Breeding Silkie's head-hole off?

OldSleeper

Hatching
Aug 16, 2019
1
0
2
Hello. I'm planning to get silkies. I absolutely love them but I'd be lying if I said the hole in their heads didn't bother me. It just seems like a way too vulnerable trait for an animal to have. My current knowledge is that ALL silkies have a hole, more or less and the crest gets fuller if cerebral hernia (skull knob?) occurs. Feel free to correct me if I've got it wrong. So, I wanted to ask you who knows about selective breeding and silkies in general:
-Do ALL silkies really have a hole, vaulted or not?
-Are silkies mixed with other breeds less suspectible to it?
-Is it possible to breed silkies with their skull completely closed?
-How would you go on about it?

I'm thankful for any insight to this. I've done my best to research the skull issue, but I keep having a feeling that I'm not getting a full image. (Vaulted/non-vaulted don't necessarily mean hole/no hole? I'm still not sure. It's quite confusing.)

I apologise if there was a thread about this already that I missed.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,652
20,619
892
California's Redwood Coast
Hi there, welcome to BYC! :frow

I bred and raised Silkies for a few years... and believe it is an overstated issue. I never faced problems despite them being raised with large fowl for long periods of time. And yes Silkies are mighty little packages with plenty of chicken attitude and faced off with plenty of other birds.

Yes, it's always good to breed for the traits you desire... But I'm under the impression some animals retain their "soft spot" throughout life.

Fear mongers say Silkies can't free range or will be taken by predators... Mine range daily, and I did not lose any. But it was a risk I choose to take. Other folks get Silkies and standard birds preyed on all the time. Maybe we have different set ups, predator loads, or even just daily habits. I spend a lot of time outdoors and don't have a job I have to go to daily... so MAYBE I have just been fortunate since I'm like an unintentional live scarecrow.

Anyways, other than excessive broodiness and really not being the sharpest birds... they were plenty hardy. Good nutrition being key (I cannot over state how important this is), I NEVER switch to layer and use at least 20% protein Purina flock raiser with oyster shell on the side once approaching lay. Not diminishing the formulated ration with low nutrient, high energy treats like corn or scratch which doesn't have the added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids added in like the ration will.

Not fixing things like splay leg recognizing that is likely genetic and being able to select HARD is key to having quality stock.

I sold Silkies faster than I could hatch just about year round and $10-$15 each straight run, depending on color variety. People LOVE Silkies! :love

When serious about breeding and hatching... gotta have a plan for all the extra boys. We ate ours, they dress out fine. :drool

Their excessive broodiness did me in and I moved on. :tongue :)
 

NNYchick

Crowing
Jun 15, 2017
1,557
2,645
271
Harrisville, NY
Not all silkies hatch with vaulted skulls. There are breeders that are breeding away from it, it used to be believed that vaulted skulls produced a bigger better crest but it has been noticed by breeders for exhibition who hatch and grow out hundred of chicks that is not the case.
A vaulted skull does increase risk of head injury if they get a good knock on the top of the head, I have heard of it happening but have never had an issue. I don't keep any other breed except a couple of serama hens.
I don't agree with them being any good at free ranging, my first year I had half my flock taken by a fox in a matter of 15 minutes. Now I only allow them out in the yard when I can be right there. They don't see well with a large crest and I have seen with my own eyes a threat come into the yard, the rooster sounds the alarm but none of them run for cover they all stand in the yard baulking the alarm as well - sitting ducks so to say.
Now depending on what your goals are you have options, if you just want some pretty silkie feathered yard pets and don't want to breed or show I would recommend hatchery chicks as these are going to have small crest, a little bigger and a little less docile in my experience.
If you want to breed, show or have really fluffy birds I recommend a breeder that is breeding towards SOP. You can tell at hatch who is vaulted and who is not, if you go this way you can ask the breeder for chicks without vaulted skulls.
This is a good picture, white chick in the front has vaulted skull but black chick on the right doesn’t.
A5F84430-3359-45AC-A854-59FC52590B5B.jpeg
 

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