Chick, Silkie
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Sex: Straight run only.  Males/Females

Size: Bantam

Silkie

(sometimes alternatively spelled Silky) is a breed of chicken named for its atypically fluffy plumage, which is said to feel like silk. The breed has several other unusual qualities, such as dark blue flesh and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot, whereas most chickens only have four. They are often exhibited in poultry shows, and exist in several colors including red, buff, blue, grey, black, white, and many mottled variations.

In addition to their distinctive physical characteristics, Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. Among the most docile of poultry, Silkies are considered an ideal pet. Hens are also exceptionally broody, and make good mothers.  Silkies come in both a full-sized and diminutive forms, the latter being typically known as Silkie Bantams.

Appearance / Characteristic

Silkie plumage presently is unique among chicken breeds, though there are growing efforts to standarised silkie feathered varieties in other breeds such as Chabo. It has been compared to silk, and to fur. Their feathers lack functioning barbicels, and are thus similar to down on other birds and leave Silkies unable to fly. The overall result is a soft, fluffy appearance.

Silkies appear in two distinct varieties: Bearded and Non-bearded. Bearded Silkies have an extra muff of feathers under the beak area that covers the earlobes. All Silkies have a small Walnut-type comb, dark wattles, and turquoise blue earlobes. In addition to these defining characteristics, Silkies have five toes on each foot. Other breeds which exhibit this rare trait include the Dorking, Faverolles, and Sultan.

All Silkies have black skin, bones and grayish-black meat; their Chinese language name is wu gu ji (烏骨雞, literally "dark boned chicken"), meaning "black-boned chicken". Melanism which extends beyond the skin into an animal's connective tissue is a rare trait, and the Silkie is one of only a handful of chickens to exhibit it. Disregarding color, the breed does not generally produce as much as the more common meat breeds of chicken.

Silkies lay a fair number of cream-colored eggs, but production is often interrupted due to their extreme tendency to go broody; a hen will produce 100 eggs in an ideal year. Their capacity for incubation, which has been selectively bred out of most egg-laying fowl, is often exploited by poultry keepers by allowing Silkies to raise the offspring of other birds. In addition to being good mothers, Silkies are universally renowned for their calm, friendly temperament. They do well in confinement, and interact very well with children. This docility can cause Silkies to be bullied by more active or aggressive birds when kept in mixed flocks.

Weight

Standard weight is 4 pounds  for a cock, 3 pounds  for a hen.

Eggs

Though they are fair layers themselves, laying about three eggs a week, they are commonly used to hatch eggs from other breeds and bird species.

History

It is unknown exactly where or when fowl with their singular combination of attributes first appeared, but the most well documented point of origin as ancient China. Other places in Southeast Asia have been named as possibilities, such as India and Java.The earliest surviving written account of Silkies comes from Marco Polo, who wrote of a furry chicken in the 13th century, during his travels in Asia.In 1599, Ulisse Aldrovandi, a writer and naturalist at the University of Bologna, Italy, published a comprehensive treatise on chickens which is still read and admired today. In it, he spoke on "wool-bearing chickens" and ones "clothed with hair like that of a black cat".

Silkies most likely made their way to the West via the Silk Route and maritime trade. The breed was recognized officially in North America with acceptance into the Standard of Perfection in 1874. Once Silkies became more common in the West, many myths were perpetuated about them. Early Dutch breeders told buyers they were the offspring of chickens and rabbits, while sideshows promoted them as having actual mammalian fur.

In the 21st century, Silkies are one of the most popular and ubiquitous ornamental breeds of chicken. They are often kept as ornamental fowl or pet chickens by backyard keepers, and are also commonly used to incubate and raise the offspring of other chickens and waterfowl like ducks and geese and game birds such as quail and pheasants.

 

Looking for an assortment of silkie colors?

White Buff Blue Black, Choose Hatchery Choice


  • Item #: HC-SBLK

Chick, Silkie Black

Price: $15.00
2 or more: $7.00 each
5 or more: $5.00 each
30 or more: $3.99 each
60 or more: $3.75 each
120 or more: $3.25 each
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