Black Silkie Chicken: The Ultimate Guide to the Black Beauty of the Bantam World

October 24, 2020

Black Silkie Chicken: The Ultimate Guide to the Black Beauty of the Bantam World

Silkie Chickens are one of the most unusual chicken breeds available today. They are renowned for their fluffy plumage and uniquely black skin, as well as several other differentiating qualities including extra toes and blue earlobes.

If you’re here to discover all there is to know about the black Silkie chicken and what makes them so special – rest assured, you’re in the right place. We have more than 30 years’ experience with these little chickens and can tell you all you need to know about them.


Black silkie chicken


In this guide:

  • Black Silkie hen and rooster
  • Silkie Chicken Temperament
  • Black Silkie Chicken Appearance
  • Black-skinned Characteristics
  • Egg and Meat Production of the Black Silkie Chicken
  • The Black Silkie Color Standard

Black Silkie Hen and Rooster

The black Silkie is one color variety of the beautiful Silkie that is accepted by the American Poultry Association as well as other show holding bodies.

The black Silkie hen and rooster are both characterized by their fluffy black feathers that should have a green sheen especially in the sunlight. The face, comb and wattles should all be dark mulberry approaching black. 


Black silkie chicken and rooster appearance comparison


Check out this video for a closer look at the solid black pom-pom heads of a few black Silkie girls soaking up the sun.

We’ve rounded up the fast facts for you so that you can have all the important info available at a quick glance.


Black silkie chicken facts infographic

As you can see from the chart above, Silkies make fabulous pets – but let’s take a closer look at their temperament and just why they’re so popular with families all over.


You will be hard-pressed to find a more docile and friendly chicken companion than the Silkie. They are known for being easy to tame, friendly and inquisitive. They love a good cuddle and will happily sit in your lap for treats. Their friendly disposition makes them an excellent choice for families with small children, as they are cute and quite happy to follow your young ones around the yard.


Young boy hugging a black silkie chicken


Their docile natures, even in roosters, mean that they may get picked on by more aggressive chickens – and your special Silkies won’t fight back! It is best to keep Silkies separate to more aggressive chickens and although they will happily scratch along with others in a mixed-breed flock, keep a close eye on your fluffy friends to make sure that they don’t get picked on!

Appearance of the Silkie Chicken

The Silkie has the polydactyl gene which means that they have an extra toe on each foot, giving them a total of five as opposed to the usual four toes associated with chickens.

The most unique and interesting quality of the Silkie chicken is its atypical plumage that is more fluff than actual feathers. This gives them the appearance of having fur instead of feathers and they generally feel very soft and silky to the touch.


Unique characteristics of Silkie chickens


Yes, the Silkie has fluffy feathers that feel like silk when touched. But they are feathers. A regular feather is constructed of individual hairs with little hook-like appendages that are called barbicels. The barbicels hold all the individual hairs together in a smooth and tidy feather shape. When a regular chicken preens their feathers, they are smoothing the barbicels to make sure that their plumage lies nice and flat and tidy against their bodies.


Regular feathers versus black silkie chicken feathers - comparison chart


A Silkie has feathers like other chickens, but their feathers lack barbicels, which means that the individual hairs of their feathers are left to grow in a fluffy and untidy fashion, which gives them the look of little cotton balls running around your yard. The Silkie’s fluffy feathering extends to their legs and they will have impressive fluffy legs and toes as well!

So, now that we know what they look like, let’s take a deeper dive into that characteristically black skin.

Black-skinned Beauty

The Silkie chicken has a very unique characteristic shared by breeds like the Ayam Cemani that is called dermal hyperpigmentation. This quality is also called fibromelanosis and is characterized by the unusual and distinctive black skin. Although you can’t see it, this quality also causes the bones and internal organs of the bird to be dark approaching black.


Ayam cemani chicken and black silkie chicken showing of their black skin and feathers


"We have shown that the genetic change causing fibromelanosis is a complex rearrangement that leads to increased expression of Endothelin 3, a gene which is known for promoting the growth of pigment cells," explains Ben Dorshorst, a post-doctoral researcher, in a study published in PLoS Genetics researchers at Uppsala University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, North Carolina State University and National Chung-Hsing University where they investigated the genetic basis of fibromelanosis, a breed characteristic of the Silkie chicken.


Beak color of a regular chicken versus a black silkie chicken


Leg color of black silkie chickens versus other chicken breeds


If you part the feathers of a Silkie chicken, you will see that their skin is black and a close look will reveal that their beaks and legs are slate blue, almost dark grey in color too. They also have darker combs and wattles than most other chickens. Where the average chicken generally has a red comb and wattles, the comb and wattles as well as facial skin of the Silkie is a deep blue-grey in color, with mulberry-colored combs seen in some color varieties.


Comb and wattles of a regular chicken versus a silkie chicken


Although Silkies are pretty to look at, people do keep them for other reasons. Let’s look at the meat and egg production of Silkies as that’s why most people tend to keep chickens.

Egg and Meat Production of the Black Silkie Chicken

Silkies are a true bantam, which means that they are a small chicken and as such, they aren’t generally considered a dual-purpose bird. They are relatively poor layers yielding only 100 – 120 small, white eggs per year. Most people who choose to keep Silkies keep them as pets, as broody hens to hatch out more Silkie eggs or the eggs of other poultry, and as show birds. You are more likely to see the Silkie at a poultry show than some of our more common layer hens, and their unique appearance always makes them a crowd favorite.


