They have gorgeous black plumage, a friendly disposition, and excellent maternal instincts, but the Black Silkie Chicken breed has so much to offer other than those characteristics.
This chicken variety possesses several unique features, no wonder it’s highly-prized by poultry fanciers.
But behind the glitz and glory of Black Silkies, do you ever wonder about:
- The history of the Black Silkie chicken breed
- How to distinguish this unique breed
- And if this chicken breed is the right one for you?
Well, today, we’re uncovering some fantastic facts about the “lap dog” of the chicken department.
Whether you’re a Black Silkie chicken fan or an aspiring owner of this fancy and elegant breed, this is for you.
History & