History

Silkies are a unique breed of chicken, thought to have originated in China or Southeast Asia.

The first recorded history of Silkies occurs in Marco Polo’s writings about his travels to Asia in the 13th century, in which he describes chickens with fur-like plumage black skin.

Silkies were admitted into the Standard of Perfection in 1874.

Qualities of the Silkie

There are a lot of things to like about the Silkie.

  • Broodiness – One of the main characteristics that Silkies are known for is broodiness. Silkie hens have a strong tendency to go broody, and they make excellent mothers.
  • Temperament – Silkies have a wonderful temperament.  They are calm, gentle, and docile.  They are easy to raise and get along well with children.  They quickly get used to being handled by people.
  • Excellent Pets – Silkies make excellent pets.  Their unique appearance and behavior adds to the enjoyment of watching them.
  • Tolerate confinement well – Silkies tolerate confinement well.  Because of the nature of their feathers, they tend to not fly out of fences easily, so it is easier to keep them contained than some of the flightier breeds.

Physical Appearance

  • Feathers – The silky appearance of the Silkies’ feathers are what give it its name.  Their feathers lack barbicels, the hook-like barbs that exists in the feathers of other chicken breeds and which hold the parts of the feathers together, giving them there usual appearance. This lack of barbicels is what gives Silkies their “silky” appearance.
  • Skin color – Silkies have dark blue skin which looks nearly black.  The meat and bones of Silkies are also dark blue. This is true regardless of their feather color.
  • Five toes – Most breeds of chickens have four toes on each foot.  The Silkie has five.
  • Plumage color – Silkies are available in a number of colors. Those which McMurray Hatchery carries include Blue, Buff, White, and Black
  • Blue Earlobes – Silkies have blue earlobes.
  • Feathers on legs – As can be seen in the photo above, Silkies have feathered legs.
  • Crest – Silkies have a crest of feathers on the top of their heads.

Egg Laying

Silkies lay small to medium eggs that are cream colored to light brown. Silkies are not prolific layers.  When Silkies are not broody, they will lay dependably, but not as consistently as production breeds.  When they are broody, they will stop laying.

Rain

Because the Silkies’ feathers lack barbicels, they don’t shed water as well as many other breeds. Water tends to soak them rather than bead up and roll off, so they need ample protection against rain.

Videos of Baby Silkie Chicks

Availability

To check the availability of Silkies on our website, visit the links below:

Feedback

We’d like to hear from you.  If you’ve raised Silkies, please leave us a reply letting us know what your experience with them has been.

This post was originally published in 2011 and was updated on April 10, 2015.