Silkie Chicks

April 24, 2012

I finally did it! I now have two sweet Silkie chicks that I picked up on Saturday. The breeder, who lives west of town by a couple of hours, graciously met me halfway and we surreptitiously swapped money and chicks while dodging raindrops in the middle of a dance hall parking lot. I’ve been dancing ever since.

I’d been exploring the possibility of getting a couple of Silkies for the last year or two but it wasn’t until the untimely death of Coco that I decided to go ahead with it. I know, I keep replacing 1 chicken with 2 chickens, but it’s very hard to introduce 1 chicken by itself and Silkies are bantams, meaning they’re half the size of standard chickens, so these two really quality as just 1 “regular” chicken. Or so I rationalize.

Being the pampered pets that they will be, the selection of their names took me awhile. Four days in fact. I wanted to honor their Chinese heritage with their names, but the rest of my family looked at me as if I was crazy after each of my name proposals. So, after days of discussion, we’ve settled on names we’re all happy with: Jasmine and Isabelle.

They seem to like their names (we’ll call them Jazzy and Izzy for short), can’t bear to be separated from each other and tolerate the cats (and vice versa so far). They have a soft trill that sounds similar to Chickadees and they regularly sing throughout the day.  I’m keeping them inside (caged) for a short while until they get used to me, before I introduce them to the outside and to the big girls. More fun ahead, so stay tuned.

Isabelle: A 4 month-old teenage blue silkie (blue chickens can be light grey to dark in color) with teeny whisps of white that look like she's brushed up against wet paint.

Jasmine: A 3 month-old white silkie with long large feathers on her feet. I sometimes wonder why she doesn't trip over them and am anxious to see how well she can scratch the ground.

Silkies are an ancient breed of chicken, originating in China, and first brought to the attention of the Western world by Marco Polo in the late 1200′s. “In that place there is an extraordinary phenomenon which is worth recounting. Would you believe, they have hens with no feathers but fur just like cats. They are black, with eggs like ours, and they are excellent to eat.”

Their feathers feel like fur because the feather barbs do not lock together resulting in their fluffy look and inability to fly. They are bred in this country to be small, have feathered feet with 5 toes instead of the more normal 4, turquoise earlobes, and their skin and bones are black. They are docile, friendly and lay small lightly tinted eggs. In China, Silkie chickens are prized for their meat and considered extremely healthful to eat. In fact, my first exposure to a Silkie chicken was in a Hong Kong market where the live chickens were caged in a butcher shop waiting to be selected by the customer.

My chickens will lead a far better life, running in the sun and being free. In fact, it’s warm and sunny out today, so I may try to start their introduction to the world of the backyard this afternoon.

23 Responses to “Silkie Chicks”

  1. April 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm, cindy said:

    They are absolutely amazing looking. It would be fun to pet one to feel the fur-like feathers. Perhaps they’ll come with us to the class at CDC this summer??

    Reply

  2. April 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm, admin said:

    I’m hoping they’ll be able to come with, I know the kids would really love them. I have them outside in their cage right now and the older girls are just ignoring them…..

    Reply

  3. April 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm, Leny said:

    Congratulations, Janice!! They are soooo cute!

    Reply

  4. April 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm, admin said:

    Thanks Leny. You’ll have to pop over and see them!

    Reply

    • April 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm, Gayle said:

      They look very cute!!

      Reply

      • April 25, 2012 at 7:39 am, admin said:

        Thanks, you’ll have to come over to see them!

        Reply

  5. April 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm, Maery Rose said:

    Very exotic looking! I’m a chicken newbie with 3 week old chicks. Two are Buff Orpingtons and two are Australian Australorps. I went for cold tolerance and not too complicated. They are getting into that half feather, half fluff awkward look. I’m having a lot of fun with this new experience.

    Reply

  6. April 25, 2012 at 7:38 am, admin said:

    What a fun time you’re in for Maery Rose. I have a Buff Orpington and they are fabulous, good layers and perfect in the winter time. I also have a friend who had all Australorps as they are known as one of the best layers plus they’re really great in cold weather as you mentioned. Good luck. I’d love to see photos of your girls, please feel free to post them on my book FB page.

