Silkies are interestingly looking birds that most people love to keep as pets. Although they lay eggs and are considered a delicacy in Asian, especially Chinese cuisine, these chickens are rarely kept for their meat and eggs.
With so many feathers covering their fluffy bodies, silkies make great cuddly pets as they also love to interact with humans and won’t mind sitting in your lap for long hours. But are silkies hard to keep alive? Do they need more care than other types of chickens? Let’s explore the lives of these fantastic chickens together.
Are Silkies Hard To Keep Alive?
Silkies aren’t that challenging to keep alive, but they need a different type of care. They will require more care as they don’t do well in extreme temperatures and have silky feathers on their feet and body, requiring more attention.
These chickens stand out in any backyard due to their unique special features and relatively docile nature.
Unlike other chickens, these have fluffy plumage that makes them look so adorable. They have blue earlobes and five toes on each foot. Moreover, their bones, meat, and skin are black, unlike other types of chickens.
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Besides these unique features, these easy-going chickens are extremely friendly. They don’t scratch people and won’t try to run away if you’re trying to hold one in your arms. A silkie would follow her human around just like other pets and wouldn’t mind spending time indoors.
If you have a silkie, you can expect to receive some high-quality yet small eggs where the yolk is usually darker than regular chicken eggs. They typically go broody and wouldn’t mind taking care of other chickens or birds’ eggs and young chicks.
They do well in smaller backyards, as they need little space to roam around. They’re also not as noisy as other chickens, so they won’t bother your neighbors.
Some people even keep them in the house, although that’s not the best option for a chicken.
Caring For Silkie Chickens
However, because they’re special, you need to pay more attention to them. However, this hasn’t stopped people from getting them as pets.
They Can’t Handle The Cold Temperature
Although silkies are cold hardy and can handle the low temperatures, you still need to keep an eye on your silkies during the hot and cold months. Silkies have thick feathers and can handle the snow, but they don’t handle the rain very well.
They’re Not Waterproof
No chicken is waterproof, but silkies have soft silky feathers, which makes them vulnerable to water. You need to keep them dry and warm. If raining, you need to make sure that they’re kept inside. In wet weather, Silkies can get chilled if their feathers are wet. This can cause the chickens to get sick or even die.
The pen or coop should be adequately covered during the cold months to keep the birds dry. You can even install a heat lamp if you feel that the weather is too cold for them.
Make sure that the coop isn’t tightly insulated, as this will increase the amount of moist air inside the coop that can make the chickens uncomfortable.
Because they have long and fluffy plumage, you need to clean the mud and snow off their feet. The mud and snow can get stuck in the feathers on their feet, which obstructs their ability to walk properly.
These chickens can’t fly, so you need to keep their coop close to ground level. Make sure that there’s a ramp or ladder that they can use to access the coop easily.
Vulnerable to Predators
Sometimes, the feathers covering the face can get too long, obstructing their ability to see well. This can make them more vulnerable to predators that might be waiting around to attack the bird.
Because they don’t fly, these chickens are at greater risk because they might not be able to escape if there’s a predator nearby.
Difficult to Mate
Silkies are difficult to mate, and you might not be getting new chicks as often as other breeds. Larger breeds can easily bully and attack these chickens.
Change the bedding inside the coop frequently to keep the coop warm and dry. If the bedding gets wet and then freezes, your silkies can have frostbitten feet that can be extremely painful.
Make sure that the coop is well-ventilated in cold and hot weather. Without proper ventilation, mold can grow inside the coop and make your silkies get sick.
Heat the water during the cold months. Silkies shouldn’t drink very cold water as it might kill them. Change the water regularly if it freezes, or use a heated base to keep the water relatively warm.
Use vaseline on the combs and waffles of your silkies. Although these chickens can handle the cold, they’re still prone to frostbites that can be fatal. Cover the combs and waffles with vaseline for insulation to protect your silkies.
Like all chickens, they should be bathed regularly. This helps keep their dander under control and keeps them looking and feeling great.
In the cold weather, collect the eggs more often so they won’t freeze.
Can Children Take Care of Silkies?
Yes, they can when an adult is going to supervise the whole process. Raising silkies is very popular among families with children due to their docile nature. This is what makes them expensive to buy or breed.
They make great pets and won’t scratch or harm younger children. Moreover, a silkie can be an excellent pet if you want to teach your child about empathy, compassion, and responsibility.
They also work as pets for special needs children because:
- These chickens are quiet, and they won’t disturb or scare your child.
- They don’t act aggressively if your child wants to cuddle or hold the chicken. Other chickens will most likely squirm and try to escape, which can make your child extremely distressed.
- These chickens look like fluffy balls, so they won’t scare a sensitive child.
- The feathers are incredibly soft to touch so that they can help a child with sensory issues.
- These birds are easy to contain and can stay indoors for long periods. They can be kept in the coop or inside the house without causing any issues.
How to Care for Baby Silkies
When given enough attention and love, silkies will live between 7 and 9 years and enjoy long, happy, healthy lives. When they hatch, the chicks are very fragile and vulnerable, so you need to keep them dry and warm all the time.
- Ensure that the brooder is always dry, and you should never fill it with cedar shavings or keep the floor slippery. Cedar is toxic to chickens, and slippery surfaces can cause injuries.
- Keep a heat lamp in the brooder between 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the weather outside. If the weather is too cold, you might keep the young chicks next to a heat lamp for a more extended period.
- Set the lamp to 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week after the eggs hatch and lower the temperature by 5 degrees every week.
- Watch how the chicks behave and move. If they’re scattered all around the brooder moving comfortably, then they’re doing fine. If they’re gathering under the lamp, they might be too cold. If they’re panting their wings and moving away from the light, they might be too hot.
- In most cases, silkies will be quiet if they’re feeling OK. If your chicks are squeaking and making a lot of fuss, there’s probably something wrong.
- Add a protein starter feed to the chicks’ feed during the first 6 to 8 weeks. You should also make sure that their water is clean all the time. Avoid giving your young chicks cold water as they might get too cold and eventually die.
Silkies aren’t hard to keep alive, but they need special attention and care. These fluffy birds make adorable pets, and children love to keep them because they’re warm and cuddly.
Special attention should be given to the feathers to make sure that the chickens are feeling more comfortable. Since these chickens can’t fly, you must be extra careful about predators that might attack your silkies.