This Silkie chicken is probably one of the more-unique looking chicken breeds out there. Incidentally, it is also one of the oldest. Here, we are going to look at the origins of the Silkie chicken, as well as give you an idea about whether Silkie chickens are going to be great pets for backyard owners or not.
Silkie Chicken Characteristics at a Glance
|Eggs||max 100 (per year)|
|Weight||Male: 4 lb (1.81 kg) |
Female: 3 lb (1.36 kg)
|Country of origin||Unknown (China, Japan or India)|
The Look of the Silkie Chicken
The Silkie chicken has a distinctive look. The feathers on this particular chicken breed are incredibly fluffy. In fact, if you didn’t know better, it would appear as if the chicken has fur. If you touch the chicken, the feathers feel ‘silk-like’ (hence the name of the breed).
These chickens with feathered legs are somewhat on the smaller side, so you wouldn’t be raising them for meat.
In fact, they are so small that they are regarded as a bantam in most countries. It is rare that you will find a male Silkie chicken weighing more than 1 kg in the US. They are bred to be small and therefore are not true Silkie bantams.
In some cases, the chicken will be born with an extra 1-2 toes on their feet. This is due to a genetic mutation in the breed. It isn’t deadly and poses absolutely no risks to the Silkie chicken. It is just something that is worth keeping your eye out for.
Silkie Chicken Colors
The following are all Silkie chicken recognized color varieties by the APA (American Poultry Association):
- Bearded Black
- Bearded Blue
- Bearded Buff
- Bearded Gray
- Bearded Partridge
- Bearded Splash
- Bearded White
- Non-Bearded Black
- Non-Bearded Blue
- Non-Bearded Buff
- Non-Bearded Gray
- Non-Bearded Partridge
- Non-Bearded White
The Origins of the Silkie
We do not actually know the specific origins of this breed. This is because, as an ancient breed, it has likely been around for a few thousand years.
Some documents are saying it originated in India, while others are saying China and Japan.
Our best guess is that the original Silkie came from China. When Marco Polo returned from his travels in the 13th century, this is certainly where it was first discovered by the Western World.
The Silkie ended up working its way along the Silk Road into Europe, and it then spread around the globe.
In the United States they were recognized by the APA in 1874.
Silkie Chicken Eggs and Laying
If you are expecting the Silkie chicken to lay eggs regularly, then you would be wrong.
It is very rare for the Silkie to lay more than 100 eggs per year. In fact, the vast majority of Silkies will lay a lot fewer than this. This is because the Silkie broods quite a bit, and that has a major impact on egg-laying.
Most backyard chicken owners will not use the Silkie for their eggs at all. Instead, the Silkie is going to be a fantastic ornamental breed of chicken (perfect for chicken shows), and for helping to fertilize other chicken eggs.
That is about it. The 1-2 eggs that the Silkie lays each week is just a little bit of a bonus, not the main reason you should own one.
One of the great things about the Silkie is that they do brood quite a bit. This means that you can use them to hatch the eggs of other chickens, even if the Silkie had absolutely no role in that mating process.
Silkie Chicken Meat
Since the Silkie is a smaller bird, it probably wouldn’t be used for meat anyway. Well, it certainly wouldn’t be raised for their meat.
In the Western World, it is incredibly rare to eat Silkie, and you would know if you are eating Silkie. This is because the chicken has black flesh. It is eaten as a delicacy in most Asian countries, but you would rarely find it on the plates of a Westerner.
By all means, if black chicken flesh is something that you want to chow down on, you could raise a few Silkies. However, generally speaking, it probably isn’t going to be worth the effort to do.
There is just so little meat there that it becomes rather pointless.
Silkie As a Pet – Are Silkie Chickens Good Pets?
As a pet the Silkie tends to be fairly calm, friendly chicken and it would have absolutely no issues being handled by people. In fact, many people will get hold of Silkie chickens because they make great family pets and they are one of the most friendliest chicken breeds in the world.
It is worth noting that these obedient chickens can’t fly.
Do bear in mind that because the Silkie is quite small, it is quite liable to being bullied by other chickens in the coop. It isn’t going to be a major problem in the vast majority of cases, but it is still going to be something you want to keep an eye out for.