Silkies are a fan favourite breed, especially for families due to their small stature, unique appearance and affable nature. These birds stand out from other breeds with their fluffy, silky feathers. Their love of handling and small size make Silkies a fantastic breed for young families with small, urban backyards. If you are after a breed to make an ideal family pet, rather than to provide eggs and meat, then you should definitely strongly consider Silkies.
Poor egg production
Poor meat production
Very family friendly
Cold climate hardy: Yes
Rare breed: No
Colour: Cream to brown
Quantity: 2-3 eggs/hen/week
Silkies are an ornamental breed of chickens that can be traced back to China during the 13th century when Marco Polo detailed these birds on his travels. Silkies never fail to grab the attention of anyone who gets the chance to admire this spectacular breed due to their distinctive appearance. They are one of the smallest breeds of chickens, with standard varieties weighing 1.5-2kg and bantams weighing only 0.5-0.7kg! Furthermore, they have a walnut comb and their feathers are more comparable to silk or fur, rather than the feathers of other breeds of chickens. This can be attributed to the lack of barbicels, which are small hooks that give feathers structure and hold them together. There are also a number of colour variations in which silkies can be found, including white, buff, blue, lavender, partridge, grey and black.
Silkies are not only adored for their appearance, but also their temperament and nature. Silkies are renowned for being fantastic family pets. They are a favourite breed for people located in urban areas, as their small size means that they only require a relatively small backyard to house. Additionally, Silkies are the perfect breed for young children. Despite being relatively quiet and shy, they have a caring, friendly temperament and love to be handled. They are sure to bring a smile to the faces of all family members, young and old, throughout their life of up to 9 years.
While Silkies are perfect as family pets, they aren’t the breed for you if egg and meat production are a priority. While there is a large degree of individual variation, Silkies can only be expected to lay approximately 100-150 small, cream-brown eggs a year. This can be partly attributed to the fact that they are prone to going broody. With this being said, if you plan on breeding Silkies, motherhood further brings their caring nature is in full view as they make outstanding parents.
When keeping Silkies, there are a few considerations that should be taken into account. One of the drawbacks of their unique feathers is that they aren’t waterproof. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you provide them with adequate shelter in to keep them protected from rain. With this precaution met, Silkies are quite cold hardy and can tolerate most climates. Furthermore, due to their shy and reserved nature, silkies tend to rank quite low down on the pecking order when housed with other breeds. To avoid bullying, it is best not to mix Silkies with other breeds.