Should I get some silkies?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChitownChick, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. Yes, it's worth the effort

    7 vote(s)
  2. No, consider another breed

    2 vote(s)
  1. ChitownChick

    ChitownChick Chirping

    Oct 12, 2016
    Chicago, IL
    Hi Y'all,

    I'm already looking forward to chick season next spring and deciding what breeds to add to my flock. I currently have 5 outdoor hens--3 old RIRs, 2 younger Isa Browns--that live in a substantial coop and covered run that my husband and I built ourselves (we have a small business doing this here in Chicago!).

    I've always wanted silkies. I love my chickens as pets and taking care of them is a major hobby for me, in addition to a professional interest. Silkies are so cute, and I hear they are friendly and make good brooding hens/mamas. I am looking to get into hatching my own chicks in the upcoming years, so this appeals to me. However I have some concerns:

    1) Brutal Chicago winters - as I said, my chicken run is covered with a shingled roof and is substantial. However, is that enough? I know silkies cannot get wet especially in the cold... the roof is substantial but the walls are just hardware cloth so moisture can still get in. Is that acceptable, or should I build an indoor aviary to bring silkies indoors in the winters? Is there a correct protocol for this? This leads me to another concern:

    2) Indoor cats - I have a bengal cat who is a real bird stalker. If I build an indoor aviary/coop, I'm sure he'll spend a lot of time staring at them. My other hens are NOT afraid of cats--on the contrary! But are silkies small enough to be frightened of housecats? And could a silkie ever get used to a cat's looming visual presence if their structure is safe enough? I'm completely confident in my ability to create a sturdy cat-proof structure, but I'm worried he'll stress them out. Should I look instead to the garage (not as pleasant)?

    3) Pre-existing larger hens - My young Isa Browns are pretty sweet and docile, but my old RIRs are HUGE and real bullies too, always going after my younger ones. I'm concerned they could kill a silkie or bantam. After the recent death of my beloved young barred rock hen, which I believe was due in part to the bullying (underweight, compromised immune system), I'm considering culling my mean old hens. Can I introduce silkies to a flock of larger hens? Or must they always be separate? And if I do manage to get them to integrate, what happens when when I bring them inside again next winter? Do I have to reintegrate the following spring?

    After writing all this, it seems like my silkie dream may be more trouble than it's worth. BUT I WANT THEM! Suggestions would be appreciated, even if for alternative breeds to consider--again, I'm looking for friendliness, cuteness, and potential mama material. A good layer would be a plus, but is not necessary... I have Isa Browns for that!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Crossing the Road

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Silkies can coexist with LF but IMHO they aren't worth the cute factor.
    They go broody often so can be poor on the egg production scale, can be bullied and being visually impaired, don't fair well with predators - especially the aerial type.
    If you want lap pets that are pretty, go ahead. If you want chickens for eggs and more self sufficient birds - don't.
    If you can keep a separate building where they will be protected, clean, warm and dry - that will work.
    ChitownChick likes this.
  3. JaeG

    JaeG Crossing the Road

    Sep 29, 2014
    New Zealand
    I have kept my bantams with docile light breeds and they fared well but now most live in their own separate run and coop after we ended up with two Orpingtons, more because of the available run space than because the Orpingtons are mean (they certainly aren't that and they are kept in line by my beautiful, gentle leader, Dorothy, a French Houdan).

    D'uccle are an adorable bantam and I love my Old English Game bantams. We have a Silkie but she's not as friendly as some of our other bantams despite being raised with lots of handling. A Booted bantam that grew up free range and came to us as a pullet is actually our friendliest hen.
  4. Crazy for Chickens!

    Crazy for Chickens! Free Ranging

    Jun 9, 2017
    NW Missouri
    1. I think that is good enough shelter. Silkies are good winter birds.

    2. I don't think it will stress your birds to see a cat. All of our chickens chase the cats around. If they see your chickens chasing the cats, they should catch on. Our bantams chase our cats too. Maybe just keep an eye out, and make sure the cat doesn't hurt them.

    3. I would definitely get rid of your old, mean hens. I would also go ahead and make separate feeders and water. Because your other hens will probably pick on them as well. I don't mow why, but chickens seem to take joy in pecking ones under them.

    I think you should definitely get some! They are very cute! They do go broody a lot, and are good mamas.
    FrankieDoodle likes this.
  5. chicken4prez

    chicken4prez Crowing

    Jun 14, 2015
    Ontario, Canada

    My Silkies get bullied very easily but it does depend on the flock and the bird.

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