White silkie standing on grass
Breeds Silkie

Silkies: A Comprehensive Silkie Chicken Guide For Every Chicken Lover


Silkies- Name derives from the unique formation of plumage and feathers that are web-less and silky in texture.

All hail to these mesmerizing beauties that would stop a clock. You guessed it right. We are talking about the “Silkie Chicken”. You are here because you definitely have been impressed by these pretty birds. And even if this isn’t the case, you will definitely fall in love with the Silkie chicken breed by the end of this article; desiring to add them in your backyard flock as soon as possible. And who doesn’t?

It’s all the love for their appearance that they are called by various sweet names around the globe such as fluffy bears, hairy balls e.t.c. Let’s have a glimpse of their beauty while moving further.

White silkie in the bed
Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

Aren’t they cute? They are exactly as they appear – Soft natured, fluffy, lovable and generous. With their unique appearance and awesome mothering skills, they are owned by almost every chicken lover out there.

Every chicken breed has its salient features and characteristics. Many are known for their egg laying capabilities while others are known for their meat utilization.

Some are dual purpose breeds while some are mere ornamental breeds and are kept to relax the minds by their superb beauty and nature. Each breed has it pros and cons. Are Silkies right choice for you? Well, it depends as these adorable fluffy birds do give a little challenge and require some extra care.

My guide will discuss all the salient features and characteristics of a Silkie chicken and whether it’s the right breed for you or not. You’ll learn every necessary information related to Silkie chickens in this article so that you can come to a conclusion whether Silkies are a right fit for you or not.

Let’s have a look at the topics covered in this article and you just have to click the links below to jump straight to the ones of your interest.

We ensure that our readers get detailed information about each aspect of Silkie chicken by not forcing them to go through the entire article. But the data tells that numerous people have loved this article and have given it a full read as it is hell interesting. Why not you?

ancient Chinese script on a torn of paper
Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels

Silkies made their way to west after Marco Polo witnessed these “silk-feathered” beauties in the 13th Century.

He also wrote about them as “chickens with fur-like feathers” and “ fowls which have no feathers, but hair only, like a cat’s fur” in his travelling logs.

It is also said that he took some silkies back with him to the west and was the first one to introduce them there. Silkies were recognized by the American poultry association in 1874.

Appearance of Silkies

Love at a first glance. It’s all I can say. Once you witness these fluffy-feathered beauties, you just can’t get them out of your head.

white silkie's face close-up


consists of a spherical puff of fluffy and silky feathers on top of the head. Crust is generally vaulted in nature.


Silkies have Black eyes.


Black in color. Comes in bearded and non-bearded. As the name suggests, bearded variety has a beard and muffs.


Short, broad and greyish-blue in color


Oval shaped turquoise blue in color adding to the beauty of the bird.


black to dark mulberry. Generally, dark in color.


Walnut, black to dark mulberry in color. Almost circular in appearance.


Fluffy, silky, furry. Comes in various colors depending upon color variety. Feathers do not hold together making the bird unable to fly. They lack barbicels and can become wet easily. This is the reason why Silkies are not recommended to keep in wet areas. If they get wet, it is recommended to dry a Silkie chicken as soon as possible.


Black in color


Black in color. This is due to the feature known as melanism.


Dark greyish-blue


Feathered according to color. They are grey in color underneath the feathers.


Grey in color.


Silkies have five toes out of which two are feathered. Most silkies also have four.






Three to four pounds. Weight of males is heavier than those of females. According to US standards, a Silkie rooster can weigh up to 2-3lb and a Silkie hen weights up to 1.5-2lb.


Standard and Bantam. US and Canada consider silkies as bantams regardless of size. Silkies in US are also slightly smaller in size as compared to other European countries. Other countries recognize silkies as large fowl and bantam.

Color Varieties:

This is the most interesting part as poultry researchers and experts have made their efforts come true by giving us a variety of colors to choose between when it comes to Silkies. American Bantam Association (ABA) and American Poultry Association (APA) recognizes 8 colors of Silkies. They include:

  • White Silkies
  • Black Silkies
  • Splash Silkies
  • Blue Silkies
  • Self-blue Silkies
  • Grey Silkies
  • Buff Silkies
  • Partridge Silkies

Below table shows the data from American poultry association’s official site. It includes the accepted varieties of Silkies by APA.

