Silkies are truly some of the most special little creatures on this planet. I should know, I have hatched and raised Silkies myself, and between the members of our team we have over 20 years of experience with them!
In this article I will explain to you in detail their personality and temperament, I’ve also made a comparison chart for you showing the egg yield, size, color, temperament, and characteristics of some of the smallest hens in the world! If you’re like me and intrigued by the Silkie, then knowing a little more about other similar tiny breeds is just the cherry on the top (I’m a bit obsessed with tiny chickens)!
I will also give you the fast facts about their eggs, healthcare, and for those really keen on where these little guys came from, stick around and I’ll tell you about where they originated and most importantly explain how to tell if you are looking for a true Silkie bantam breed from the standards guide.
In This Article
So, no need for you to look any further I have everything you need to know right here! So, let’s jump right into the nitty-gritty of these bantam beauties.
A Silkie’s fluffy feathers, quirky personality, friendly nature and oddball looks make them favorites in backyards across the US, UK and Australia. They are fairly low maintenance pets and make fantastic family additions.
The Silkie is a true bantam, which means that they used to have no large counterpart. However, nowadays you will find large fowl Silkies in some parts of the world, but not all. Mostly, they are characterized by their diminutive size and fluffy, silken feathers.
Silkies are considered a bantam breed, but this varies between countries and there are even countries where the breed standards officially class them as large fowl.
In the US only bantams are recognized, and there are very few that grow to be larger than the accepted bantam size. In other countries, different weights and standards apply. For example, almost all North American strains of the breed are bantams, but in Europe the large fowl variety is considered the accepted original size. However, even if your Silkies are considered standard-sized, they will still be fairly small, with the roosters clocking in at only four pounds (1.8 kg), and hens at three pounds (1.36 kg).
The American Standard of Perfection states that roosters should only weigh a maximum of 36 ounces (1 kg), and that hens should max out at a meagre 32 ounces (910 grams). This is VERY small, even compared to other small breeds of chicken and may be one of the biggest reasons why people choose to keep Silkies. Who can resist a miniature chicken that looks and feels like a kitten? Nobody. That’s who.
It is important to note here that all Silkies began as bantams. The large fowl variety were bred up from the bantam and in many cases, if your Silkie grows to be the size of an average chicken, it is not considered a true Silkie.
However, regardless of whether or not they are a true Silkie, we are sure you’ll love these little chickens. Let’s take a look at why they make such amazing additions to your flock.
When you think of an ideal pet, Silkie Bantams definitely come to mind instantly and there are a few reasons why we absolutely adore this little chicken:
So, yes, of course we may be biased, but we adore Silkies. However, they are not the smallest of all the chickens! Yes! There are some that are even smaller – let’s take a look at some other details regarding the littlest of the lot!
The Silkie Bantam chicken is, of course, a chicken, and as such they do lay eggs - although not a whole lot! Although the Silkie is not one of your most prolific layers, you can expect approximately three, small, white eggs per week per hen. However, for what they lack in the egg laying department they make up for in spades when it comes to their broody natures.
A Silkie hen will happily hatch her own eggs for you, and any other eggs she can find! If you have other chickens who won’t go broody - a Silkie is your best bet at getting those eggs turned into chicks!
So, are Silkies the littlest of the lot? Do you get chickens that are smaller than this tiny, true bantam?
Actually, you do!
Although they are very, very small in size, Silkies aren’t the littlest of the lot. But, that doesn’t make them any less desirable. If you’re looking for a miniature chicken, a Silkie is a good bet as they make fantastic pets due to their friendly nature and docile disposition. However, there are very many true bantam varieties that are equally little.
So, now that we’ve taken a look at all the beautiful bantams that exist, let’s round it all up for you in a handy little chart so that you can see the difference in these mini chickens at a glance:
These are just some of the beautiful bantams that exist today, and they all have their own unique qualities that make them special. Look at this list for a comprehensive overview of all the true bantams that you may find.
However, if you’d like to take a look at more chicken breeds that exist, including some weird and wonderful ones, be sure to head on over to Chickenpedia and take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Breeds course – you’ll learn all there is to know about chicken breeds from A to Z!
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know about the smallest bantams available, let’s take a look at what they look like in detail.
Silkie Bantams are some of the cutest little creatures on this planet - and what’s more, they come in a variety of different colors!
Silkies look vastly different to any other breed of chicken and this is due to a fair number of oddities, of which only one is the characteristically fluffy feathers.
Yes, the Silkie has fluffy feathers that feel like silk or satin when touched. But they are feathers. 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!
