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    Chicken Breed

    Soft and fluffy ornamentals, and one of the most well-known chickens.


    Authored by Sam Peterson

    Breed type


    Egg color


    Pen or free-range?

    Pen preferred



    Silkie quick facts

    Lifespan: 7-9 years

    Weight: Females (Hens) - ~2 lbs; Males (Roosters) - ~2 to 3 lbs.

    Appearance: Varies based on type of silkie (standard, bearded or bantam). Coloring can be black, white, blue and more.

    Egg Production: Approximately 100-130 eggs/year

    Good for Beginners: Yes

    History of Silkie

    The Silkie is a special breed with a dedicated fanbase. They have one of the most unique feather textures of all chickens, soft and fluffy, like the fur of other animals. This soft down is well-displayed through their numerous color varieties and the puffy feather caps atop their heads. These ‘helmets’ are very similar to those of the Polish chicken, though the feathers on a Silkie have a different texture. All of these visual traits make them a distinctive breed with ornamental appeal—it’s no surprise they are one of the most well-known ornamental chickens on the market today!

    The Silkie is rumored to originate in China, where they have been kept and used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years, retaining a storied legacy to this day. The Italian explorer Marco Polo is known as the first European to encounter a Silkie, recording its strange, wooly appearance in his 13th century expedition logs. It took almost six hundred more years for the Silkie to get established in Europe and North America, registered as an official breed in United States during the late 1800s. Since then, the Silkie has gone on to become a highly regarded ornamental breed, thanks to its unique appearance, motherly traits, and docile temperament.

    Temperment and good-to-knows

    Silkie chickens make for great pets. In addition to their visual traits, the Silkie are known as an extremely docile breed. This makes the Silkie great for prospective owners who have children or those looking for a family pet, a role which a Silkie will gladly fulfill. Their docility has them sitting far down on the pecking order, so in building your flock, remember to be considerate of more aggressive chickens bullying your Silkies. You may want to stick with other docile breeds.

    If you are looking to own Silkies, you are most likely in the ornamental market. The silkie chicken breed is not recognized for their egg laying production, only producing about 100-130 cream-colored eggs per year. They are also highly prone to broodiness, which is a trait Silkie owners appreciate, but prospective buyers should not expect high egg production from their birds for these reasons. Silkies are seen as some of the best mothers out there. They are happy to hatch eggs and care for chicks of other breeds. Depending on the composition of your flock, those looking to hatch their own chicks may want to look into buying a Silkie hen. Though Silkies are prized for their unique black bones and meat in Asia, amongst European and American owners, the breed is not regarded as a good meat producer.

    Visual characteristics of Silkie birds

    In the backyard, Silkies make strong impressions through their striking appearance. Many different varieties of Silkie are available, from standard, to bearded, and bantams in all colors. Some of the more popular colors of Silkie include black, white, blue, and buff. Bearded Silkies have endearing pom-pom heads, with their fluffy beards and feather helmets combining as one. The skin of a Silkie is generally dark blue to black, with their beaks and wattles being similarly dark. Amongst white-feathered Silkies, these dark features start to really pop. A unique trait amongst Silkie chicken breeds is that they often have more than four toes, anywhere from five to six. These toes are concealed beneath their feathered feet.

    Health and care

    The health of Silkie chickens is generally robust, save for a few issues. They can be susceptible to the highly contagious Marek’s disease. Having your Silkies vaccinated early is the best way to prevent possible infection and spread amongst your flock, so if you are looking to own Silkies, this should be a strong consideration. Silkies, despite the dense, fluffy nature of their feathers, are not particularly cold-hardy. Unlike other birds, their feathers do not repel water well, so they can easily get waterlogged. Keeping your birds warm and dry should be a top priority. If you live in a wet, cold climate, your Silkies will undoubtedly need extra attention.

    Frequently asked questions about Silkies

    Are Silkie chickens cold-hardy?

    No, Silkie chickens are not cold-hardy and may require additional heat and shelter during colder months.

    Are Silkie chickens good with children?

    This breed is generally gentle and makes great pets for children with proper supervision.

    Do Silkie chickens have health problems?

    Silkie chickens may be prone to certain health issues, such as Marek's disease, and require proper care and nutrition to prevent such problems.

    Do Silkie chickens need a lot of space?

    No, Silkie chickens do not need a lot of space and can thrive in smaller backyard settings.

    Do Silkie chickens need special grooming?

    Yes, Silkie chickens require regular grooming to maintain their fluffy feathers and prevent matting and dirt buildup.

    Everything your flock needs

    Chicken Care Guide

    Find all the information you need about raising chickens. Get an overview, then find helpful links to more in-depth education.

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    Coops, Pens and Nesting Boxes

    Browse coops for the perfect roosting spot and space for laying all those eggs. Don't forget nesting boxes, bedding, fencing materials to bring it together.

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    Poultry Feed and Treats

    Find starter feed, layer feed and scratch grain, as well as delicious treats and live insects.

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    Poultry Care

    Shop poultry supplements, pest control and dewormers. Prepare for illness and injury with a stocked first aid kit.

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