July 23, 2012
Clearly one of the most popular showbirds, the silkie has earned quite a name for itself with its looks and often affectionate personality. These fluffy bantams can be found in several varieties: buff, blue, partridge, black, and (most commonly) white. All of those varieties also come in both bearded and non-bearded varieties. There are also some similar yet genetically unique bantams that are often confused with silkies; the showgirl, distinguishable by its bare neck and turquoise earlobes, and the extremely odd sultan, distinguishable by its structured feathering and slightly larger build.
Rather than broad feathers with strong structure, the silkie has very thin feathers with very little structure that is more like loose fur. This “fur” puffs on top of the head and extends down the legs to its five toes. The warm and fluffy feathering makes them hardy for cold climates or winters. The silkie has a barely-visible walnut comb and black skin.
The silkie is one of the best brooders you can get and is known to even adopt the hatched chicks of other hens if something happens to the original hen. Some poultry owners have reported cross-species adoption with silkie hens where they have adopted baby ducks, pheasant chicks, and baby geese.
If you are looking to show silkies, it is important that you keep them out of muddy or manured areas as cleaning their delicately-feathered legs can be a real pain. One should also plan on occasionally inspecting and possibly cleaning the toes and underneath the toenails to make sure the chicken does not become susceptible to toenail infections, however this can be avoided if they are kept in a dry area with plenty of access to dust for dustbaths and scratching.