2nd year newbie with some silkie questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ravenfeathers, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    401
    9
    121
    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    so, i blasted into chicken-keeping last year (and was on this forum all the time for a while; thanks everyone for the advice et al!) with fifteen hatchery chicks, all heavy breed layers (RIRs, BPRs, BOs, AOs, and PPRs) and all pullets (except for that one little sexing mistake *cough*). i decided over the winter that i could add a small number of hens for the size of my coop and not be over-crowded, so i just ordered six more heavy layers (columbian and GL wyandottes) from MPC. i also ordered a half dozen silkies because, and i can come clean to you folks, i adore chickens! and i love my layers, but i wanted something pettish, too. here's hoping i love silkies!

    now, they're not going to be shipped until the first week of june (and while i love the service that MPC provides, it's unhealthy for someone as impatient as me to continue to order from them when their turnaround time is pretty regularly 3 months from order, gah!) so i've got time for planning here.

    last year, i built a ginormous and ubiquitous rubbermaid brooder and my 16 chicks (packing peanut [a pullet, even!], ahoy!) did marvelously in there for about eight weeks, by which time they were running out of room and ready for the new coop. this year, my plan is to start all 12 (plus more peanuts?) in the brooder while i work on a bantam pen in my existing coop. i'm hoping that the pen will be finished by the time my heavies are getting biggish and they can be moved temporarily to that pen while i finish raising the silkies in the brooder. by the time the banties are ready for their pen, i hope that the layers will be ready to integrate with my existing flock. does this timeline sound completely mad to you? am i going to have any problems with my standards and banties mixed for the first couple of months? i'm more than willing to build another brooder if necessary (that was some big fun, seriously!) but i'd rather consolidate if i can.

    any thoughts, advice, anecdotes to share?

    also, i've been reading lots about silkies here and elsewhere, but a lot of what's written out there is written by enthusiasts. can anyone who's not a total silkie slave give me a balanced idea of what to expect, with the negatives as well? and how silkies compare to my big, burly layers?
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  2. Poulets De Cajun

    Poulets De Cajun Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:I'm perplexed as to why you'd ask someone who doesn't own silkies to give you information, but I'll try my best, as it appears no one has answered thus far.

    I'll start with the negatives of owning Silkies. They need to be protected from predators a little more than other birds. Because they can't see very well, especially if they have large top knots, they tend to be a little more predator prone, especially white birds. As well, Silkies are a vaulted breed, which makes them a little more prone to head injuries and wry neck. Head injuries can be caused by pecks from other birds, just as well as bumping against the roof of the cage. Another negative of Silkies is the constant fight to keep them laying when you are trying to hatch. Another negative is that you can expect to wait nearly six months before you can accurately sex them, as anything prior to that is simply an educated guess. Other than that, there really isn't much negative to them.

    As for the positives, well for a pet bird you've picked a great breed. Silkies tend to be less flighty than other birds, and are usually more docile. With regular human interaction, they do become very tame, and will often follow their human owners around like puppies. They are very interactive and animated as well. Because they dont fly, they make great backyard pets that wont cross the fence into the neighbors yard. There small size makes housing them very easy, as they dont need an extravagant amount of room. They make great natural incubators and are often used to brood other breeds of birds including multiple game species. Since their temperment is usually very laid back, they also make great beginning show birds for kids, as they are easy to handle.

    There really isn't any room for comparison of Silkies to Layers. They are in two totally different classifications of birds, with two very different purposes. The layers will provide you with food, while the Silkies will provide you with companionship and entertainment. Though Silkie eggs can be eaten for food, and I do eat them on a regular basis, their eggs are small, and not as readily available as layer eggs due to the fact that they dont lay as consistently. Layer birds will probably roost higher than Silkies, and because of their larger size, will require a larger coop with more space. They will probably be more flighty, and less likely to enjoy the human interaction. They may also be a bit aggressive towards the Silkies themselves so if you decide to mix the two, watch the smaller Silkies closely to make sure they aren't getting picked on too much.

    Even though I'm a Silkie enthusiast, I hope I've given you a balanced look at the Silkie breed. I am very passionate about the breed, but always like to help anyone with questions about them, no matter which side of the fence you are on.
     
  3. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    401
    9
    121
    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    Quote:I'm perplexed as to why you'd ask someone who doesn't own silkies to give you information, but I'll try my best, as it appears no one has answered thus far.

    I'll start with the negatives of owning Silkies. They need to be protected from predators a little more than other birds. Because they can't see very well, especially if they have large top knots, they tend to be a little more predator prone, especially white birds. As well, Silkies are a vaulted breed, which makes them a little more prone to head injuries and wry neck. Head injuries can be caused by pecks from other birds, just as well as bumping against the roof of the cage. Another negative of Silkies is the constant fight to keep them laying when you are trying to hatch. Another negative is that you can expect to wait nearly six months before you can accurately sex them, as anything prior to that is simply an educated guess. Other than that, there really isn't much negative to them.

    As for the positives, well for a pet bird you've picked a great breed. Silkies tend to be less flighty than other birds, and are usually more docile. With regular human interaction, they do become very tame, and will often follow their human owners around like puppies. They are very interactive and animated as well. Because they dont fly, they make great backyard pets that wont cross the fence into the neighbors yard. There small size makes housing them very easy, as they dont need an extravagant amount of room. They make great natural incubators and are often used to brood other breeds of birds including multiple game species. Since their temperment is usually very laid back, they also make great beginning show birds for kids, as they are easy to handle.

