Silkie Chickens are often called black chickens, or black-boned chickens because they have black skin, black bones and grayish black meat (for those who eat them). These chickens are not some new hybrid raised to grace gourmet menus, but have been around for millennia. In Asian cultures black chicken has been eaten for its medicinal properties. In American culture some say it is a new addition to the list of what we call superfoods, but I say they are fascinating gentle birds that make ideal pets in most countries.
Different Colors of Black Chickens
In most countries, including the United States, black chickens are known as Silkie Chickens or Silkie Bantams. These birds are raised for their unique look and gentle nature and are often kept as pets. Their silky feathers look more like fur and come in a number of standard colors including: black, blue, buff, white, partridge, and gray. The interesting fact is that no matter what color their feathers, they all have black skin, black bones, and grayish meat. The black and white varieties of Silkie Chickens tend to have better body development than their colored counterparts.
Asian Black Chicken Lore
A story about the black chicken can be found in Chinese folklore. In this fairytale, a celestial being creates pills of immortality and holds a celebration with other celestial beings to commemorate his invention. While the beings imbibed in wine and enjoyed the festivities, a pair of wildfowl flew in, ate the immortality pills, and transformed into a pair of white phoenix. The celestial being who made the pills complained about the birds to Buddha Guanying, but the news did not bother Budha Guanying. Instead, he decided it was a good opportunity for the birds to live on earth. As a result, the birds became Silkie Chickens.
The Chinese also believe the black skin and black bones of silkie chickens have healing properties and have been used to treat symptoms including:
- Chronic fatigue and weakness
- Generalized aches and pains
- Heart disease
- Irregular or abnormal menstruation
- Loss of memory
Housing Silkie Chickens
Today Silkie Chickens are growing in popularity as pets and are an ideal choice for children or the inexperienced chicken owner. If you are considering these backyard birds as pets, it is important to note that they can't fly very far and the fluffiness of their feathers hinders their peripheral sight. This makes them more susceptible to predators. With this in mind, provide housing that can protect them for overhead threats and keeps them off the ground. It is common for silkies to sleep in a heap, but some do prefer low roosts about 1-2 feet off the ground.
Safe housing includes overhead protection.
Like the Chinese lore of long ago, today Silkie or black chicken owners have their own stories to tell, of how the magic of these endearing, silky-looking birds can roost in our hearts.