Silkie Chicken Facts: A Furry Chicken


“Silkie Bantam Chickens are an incredibly unique breed of chicken, adorned with more fancy features than any other breed.”


Silkie Chicken Feathers - It's these unique feathers that give Silkies their special softness.
Silkie Chicken Feathers - It's these unique feathers that give Silkies their special softness.

© Copyright 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)

The Silkie, sometimes spelled “silky”, is a very small (usually 1.5 - 3.5 pounds) and unusually unique chicken. It is named for its fluffy, or should I say, furry or hairy-like plumage that is sometimes described as feeling like silk. Others have said it "feels just like angora fur". Their feathers do not have barbs holding the feather strands together like other feathers do, so they form many individual silky strands. This gives them their fluffy appearance and their silky softness.

Other names for the Silkie are: Chinese Silkie Chicken, Bearded Silkie, or Bantam Silkie. Silkies are so unusual that they have been described as the "poodles of the chicken world". The scientific name for the Silkie is Gallus domesticus.

White Silkie
White Silkie | Source

The silkie chicken is thought to have come originally from Southeast Asia, before the 1200’s. In the 13th century, Marco Polo made mention of a chicken with fur-like feathers and black skin, obviously referring to these unusual birds.

They gradually made their way to North American and in 1874 were officially accepted into the North American Standard of Perfection. There are 6 standard (acceptable) colors accepted by the American Bantam Association: black, blue, buff, white, partridge, splash, and gray. Other Silkie colors that are also popular although not accepted as standard are: red, lavender, porcelain, and cuckoo. Because of their many unique characteristics, Silkies are considered to be an ornamental breed.

Non-bearded and Bearded Silkie
Non-bearded and Bearded Silkie | Source
Typical Wattle and Comb
Typical Wattle and Comb | Source

The non-bearded Silkies have larger wattles than the bearded - the cock’s being larger than the hen’s. (The wattle is the fleshy appendage below the beak at the throat.) The bearded Silkie, both cock and hen, have very small wattles. They are called bearded because they have a full and fluffy beard of feathers around the bottom of their beak. A good example of this beard can be seen in the picture to the right. This beard also hides their distinctive blue earlobes.

Bearded and non-bearded Silkies have a feathery crest or topknot on the top of their head. And with this crest, is the Silkie’s comb (fleshy area on top of head). Its comb is different than most other chicken’s in that it resembles a wart-like lump on its forehead, rather than the spiky one that most chickens sport.

Silkie Feet
Silkie Feet | Source

Silkies have quite a few feathers growing down their legs and over their middle toe. This is shown in the photo to the right.

Silkies produce fewer eggs than most other breeds – averaging 90-120 per year. Their eggs range in color from white to light brown. Because they are so broody, they make excellent setters, and are often used to hatch other breeds’ eggs.

Silkies are calm, trusting, friendly and docile. Because of their temperament, and because they’re flightless, they are often kept as family pets. Silkies can become quite affectionate, but do require frequent, gentle handling at first to socialize them to their “humans”.

This White Show Me Silkie displays the blue/black skin typical of Silkies.
This White Show Me Silkie displays the blue/black skin typical of Silkies. | Source
5 Toes? That's right! Count them!
5 Toes? That's right! Count them! | Source

Silkies are different from other breeds of chickens in several ways. As mentioned earlier, Silkies have fluffy, almost silk-like plumage, beards, crests or topknots, and feathers on their legs and middle toe. A Silkies’ plumage can easily become water logged because the water doesn’t run off their feathers; therefore, they cannot swim.

Silkies also have dark blue/black skin, meat, and bones. (See the picture of the Show Me Silkie in the picture to the right which readily displays the blue/black skin.) This particular Silkie reminds me of the Turken.

They have blue earlobes, and 5 toes (most chickens only have 4) on each foot. The fifth toe can be seen in the picture of the chick to the right.

Despite their fragile appearance, Silkies are a very hardy breed of chicken and generally have a lifespan of about 9 years.

Silkie meat is considered a delicacy in China. It has also been coveted for its medicinal value since the seventh or eighth century. Chinese women who have just given birth believe that eating it will give them energy. The Chinese also believe that ground up Silkie bones have special healing powers.

Magical powers or not, the Silkie certainly has the ability to enchant.

“Ornately colored and covered in fluffy, silk-like feathers, silkie chickens are among the most beautiful of the chicken breeds and provide companionship, top-quality eggs, and the opportunity to show them at poultry shows.”


All Rights Reserved

© Copyright 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)



Your Future is Waiting! Do you feel you have great information or stories to share with others? Sign Up Here. . . It’s quick, easy and free to join HubPages!