    There really isn't any room for comparison of Silkies to Layers. They are in two totally different classifications of birds, with two very different purposes. The layers will provide you with food, while the Silkies will provide you with companionship and entertainment. Though Silkie eggs can be eaten for food, and I do eat them on a regular basis, their eggs are small, and not as readily available as layer eggs due to the fact that they dont lay as consistently. Layer birds will probably roost higher than Silkies, and because of their larger size, will require a larger coop with more space. They will probably be more flighty, and less likely to enjoy the human interaction. They may also be a bit aggressive towards the Silkies themselves so if you decide to mix the two, watch the smaller Silkies closely to make sure they aren't getting picked on too much.

    Even though I'm a Silkie enthusiast, I hope I've given you a balanced look at the Silkie breed. I am very passionate about the breed, but always like to help anyone with questions about them, no matter which side of the fence you are on.

    thank you for a great response! just to clarify, i wasn't looking for the opinions of non-owners, just non-enthusiasts, by which i mean "people who wouldn't sell their children for more silkies" in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way. a lot of the sites dedicated to silkies are more worship than information. your balanced response was exactly what i was looking for.

    a lot of my layers are tame and pettish and, honestly, if they didn't produce eggs, i'd enjoy them just as much. a few even follow us around like dogs. so what i'm hearing you say is that the silkies are more likely to be most like the tamest of my laying hens, which is a fantastic thing, exactly what i was hoping for.

    it sounds like the negatives are all things i was prepared for through research, as well as the positive things, so i feel more confident about what was, for me (who can't sneeze without reading up on it first), a knee-jerk decision.

    do you think mixing them with the layer chicks in the brooder for the first month or so is a bad idea? should i opt for a second brooder or are the chicks pretty hardy? also, can you tell me what i should expect if it end up with multiple roosters? are they pretty laid-back or will they need to be separated?
     
  4. Poulets De Cajun

    Poulets De Cajun Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:I wouldn't see the need for two seperate brooders, they should do fine. Just watch them to make sure the smaller birds dont get any injuries that could lead to further picking.

    If you end up with TOO many roosters it could be more than your willing to deal with. However I do know people who have 2 or 3 roosters in the same pen that get along fine. It largely has to do with how many girls are around, how large of an area they are in, and if the birds grew up together. There will be squabbles, so dont think they WONT fight, but they are rarely highly viscious towards each other. As with anything though, its a case by case basis, so observe your birds regularly and you should be fine.
     
  5. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    401
    9
    121
    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    Quote:I wouldn't see the need for two seperate brooders, they should do fine. Just watch them to make sure the smaller birds dont get any injuries that could lead to further picking.

    If you end up with TOO many roosters it could be more than your willing to deal with. However I do know people who have 2 or 3 roosters in the same pen that get along fine. It largely has to do with how many girls are around, how large of an area they are in, and if the birds grew up together. There will be squabbles, so dont think they WONT fight, but they are rarely highly viscious towards each other. As with anything though, its a case by case basis, so observe your birds regularly and you should be fine.

    thanks so much. i really value your time and input. [​IMG]

    they couldn't possibly escape being observed regularly. at my house, it's possible to hear this response to phone calls: "no, she's not available... she's in the chicken coop... hmm? oh, i don't know, maybe in an hour or so?" [​IMG]
     
  6. Oh, you have to love the silkies.

    However, they tend to be the birds that die if any thing dies in your flock.

    They are more susceptible to predators especially at night time because a good many of them do not roost they just form a "silkie pile" in the corner of your barn or coop.

    They do not fly well at all and they are a bantam type of bird.
    They can and do get hurt with larger roos that try to mate them and this have been a problem with any bantam type of bird.

    They are HARD to sex until they either lay an egg or crow.

    The males can be real turds to deal with. If you have more than 2 roos they are the ones that tend to fight, at least the 7 I had did.
    I finally had to cut the number of roos down to ONE and the fighting stopped.

    They are WORTHLESS for egg production as they do not lay all that much. However, they are WONDERFUL as brooders when they go broody.

    Try to purchase a mated pair and try to keep the numbers down, it is hard to do believe me.

    I would rather get bantam cochins. They are friendly and just a purdy as the silkies [​IMG]
     
  7. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    401
    9
    121
    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    Quote:i've already got a half dozen ordered, so i'm already overrun before i even get started!

    i've heard that silkies don't roost and have been trying to plan their coop with that in mind. will they roost low if there's a low roost available or is it the floor or nothing? these guys are going to have a separate coop and run from the big girls and my big, dumb RIR rooster. since i'm designing it from scratch, any tips, tricks, or ideas are welcome, especially with photos.

    i am worried about the inherent broodiness of the hens. as a newbie, i've never dealt with broodies before. i don't intend to let them set, which definitely made me pause when considered silkies.
     
  8. okiemommy

    okiemommy Mother of 5, Prisoner to None

    May 26, 2008
    Okla-Homa
    They stand a better chance of getting along if they are in the brooder together as chicks. I agree too many silkie roo's can be a problem(or any silkie roo depending on the temperament of the bird.) We had a silkie roo and had to get rid of him. He almost killed two of our other chickens one night.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  9. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    401
    9
    121
    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    Quote:that's terrifying!
     
  10. You can build a "ladder" type roost and they will work their way up to a comfortable position. I put an old dog cage in the middle of my wire mesh stalls and some of the silkies use this to get to a high roost along with the others. Most though seem to really like the silkie pile and of course other birds join in for the warmth and comfort. It is sorta cute.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by