Pure breed chicken
Varieties: Black, Blue, Gold, Partridge, White, in Standard or Bearded
Average Annual Egg Production: 150
Garden Suitability: High
Best Features: Very, very cute! Perfect pets for children
Silkies are an Oriental chicken breed, although whether they originated in Japan, China or Malay is open to debate. Certainly, the explorer Marco Polo reported finding chickens with ‘fur’ on his travels in Asia during the 13th century. Silkies are officially classed as large chickens, but their extraordinary cuddle-ability makes them ideal pets.
In the ‘cute chicken’ stakes, the Silkie wins hands down thanks to its ‘furry’ appearance. Its feathers stick out like fur and have no real definition between them, creating the illusion of a Boris Johnson type haircut! Under a mop of pure white plumage, Silkies have unusual black faces and skin, black combs, and black feet with five toes covered in yet more ‘fur’.
The drawback is that their plumage is not waterproof, so they always need access to a dry coop to retreat to if the weather changes suddenly. However, the plumage also keeps them warm in winter, so they are reasonably hardy.
It’s probably just as well they are cute, as they are not proficient layers, averaging only 150 eggs per year. Silkies are calm and trusting birds who cannot fly, and are perfectly content in a confined space.
Unlike any other breeds of chicken, Silkies begin laying in midwinter and completely stop during the summer months. They do turn broody, and as a result, many breeders use them exclusively as foster mothers for other breeds.
Sikie meat is an acquired taste, simply because the meat is as black as their skin. However, in China, this very quality makes the meat highly sought after.