White Silkie Chickens - Complete Breed Profile & Photo Gallery

November 05, 2020

White Silkie Chickens - Complete Breed Profile & Photo Gallery

 

The Traditional White: Exploring Silkie Chicken Colors

Are you interested in Silkies? Well, let me tell you, me too. They are among the best family friendly chicken breeds and they are just so adorable to look at. Today, we’ll focus specifically on the white Silkie chicken. It is the most common color variety of the Silkie breed, and they look like little marshmallows running about your yard. 

We all adore Silkies for the same reason. They are cute and cuddly, and make fantastic pets. One of the first things that you might consider when deciding to add Silkies to your backyard flock, is which colors you’d like your Silkies to be. Silkies come in a range of weird and wonderful colors, but all of them are equally beautiful, so it really boils down to personal preference when choosing a color variety.I should know… because I have owned almost every color known to man!

Stick around, because I am going to cover all your pending white silkie chicken questions, from the color of their eggs, to the specifics of the breed appearance, with lots of photos of course! 

white silkie chicken free ranging in the backyard


Silkies are most commonly found in a crisp white tone, but for those of us that like our backyard to be dotted with colorful little cotton balls, the possibilities are near endless. As a collective, we have more than 30 years of experience with these fluffy little bantams of the chicken world, and among us have owned at least one little critter in each color, so we’re well-suited to telling you all you need to know about Silkies and the colors they come in.

Table of Contents

The Traditional White: Exploring Silkie Chicken Colors

Origin and Appearance

White Silkie Breed Standard

Accepted Color Varieties

Breed Standard

The White Silkie

Are White Silkies Albino

What Color Eggs do White Silkies Lay

Keeping White Silkies

Temperament

Nutrition

Housing

 

Origin and Appearance

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.

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 fifth toe extends to the back and is not unlike the dewclaw sometimes seen in dogs. 

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. 

white silkie chicken with fluffy feathers

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 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.

Although early travelers like Marco Polo and Aldrovandi made mention of the unusual quality of the Silkie chicken’s plumage, there were many myths that surrounded the unique feathering once these little chickens made their way to Europe. Stories abounded that the Silkie chicken was the result of crossing a chicken and a rabbit and Silkies were even included in sideshows and labelled bird-mammals. Even though we can definitely see the likeness between the satin-like coat of a rabbit and the fluffy feathers of a Silkie – we can say with absolute certainty that these little chooks are not mammals in the slightest, just a very unique chicken.

white silkie chicken free ranging in the garden

“The first specimens imported to the UK were from India in about 1850. They immediately won hearts with their perennial broodiness and unusual looks. They are more cuddly than most other hens, and so children get on well with them,” states Victoria Roberts, author ofPoultry for Anyone

Yes, the Silkie has fluffy feathers that feel like silk or satin 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. 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!

comparison of silkie chicken feathers versus regular chicken feathers

So, now that we know the general characteristics, let’s take a deeper dive into the white variety.


White Silkie Breed Standard

Accepted Color Varieties

Now, in the chicken world, many people choose to show with their chooks. As with any other competition or sport, there are certain rules, regulations and standards that you’ll have to comply with if you’d like to show your Silkies. One of these is the color varieties of the Silkie. You will only be able to show your Silkies professionally if they adhere to the standard accepted color varieties and the overall breed standards. 

There are eight color varieties that are accepted by the American Poultry Association, namely black, blue, buff, gray, partridge, splash, and white. Although other color varieties exist and you’re free to keep them and cross-breed them for interesting colors, these are the only ones that you’ll be allowed to show with. So, let’s take a look at the breed standards.

color varieties of silkie chickens

 

Breed 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. 

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:

Silkie Chicken Breed Standard

Carriage

Short, stout, compact and lively

Body

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.

Wings

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.

Head

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.

Tail

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.

Neck

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.

Skin

Dark blue-black

Plumage

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. 


amazing facts about white silkie chickens infographic

 

The White Silkie

Although all the color varieties of Silkies should adhere to the general breed standard, there are certain breed standard specifically related to the white Silkie. Let’s take a look at those now:

The plumage of a white Silkie should be snow-white with a lustrous sheen. Light yellow sheen is permissible but any other color in the surface is to be a disqualification should the bird be shown in an official show. 

A white Silkie’s feathers should also be a crisp and brilliant white and have no brassiness and no discernible yellow or orange streaks or marks. Earlobes should be a beautiful shade of bright turquoise blue and the wattles and comb should be black or a dark, mulberry shade - if it's red, it's not a pure-bred Silkie.

white silkie chicken with turquoise earlobes and mulberry comb and wattles

The white in Silkies is recessive and easily lost and corrupted with incorrect breeding selection. White silkie chicks will have yellow fluff when they hatch due to an absence of melanism in the feathers.

Are White Silkies Albino

No, the white Silkies are not albino birds. The white is simply a color variety as any other color would be. If they were albino, they would have blue eyes and possibly pink skin. 

A white Silkie is simply a white variety of the breed and differ in no way to the rest of the breed’s colors, including the eggs they lay.

What Color Eggs do White Silkies Lay

White Silkie chickens lay eggs according to the breed standard. This means that their eggs are off-white, cream or even ivory colored. Silkie eggs are sometimes referred to as tinted and the color of the bird does not influence the eggs they lay. This means that black Silkies or blue Silkies or buff Silkies will all lay the same color eggs as the white Silkie. 

white silkie chicken watching over her eggs in the nesting box

Because Silkies aren’t very prolific layers, you can expect approximately three eggs a week, they do produce very nice eggs with large and deep yellow yolks, firm and small whites, and solid shells.

