What Are Silkies Chickens?

Silkies are one of the oldest, most beautiful and unique breed of bantam chickens. Learn more!

Silkies are one of the oldest, most beautiful and unique breed of bantam chickens. They look much like animated powder puffs, as they scratch around in my yard. And upon seeing them, people always exclaim, "oh, they are so adorable!" And that they are. But Silkies also have a very interesting history.

Silkie bantam chickens are an ancient breed, originating from China and Japan. The great Venetian explorer, Marco Polo, upon his return from China, wrote about all the wonders he saw there in his "Book," written in 1298-99. One of the wonders that he mentions were chickens that, "have hair like cats, are black, and lay the best of eggs." He was writing about Silkies. In 1599, Aldrovandi Bologna wrote about a chicken in his book,

Ornithology, which he described as, "white as snow, with wool like sheep." Because of their unusual feathers, it was even rumored back then that they may be a cross between a rabbit and a chicken, and they were even called "rabbit-fowl." Suffice to say, that rumor was untrue. But that Silkies are an unusual, beautiful breed, is very true.

Silkie bantam chickens are an affectionate, docile and trustful breed. They have dark blue or black skin, and feathers without the usual forms of webs. Because the feathers lack of adhesion of the barbs, they look like down or silky hair, giving the appearance of a rabbit or angora cat. Another feature that is beautiful and unusual on silkies are their turquoise blue ear lobes, and on their feet, they sport five toes. They also have mulberry colored faces, blue legs and skin, similar to game birds, an attractive rose colored comb, large dark eyes, and a beautiful, small round topknot on top of their heads. Silkies come in white, black, brown, buff and partridge colors, and in bearded and non-bearded varieties.

Since silkies don't have usual feathers, they cannot fly at all, like some other chickens, so they are easily contained, and won't venture very far if kept in the yard. And because of their docile nature, they make ideal pets for children in the country.

Silkies are great layers of fairly large sized bantam eggs, and will lay well into winter, when other breeds of chickens have quit. In fact, winters don't bother Silkies much, because their fluffy down "coats," keep them warm.

Silkies are quite affectionate towards their owner, and realize that we will not harm them. They will talk to you with their little, chicken clucks, and can be made so tame, that they will fly up into your lap if given the chance.

Silkie bantam chickens are the best sitters in the world. A Silkie mother will never abandon her eggs, and will be a protective guardian of her babies. In my yard, should a dog or cat venture too close to a mother hen with her chicks, it will soon run for safety, for a Silkie mother will fly at it fiercely, flapping her wings and screeching at the intruder, menacingly!

Silkies are a long-lived chicken, and stay beautiful, even when older. I have one Silkie hen that is now 8 years old, and she is still laying and is a pretty as she was in her poulet stage. Poulets, in case you don't know, are the teenagers of the chicken world.

In the past, Silkies were used to hatch out game birds, because of their wonderful sitting and mothering abilities. But since the use of incubators became popular, they have lost their status as the best sitters. These days, they're mostly raised for show, and you will often find them in petting zoos, where their sweet, docile nature, and fluffy covering, delight children of all ages.

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