Egg production comparison chart of black silkie chicken, sebright serama, orpington, sussex, and golden comet chicken

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Although Silkies aren’t primarily kept for their meat, they are seen as a delicacy in most Oriental countries. And this is largely due to their uniquely black skin. They are seen as medicinal in Asian countries, especially in China, where the entire bird is used to make a broth that can be drunk when you are feeling unwell.

There is little difference in the actual meat of a Silkie chicken when compared to a regular broiler chicken, except for the fact that it has a richer and slightly gamier taste. This is also largely due to the fact that Silkies are small and easy-keepers which means that they are often allowed to free-range unlike commercial broilers. The skin and bones may be black, but the meat is only ever so slightly darker than that of an ordinary broiler and the ratio between white and dark meat is the same for a Silkie as for any other chicken meat that you may purchase in a supermarket.


Regular chicken skin color versus black silkie chicken skin color


However, for the most part, Silkies aren’t kept for their meat even though their darker skin pigmentation may make them a delicacy in certain countries. These little birds take long to grow and mature and they are fairly small in size even when they’ve reached their full adult height and weight. If you’re interested in keeping chickens for meat, there are several other breeds such as the Cornish, which are better suited to table fare production. For more information on all of the different chicken breeds and their egg and meat production qualities, check out the Ultimate Guide to Chicken Breeds from A – Z over at Chickenpedia!

Silkies do best in backyard flocks where they are kept as pets, ornamental chickens, show birds or as broody mothers to help you hatch out eggs.


Black silkie chicken watching over her silkie eggs in nesting boxes inside the coop


If you’re interested in showing black Silkies, their coloring and general appearance must be on par with the breed standard – so let’s see what the American Poultry Association has to say about these black beauties.

The Black Silkie Color Standard

Silkies are unique and quirky in appearance and as a heritage breed, they have been accepted by the American Poultry Association as well as other show bodies as a recognized breed.

Silkies are fairly small chickens and are therefore considered a true bantam. A bantam chicken is a miniature version of a standard-sized breed, but currently standard-sized Silkies are uncommon and not recognized in the US or Canada at all.


Black silkie chicken size and color comparison with sebright serama, booted bantam, and orpington chicken


The Silkie hen should weigh approximately three pounds (1,3kg) and be 8 – 10 inches (20 – 25cm) tall, with the Silkie rooster weighing approximately four pounds (1,8kg) at a height of 8 – 11 inches (20 – 27cm) tall.

The general standard of the Silkie breed notes the following as desirable show characteristics:


Breed standard of black silkie chickens - infographic


Black Silkie Chicken Breed Standard


Short, stout, compact and lively


The body is compact and rounded and lets down slightly between the legs. The breast is very full, well-rounded with good depth and width and carried forward but low. The back should be short and broad rising into the tail.


The wings should be well-rounded, short and small and carried nearly horizontal and tucked into the body. Both primary and secondary feathers should have a shredded-like appearance over the whole, or at least 50% of the feather.


The head is short, fairly rounded and small with a crest that is full and round and resembles a powder puff.

The comb should be small and oval – almost shaped like a walnut.

The beak should be lead-blue to dark grey.

The eyes should be round and dark brown to brilliant black.


Short and broad and almost round. In males, some tail feathers are allowed to hang towards the back. The underside of the tail should be predominantly fluffy and the tail feathers should have the characteristic shredded-look all over.


Short, broad and full

Legs and Feet

The legs are dark and short with the thighs wide apart, covered with very abundant silky fluff. The shanks should be fairly short, free from excessive scaliness and well feathered on the outer sides.

Silkies should have five toes, with the fourth and fifth separate, but emerging close to each other. If these two toes are fused where they emerge, they should, never-the-less, be recognisable as two toes by each having its own row of scales. The fifth toe should be longer than the fourth and should be horizontal or curving slightly upwards.

The outer and middle toes should have feathering on them as well.


Dark blue-black


This is one of the most defining characteristics and should be very silky and fluffy with a profusion of hair-like feathers all over the body.


So, there you have it. Silkies are one of the most ubiquitous breeds available today and their sweet disposition, docile nature and adaptability make them backyard flock favorites.


Black silkie chickens


The black Silkie chicken is just one of the very many color varieties that exist in this cute and cuddly breed. We adore them for their atypical plumage, pom-pom heads and cheeky personalities. They make great pets and are a joy to have around the yard. Their quiet natures make them ideal for suburban living and their friendliness and cuteness make them highly suitable for families with small children that would like to have a chicken as a pet.


Breeding black silkie chickens - infographics


A black Silkie is for you if you are looking for a unique chicken with eye-catching looks, a friendly nature and the ability to bring tremendous amounts of joy, (and a few eggs) into your life.

Do you have black Silkies in your life? Share their pictures and stories in the comment section! We love reading about your Black Silkie Beauties.

No matter the chicken you choose for your backyard buddies, make sure that you've got the knowledge you need to raise a happy, healthy flock. Did you know 67% of chicken keepers surveyed experienced a chicken health or behaviour issue in the first 12 months that they didn’t know how to handle?

But don’t worry! Our feathered friends over at Chickenpedia have created a comprehensive online course that covers everything you need, including what to look for in an unhealthy chicken and how to support your hens to optimal health. All of their courses are really well structured and beginner-friendly, which is why I highly recommend them to all of my readers!

Click here to check out Chickenpedia today!


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