Silkies have a rounded appearance and are small, short and stocky. Most elements of the Silkie chook will also be round. The head of a Silkie chicken should be covered in a round tufted crest, almost like a pom-pom, with a small rounded comb that looks similar to a walnut. The comb and wattles of a Silkie can range from black to mulberry in color and their earlobes are either bright turquoise or mulberry – the former being the preferred coloring. Their eyes should be brilliant black, small and round.
The Silkie Bantam comes in seven standard colors that are accepted by show poultry organisations across the world and this includes white, black, buff, grey, blue, partridge, and splash. There are other color variations including lavender, cuckoo, and red, but these won’t be show-quality birds.
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 not intimidating, cute and quite happy with youngsters. Ours love to follow our children around, chirping for treats.
By now you must be itching to add one of these friendly fluffs to your flock. However, just for interest’s sake, let’s take a look at all the wonderful small chickens from across the world (as I’ve said, I’m obsessed with small chickens, so just bear with me).
Here is our list of five of the smallest chickens in the world, from smallest to tallest:
Serama Bantams are often referred to as the smallest chickens in the world. They are very small, compact chickens and their wings hang lower than their bodies – which gives them the appearance of being little show-offs, and they’re beautiful enough to back it up!
They do come in many colors, but white is the only officially recognized and most common color variety.
Like the Silkie, the Serama bantam is calm and friendly and even their roosters aren’t too boisterous. They are easy to handle and make excellent family pets.
Their eggs may be small, but they are very prolific layers and will yield up to four eggs per week! Now, that’s a hard-working little girl!
The Sebright is one of the smallest chickens that exist today. It is an old breed dating back to the sixteenth century and it is also a true bantam, like the Silkie.
The Sebright will definitely win any modeling contest with their stunning laced feathers. They almost look like little statuettes of chickens instead of real-live birds, and that is why they are such a popular ornamental pet and often kept as show chickens.
Unlike some other exotic and ornamental chickens, the Sebright is fairly low maintenance and they have a docile and friendly disposition, which makes them excellent pets and good for families with small children. They also have a rose comb and no feathering on their feet, which makes them ideal for colder climates.
Although they are not a prolific layer, they will yield more eggs than the Silkie, maxing out at about 160 very small, white eggs per year.
The Booted Bantam is a very small chicken, a true bantam like our beloved Silkie and one of the oldest and rarest true bantams in the world.
Like the Silkie, the Booted Bantam has long and distinctive feathers that cover its hocks and feet, which is how it got its Dutch name: Sabelpoot.
Booted Bantams are very similar to Silkies in numerous ways. They are a true bantam; they are small and compact and make fantastic pets. They are also exceptional momma hens, so will make good broodies and raise many cute little chicks for you if given the chance.
Unlike the Silkie, the Booted Bantam is quite a prolific egg layer, but on the downside, they can be susceptible to disease and are quite sensitive to climate fluctuations, so they may be a better choice for someone that has more experience in chicken keeping and less ideal for a backyard flock beginner.
But there is no denying their beauty. The feathers of the Booted Bantam are often barred or speckled, giving them a colorful appearance that really catches the eye!
Belgian d’Uccle’s are very cute little chickens and sometimes referred to as the Mille Fleur, which is simply the most common color variant in which this chicken breed is found. The distinctive characteristic of the Belgian d’Uccle is the full beard and muff, which gives them the appearance of having a very large head.
Like the Silkie, the Belgian d’Uccle has feathered feet, but they look more similar to the Booted Bantam, especially because of their speckled or barred coloring.
They are also similar to Silkies in that they are fairly poor egg layers, only yielding approximately 100 small eggs per year, and they go broody quite easily.
A Belgian d’Uccle rooster displaying similar characteristics to the Booted Bantam, but sporting the uniquely characteristic beard and muff of the Belgian d’Uccle breed.
Silkies are some of the larger bantam varieties, but they are still very small and their uniquely fluffy feathers sets them apart from the rest.
Silkie chickens are known for their characteristically fluffy plumage said to feel silk- or satin-like to the touch. They are also unusual in the sense that they have black skin, blue earlobes, extra toes and an inability to fly.
A cheeky little head-turner, Silkie chickens delight their owners with their cute looks, friendly disposition, docile nature and adaptability.
Silkies have a rounded appearance and are small, short and stocky. Most elements of the Silkie chook will also be round. The head of a Silkie chicken should be covered in a round tufted crest, almost like a pom-pom, with a small rounded comb that looks similar to a walnut.
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.
Do you have Silkies? Give them a measure and a weigh and send us their stats! We’d love to see how the bantams of our readers compare from around the world!
Silkies are a popular choice for a backyard flock and they make highly fashionable pets, but unfortunately, they are notoriously poor layers! Your Silkie girls will provide you with approximately 100 – 120 eggs small, white per year.
