, so there’s some lovably awkward stages!

 

Do Silkies have black skin?

Silkies are also well known for their skin – while most other chicken breeds (such as Speckled Sussex and Araucana chickens) have white skin, Silkies have black or even blue skin.

You might notice your silkies have blue skin, particularly on their ears! As they mature, you’ll also notice their combs and wattles have a reddish hue to them.

 

How high can Silkies jump?

Because they don’t really fly, silkies can’t roost like other chickens. So, they can only jump a couple feet at a time.

Do silkies roost? Well, they DO enjoy sleeping off the ground, even if they can’t roost up high.

You’ll want to give your silkies an easy way to get higher. We put bales of hay in our coop for the silkies to jump up on – and they can get 5-6 feet in the air easily.

How many toes do Silkies have?

Unlike other chickens, Silkies have an extra 1 or two toes on their feet! (Just like a polydactyl cat!)

The scientific reason is because Silkies have a genetic mutation that allows them to grow the extra toes. I’m not sure if it has much purpose out in the “real world” of the coop, but they sure do look cool!

 

What colors are Silkies?

Silkie chickens come in all sorts of colors, such as black, blue, buff, grey, partridge, white, cuckoo, lavender, red, and splash.

While the American Standard of Perfection doesn’t recognize all these colors, you should choose the color that’s right for you – especially if your keeping Silkie chickens as pets. After all, color doesn’t matter as much as temperament!

There’s also bearded Silkie chickens – which have an extra adorable tuft of feathers!

Silkie chicken pet facts for new owners

Do Silkies have feathered feet?

Yes, they do – and it’s part of their charm! In the United States, silkies are ornamental birds, so they’re bred to grow feathers on their feet. Most owners love it!

 

What age do Silkie chickens start crowing? Do Silkies crow?

If your silkie is a rooster, he should start crowing at about 7 months. However, not all silkies will crow. It depends on the individual chicken.

 

Our silkie roosters don’t crow or make much noise at all – which makes them ideal for suburban households that don’t want to disturb their neighbors.

What are Silkie chickens like as pets?

Do they make good pets?

Silkies make GREAT pets, especially for households with children. I also know MANY seniors who keep Silkies because they’re easier to care for than a dog, and they’re great company.

 

Are Silkies good with children?

YES! Silkies are quiet birds who enjoy human company. They’re more willing to be held than other chickens and will put up with small children and fast movements more than other breeds.

 

You can see our chicken breeds for children recommendations here.

 

Why do people keep them as pets?

Silkies can also be a great pet because:

  • They’re quiet
  • Submit to being held on laps (while other breeds of chickens will flap and squawk)
  • They look like fluffy balls straight out of a Dr. Seuss story, and
  • Their feathers are soft to touch – great for children with sensory issues

 

Are Silkies friendly?

Yes, especially if raised as pets from birth. They’re quiet, and when they’ve bonded to their human, they often follow their owners around. Many seniors keep silkies because they’re friendlier than other chicken breeds and enjoy being around their humans.

 

How long do Silkie chickens live for?

Silkies, like other chickens, can live for 4-8 years, when kept in ideal conditions and fed correctly.

 

To give your silkie the best quality of life, you should keep them in a coop with fresh water and plenty of high quality feed.  You should also give your pet chicken medical care when needed and herbal supplements to support her health.

 

Buying Silkies

How much is a Silkie chicken worth?

Whatever someone will pay for it! Most Silkie chicks that are sold as pets cost less than $5 – and you might find them at your local farm store for less.

 

Silkies that are show quality might cost hundreds of dollars, while ones hatched at a high quality breeder might cost less.

 

Where can I buy Silkie chickens?

Hatcheries, your local farm store, or private breeders. See our list here of where to buy chickens.

 

When you buy them, look for the extra toe – that’s a pretty good indicator the chicken actually is a Silkie. You should also bring a knowledgeable friend who can help you select chicks that appear healthy.

 

We’ve had good luck finding them at farm stores like Tractor Supply.