BantamSilkieBearded BlackFeather Leg
BantamSilkieNon-Bearded BlackFeather Leg
BantamSilkieBearded BlueFeather Leg
BantamSilkieNon-Beaded BlueFeather Leg
BantamSilkieBearded BuffFeather Leg
BantamSilkieNon-Bearded BuffFeather Leg
BantamSilkieBearded GrayFeather Leg
BantamSilkieNon-Bearded GrayFeather Leg
BantamSilkieBearded PartridgeFeather Leg
BantamSilkieNon-Bearded PartridgeFeather Leg
BantamSilkieBearded Self BlueFeather Leg
BantamSilkieBearded SplashFeather Leg
BantamSilkieBearded WhiteFeather Leg
BantamSilkieNon-Bearded WhiteFeather Leg


Various breeders and poultry experts are working to introduce more color varieties in silkie chickens. Silkies have also been bred in other color patterns such as Red-buff, Lavender and cuckoo but yet not recognized by APA or ABA.

Silkie Breed Standards

Silkies were first accepted by the poultry club of Great Britain in 1865.

American poultry association recognized Silkies in 1874.

Silkies were accepted by Australian poultry association in 1998.

Silkie Standard of perfection

Different poultry associations recognize various breeds and define the salient feature of each breed. These are called breed standards.

Characteristics of each breed are listed at their highest level and act as a standard when judging the quality of any bird. Now, it depends which standard you want to follow. Like of course, if you are looking to participate in a poultry show that will judge your bird on the basis of American standard, you will have to ensure that your bird complies with it as close as possible.

This standard works as a benchmark to judge your bird’s quality. Breeders use this standard as a benchmark to improve their bird’s quality through selective breeding. Standard acts as a guide for breeders and exhibitors to choose their birds wisely so that they get maximum points in a show.

Different attributes of a bird are judged by judges and they give the points against each attribute of a bird, keeping the standard as a benchmark.

A bird is given points out of 100. Of course, points get deducted if any attribute of the bird slightly differs from the standards given by the respective poultry association.

In some cases, bird is disqualified from the competition. Disqualifications for each bird are also defined by poultry associations.

I will discuss some of the breed standards of bearded Silkies according to American poultry association standards. If you want an in-depth detail about standards of every breed, including Silkies, I will recommend you to buy the book of American Standard of Perfection published by American poultry association. It is worth buying, if you want to keep quality birds that comply with standards or if you are looking to participate in a poultry show.

Now, let’s come to Silkie breed standards. Your Silkie is very likely to be disqualified if it has:

  • Absence of crest or fifth toe
  • Vulture-hocks
  • Shanks that are not feathered down outer sides
  • Feathers not truly silky

Apart from disqualifications that are breed specific, some disqualifications are general and apply on all birds irrespective of breed. You can consider them as first tier disqualifications. These have also been mentioned in the American standard of perfection under “General Disqualifications”.

Bearded Silkie standards according to American standard of perfection includes:

  • Weight- Standard weight for a Silkie rooster is 36 oz and that of a standard Silkie hen is 32 oz. Silkie cockerel standard weight is also 32 oz. Standard weight for a Silkie pullet is 28 oz.
  • Comb- Females should have walnut shaped combs and are smaller in size. Comb of male should be circular and should have horizontal indentation across its middle.
  • Wattles- small and concealed by the beard. Females should have the same but very small in size.
  • Crest- Medium sized
  • Neck- Short and curved gracefully.
  • Beard and Muffs- Thick and full
  • Back- Short and broad. It should rise in a curve towards the tail. Tail should be shredded at ends.
  • Wings- closely folded
  • Toes- five toes. Two at the back and three at the front.
  • Eyes- Black

There is much more detail specific to the Silkie standards. I have discussed a very little. I encourage you to buy The standard of perfection so that you know each and every bit of it.

Personality and temperament

Silkies are said to be one of the sweetest natured birds. They add so much charm and beauty to the backyard by their sweet presence.

These birds are extremely docile and calm. They can become your best friends. They love to play around calmly. They make great friend with little children and children feel so much happy once they are around them. Therefore, they can be a perfect pet for children.

