Silkie Chickens: Pokémon in My Backyard

I have heard Silkie chickens being described as creatures from Dr. Seuss come to life. I can see the similarity, actually:

But personally, they remind me of a program my kids watch on TV: Digimon. It’s about Pokémon-type creatures that look vaguely like real animals and live in the digital world. Now, with the Pokémon Go hype (I don’t play and neither do my kids, but it’s impossible to miss) – I think of Digimon or Pokémon every time I see my new Silkies. Sort of like this:

Okay, the Silkie chicken in this picture is Photoshopped to look pink. And mine aren’t anywhere as incredibly fluffy as these are. But somehow, that makes them look even more cartoon-like.

Silkies have many special and adorable characteristics. First of all: they seem to have fur instead of feathers. They do in fact have feathers, but without the tiny barbs that keep normal feathers together, so each little feathery strand is like a hair. It makes them feel and look incredibly soft, fluffy and cute.

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This is one of my new month old Silkies. They are in the process of exchanging down for feathers and have grown puffs of silky “fur” on their heads, bodies, tails and legs.

Silkies also have blue-black skin and their combs are sort of purple. If they grow combs at all. It is very hard to distinguish male from female until they start crowing or laying eggs. The combs are small and there are no wattles. There is not much difference in feather shape or behaviour.

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This must be the goofiest picture ever taken of chickens. These were my first ever Silkies. I bought them when they were about four months old, as one cockerel with two hens. I never found out if that was actually true, because two of them died soon afterwards. We still have the first one in the picture, Silkie Roo.

Silkies are very different from other chickens. In fact, they are so different that it is sometimes hard to believe they are the same species. Apart from their furry feathers, their black skin and their unisex looks, they also have five toes instead of four.

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This is one of the Silkie babies I got this spring. They were the cutest chicks I had ever seen. They were so gentle and timid compared to the rowdy brood of guinea fowl keets their adoptive mother was raising. Sadly, these two fuzzy little babies also didn’t survive.

Aside from their appearance, Silkies also differ from other chickens in their temper and behaviour. Because of their unusual feathers, they can’t fly, and so they often don’t roost and don’t jump up on things. They are more “earthbound” than other chickens. They are also usually very gentle, calm and friendly – roosters and hens alike. Because of their gentle nature, they make ideal pet chickens.

I have been told that Silkie hens don’t lay a lot of eggs, but when they do, they go broody. Apparently, they are fantastic mothers and love nothing more than hatching and raising a clutch of chicks – no matter what type or even what species. I have to admit I have no shortage of broody hens, but I am still looking forward to testing this theory!

Now, we have three new little Silkies that we got a few weeks ago. They are about a month old. I was holding my breath, anxiously watching them for signs of not surviving – but I am slowly letting my breath out now. They seem to be doing fine. They are together in a cage with Walter and Jessie, our peachicks, and they seem to be getting on well.

Could it be that this time, I will finally manage to have and keep a little flock of Silkies..? Time will tell! I’m doing the best I can to keep them safe, healthy and happy. Here they are!
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Don’t they look like little cartoon creatures? 🙂

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About tarnegolita

Dutch expatriate, mother of 3 boys, freelance translator and pet zoo keeper in a kibbutz in Israel.
This entry was posted in Animals, chickens and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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