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WHY do Silkies have 5 toes?? And other questions!

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I'm one of those people who are not just satisfied with a "Because they just do" sort of answer.  I want details!  It has really been bugging me since I got my silkies.  WHY do these guys have 5 toes?  What purpose does that extra toe serve?  Why is it still hanging around down there? Where did it come from?  Why do the rest of the chickens only have 4 toes?  Did silkies come from a different species of bird in china that no longer exists, or is it still descended from the red jungle fowl like everyone else? Why do they have black skin?  is that associated with their 5 toes?  Evolutionarily speaking, WHY?!  is it sort of like a polydactly cat?  Someone just saw it and was like.... "Hmmm... I like it. It's weird.  it's wonderful.  Lets make more of these!" I have done a lot of casual searching, always come up empty handed.

 

I have been around chickens my whole life, but sadly i am not very educated about them.  The only information I have acquired over the years was good ol fashioned country know-how.  And as I'm sure you are all aware, a lot of that information is usually inaccurate or outdated.  This is my first time to have chickens AND the internet.  And I love to learn new things.  So anyone who has any answers, lay them on me, I am ready for some knowledge!

"Raising kids is like being pecked to death by chickens."
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"Raising kids is like being pecked to death by chickens."
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post #2 of 4

I don't know the particulars of silkie traits, but to my understanding pretty much all the "bells and whistles" a breed of animal gets usually started as some sort of spontaneous mutation. The first silkies must have been a labor of love for someone. Someone high up the food chain must have been taken with the traits of the bird and made it worth someone else's effort to breed for those traits and stabilize the breed. Not very specific, I know.....

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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post #3 of 4

There are a few other 5-toed breeds in addition to silkies: dorkings, faverolles, houdans and sultans.

Yes, silkies, like all chickens, are descended from jungle fowl.  Silkies, like dorkings are some of the oldest breeds in the world.  Silkies are referenced in Chinese mythology from 1200 years ago, and over 2300 years ago they were documented by Aristotle in his Historia Animalum.

 

There are two separate genes that cause polydactyly.  The normal one is incompletely dominant.  There is also a relatively rare recessive polydactyly gene.

Breeder & Exhibitor of fine silkies in recognized and project varieties.
adult and started pairs occasionally available;
   No eggs or chicks. 
Support your local poultry clubs, breed clubs, ABA & APA!

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Breeder & Exhibitor of fine silkies in recognized and project varieties.
adult and started pairs occasionally available;
   No eggs or chicks. 
Support your local poultry clubs, breed clubs, ABA & APA!

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post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

All very interesting information!!  Thanks for the replies.  Sometimes my thirst for knowledge cannot be quenched by google alone!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sonoran Silkies View Post
 

There are a few other 5-toed breeds in addition to silkies: dorkings, faverolles, houdans and sultans.

Yes, silkies, like all chickens, are descended from jungle fowl.  Silkies, like dorkings are some of the oldest breeds in the world.  Silkies are referenced in Chinese mythology from 1200 years ago, and over 2300 years ago they were documented by Aristotle in his Historia Animalum.

 

There are two separate genes that cause polydactyly.  The normal one is incompletely dominant.  There is also a relatively rare recessive polydactyly gene.

 

This is really interesting about the chinese mythology, I did not know that.  I really think that silkies are quite an amazing and interesting breed. For some reason, they really do seem like what Donrae said... a labor of love for someone a long time ago.  I just think it is so amazing how genetics work.  How you get all the different breeds of dog from the wolf, and all the different breeds of chicken from the jungle fowl.  There are so many little hidden parts and pieces in genetics.  Amazing how that much information can be stored in such tiny cells.  One day, once I actually have more time, I would love to get into breeding silkies and a few other breeds that for some reason really interest me.  

 

If anyone else has any really interesting or unusual Silkie facts, or facts about any of the other 5 toed wonders, I would love to hear them!

"Raising kids is like being pecked to death by chickens."
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"Raising kids is like being pecked to death by chickens."
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