Hens always steal the show when it comes to keeping chickens, but male Silkie chickens have a LOT more to offer than you might think.
You’re probably here because you need to know how to spot a male Silkie from a female, how many male Silkies to house with your hens, what to expect from them, and how to care for them. You’ll find that all here. READ ON!
If you want to breed cute little Silkie chickens (I mean, why wouldn’t you) then you’ll need an Adam and an Eve in your coop to make those family plans a reality.
Don’t want to breed your Silkies? That’s no reason to rule out keeping roosters. Male Silkies have an important role to play in happy Silkie flocks, and it goes way beyond making babies. That’s all here, too!
Whether you plan to keep male Silkies, or they’ve snook their way into your feathery family, you need to read this before you bring home, rehome or keep your rooster.
Did you know that male Silkies and laying female Silkies cannot share their food? Layer feed is far too high in calcium for a healthy rooster. There are so many weird and wonderful little things to learn before you delve into chicken keeping, and skipping the studying step can have serious consequences for your chickens. Don’t be daunted though, a great chicken keeping course will have you skilled up and poultry ready in no time. I always recommend these guys to my reader as I am a big believer in prevention rather than treatment.
The first thing poultry parents want to know about their chicks is whether they are little boys or little girls. Most of the time - if we’re being honest - we’re hoping for hens.
Generally speaking, female chickens tend to be friendlier, calmer, quieter, and cohabit easier than roosters. Oh, and there’s that minor detail that it’s the hens that lay the eggs!
Thanks to their fluffy feathers, Silkies are one of the hardest chicken breeds to sex. Typical, right?
You might be able to spot some signs that you have a male or female Silkie chicken by the time they’re 3 months old. This is when Silkie chickens start to grow their adult plumage, a bit later than other breeds, but it will offer some clues.
It’s hard to sex a Silkie before they’re fully mature, but it’s not impossible, and there are some clues to look out for…
Streamers are long, thin, sticky-out feathers that male Silkies often grow.
All Silkies have irresistibly fluffy heads. That’s why we love them so much. Male Silkie chickens grow longer, skinnier feathers which make for a messier looking crown, and they have long streamers sticking out at the back.
Female Silkies have more presentable, tidy top knots made of shorter and neater feathers. A messy head of feathers with sticky-out streamers probably indicates a male.
Don’t use this method to sex soggy chickens though. Female Silkies look exceptionally scraggy when they’re wet.
All Silkies have wattles and combs, but Silkie males do get started a little earlier growing them. In a mixed-gender clutch this can be a good way to hazard a guess at their sex!
Silkie hens have wattles that look like little blue blobs on their cheeks, whereas a male Silkies wattles grow into pale blue or red lobes that hang lower. Male Silkies also start to grow their comb a little earlier than females.
You can see the difference here in my photos:
Male Silkie chicks behave differently from females. They’re typical boys. They’re more likely to square up to each other, sticking their neck out and splaying their feathers.
Here is a video of some silkie hens with a rooster, you can see how they look and behave differently.
Male Silkies are generally larger than females and they grow faster as chicks. This little nugget of knowledge will be little help if you have the one chick, but with a clutch of peeps to compare, the bigger babies may well be the boys.
Most intentionally purchased male Silkies are intended for breeding purposes: they’re a necessary part of the poultry parenting process. Although they are sometimes purchased or homed for other reasons:
Male Silkies are not going to be of any use to you if all you want is eggs for eating, but they can provide flock protection, flock control, pest management, and even make good pets. Male Silkies are also rather fancy chaps so they’re great for showing, too.
Male Silkie chickens are often a surprise for their owners since they’re hard to sex at an early stage. If you weren’t intending to breed or show your birds, then it can leave you pondering what to do with your ‘freeloading’ fluff ball.
I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about people labelling roosters as aggressive in general. Most male chickens are only aggressive if they feel they have to be. From their perspective, they’re being protective and just doing their job!
Male Silkies are very protective of their ladies, and their chicks. They’re on constant alert for signs of danger meaning that hens can relax and forage happily. Your hens will be less vulnerable, better fed, and less stressed in the presence of a security roo.