This video details the introduction of a Silkie bantam at an official poultry show – check it out to see what they SHOULD look like.
So yes, Silkies aren’t the best choice for someone wanting basketfuls of eggs, but if you keep at least five hens, your girls will provide you with a handful of adorable eggs that are perfectly edible every week.
Raising a small or bantam breed of chicken is no different than if you were raising another type of chicken.
However, there are some considerations you will need to make regarding their size in order to successfully raise Silkies as they do have some specific requirements.
Bantam chickens need about a third of the coop and run space as full-sized breeds – but remember, the more space will never hurt. Silkies need extra protection from the elements as they aren’t waterproof, which means that they should never be allowed to get wet. If your Silkies get wet, they can easily catch a chill and die as they don’t have the waterproof feathers many other chooks are blessed with. Additionally, because their bodies are so small, it makes it difficult for them to stay warm, so provide your Silkie bantams with an adequate coop free from drafts and leaks. It is a good idea to perform a seasonal check on your coop to make sure that it is still a safe, warm and dry space for your Silkies to call home.
Silkies also have feathered feet, which means that they can suffer from leg and foot damage if these feathers get sullied, wet or muddy. It is important to routinely check on your Silkies’ feet to make sure that their feathers are still in a pristine condition. Silkies will generally do a good job of keeping their own feet clean, but you can help by making sure that their coop and run areas are as mud-free as possible and that their living space is kitted out with clean and dry bedding at all times.
Their fluffy feathers also mean that they can’t fly, so the roosts should be low enough for your Silkies to hop up and down from without hurting themselves.
Although Silkies are poor layers, they make excellent mothers and are notoriously broody birds, so it is a good idea to equip their coop with nesting boxes that are safe and inviting for these motherly little birds. One nesting box will be sufficient for 3 – 4 Silkie hens as they don’t mind sharing and it will make collecting your sweet little white eggs an easy task.
Silkies also have notoriously poor eyesight due to their powder puff crest of fluffy feathers that usually completely obscure their eyes from view. This makes them susceptible to predators and can make them skittish. If you are worried that your fluffy chickens are having trouble seeing their surroundings, you can gently trim the fluff around their eyes to better their view. If you are going to be showing your Silkies though, it is a better idea to use a soft hair tie or clip to tie the plumage back instead of trimming it down, as damage to the feathers will hamper the bird’s show quality.
Overall, Silkie Bantams are hardy little birds, and don’t present too many health issues. However, their fluffy and dense feathering can be an invitation for lice and mites, so be sure to keep up to date with your health checks!
Should your Silkie Bantams suffer from a lice or mite infestation, it would be pretty easy to spot. Simply lift their wings and inspect their skin and the feathers close to it. Lice and mites will lay eggs near the roots of the feathers and you may even see these pests scurrying across your beloved pets. If you suffer from an infestation, simply dust your chickens gently with Diatomaceous Earth and remove them from the coop. Deep clean the coop and santise all areas, waterers, feeders and dust baths, dusting with Diatomaceous Earth as you go. Add Diatomaceous Earth and wood ash to your chooks’ clean dust baths, pop some Apple Cider Vinegar in their water for a health boost, and feed them some extra mealworms to make up for lost protein. And you’ll be good to go! Just remember to repeat this process after ten days so that any new lice or mite eggs that may have hatched will be eradicated as well.
The origin of the Silkie chicken can be traced back to Asia and the early thirteenth century. It is now generally accepted that the Silkie originated in Eastern Asia where it was known to have existed in China some 1000 years ago. There was probably also some Japanese influence in the development of the breed particularly with regard to the soft feathers. During the sixteenth and seventeenth century the Silkie Bantam was brought to Europe and it reached the British Isles towards the middle of the nineteenth century. Here it was developed further using strains with stronger feathers but still having the silky and fluffy appearance.
Well, if you’re looking for a small chicken, then by looking at the Silkie Bantam you’re definitely headed in the right direction. Although they aren’t the smallest chicken in the world, they’re definitely among the smallest available.
A Silkie Bantam is the right choice for someone not too fussed about getting baskets of eggs, and looking for a small, docile, and family-friendly breed. Although they won’t offer lots of eggs, the Silkie Bantam is also a good choice for those looking for a broody mother hen to help hatch out other poultry eggs.
Although Silkies are definitely not the smallest bantam that exist in the poultry world, they are some of the cutest little creatures on this planet. Their characteristically fluffy feathers and sweet disposition makes them highly popular pets and we believe that if you’re looking for a true bantam breed to join your family – the Silkie will not disappoint!
Do you have Silkies in your flock? Post a photo below – we love seeing the fluffy bantams of our readers!
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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