Would love some input on owning a silkie

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by emcgrath27, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. emcgrath27

    emcgrath27 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 3, 2012
    This is our first year raising chickens and we are SO excited. Currently we have 8 brown egg layers (born 2-22-12) that we bought straight run. We are not allowed to keep a rooster so with that being said we have NO clue how many chickens we are going to end up with. We would love to add silkies to our mix but I am hearing mixed reviews about them. I have heard that you have to keep them separate from the other chickens in separate coops. I am also hearing they are wonderful. Being an amateur I am wondering if we would be able to add them to our flock. I would be getting two. Any advice would be appreciated thanks!
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have had silkies before, so I can give you my opinions.

    There are several differences existing in silkies:

    They cannot see very well when their crest grows in. This makes them hawk bait when full grown.


    They don't like ramps very much, so if you use one don't help them down the ramp, make it as wide as possible with as low of an incline as possible, and keep the food in the coop to encourage ramp use (or you will be putting them to bed by hand every night, LOL).

    They cannot fly, so high roosts (higher than, say, one foot or less) are a real hardship for them. Yes you can use stair-steps to help them up, but should they fall, and fall they do, it makes a terrible "thunk."

    Some say their crests predispose them to mites, but I have not found this to be true- my chickens get mites every 4 months if I don't automatically dust them and repeat in one week (throw shavings out of coop and spray coop too).

    (Some people will post about how their silkie doesn't have trouble with ramps or roosts but if you do a search you will find that many do have to train their silkies and accomodate them specifically).

    Silkies have a hole in the head, like a baby. See
    http://browneggblueegg.com/Article.html
    click on the left column where it says "silkie skull"
     
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I like to make several posts, after my long posts keep getting deleted by hitting the wrong button.


    Ok, back to silkies-
    So this "hole" in the head means they are susceptible to head injuries and wryneck (crookneck). This is why many advocate keeping your silkies in a separate flock.


    I have done several combinations- keeping them together with large fowl, separate - just silkies, and finally, just bantams with my silkies.

    Silkies I have found can hold their own and may even be the top or near the top of the pecking order. However, they still must defend their position on occasion, and with this comes the risk of injury.

    I have found that my silkies were happiest in a shed coop, with no ramps, and overhead netting for security in the run. They don't like free ranging too much and value security. They might go out of the run a little ways but don't head for the woods like the other girls. Hence it is good to always have two silkies so they can sleep on the floor together (because they don't like roosts).

    Most silkies like to sleep in a pile on the floor together- with the occasional brave one trying the roost, from my experience.

    They make very good friendships and are heartbroken when one of their friends is sold and they cannot see them. SO for happy silkies keep things stable, and let them have a peaceful time with their friends.

    They cannot see very well when you give treats to the rest of the flock, and have difficulty cleaning grain up off the ground when their crests have gotten large. If you are getting hatchery silkies, the crests most likely won't get large anyway. Breeder silkies have the large crests, if you buy from a good breeder.
     
  4. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    x2.


    Also, they are wonderful. If you can, get a dog coop, raise it a foot off the ground, long ramp.. Roost bar only about 6 inches to a foot off of the floor... I have a very mixed flock. Silkies, wyandottes, ee, faverolle, cochins... And ducks. The silkies free range with the bigs, but not coop together. If you get silkies NOW you would have an easier time with housing. If you wait to long, may be more of a problem. Also, get the silkies a few weeks older than the ones you have now.
     
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    So, getting back to the part about being in with large fowl, I would say that if your other large fowl are already a week/two weeks old, the earlier you combine your chicks together, the better.

    I have successfully combined two-week old chicks with day olds. But a three week difference was too much and I had to wait until the younger group was around one months old to combine them with the seven-week olds.

    So, if you cannot put your silkie chicks in right now with your others, you will definitely need a separate brooding space for them. When you combine your flocks later, I'd take one brown egg layer out and put her with the silkies for awhile. Then they will be friends hopefully when you add all three to the larger flock.

    Generally the recommended time to combine flocks is when they are about the same size, OR when the younger flock is 4 months old.


    With two sets of chicks different sizes, the earlier you combine them, the better with the exception of when one group is day old. I'd give them a few weeks, in other words, if you are getting day old silkies and the other ones are three weeks old or bigger.

    So, in summary, I would go ahead and get your silkies as many have them with their large fowl, with the caveat that you might need to separate them if the integration doesn't go well.

    Additionally, silkies may require adjustments in terms of a nest box placed on the floor (covered kitty litter pans work well), lowered roosts or a pile of shavings on the floor for them to sleep on, and ramp slope adjustments.
     
  6. chick magnet

    chick magnet Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 12, 2012
    I have silkies in with my larger hens(Rhode Island reds and Light Brahmas)and they do fine together.
     
  7. Debbi

    Debbi Overrun With Chickens

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    I house my Silkies seperately from my other large fowl breed (Marans). The Marans look at them like they are not even chickens! Silkies are odd little creatures, and my Silkie roos will challenege the big roos through the fence. I would hate to think of what would happen if they got together and the Silkies attacked the Marans! Kind of like a battle between a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler! [​IMG] for the most part, they are charming and friendly, and if nothing else very entertaining! Good with children, although I do have one snot rooster that attacks the backs of my legs when I wear my boots into his run. Make sure to give them a covered run, or at least partially covered! Silkie feathers do not shed water like hard feathered birds, so when they get wet, they get soaked to the skin. If it's warm, this is not a problem. If it's cold, it can kill them! I do not let mine free range due to the crests being so thick, they have a hard time seeing. Can you say "Hawk Bait??" Some prefer to roost on a LOW roost. I use a 3"x3" square dowel for those who do, and it's only 6 INCHES off the floor. Anything higher and you could be looking at injuries, in my opinion. Most of mine huddle together in the bedding on the floor. Good luck! If you do make them a seperate coop/run, make it bigger than you need for the moment...YOU WILL GET MORE!!!! [​IMG] ETA: Did I mention what great layers they are?? My girls lay a medium sized egg, and are just as edible as any other chicken egg! The yolks in my Silkie eggs are almost as large as the yolks in the Marans eggs. The girls can also go broody, so you have natural incubators for other chicken eggs as well!
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012

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