One of the most popular ornamental breeds of chickens is the Silkie. This breed is named for its plumage, which is much fluffier than that of a regular chicken. It is soft in addition to being fluffy and is renowned for feeling similar to silk, hence their name. In addition to their silky plumage, they have some other unusual aspects to their appearance. One such example is that they have five toes on each foot as opposed the lesser number of toes that are more common amongst other chicken breeds.
The Silkie comes in a variety of recognized colors. Those are blue, partridge, black, white, gray, and buff. They also have skin that is black in addition to black flesh and bones. Their earlobes, however, appear blue and they have a walnut comb. As far as size goes, they exist in both Bantam and standard size. Their striking appearance and multiple colorations have made them popular competitors at livestock and poultry shows.
The true draw to the Silkie, however, is its docile temperament. Silkies are known for having a calm demeanor and being a friend to all, including children. It is their sweet nature and tameness that make them appealing as pets but they are also very motherly. Known for going broody, Silkies are often used to hatch eggs of other species. While they lay their own eggs to the tune of about three small, cream-colored eggs per week, they eagerly accept the eggs of others as well, being both willing to sit on those eggs and mother the hatchlings. It is due to their broodiness that their egg volumes are expected to be low, as once they go broody it can be difficult and time consuming to get them laying again.
Sexing a Silkie can be quite difficult from a visual standpoint. Telling the difference between pullets and cockerels comes with time due to the late maturity of the breed. This could mean waiting until egg production starts around 8 months of age unless you are particularly skilled at sexing. Crowing can be a sign of a rooster, but the occasional Silkie female will crow as well. With that in mind, the decision to purchase a Silkie might be best done after the chicken has had time to mature so you can be more certain as to the animal you are obtaining. If you are interested in adding a Silkie to your flock, be sure to weigh the pros and cons. They are extremely friendly which makes them good chicken citizens but they are notoriously broody and not the best egg layers. Base your decision on what is important to you and weigh your options thoroughly before committing. You very may find that a Silkie is right up your alley.