Silkies are a small, bantam breed of chicken with feathers that look more like hair than like a feather. Their feathers lack barbicels (which hold the feather together), thus creating a furlike look. Silkies cannot fly because their feathers do not hold together against air. Their temperament is docile, and they make wonderful pets. Silkie mothers are very attentive to their eggs and chicks. Crossbreeding can reveal interesting colours. Try a black rooster with a white hen, or a white rooster with a black hen.
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Things you need
- Chicken coop
- Nest box
- Silkie rooster
- One or two Silkie hens
- Chick starter feed
Select a black silkie rooster and two white silkie hens, or a white silkie rooster and two black silkie hens, that are seven months or older to lay mature eggs that form healthy chicks. Silkie hens tend to be broody and are willing to sit on eggs. Using two hens produces a clutch of eggs faster and ensures that plenty of fertile eggs will be laid.
Confine the hens and rooster to their own locked chicken coop to ensure that no other roosters have access to the hens. Allow the trio to become familiar for a time and observe to see if they are mating. Collect (take away) the eggs until the 3rd day to ensure that this particular rooster will be the father. From the third day, leave eggs inside the nest box.
Allow the silkie hens to sit on their clutches of eggs. If only one community clutch is made, allow the dominant hen to sit. A silkie is a small breed; a hen can incubate about 6 to 8 eggs. Once enough eggs are laid, remove the rooster to another area and allow the hens some peace and quiet. It's not uncommon for hens to go without food or water while sitting on eggs; however, make sure clean water and food are always provided.
Mark on the calendar the day the hen has all the eggs she will hatch under her. It takes, on average, 21 days for eggs to hatch. Check on the hen or hens daily to make sure there is water, feed, and peace and quiet.
Once chicks start hatching, the silkie hens will take very good care of their chicks and will be very talkative to them. Keep the chicks in the coop, safe from predators, until their feathers are fully formed. Feed them a chick starter type of feed for the first 3 months.
Tips and warnings
- When crossing black and white silkies, gorgeous colour combinations are possible. You may get a bicolored bird with both black and white markings, a white bird, a black bird, or a grey bird. By selecting the best colours and breeding them together, you can develop a hardy strain of that colour.
- The biggest challenge while raising hens and chicks is keeping them safe from predators. Be forewarned that all predatory animals love chicken!
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