They are indeed love and attention seekers. These are one of the birds that are not offended by the human interaction. As silkies can’t fly due to the unique structure of their feathers, it is extremely easy to handle them. Silkies have superb mothering skills and can adopt others chicks as their own.

Here is a video showing friendly nature of Silkies.

Egg laying abilities

Egg color

Light brown to white

Egg size


Laying Age

8 Months on Average

Yearly Eggs


Unlike Deathlayer chickens and various other breeds, Silkies are not known for their laying abilities. They are not exceptional layers and start their laying a little later as compared to other breeds. One noticeable thing about their laying is that their laying capability is not much affected in winters as compared to other breeds. They still lay good.

However, if you still want to get the maximum eggs from these beauties, do read this guide on nesting boxes. This will surely help you out.

Broodiness of Silkie Chickens

Silkies are known for great mothering skills and their broodiness. These beauties are outstandingly broody.

It doesn’t matter whether the eggs beneath them are their own or some duck’s or pheasant’s, they’ll hatch them as long as they are beneath them. They welcome all the eggs irrespective of breed.

My experience with Silkies is exactly the same. They are patient sitters and can sit for weeks. In some cases for months.

But the question is what if you don’t want to let your Silkie brood much? What if you want to get maximum egg production out of it and you are planning to hatch its eggs? Because as we all know that during the broody period, hens stop laying eggs. You must then consider the ways to stop hen from brooding.

Due to the intense broody nature of Silkies, they require some extra care. This is due to the fact that broody hens eat and drink very little, thus getting themselves prone to losing muscles and weight.

It’s my personal experience that one doesn’t need to have an incubator if there are enough Silkies in one’s flock. My Silkies were all time ready to hatch cute little chicks and be their mothers. Who like an artificial way of hatching when you have Silkies in your home? I bet- no one!

Sexing of Silkie Chickens:

Due to the unusual and unique feathering of Silkie chickens, it is difficult to distinguish between growing Silkie females from Silkie males. Well definitely, we all know that roosters crow and hens lay eggs, but many people want an idea about their gender long before maturity.

Well, there is no established confirm method to know the sex of a Silkie chicken at an early stage, except vent sexing that is done by any professional. Another option to confirm the gender of Silkies is DNA testing. Sexing through other means is difficult in this breed as it takes long time to mature.

visual representaton of DNA

Even me, who has been raising chickens for over years, becomes difficult to distinguish between ladies and lads of Silkies at early stages. But you can give it a try and mark something on the chick to remember which one was it.

With time, you can gain an experience and who knows that you can come up with any other method. Practice makes the man perfect. Even if you don’t guess it right, it’s always fun.

Here is a video that might help you out when it comes to sexing Silkies.

Uses in Medicines

According to ancient Chinese doctors, the black meat of a Silkie chicken can add strength to the immune system of a person and is also responsible to keep the body warm.

It has also been found that due to their unique properties of skin and bones, they are very helpful in aiding female sexuality. In Chinese medicine, black chicken is known as a jewel of women’s health.

vector diagram of soup pot on fire

You can see the Silkie chicken soup recipe and prepare your own to avail its amazing health benefits.

Not only this, their soup is also used to treat various diseases related to kidneys. Black color is associated with kidneys in Chinese medicine and healthy kidneys ensure healthy reproductive and immune system. Therefore black meat of Silkie chickens is thought to aid in the health of kidneys and immune system.

Raising Silkie Chickens for Meat Purpose

Silkie is not raised as a dual purpose breed. As their meat color is black, it disturbs some people to consume them as meat. They don’t grow much bigger as compared to other breeds, therefore not winning a vote to keep them for meat purpose. Due to this, it is rarely seen for sale as food. Despite of odd color of their meat, they can yet be consumed. Their meat is a bit different and strong in taste as compared to other chicken’s meat.

black colored silkie chicken meat on white plate
image source - www.silkie.org

Despite the odd taste, I was also surprised to know about the medicinal properties of Silkie’s meat. In ancient times, their meat was extensively used in traditional Chinese medicines. This was justified and acknowledge in 2006 by the work of some enthusiastic Chinese researchers on Carnosine levels in Black- Bone silky fowl and common chicken. Yinggang Tian, Mingyong Xie,  Weiya Wang, Hongjing Wu, Zhihong Fu, and Lin Lin concluded in their study that carnosine in the meat of Black-Bone Silky Fowl was twice than that in the meat of white Plymouth rock. Interested ones can read the summary of the research. Following image describes the findings of the Chinese researchers.

silkie black chicken meat cleaned
image source - www.silkie.org

Higher level of carnosines was measured in black meat of Silkie chickens.