So, now that we’ve taken a good long look at the white Silkie itself, let’s take a deep-dive into what it takes to keep them.


Keeping White Silkies 

White Silkies are some of the most popular backyard additions, and one of the most common color varieties of the breed. That’s why it’s quite normal for everyone to want one.

white silkie chicken inside the chicken coop


Take a look at thisvideo where some young white Silkie roosters are trying to impress the girls. You’ll be able to hear the crow and see what they look like. Try and discern the boys from the girls!

Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to keep white Silkies as part of your backyard flock.

Temperament

Silkie chickens are one of the most charming and sweet natured breeds you will come across- we are yet to meet a silkie we haven’t fallen completely in love with! 

They are egg-ceptionally friendly, docile and calm, so they make a perfect pet- especially for children. They will happily sit in your little one’s lap without hesitation, snuggling up close and lapping up all the love and attention. 

children playing with white silkie chicken on a little boy's lap

Nutrition

Silkies don’t have special feeding requirements, but it may be a good idea to buy their feed in the crumble form instead of the pelleted form as it will be easier for them to eat and digest as they are a true bantam breed and small by nature.

If you have Silkie chicks, you should feed them a good starter/grower feed for the first 16 – 20 weeks of their life. It is in your best interest to purchase a good quality commercial-grade feed to ensure that your growing babies get all the nutrients they need to develop into healthy adult birds. 

From 20 weeks of age, you can switch your Silkies to a good quality commercial-grade layer crumble feed. You can also place some oyster shell grit in a separate bowl to ensure that they get enough calcium. 

white silkie chicken and jungle fowl eating inside the coop

Silkies, like any other chicken breed, are little vacuum cleaners when it comes to food and they will happily help you get rid of any kitchen scraps you may have. You can feed your chicken children leafy green vegetables, grated carrot, oats, small portions of fruit like watermelon and apple, tomatoes, fresh herbs like parsley, dill, mint and oregano and even weeds from your garden like dandelion, clover and nettles – provided that you haven’t sprayed them with any insecticide or pesticide!

Raw beans and green potato skins are amongst the top no-go foods for any chicken, and Silkies are no different here. These foods are highly toxic even in small amounts, so it is best to keep well away from these altogether. But luckily there are so manydelicious treats that theycan eat!

If you’re interested in taking better care of your chickens, whether they’re Silkies or not, be sure to check out theUltimate Guide to Chicken Health course over on Chickenpedia. We have a comprehensive treat guide and nutrition advice for all chicken keepers!

Housing

Silkie chickens are a popular choice for backyard flocks because their inability to fly makes it difficult for them to escape the confines of a suburban yard. Their docile natures also mean that they adapt fairly well to confinement and will happily strut about a coop all day provided that there is enough room inside for the number of chickens you wish to keep. 

As we’ve discussed earlier, the fluffy plumage of the Silkie chicken isn’t waterproof, so you’re going to have to make sure that your flock has somewhere warm and dry to shelter. The coop should be well-ventilated without being drafty and should offer superior protection from rain as a wet Silkie can easily chill and die and we don’t want you to lose one of your special pets. 

white silkie chicken coop

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. 

white silkie chicken roosting inside the coop

Silkies also have feathered feet and although they keep them fairly clean through preening themselves, this feathering may present problems if you live in a very cold, wet or muddy area. If the feathers on their feet are exposed to snow, the feathers may freeze or accumulate ice and this can lead to frostbitten toes – so make sure your Silkies have somewhere dry to retreat should the weather turn icy. Mud and gunk can also glue up the feathers on their feet and cause discomfort, pain or even infections. It is therefore best to make sure that your run is dry and that you line the coop with proper bedding like pine shavings or dust-free hemp bedding so that their little toes stay clean and dry.

When planning your coop, make sure that your Silkies have 2 – 3 square feet (30 x 30cm – 45 x 45cm) inside the coop per chicken and at least 7 – 8 square feet (1 square meter) in the run per Silkie. Chickens, including Silkies, do better in a flock than when kept on their own and you should get at least 4 – 5 Silkies to start with. If you are allowed to keep roosters in your area, it is wise to remember that you need enough hens for your roosters otherwise the roosters might hurt the hens if there aren’t enough to go around. One rooster will quite happily be the master of up to ten hens and more than one rooster may lead to fighting amongst the boys – so if you’d like a roo to keep your girls company, stick to one unless you have a very large flock or enough space to separate them should problems occur.

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.

silkie chicken coop essentials infographic

Silkies do well in confinement and will happily cluck about in a proper-sized coop and run, but they are excellent foragers and love to explore, so a little bit of free-ranging is highly advisable if you have the space for it. Their small stature and docile natures mean that they cause very little damage to gardens when compared to larger and more aggressive hens, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t chow down on your veggie patch if given the chance!

So, there you have it. The white Silkie is one of the most common color varieties of the Silkie chicken breed, and they make fantastic little pets for anyone looking for a cute, cuddly, and docile chicken to call their own. 

Do you have white Silkies? Show us a picture of your little marshmallows in the comments, we’d love to see them!


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