Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: silkies

Breeding Miniature White Silkie Chickens 2018

I have decided to have a go at breeding Miniature Silkies and on Thursday I shall be travelling to Lincoln to collect my first family group of one cockerel and three hens. I have had experience of hatching with an incubator before but I have never kept a cockerel. I have always bought in fertile hatching eggs. I am acutely aware of the problems involved both with having a cockerel and having baby chicks who turn out to be boys. I am under no illusions and realise that although the law of averages says the hatch should be 50/50 this isn’t always the case. To add to this, although Silkies are renowned for being good mothers, I once had a silkie who ate twelve hatching eggs that I had bought from Scotland and put under her to hatch as she was broody. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I don’t have to allow live chicks. I could sell fertile eggs or eat them.

The Silkie is a breed of chicken named for its soft, fluffy plumage. The breed has several unusual qualities including black skin and bones, blue earlobes and five toes on each foot, whereas most chickens only have four. They are often exhibited in poultry shows and come in many colors. The Silkie comes in Large Fowl, Bantam and Miniature. After careful consideration I have decided to concentrate on pure white miniature. I have sourced some good blood lines so hope to produce some good stock.

In addition to their distinctive physical characteristics Silkies are known for their calm, friendly temperament. they are among the most docile of poultry. The hens are also exceptionally broody and care for their young well. Although they are not prolific layers themselves, laying about three eggs each week, they are often used to hatch eggs from other breeds due to their broody nature. Silkie chickens are very easy to keep as pets. They are ideal to be around children which was another reason that I chose them as the grand children love the chickens.

There is no doubt that the Silkie is a very old breed, probably of Chinese origin. It is believed by some that the Silkie dates back as far as the Chinese Han Dynasty in 206BC. The Silkie made its way westward either by  the Silk Road or by the maritime routes, maybe both. 

Their feathers lack barbicels, the hooks that hold the feathers together, which gives them their fluffy appearance. The fact that the feathers do not hold together means a Silkie cannot fly. It also means that the feathering is not waterproof so they need to keep dry.  Underneath all that fluff, the Silkie has black skin and bones. Sadly, this makes them a food delicacy in parts of the Far East. The meat is used in Chinese medicine too as it has twice as much carnitine as other chicken meat. Carnitine has anti-aging properties apparently.

Silkies

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We need to find a home for our new white Silkie bantam pair as we are unable to keep cockerels at home. We would prefer to keep the hen but no-one wants to buy just a boy. They are a lovely group and would be perfect for breeding if only we had the space.

The weather over the last three weeks has been perfect for growing with plenty of sunshine and rain so we have been busy harvesting and weeding. The crop this year has been wonderful. I think its down to the good season rather than any improving skills from us. I have ordered overwintering brassica plants and the onion sets ready for planting so we have to get cracking and clear the beds for them. Last years onion sets bought from Focus have given us a great crop and should see us through till next year. They have been dried and put into netting bags for storage. Although we still have potatoes to dig up we have already eaten and given away loads and have some stored in paper sacks for later. We have done much better this year with potatoes as we have grown most of them in bags rather than in the ground.

Its throwing it down with rain this morning and Glenn and Adam are fishing at Pool Hall for a few days. The fish are weighed and photographed and then returned gently to the water.

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Wet but Warmer

Well the seedlings certainly had a good watering in the early hours of today. The rain was very heavy and temperatures as the morning has progressed are getting better.

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The incubation continues well and we now have four silkie chicks in with the two pekins. Still nine eggs left though. I am not sure how long to leave them before I give up on them. It is only day 22 today so I will wait for now.

Final count from 16 eggs on day 23 was six live chicks, 2 pekin, 4 silkie, 2 dead in shell and 8 eggs not developed at all