Carnosine is a dipeptide and a natural antioxidant. You can further read about carnosine here.

An article published in 2014 suggests that Silkie chicken’s skin and bones are thought to aid female sexuality. This article also states an improvement in immune system of the body and better female reproductive system due to the consumption of Silkie meat.

Here is a recipe of black chicken soup that you can try. In the current situation of COVID-19, Silkie black chicken soup can be very helpful to boost immunity.

I also know many people who like keeping Silkies for the dual purpose due to their nutritious properties of meat and to eat healthy organic eggs.

Things to Consider

As Silkies take time to grow and mature, one will have to wait a long time to get some enough black meat on the table.

It’s a perfect meat source for health conscious people. A professional farmer told me that many people are raising this breed with the sole purpose of its meat consumption.

Best Time/Age to consume Silkies for Meat

The recommended age to process a Silkie is between 6 to 12 months. Before six months, the bird is too young to be processed. You won’t get enough meat out of it.

Keeping an Eye on Dominant Buddies in Flock

Silkie chickens are not a hardy breed. They can easily be bullied. They are very calm birds and avoid any fights. Their personality is somewhat submissive.

Preventing Silkies from Getting Wet

Due to the structural composition of Silkie’s feathers, they can’t fly and their feathers are not waterproof. They struggle in wet conditions. They struggle in wet, cold, damp or even hot conditions.

Maintaining Moderate Temperature

Sharing my personal experience, I’ve had trouble handling Silkies at times. But, later I managed somehow. I believe that Silkies do well in indoor environment as compared to outdoor environment, especially in extreme climate regions. Their hairy feathers don’t allow them to insulate heat as wanted.

If you don’t know what is preferred and ideal temperature for chickens, do give a read to my article on ideal temperature for chickens.

So cutting the things short, if you are planning to keep these fluffy chickens, you must ensure to give them a moderate temperature. Too cold or too hot can be very dangerous for them.

Preventing Damp Conditions to Occur

You will also have to ensure that no damp condition occurs and your Silkies should never get wet at all. Their feathers are not waterproof. It means that they don’t repel water and water can penetrate to their skin easily.

Same goes with their legs and feet. Even a small amount of dampness can be a huge trouble for them and can lead to frostbite. Never allow them out in the rain thinking that they’ll enjoy. No! They will not and after a couple of minutes, you won’t too.

Your chicken coop bedding plays a vital role her. Make sure to choose the best that does not count for your loss.

Immediately Drying Wet Silkies

So, if in case they get wet, dry them out with a towel and then use a blow dryer to completely dry them out. In this way, they’ll get back to normal. If you want to wash them and looking to give them a bath, go ahead because white Silkies can become dirty with time. So many people love giving them a bath and why not.

They also love them but the thing which they don’t love is wet skin and feathers for longer period of time. This is the main thing to remember. Below is a video showing how to bath a Silkie.

If you ensure all above measures, I am pretty much confident that your Silkies will live a longer life. Anyhow, there are also other factors which affect a chicken’s lifespan. You can read them here.

How high can a silkie chicken jump?

Silkies can easily jump to 12-13 inches high vertically. Jump of each bird varies, but this is the average reading shared by most of the farmers.

What is a showgirl silkie or a showgirl chicken?

In simple words, a showgirl Silkie or a showgirl chicken is a breed which we get after crossing Silkies with turkens (naked necks).  They are just Silkies in appearance with a naked neck. Yes the color patterns may vary. Below is a video showing comparison of a showgirl with a real Silkie.

Silkies and predators

Silkies are very prone to predators when free ranging. In areas full of predators, they are very easy catch for them. There are quite a few reasons for this. They are listed below:

  • Fluffy crests on Silkie chickens block their vision, making them impossible to react readily against the attack of any predator.
  • They can’t use their wings to run or fly. They can’t even fly for very short distances.
  • They are very small in size. Flighty predators such as hawks and eagles can easily attack them. Many attacks on Silkies by hawks are reported by many farmers.

