The origin of the Silkie hen is uncertain although they have been around for several hundred years. It is thought that they originated in India, China or Japan and they arrived in Europe around 200 years ago where they were sold as crosses between rabbits and chickens! They are a lightweight chicken with a broad, stout looking body which is covered in fine fluffy feathers. They have short, rather ragged looking tails and the head is short and neat with an upright and full crest. The beak is short and broad, the face smooth and the eyes black and bright. The comb is circular and described as a mulberry comb and the wattles are concave, semi circular and not particularly long. The legs are purplish blue in colour and they have a fifth toe.
Silkies do tend towards broodiness and make wonderful mothers despite being rather poor layers. They are calm, friendly, trusting and rather lively birds which are unable to fly so can be kept with very low fencing and they also do very little damage to the garden. They begin laying around Christmas when the hen will happily sit on a clutch of eggs and will still go broody even if her eggs are removed! Silkies are frequently used as foster mothers for other hen\'s eggs. They stop laying altogether during the summer months. They don\'t have waterproof feathers so they need to be kept in dry conditions but require little room so can be kept in smaller runs. They are rather susceptible to scaly leg but are robust little chickens and can withstand the cold very well. The black skinned and black boned silkie is considered a delicacy in China where they believe that the ground up bones have special healing properties. They have a lifespan of around 9 years and can be tamed and considered a real pet which makes them especially suitable for children.
Black, blue, gold, white, partridge, triple laced partridge, triple laced silver partridge, grey, cuckoo, red and buff.
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