A BIG Thank You!

Much gratitude and thanks goes to Show-Me Silkies and My Pet Chicken for use of these beautiful pictures. Thank you!



More by this Author


Comments: "Silkie Chicken Facts: A Furry Chicken" 31 comments

samhirata profile image

samhirata 5 years ago

I never knew there were any other types of chicken out there! Would love to learn about others now. My goal in life is to have my own farm- might have to buy a Silkie or two...Although I prefer to eat my chickens.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

Samhirata-I have been trying to talk my husband into letting me get one too, because I think they are so cute. You can read those conversations in two other hubs:

http://hubpages.com/animals/What-is-a-Silkie...

http://hubpages.com/animals/Silkie-Chicken-Saga-Co...

I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.


thisspice profile image

thisspice 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

I owned silkies for many years. They actually make wonderful pets and got along great with my dog too. They laid eggs which were great to eat, and also picked through the yard for bugs and such. They were also very docile and I was able to hold them and pick them up and put them in my lap to pet, like any other domestic animal. Great article!


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Hi homesteadbound, I have never heard of Silkie Chickens before! You have taught me something new. The fluffy White Silkie in your first picture looks so cute I'm almost feeling guilty that I ate chicken for lunch :(

Cloverleaf


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

@thisspice - thanks for the comment. I'm still trying to talk my husband into letting me get one. He thinks that they are just to ornamental - in his lingo - not a logical choice for a chicken. But I'll keep trying...

@cloverleaf - They are really cute! I'll just keep working on the hubby! Don't stress too much about the chicken, I try not to think about it.


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

Banty's are pretty good too... lots of swagger in those chickens.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

davenmidtown - I'm thinking these chickens are too prissy to swagger.


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

ROFL... not the silky's... the Bantums


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

davenmidtown - don't get so cocky!


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

It was not HENtentional!


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

Cute! (smiling)


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

What do you call a silkie chicken with a camera?


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

I really don't know .... and .... I'm almost scared to ask!


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

a pooperatzi


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

You changed your first picture. I liked seeing that white silky guy on my feed everyday. He made me smile, but the feathers do remind me of him :)


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

I think you're thinking of a different silkie article. I'll send it through in a minute. I haven't changed any of the pics.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

Oops. Sorry I just saw that cute guy on my feed again. He goes with the saga of the silkie chicken - quite a funny hub!


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas Author

ktrapp - yep! Sent him through just for you! I did enjoy writing that one, and taunting my husband!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

I have seen many of these but didn't know too much about them.

This hub is great and I award it an up up and away.

Take care my friend.

Eddy.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

Eddy - thanks so much for stopping by! These chickens are really unusual, but I still have not talked my husband into letting me have one. Best to you!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

They are so cute!


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

AudreyHowitt - I have to agree with you. They really are. Thanks so much for stopping by!


erinanderson777 4 years ago

QUESTION- I really want to get some of these amazing chickens in the future- I wanted to see if anyone knew how well they do in warmer climates? We will be moving to Bermuda where the weather in the summer can be pretty hot and humid... but the winters are nice and cool..

Thank you very much!


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

erinanderson777 - many chickens have problems with heat. One of the chickens best suited for heat is the turkin. It actually has a lot less feathers than most chickens. I wrote a hub about them as well. But as cute as the silkie chickens are, the turkins are pretty ugly. There is a cross of the two called a show-me silkie which is pictured in this article. Towards the bottom of this hub, http://hubpages.com/animals/10HomesteadChickenBree... , is a breed selection tool that might help you find the perfect chicken for you.


Angela Rae 4 years ago

I love all my chickens, but my silkies have a special place in my heart. They are great brooders and have hatched several eggs that weren't even theirs. They are also good mothers;)


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

Angela Rae - they are very good brooders, and they will accept any egg they can sit on. Thanks so much for stopping by!


holly 4 years ago

good facts but what do you feed there chicks.


don M 4 years ago

I have three white silkies hatched feb.11 One is bearded and the seller said the bearded one h is a cock. He is a little the largest ybut has no characteristics of a cock.Snould he have spurs or any way to tell?


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

don M - I am not sure if he would have spurs or not, but I would think that he should be looking like a rooster by now. You might want to contact the seller.


EW 3 years ago

We have a small backyard flock with 15 hens and some chicks that were just hatched by one of hens a month ago we had a visiting rooster for a couple days. Then we had a broody hen who we just let sit we ended up with five chicks. Well today my kids were going crazy outback and came in and got me because we had a mutant chicken in our backyard. Thanks to this site I now know about silkies and a little more about our visitor.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 3 years ago from Texas Author

Must have been quite a handsome visitor!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working