Uses: Child friendly, broody hens, cuteness, don’t fly,
Eggs: 80-150 small cream eggs / year with large yolk.
Weight: Cock: 600g – 1.8kg, Hen: 500g– 1.3kg.
Origin: China, maybe as far back as 206BC
Colours: Australian Poultry Standard accepted colours are: blue, black, white, grey, buff, splash and partridge. Other colours may be available such as lavender, cuckoo and red.
Useful to Know: Docile and a good choice to have around with children, black skin & bones.
Chinese Silkies are chickens that are known to bring a smile to people’s faces. They are great at being pets, brooders and ‘ornamental’ birds.
They are content to be confined, but if allowed to free range are great little foragers. The area in which they forage should be a ‘safe zone’ since they cannot fly to escape predators.
Chinese silkie get their name from their soft feathers which feel like satin or silk.
A unique looking fowl and very distinct to look at. The silkie head is crested, looking somewhat like a ‘pom-pom’. If a comb is present, it should look like a ‘walnut’, being almost circular in appearance. The comb colouring is black or dark mulberry.
They have oval shaped turquoise blue earlobes and dark coloured wattles. Their beak is short, quite broad at the base, it should be grey/blue in colour. Eyes are black.
As for their body, it should be broad and stout, the back is short and the breast is full. They have five toes instead of the usual four found in chickens. The outer two toes should be feathered. The legs are short and wide set, grey in colour.
Their feathers lack barbicels (those are the hooks that hold the feathers together), hence the fluffy appearance. The main feathering looks just like the under-down of regular chickens.
The fact that the feathers do not hold together means a Silkie cannot fly. This also means that the feathering is not waterproof. If they do get significantly wet, they need to be dried off.
Underneath all that fluff, the Silkie has black skin and bones. This makes them a food delicacy in parts of the Far East and their meat is used in Chinese medicine.
Silkies make good pets as they are calm, friendly and happy to be handled. They enjoy a good cuddle and can be picked up and carried about. They are a placid nature fowl and can be bullied by other chickens so care must be taken when introducing them to existing flocks. They do like to be broody and some say could try to hatch a rock, but Silkies when broody, will sit on eggs and raise any breed of chicks.
Health and Well-Being
Silkie can be effected by mareks disease so it is important to purchase vaccinated stock. As they have lots of fluff care must be taken to treat regularly for lice and mites. Silkies need to be dried off if they get wet as their feathers are not waterproof. Sometimes their head “poof” may need a trim to help them see.