“Flocks with roosters have a better social order and tend to have happier hens. Roosters will keep order in the flock, forage and locate food for their hens, protect their flock, and even help them to find locations to lay their eggs. While some may select to have a flock without a rooster due to its noise and aggressive behaviour, it is important to note that hens can be just as aggressive. In the absence of a rooster, one of the hens will naturally take on the role of the rooster and the leader of the flock.”
Male Silkie Chickens have quite the appetite. They do a brilliant job at keeping the number of pests on your property minimal. They’ll even point out the nasties they’re too full to finish off to the rest of their flock.
Male Silkies are less aggressive than roosters of most other breeds. Male chickens in general are known to be more aggressive than the hens of their breed, but some breeds are more bolshy than others.
Male Silkie chickens are one of the friendlier breeds of roosters when it comes to cohabiting with humans. You don’t have to look far to find a male Silkie owner who claims they are the soppiest and most affectionate little souls in the yard.
How Soft Are Your Male Silkie Chickens? Do you have friendly fowl or angry birds?
Tell us all about them in the comments!
In the US male bantam Silkies weigh 36oz. The British poultry standard is smaller still, stating that male bantams should weigh 22oz. Large fowl male Silkies weigh 2 – 3 lbs. Males are always expected to be a little larger than females.
Male Silkies stand 10-14 inches tall and are 27 inches in length. They're round and short little chickens!
Silkies aren’t noisy chickens, which makes this breed great if you live in an apartment and are allowed to have chickens. As long they have some space, they can be a great addition to your lifestyle.
However, no chicken is silent!
“Keeping a rooster in a neighborhood where you may have to use methods that prevent or discourage them from expressing natural behaviors like crowing will result in poor welfare for that rooster. Roosters are best kept in areas where the risk of neighborhood complaints due to excessive noise is negligible and they are free to perform all their natural behaviors.” (RSPCA)
Male Silkie chickens are less likely to crow and compete with other roosters than most chicken breeds. When they do pipe up, they even crow a bit oddly. They 'call' rather than 'cock-a-doodle-doo'. Take a listen...
Most male Silkie chickens will have a crack at crowing at around 4 to 5 months, but some will be a little slower off the mark. It really does vary from cockerel to cockerel though, so don’t assume Simon is a Sally just because he hasn’t crowed by the time he’s 6 months old.
Some Silkie roosters crow as early as 2 months, and others are nearly a year old before they get the hang of it.
Unlike other breeds of chicken, Silkies are less likely to crow if you have other mature roosters on-site.
A good ratio is to keep one male Silkie to every three hens. If you’re curious about the capabilities of a Silkie rooster; one male Silkie can fertilize the eggs of up to 12 hens. Impressive!
Try not to keep too few hens with a mature rooster, as they’ll be a little too much for one or two hens to handle.
Male Silkie chickens do fight, but so do females. Once the pecking order is agreed they’ll settle and learn to cohabit happily. Some people take in unwanted male chickens and have all-male flocks.
Male Silkie chickens can mate with hens of any breed, so don’t be surprised if you get some cute and quirky little crossbreed chicks.
Roosters and cocks are the same thing; mature male chickens. Don’t let the lingo fool you.
The term rooster is new and didn’t appear until 1772. Male chickens were previously known as cocks, but when that term developed ruder connotations, it fell out of favor and we started referring to our poultry gents as roosters or roos. A young male chicken under a year old is still called a cockerel.
Healthy male Silkie chickens will live for 7-9 years.
Roosters of all breeds are at risk of death if they mate excessively. Extreme physical exertion can result in sudden death from cardiac arrest.
More commonly the rooster faints and will recover, and it’s usually in very extreme circumstances that procreation proves fatal: we’re talking constant mating for up to 14 hours at a time, or in high temperatures. Some say it’s the main reason for sudden death in cockerels!
If you’re keen to help avoid more unwanted roosters in the chicken world, here are some great tips from The New Hampshire Society of Protection Against Cruelty to Animals:
The sad reality is that male Silkies often find themselves unwanted, and we want to change that! These boys are brilliant if you just give them a chance!
Like any animal in your care, your chickens need you to know what you’re doing. Do you know what diet a male chicken needs to stay healthy? Should you clip their wings? What other breeds can you mix them with?
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