    Reply

  7. April 25, 2012 at 7:58 am, Dyhana said:

    They’re beautiful! makes me want chickens of my own even more!

    Reply

  8. April 25, 2012 at 8:03 am, admin said:

    I hope you can get them soon Dyhana!

    Reply

  9. April 26, 2012 at 6:26 am, Kathleen goodsell said:

    I am in love! So beautiful!

    Reply

  10. April 26, 2012 at 7:03 am, admin said:

    Thanks Kathleen, they really are so fluffy and cute and I’m having lots of fun with them.

    Reply

  11. April 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm, Diana said:

    I had to laugh when I saw you had two more. It is one of those things in the backyard quantities you always want one more or another pretty you haven’t had yet.

    Reply

  12. April 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm, admin said:

    It’s so true Diana! I wish I had more land…but then again maybe it’s best I don’t or I’d actually be in the chicken business!!

    Reply

  13. May 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm, scrambled | food for fun said:

    [...] about her beautifully landscaped backyard, pecking at grains and hiding behind trees. The two baby silkies were in a cage until they’re old enough to frolic with the others. They have names (Cleo, [...]

    Reply

  14. December 30, 2012 at 6:33 am, John said:

    I’ve just finished reading about your adventures in keeping chickens via your book ‘Chicken & Egg’ which was a Christmas present. It reminded me of my early days of hen keeping – many years ago. Keeping hens is so addictive but mine have never enjoyed the luxuries your hen-hotel has lavished on your birds. I’ve kept many breeds of hen & saved many from batteries. Silkies are gorgeous I agree. Great for sitting on eggs, they go incredibly broody for long periods but relatively poor layers.

    Reply

    • December 31, 2012 at 9:57 am, admin said:

      Hi,
      Thanks so much for your note, I’m glad to see my book is still being sold in the UK! Yes, my hens are far too pampered…..I suspect if I was able to have more than just a few they may not each get such a royal treatment. Good luck to you and your hens and if you can offer me any advice I’m always open to learning from other hen owners.

      Reply

  15. April 17, 2013 at 8:43 am, cindy said:

    Just hearing you got more chicks. I am a little behind.

    Love ya
    cuz

    Reply

  16. July 08, 2013 at 7:05 am, Mya Staysniak said:

    How precious! I have three silkies (one boy, two girls) and three baby silkie chicks. They are too cute, but unfortunately, can get really sick. We just lost a black silkie from what I think is Marek’s Diesease. That causes paralysis in a leg and wing from a brain tumor. I would keep a close eye on them. Congrats! I hope you have fun with these sweet creatures.

    Reply

    • July 08, 2013 at 7:23 am, admin said:

      I’m so sorry to hear you lost one! But they are so darn cute. Right now Jazzy (Jasmine) is going broody even though I’ve taken all her eggs. She’s a determined little mama.

      Reply

  17. July 09, 2013 at 12:11 pm, Hannah said:

    Hello Janice!

    Someone gave me your cookbook last week as a gift and I just wanted to thank you for the enjoyable read & all the delicious recipes. I’m looking forward to try my hand at a few soon. In the meantime, I’m exploring making I.D. bracelets for chickens (I know, I know!) and would love to send some to you! Do you feel comfortable sending a private message to me with a shipping address where I can send them? (Or if you’d rather, I have an Etsy shop, http://www.featherware.etsy.com, if you’d prefer to go there instead. I can create a custom listing for you there, if you’d rather.) Just let me know!

    All best,
    Hannah

    Reply

  18. August 04, 2013 at 10:41 pm, Sophie said:

    OH they are gorgeous! I just finished reading your book it was delightful.

    Reply

    • August 05, 2013 at 1:37 pm, admin said:

      Hi Sophie,
      Thanks so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. I still have Jasmine here and she is a sweetie, definitely a gal with a mind of her own!

      Reply

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