The Silkie is quite possibly one of the most well known and commonly kept of the decorative chickens. It’s certainly a funky looking ball of feathers and has a character to match making them popular as pets or garden companions.
Their feathers are almost hair like which combine with a prominent head crest mean the Silkie has a very striking and memorable look, some even come with beards. Then, if that’s not enough, they belong to an exclusive group of chicken breeds that have 5 toes, they have a black or mulberry coloured comb and wattles and its ear lobes can be turquoise. Enough? Not quite, on parting the feathers you will see they have black skin, and should you happen upon one served on a plate, you’ll find the bones are almost black too!
They are an ancient breed but nobody is really sure of its origin with Marco Polo documenting ‘furry chickens’ when exploring China during the 13th Century and when they arrived in Europe a few centuries ago cunning merchants marketed them as a cross between a rabbit and chicken.
They are available both as a large fowl and as a bantam and come in all manner of colours from solid colours, partridges and pencillings. A calm and docile nature mean they are friendly and quick to trust the owner, and despite there delicate appearance they are surprisingly hardy. The nature of the feather though does mean that mud and rain can quickly make a mess of their appearance.
The hens are not heavy layers and will provide around 100 eggs a year and they do have a propensity to go broody making them a popular choice for those who want to naturally rear some chicks.