Most common Silkie chicken predators include:

  • Raccoons
Raccoon with its mouth slightly open
  • Minks
mink peeping from stones
  • Hawks
hawk flying with its wings open
  • Weasels
brown and white weasel on stone

Silkie Chickens : Should they be Restricted inside a coop?

From all my experience, every living being on this planet wants to roam free. Nothing likes to be confined and restricted. In my personal opinion, it is very unkind to confine a bird unless there is necessitation.

Though Silkies do handle confinement well, but it is not recommended to keep any chicken restricted to a small coop. They are living things and every chicken loves to roam free. It’s in their nature. I have given my Silkies enough free space and open run where they can enjoy all day long.

One thing must be ensured that the run is predator proof. Or if your Silkies are free-ranging, you can allow them for a couple of hours under your own supervision. Observe their behavior, analyze their traits, witness their beauty and you will definitely feel in love with nature. Your mind will relax and you will crave for more.

Silkie : Health problems and how to Handle them?

Very prone to Marek’s disease

Silkies are said to be very susceptible to Marek’s disease. This is a viral disease and highly contagious.

A bird once infected by Marek’s ultimately dies due to starvation. It results in paralysis of chickens. Most common apparent symptoms of Marek’s disease include paralysis of legs, wings and neck; loss of weight; and vision impairment. You can read one of the latest research on the Marek’s disease if you want to get a better understanding regarding it.

So it is highly recommended to get your Silkies vaccinated and maintain bio-security.

chicken cartoon wearing face mask

Easy target for mites and lice

Silkies are also very likely for giving mites and lice their new homes. As these beauties are quite fluffy, they are very easy target for lice and mites. It is recommended to keep a check on your Silkies that they don’t give a home to mites and lice.

close-up image of lice on a finger

Blocked Vision and Overgrown Nails

Vision of Silkies often get blocked due to their grown silky feathers around the eye. This can create a lot of problem for them. Therefore, it is advised to keep an eye on grown hair around the eye and trim it on time. This would help them see well.

brown silky blocked vision due to grown crust hair

As the fifth of toe of the Silkies grows upwards, its nail eventually comes very big in size. This is due to the fact that this fifth toe nail does not undergo wear and tear as it is not used when they walk. So it also needs to be trimmed timely.

Wet Crests

Crests of Silkies often get wet when they drink water. This can be problematic in some cases, especially in cold areas. Many farmers also report the issue of disturbed vision due to crests. Therefore, it is recommended to tie a rubber band on Silkie’s crest or just trim trim the hair as shown in the video.

Dirty feathers

Chickens like to play in mud. They love taking mud baths. It’s the most liked activity by chickens on planet earth. As Silkies are blessed with feathers on their legs and feet, they often get dirty.

Roosting Problems

These birds can have very difficult time when it comes to roosting.  This is due to several reasons. Let me tell you one by one.

  • Due to poor vision of Silkies, it is very likely that they are not able to see the roosting bar. Sometimes, their crests and beards get so poofy that their vision comes blurry or poor. Proper trimming and tying rubber band or a tape on their crests can solve this problem.
  • Even if Silkies see the roosting bar, they are very likely to be bullied by other chickens in the flock. To overcome this problem, it is advised to increase the number of roosting bars.
  • Silkies are very poor when it comes to flying due to their structure of feathers. So, sometimes they can have problem getting on the roosting bars that are high. Therefore, it is not recommended to set the roosting bars very high above the ground. Moreover, it is also advised to teach your Silkies to roost. When they are about to sleep and settled for it, you can come over and place them on the roosting bars. Do it regularly. After some days, when you’ll come to this activity again, you’ll be surprised and happy to see your Silkies resting and sleeping on roosting bars. I also recommend to buy some good roosting bars for chickens.

One more interesting idea to overcome this problem is by building a ramp up to the perch or roosting bar. It is advised to choose the roosting bar that is thick in diameter preferable up to 2 inches.

Bullied by Aggressive Mates

As Silkies are very gentle and docile, their aggressive mates in the flock can bully them badly. Aggressive chickens won’t let them eat and drink properly. So, you’ll have to keep an eye on them at starting days until they make good friends.

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