 

General Care

How long do Silkie chickens need a heat lamp?

Approximately 16 weeks of age. Like other chicks, Silkies need their brooders to be between 90-95 degrees for their first week of life (and reduce the temperature by 5 degrees every week.)

 

If it’s warm in your area, your Silkies should be fine once they can handle temperatures of 70 degrees.

 

If it’s cold, and your Silkies are under 16 weeks of age, you might need to supplement with a heat source until they’re older. We don’t recommend heat LAMPS because they can cause fires. We’ve used heating pads and been okay.

 

Do Silkie chickens need a heat lamp during winter?

Not generally, although this will depend on how cold your area gets. They’re generally fine in temperatures as low as 0 degrees.

 

In colder temperatures, you might have to provide a heat source. If you have just a couple, the easiest and safest way to ensure they’re warm is to bring them in at night. They’ll be fine in a dog crate.

 

Heat lamps are dangerous and can ignite a fire, so we don’t recommend them.

 

Can Silkies stand cold temperatures? Are Silkie chickens cold hardy?

One thing to watch out for is caring for Silkie chickens in winter – because they don’t have regular feathers, they can’t “fluff” them like other chickens to keep warm.

 

Just keep an eye on your fluffy butts and if they seem cold (or if it’s going to be very cold in your area), give them a way to stay warm.

 

They’re generally fine in temperatures as low as 0 degrees. It’s extremely important to make sure your silkies aren’t outside when it’s cold and wet – in freezing rain, for example.

 

Because their feathers are finer, they won’t stay as warm as other chickens. Freezing rain, sleet, or snow can turn deadly for your Silkies – so in inclement weather, leave them in their coop.

 

Do Silkies get along with chickens?

Yes – even though they look different, Silkies are quiet flock members, and get along well with other chickens.

 

Because they’re docile, you might find your Silkies are picked on more than your other flock members – just keep an eye out, and separate if any issues arise.

 

How do you introduce Silkies to an existing flock?

Just like you would any other chicken – by letting established flock members see their new friend without touching the Silkie.

 

Then, after 48-72 hours, you can try to integrate the Silkie with the rest of your flock.

 

You still might see squabbles, but as long as everyone is healthy and not hurt, they will stop in a couple days.

Feeding Silkies

What do you feed Silkies?

Silkies eat the same feed as regular chickens – a high-quality layer feed (for hens) or a high quality chick starter (for baby chicks). They don’t need any special feeds.

 

For treats, you can feed Silkies mealworms, herbs, kitchen scraps, leafy greens, black soldier fly larvae, or river shrimp.

 

Do they eat a lot?

Silkies are smaller chickens, and they eat less than standard size breeds. They still should be fed about 1-2 cups of feed daily – and you can feed them leafy greens, black soldier fly larvae, herbs, mealworms, and other treats to boost their diet. This is also a great way to bond with your silkies!

 

Silkie health issues

You might read on the internet that Silkies are more disease prone than other breeds and you should get your Silkie chickens vaccinated – I have not experienced this, and I would venture to say that Silkies are a hardy breed.

 

Silkie Eggs

What color eggs do Silkies lay?

They lay off white eggs or cream colored eggs.

 

How many eggs do Silkie chickens lay? Do they edible eggs?

They lay 3-4 times a week – so they’re not the champion layers of the backyard chicken world, but they have other qualities to make up for it!

 

Do Silkies like to hatch eggs?

Yes! Many people keep silkies because the hens “go broody” and want to hatch eggs – any eggs!

They’re wonderful pets that look funny and make great companion chickens for children and adults. They’re friendly, calm, and love human company….that is, unless they’ve decided to hatch eggs!

Yes, Silkies tend to “go broody” more than other breeds, and many people keep this breed of chicken specifically to incubate eggs on their farm. Now, this isn’t a guarantee your hen will want to hatch chicken eggs!

 

How many eggs can a Silkie hen sit on?

As many as she can fit under her! The amount will depend on the size of your fluffy butt.

