Silkie chickens are well known for their extraordinary plumage. They have soft silky feathers and can’t fly, so most people breed them as pets. They also like to cuddle and love to be petted, so they make excellent companions for children.
These fantastic birds need special attention because their feathers are different from the ones that other chickens have. So, do all silkies have feathered feet?
Do All Silkies Have Feathered Feet?
Show Silkies will have more feathers on their feet, but all healthy Silkies will have feathers on their feet, and five toes. The feathered feet is one characteristic that make them unique. Silkies sold without feathers may mean that the hatchery or breeders cared more about quantity over quality.
Whether you’re considering buying some Silkies or just interested in knowing more about this breed, you need to understand the importance of their feet and how to care for them.
Let’s keep on reading to learn more about these outstanding birds.
Do Silkies Have Feathers On Their Feet?
Silkies are exceptionally looking chickens with fluffy feathers that make them look quite different from other breeds. The feathers don’t have barbs that make them stiff like other chickens, and therefore they look like small furry balls.
For the same reason, these birds are usually raised as pets since they’re cuddly, friendly, and easy to contain. Many bird lovers say Silkies are easy to tame when you start young.
Silkies make excellent house pets and can be kept inside the house or in a coop. Since they can’t fly, it’s not recommended to keep silkies outdoors as they’re vulnerable and are vulnerable to predators.
Some regular chickens may pick on your Silkie, because their feathers are easier to pluck, since they have more of them. This can lead to bloody legs and more serious issues.
Silkies are smaller than other breeds of chickens and lay smaller eggs. They have unusual physical features as they have blue earlobes and black skin, bones, and meat.
They also have five toes on each foot, compared to other chicken breeds with only four toes on every foot.
Why Do Silkies Have Feathered Feet?
A Silkie chicken with feathers on their feet means they were bred to standard, and may not have any genetic issues. No one really knows why these birds have feathered feet, but that is a part of their unique characteristics.
That being said, feather footed chickens are prone to several foot problems, so it’s vital to know how to care for them.
How Can You Take Care of Silkies’ Feet?
Due to the presence of an extra toe, paying attention to the feet of silkies is crucial. Here are a few things you can do to make sure that silkies will have healthy and happy feet.
Trimming the Silkies Feathers
Trimming the feathers on the feet and toes is necessary. While the feathers make the silkies look special, they trap the mud, snow, and dirt, so they can affect the way a silkie walks and moves.
Moreover, the dirt getting trapped into the feathers can cause infections that can make the chickens very sick.
Cleaning Their Feet
Although you need to clean silkie’s feet, too much cleaning can make them feel uncomfortable. During the summer months, you might not need to clean the feathers on the feet or between the toes, as long as the chickens are kept in dry and covered areas.
Water baths are not necessary unless the bird has got extremely dirty. Silkies, like other breeds of chickens, love to take dust baths to keep their bodies and feet clean.
If you need to wash the feet of your silkies, fill a tub with warm water and soak the feet. Keep the temperature around 95 degrees Fahrenheit to help soften any mud or grime that can get trapped in the feathers or between the toes. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the feet and rinse.
Remove Dirt, Grime and Fecal Matter
Make sure that you’re cleaning the feet of fecal matter to protect your silkies. Parasites and microorganisms live in feces and will get into the body of your birds to cause serious diseases.
Trimming Your Silkies Nails
Silkies will often scratch their long nails to trim them down. However, if they can’t do that on their own, you might need to help them a little.
This is necessary, especially if you’re keeping silkies indoors as pets, as they won’t have access to dirt like other chickens that you’re keeping in a coop.
Since their nails sit flat, you need to remove at least 25% of the nail without coming near to the quick or blood supply.
If you cut this, your chicken will be in so much pain and won’t be able to walk properly. This can be a serious problem for silkies that can’t fly as they won’t be able to hide if there’s a predator nearby.
The nail on the extra toe points upward. It needs to be filed regularly with the other nails to make sure that the chickens are comfortable.
Make sure that all the wooden surfaces have been smoothed out and have no rough edges to protect the feet of your silkies.
Keep Their Bedding Clean and Dry
Change the bedding in the coop if it gets wet in winter. Wet bedding can freeze and cause painful frostbites in your precious silkies. Frostbitten feet are extremely painful, and, in some cases, the bird should be put out.
Silkies are not that hard to keep alive, but need more attention than other breeds.
How to Deal with Mites and Lice?
If scaly leg mites attack your silkies, you need to get rid of them as soon as possible. These mites live under the scales on the feet and toes. The mites have a life cycle that lasts about two weeks and is extremely difficult to get rid of.
You can give your silkies a treatment by soaking the feet in mineral or vegetable oil every two weeks. The oil coats the feet and toes and kills the mites.
It also prevents new infestation from finding its way to your precious birds. When ignored, these mites can cause a nasty inflammation that puts your silkie through so much pain. Apply the same treatment if you notice lice on the feet of your silkies.
Use Vaseline to cover the feet and toes as it will help soften the scales and return the skin to its normal state. Picking the scales can be painful and will cause a lot of bleeding. It’s best to coat the scales with Vaseline every day or every other day until the scales have softened. It might take a few weeks or even months.
You might also need to inspect other birds as the lice and mites can travel from one bird to another. If the infection doesn’t go away, you need to go to the vet so they can prescribe a topical medication that will help get rid of the infestation. Follow the recommended dose to keep your silkies healthy.
How to Deal With Your Silkie’s Bumblefoot?
It’s a nasty bacterial infection that affects silkies and other chicken breeds. Bumblefoot consists of a swollen red cyst on the foot of your bird. In some cases, there might be brown or black scabs on the bottom of the foot.
Causes of Bumblefoot in Silkies
Bumblefoot infection is excruciating and can be fatal if left untreated, as the infection can travel up to the rest of the body and eventually kill your chicken. Bumblefoot infection happens when the skin on the foot is compromised for some reason. Here are a few reasons that might compromise the skin.
- Sharp or rough edges in the coop, on perches, nesting boxes, or roosts.
- Damp and dirty coops and runs where bacteria can grow and infect your silkies.
- Poor diet and a vitamin deficiency.
- Being attacked by other chickens.
- Overgrown nails that were ignored by the owner.
These factors will allow the infectious bacteria to enter the bloodstream to create a painful cyst. The infection will later affect the bones, causing much pain. In the end, the chicken will die.
Preventing bumblefoot infections is usually easier than dealing with a current infection. Regular inspections are necessary to make sure that your silkies’ feet are healthy.
It can be a little challenging because silkies have long feathers that cover all their feet. Nevertheless, it’s crucial because the cyst can grow and kill your bird if you’re not paying attention.
Make sure that all surfaces are splinter-free. The bedding and litter should be kept dry and clean to protect your silkies from bacteria. Sand can be used instead of shavings in the coop and run because it doesn’t support bacteria’s growth like other types of litter and bedding.
Treating Bumblefoot in Silkies
Treating bumblefoot depends on the severity of the condition. If your silkie has a new infection, clean the foot and soak it in Epsom salt to help soften the scab on the foot.
When there’s a cyst, you need to clean it and flush it with saline to eliminate all the bacteria. Wrap the wound in sterile dressings to keep it moist until the foot heals.
You can also use a few drops of lavender oil to accelerate wound healing. If the infection has spread to the bones, the vet will prescribe antibiotics to treat the condition.
Silkies have long feathers that cover all their bodies, including their feet. It’s essential to keep an eye on their feet, check them regularly, and keep them clean. Removing mud, snow, and dirt is critical to keep the feet in excellent condition.