The Silkie is a breed of fowl belonging to the general group of domesticated poultry with a 'fur' like plumage. In size it is small and as a result in the USA it is regarded as a bantam ie; a small fowl which is usually around 25% of the size of a standard type of fowl. In the UK it is classified as a normal large fowl, but the silkie club also recognize a bantam.
The weights for the standard large fowl silkie is 4lb for male and 3lb for the female. It is classified as a light breed soft feather. In the USA the weights are slightly lower being 36oz. for male and 32oz. for female but birds not fully matured will weigh less.
There are five standardised colours in the UK. White, black, blue, gold and partridge.
Cuckoo/Splash or A.O.C Silkies can only be entered into the non-standard Silkie class at shows.
All silkies have five toes; this is known as POLYDACTYLY and is inherited through the genes..
Some silkies are bearded (with a clearly defined muff and beard but still including the crest) This should be thick and full under the chin.
Silkies should have turquise or mulberry earlobes- preferably turquise -thats what we aim for.
Most silkies will go broody after laying approx dozen eggs. They aren't always the most reliable broodys used as the chicks can sometimes get entangled in the hen's fluff, which leads them to strangle and die, but they have a very calm temperament for raising chicks. We always use silkie sussex they're very reliable and common broodys.
Silkies are prone to scaley leg mite.(if kept in wet or muddy conditions the feathers become damaged - they get dirty and worn. Unless the legs receive regular attention they are subject to scaley leg, a condition which results in the legs becoming quite disfigured and ruff.) Vaseline or surgical spirit will usually do the job if reapplied regularly but other options are available.
Silkies are also prone to marek's disease...A fatal, sporadically occurring illness. Infected animals show symptoms of paralysis that often go hand in hand with a contraction of the toes, with legs stretching either forwards or backwards. Sometimes it may take a couple of weeks or so, but birds with this disease unfortunately always die as there is no remedy. Some people say it is best to prevent the disease through vaccination. Others feel it is best to be bred out over many years and build up their resistance. If you do choose to vaccinate they should be done at day old.
Most silkies cannot fly, this is due to the fact they have osprey wings (the feathers are ragged and are not full feathers. No hard webs) so there's usually no problem keeping them in an fenced area.
Some Silkie chicks may appear to have a dome on their head- don't panic! Usually these are pullets (not always) and will have bigger sized crests.