Silkies are beautiful chickens with distinctive type of plumage. So, special caring for silkie chickens is very important, because these chickens are the most popular and beloved ornamental chicken breed in many countries around the world.
These chickens are named as ‘Silkie‘ mainly because of their typically fluffy plumage (which is said to feel like silk). The plumage of these birds are hair-like, which is considered as actual mammalian fur.
Today, the silkies are very popular as pets, but they actually don’t lay too many eggs. But they are great brooders and also great for show purpose. Silkies are also one of the most entertaining birds to watch.
However, if you need to raise some of these beautiful chickens then you must have to know the steps for proper caring for silkie chickens. Here we are describing more about caring for silkie chickens.
Why Is Caring for Silkie Chickens Important?
Silkies are special chickens with distinctive plumage (that need extra attention). That’s why caring for silkie chickens is very important. They have fluffy feathers that can get dirty easily. So they need regular grooming to stay clean and healthy.
They should be kept in a safe and comfortable coop to prevent injuries, as they have delicate feet. Providing them with proper food and clean water is also very important for their good health and well-being. They are friendly with humans and enjoy human company. So spending time with them can make them happier and more sociable.
Essential Steps For Caring For Silkie Chickens
Caring for silkie chickens is relatively easy and simple. Here we are trying to discuss more about the essential steps of caring for silkie chickens.
Step 1: Provide Good Housing System
A suitable house is a must for raising silkie chickens. So prepare the house properly before bringing these birds home. The silkies are relatively smaller in size as compared to other common chicken breeds.
And they don’t require a large amount of space like the standard chicken breeds. But providing plenty of room is a great idea for keeping your birds happy.
You can build or purchase a simple chicken coop. Just ensure that the house is spacious enough for cleaning it properly, collecting the eggs and also for catching the birds when necessary. Also ensure the birds have enough space to room, lay eggs and also for wandering around.
Also consider whether you want to keep the birds inside always or want to let them outside during the day. The house need to be large enough if you want to raise the birds inside the coop always.
Ready-made chicken coop is also available with a run. And the house can be pretty small if you are planning for keeping them outside during the day.
The birds will be happier and healthier if you can let them outside during the day. The birds will eat the bugs and provide fertilizer for your plants if you keep them outside.
Step 2: Provide Them Comfortable Bedding
Bedding is a must for the silkie chickens. There are many bedding materials available, so add bedding to the coop. Wood shavings is very good as bedding for the silkie chickens.
You can also consider straw, sawdust, hay, sand, newspaper shredding, pine needles etc. Remember, not all the bedding materials are same and some beddings are better than others.
For example, wood shavings are very absorbent but the hay isn’t. Sand is easy to clean but isn’t a common choice (because chicken owners generally face many problems with using sand as their bedding).
Step 3: Provide Adequate Feeders and Waterers
Add adequate number of feeder and water container as per the number of chickens. Purchasing a water feeder rather than filling a container up with water will be good, because there is a possible chance the chicks will fall in and drown.
Step 4: Provide Enough Nesting Boxes
Keep some nesting boxes inside the coop for your silkies. Keeping one box per chicken will be good if your raise your silkies as pets.
Step 5: Ensure Suitable Environment Safe From Predators
For raising silkie chickens, you must have to keep them safe from predators. Because the silkies can’t defend themselves and all the fluff around their heads can cause them to not see well which is why you have to ensure the coop is predator proof or at least in a predator proof coop.
The silkies also need protection from the harsh weather (such as snow, hail, wind and rain). And they also need a shade and cool place for protecting themselves from the sun during the summer season. Also consider adding a heat lamp inside the coop during the winter season so that the birds can stay warm.
Step 6: Provide Good Quality and Nutritious Feeding
Proper and adequate feeding is main consideration for caring for silkie chickens. The amount of feed depends on the type of feed and also on the size of your flock. There are different type of feeds available depending on the purpose (such as meat, eggs or breeding) of keeping silkie chickens.
You can feed your birds with layer pellets when they begin laying. Finisher feed is used for producing meat, and this food should be fed for 6 weeks until slaughter.
And feeding the chicks with broiler starter instead of a chick starter will be good if you want to keep the birds for meat. You can feed your silkies with layer pellets or normal chicken feed if you keep them as simple pets. Such food will give them a balanced diet.
