The Secrets of the Silkie Bantam!
A noble bantam the Silkie is a fantastic addition to any brood of chickens. In a variety of colours, the Silkie will strut proudly across any paddock giving a fabulous display of their fashionable feathers.
With fluffy feet and tiny beak the Silkie Bantam could be mistaken for being the more timid of the bunch, however the males will defend their territory with a fierce determination that can only be described as admirable.
The History of the Silkie
Originating in China, the Silkies were first documented when Marco Polo wrote about them on his travels across the country. He described them as “black skinned furry creatures” which conjures up images of a magical breed. However although this dates back to as early as the 13th century, breeders over the last 40 years have worked hard to ensure the feathered feet and impressive crests are part of the Silkie we’re familiar with today.
With soft fluffy feathers reminiscent of duck down, the Silkies are quite different from the normal chicken. These feathers hide a tough black skin, whilst their feet sport a full five toes instead of the usual four. The impressive thatch of feathers on their head ranges from Silkie to Silkie, however it’s commonly known amongst all as a top knot or a crest.
Supervision of the Silkie
Raising a Silkie from an egg can be a military procedure. Although hardy once fully raised, they can be more prone to disease and cold if not well looked after as chicks. You will notice a higher mortality rate compared to other chicks, as their feathers being fluffy hold onto moisture making them prone to flu. Once grown the feathered feet need daily inspection as they can accumulate mites. Silkies like to be kept dry at all times, so encourage them indoors at the first sight of rain.
Proud family men, the cocks of the Silkie breed will not only protect their own chicks but any that show vulnerability. The mothers too have a wonderful maternal instinct and will sit tight upon a brood of eggs and care for her chicks until they are ready to go it alone.
Although the eggs are tasty and decorative, produced in colours of brown or white, the Silkies are not the best layers. They prefer quality over quantity and as such may produce only three eggs a week. This will stop in winter as they moult, and when they become broody, so you need to decide if you’d like to breed these bantams or use them for decorative purposes, as they’re unlikely to fill the egg box for baking!
There are a lot of different types of Silkies and breeders are creating more every year however the most popular kinds are:
- Black, White or Blue (The blue emits a shimmer n the sunlight)
- Bearded and Non bearded (These have a tuft under the chin and can be quite comical)
Quite simply there’s a Silkie Bantam for everyone!
N.B. This post was originally written by Martina Mercer and has been plagiarised throughout the web, if you see copies please let us know as the only one with permission to publish is The Young Gardener