Hens prefer to sit on an odd number of eggs – it’s not unheard of to see silkie chickens sitting on 11 or 13 eggs!

Natural Easter Egg Dyes: Create Beautiful One-of-A-Kind Easter Eggs!

Natural Easter Egg Dyes: Create Beautiful One-of-A-Kind Easter Eggs!

Growing up, we didn’t use natural Easter egg dyes to celebrate the holiday.

 

Instead, we used those chemical dyes you can buy at the grocery store.
As I’ve learned more and more about the negative impact commercial dyes can have on our bodies, we’ve switched to using all natural Easter egg dyes that we can make in our kitchen.

 

Think about it – do you really want your kids handling and eating an egg that has been soaking in commercial dye made from unpronounceable ingredients? Of course not.

 

It’s really simple to make these non-toxic egg dyes, and you probably already have all these ingredients on hand (or you can very easily source them before Easter.)

 

These all natural Easter egg dye recipes will create a beautiful basket of Easter goodies with subtle, yet rich shades and hues.

 

Your eggs will not have the solid, consistent color of those made with commercial dyes. Instead, every egg will be different, with a cool, mottle, muted, almost marbled effect all the way around.

 

Kids love them!

 

The following recipes will help you create your own Easter egg dyes from natural ingredients you probably already have in your home.

But before we make our all natural Easter egg dyes:

 

A few words of caution:

  • Boil eggs ahead of time
  • Boil a few extra in case of accidental drops or cracked shells
  • Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the egg from its dye
  • After removing an egg from the dye, let it rest and dry before handling (the colors will dull into beautiful pastels – this is normal!)
  • Keep a close eye on the children while they handle hot eggs (or let each egg cool before placing it in the dye)
  • Use vinegar to help set the Easter egg dye

 

Lavender-Grey

Mix 1 cup of frozen blackberries with 1 cup of water. Bring to room temperature, and remove the blueberries.

 

Pale Blue

Cut half a head of red cabbage into chunks and add to 5 cups of boiling water. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Boil 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Strain out cabbage and add eggs. Soak each egg individually for 30 minutes.

 

Deep Blue

Soak each egg individually in the above cabbage dye overnight.

 

Duck Egg Green

Peel the skin from 6 red onions and simmer in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes; strain. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.

 

Gold

Take the outer papery skins of 6 yellow onions and simmer in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes (reserve the rest of the onion for something else). Strain and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Soak each egg for 20 minutes.

 

Deep Orange

Take the outer papery skins of 6 yellow onions and simmer in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes (reserve the rest of the onion for something else). Strain and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Soak each egg in dye mixture overnight.

 

Light Brown

Make a cup of espresso as normal. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar, and soak each egg until desired color.

 

Pink

Mix 1 cup of pickled beet juice with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Soak egg until desired shade.

 

Grey

Mix 1 cup pure grape juice (NOT grape flavored apple juice – look at the label) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

 

Side note: You might read elsewhere on the internet that you can use grape juice for purple. We tested it out and while our eggs were a beautiful grey, but definitely not purple.

 

For purple eggs, test out a pink egg (soaked in pickled beet juice overnight) then dipped in red cabbage dye for 15 minutes (if not purple yet, put back into dye and check every 5 minutes).

 

Pale Yellow

Stir 1 tablespoon turmeric into 1 cup of boiling water; add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.

Carefully place eggs in the dye for 30 minutes.

 

Something to remember about natural Easter egg dyes!

 

The gorgeous eggs you create last until you eat them, but the dyes are only potent for a few hours, so use them as soon as possible after mixing them together.

 

Try using masking tape and stencils to create geometric shapes, fun designs, and initials.

 

Hint: Initials are a creative way to keep the kids from fighting over at least a few of the eggs!

 

There you have it. Safe, all-natural, chemical-free dyes that produce eggs that are as safe to eat as they are lovely to look at. Gather your kids and go have fun!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Will you make all natural Easter egg dyes this season? What colors? Leave a comment below!