The best pets money can buy!
For those of you out there who are considering keeping poultry for the first time, I can not recommend the silkie variety of chicken highly enough.
Although not the most prolific of egg layers (expect around 100 - 130 eggs per year, per hen) and definitely not a table bird (although I am told that the chinese consider them a delicacy), they are without a doubt the most docile and friendly of chicken breeds.
This particular breed, who are most certainly different in appearance, also have a very different temperament to other popular breeds of chickens. Whereas other breeds that I have kept, such as Rhode island reds, light sussex, pekin bantams, brown isa's, et al, tend to bring a rather destructive quality to ones back garden, as well as an aggressive attitude to new members of the flock, it must be said that the silkie being that much more gentle/docile, has a minimal impact upon the garden of any potential poultry keeper.
There appearance is certainly unusual, which only adds to the charm of these birds. Slightly smaller than the average chicken, they come in a multitude of colours and hues. They range from black through to white (white usually being the most sought after colour) encompassing a variety of colours along the way, most commonly including a golden colour. Most interestingly, the silkie always, although most prominently on the cockerels, displays bright blue ears.
Caring for your silkie
The basic needs for silkie chickens are very simple and straightforward.
- A safe and secure nest box, preferably with an attached run. These are readily available on the internet on sites such as ebay and ebid
- Good quality food, such as mixed corn or layers pellets. There diet can also be supplemented with left-overs from the dinner table (although avoid giving them tomatoes or baked beans).
- A nice bit of garden, with lots of nice grass for them to run around on, scratch about on and play!
Enjoying your silkies
Silkiechickens do make wonderful pets. They are unusual upon the eye and make an interesting topic of conversation when you have guests to the house! To get your chickens to become even more rewarding pets, try feeding them dried meal worms! Initially throw them on the ground in front of you, then over a short period of time, offer them closer and closer to you, eventually the silkies will start taking the treats straight from your hand.
Going back to the subject of eggs, I have already touched on the subject, saying they are not the most prolific of layers. The majority of the eggs produced will be laid in the spring and the autumn (fall). They do still produce some eggs in the height of summer, althogh not in as great abundance. They all but stop laying in the winter months, eggs are quite a rarity at this time of year.
The eggs themselves are somewhat smaller than those which you would buy in the shops. However, for those of you whom prefer more 'yolk' than 'white', the silkie egg is the egg for you. It will have inside it a yolk comparable in size to that of a 'normal' chicken egg. Along with the same taste and all the goodness.
For those of you out there who are considering breeding chickens, but are reluctant to pay out for an incubator, a cost effective alternative is to get a silkie hen! Ok, your average bird-brain is not as reliable as a factory produced incubator, but it is more eco-freindly than paying out for electricity, plus silkie hens have a habit of going broody at the drop of a hat. They really are not bothered if it is their egg or not, they are so dopey, they would happily sit on a stone!
So don't delay, get a silkie today!