Are silkie chickens easy to take care of?
Yes, Silkies are easy to look after and require much the same care as other chickens.
I have raised many breeds over the last twenty years and have found the Silkies to be the most cold tolerant, there were no Silkies lost in my flock of last year, due to frostbite or the cold. It is however very important that they remain dry, wet Silkies will get cold and die very quickly.
Even through a few ups and downs in the weather reaching down to -20 Celsius or so. I had one young hen that got chilled and needed assistance to lay an egg. Two days in my house, third day back out and no further problems.
I have found Silkies to be hardy irregular layers of excellent quality eggs. They rarely suffer from crop or egg binding issues and the majority of mine live long healthy lives.
Do Silkies need special care?
Yes a little special care is required for Silkie chickens. The feathers wet easily and the birds can become chilled if this happens. The extra toes and feather feet can sometimes be an issue.
They can be susceptible to mites, lice and sometimes ticks. the thick fluffy feathers can make identification of parasites more difficult.
A healthy five hens that were in a trailer with no artificial light, or heat source until the last cold snap in March still managed quite well at popping out five eggs almost daily. In this trailer I had one barnyard chicken with a normal single typed comb amongst them, and this bird had caught really bad frostbite around on the face and comb. The bird was in severe pain and had to be put down, the damage was extensive.
Raising Silkie bantams to maturity:
We all know Silkies are a wonderful hobby and a rewarding breed to raise. All it takes is a little patience and dedication, right? Dedication I have, it's the patience part I found myself lacking in. I've learned some valuable lessons along the way and I'd like to share this one with you.
I've been seriously breeding Silkies for about fifteen years now. Before that I was content to let hens hatch and raise their babies, I don't ever remember being anxious to see how they turn out. I enjoyed each stage of development.
Then I met a dedicated breeder and I got serious about my Silkies chickens. We wanted what we wanted and we wanted it yesterday. At least I did. I hated to hear a breeder say "they'll be ready in the Fall" or "I won't sell chicks and absolutely no eggs", "adult stock ONLY", etc. I had no idea why, but again, patience was not a virtue of mine. Now I understand.
I would caution you against judging birds too young, I sold quite a few chicks a while ago and these culls from my flock had reached maturity and bloomed into knock out birds. I was amazed and a little annoyed at myself. If I had just hung on a little longer. But I was certain at the time that they were just average birds.
We're all in a hurry to get things done. Raising Silkies unfortunately is not one of those things that we can speed up the process on.
Sure, I've supplemented my trusty broodies with a couple of incubators, because I can do it almost as well as the hens and do more of it. I still spend hours going over the birds and yes, I still label them as to quality, but I am not quick to judge a bird.
It may be a late bloomer or it may be the "ugly duckling" who matures into bird you're proud to show against your peers.
So when a breeder tells you no chicks or eggs, adults only, this is why. No one wants to sell a bird they've been trying to achieve and a buyer doesn't want a 4 month old lanky cockerel with the promise that one day he'll be a stunning bird. In the case of Silkies, it takes time and patience and without that, the only place you'll go is nowhere, fast.
Headbands and clothing for Silkies:
Putting hairbands in the crests of Silkies is a common way to keep the fluffy head feathers out of the eyes and allow the birds to see normally.
I avoid jumpers and covers unless you have a bad case of feather loss. The hens cant scratch underneath them and it can drive them mad. Have you ever had an itch you cant scratch.
Can you keep Silkies with other chickens?
Silkies bantams are quiet happy with other chickens and their friendly and docile nature means then generally get on well with other chickens. I have only ever had one bad tempered Silkie rooster in my years with the breed and even he was nothing like some that I have had to deal with.
See here for looking after Silkie chickens in winter.
Can Silkie chickens live indoors?
Keeping any chicken indoors is normally a bad idea. Chickens like the outdoors and should at the very least have access to their own coop and run and not share the human coop.
All chickens, Silkies included produce dander from their feathers with can irritate the lungs, make asthma worse and cause a disease known as Bird Fancier's lung or BFL. It is a type of hypersensitivity pneumonitis and is triggered by exposure to avian proteins present in the dry dust of the droppings and feathers of a variety of birds. The lungs become inflamed, with the formation of masses called granuloma.
I would keep your chickens outdoors.