Providing grit is also good for the silkies, because grit helps the birds to digest their good. Although free-range chickens don’t require grit. Feeding the silkies with a limited amount of treats will be good. Silkies generally love table scraps, bugs, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
The pet silkies also can be feed just about anything like fish, cucumber, cooked eggs, rice, pasta, cooked potato, watermelon, broccoli, bread etc. The silkies actually go crazy for meal worms.
Step 7: Give Enough Clean and Fresh Drinking Water
Ensure availability of sufficient amount of fresh and clean water for your silkies. You should fill the water containers with fresh water daily. And you should clean the container at least once a week.
Step 8: Follow These Tips and Warnings
- Call or take your birds to a vet if you notice any signs of illness (such as loss of appetite, depression, sneezing or abnormal stool).
- Keep an eye on your flock for aggressive behavior and separate the chickens who are not getting along. Generally chickens in a flock can harm one another when they experience dominance issues.
- For preventing fire in the coop clear any bedding, cobwebs or debris from around the heat lamp or any electrical device.
- Consider using heat lamps during the winter season depending on the temperature. This will help to keep your birds warm. Heat lamps will also help to keep water in the coop from freezing.
- Try to keep your coop well ventilated. Ensure adequate water supply during the summer season for preventing dehydration.
- Replace all the bedding in case of a mite infestation. Also sprinkle diatomaceous earth in the fresh bedding for eliminating fleas, mites and lice.
- Due to the smaller size, the silkie chickens might benefit from using smaller grit.
- Ensure your birds are safe from all types of predators.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
People ask many questions about caring for silkie chickens. Here we are trying to list the most common questions about caring for silkie chickens, and trying to answer them. Hope you will find your answer. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.
How do you take care of a silkie chicken?
Silkie is just like any other chicken breeds, and they require good caring for better growth and good health. Actually, silkie chickens require more caring as compared other chicken breeds, mainly because of their special type of feathering. Common caring tasks for the silkie chickens include:
- The silkie chickens must be kept dry and warm.
- They have special feathering and are very fragile when they are young.
- Always try to keep their litter clean and dry.
- Never brood chicks on cedar shavings or on any sliperry surface.
- Use rice hulls or pine shavings for bedding for the chicks.
- Give them good quality and nutritious food.
- Clean their housing and all equipment on a regular basis.
What is the best feed for silkie chickens?
Food for silkie chickens is just like many other chicken breeds. They prefer wheat, barley, oats, maize etc.
What is the life expectancy of a silkie?
Average lifespan of a silkie chicken is around or up to 10 years.
How much room do silkie chickens need?
Generally, a silkie chicken require around 4 square feet housing space per bird.
Are silkies high maintenance?
Yes, the silkie chickens generally require more care and other management than most other chicken breeds.
Do silkies like to be held?
Yes, they seem to enjoy being held and petted.
What bedding is best for silkies?
Best bedding for silkies include sawdust, wood shavings, wood chips, shredded etc.
What vegetables can silkies eat?
Can silkies be out in the rain?
No, not at all! The outer feathers of the silkie chickens are not equipped for rainy weather at all. Silkies require dry and warm weather for good health.
Do silkies need heat in winter?
No, they generally don’t need heat during winter.
Do silkie chickens need baths?
Frequent baths will be good for the silkie chickens. But you don’t need to bath the silkie chickens on a regular basis.
Can silkies be aggressive?
The silkie chickens are generally friendly. But they are also territorial and aggressive towards strangers occasionally.
How do you keep silkies fluffy?
Dry them tail to head to keep them fluffy.
Can you mix silkies with other chickens?
Yes, sure! Silkies generally get on well with other chicken breeds.
Can you mix silkies with ducks?
Yes, you can also raise some silkies with your ducks.
Where do silkie chickens like to sleep?
The silkie chickens generally like to sleep on floor.
Are silkies intelligent?
The silkie chickens are very friendly. But they are not among the most intelligent of the chicken breeds.
What age are silkies fully feathered?
The silkie chickens generally become fully feathered at around their 8 to 10 months of age.
Do silkies crow loud?
No, silkies are among the quieter chicken breeds.
Will silkies hatch their own eggs?
Yes, they often hatch their own eggs.
What health problems do silkies have?
Like many other domestic chicken breeds, the silkies are also prone to some health problems. They are particularly highly susceptible to Marek’s Disease.
Can you have 1 silkie chicken?
Yes, you can. But having more than one chicken will comfort your Silkie when they are feeling stressed or frightened.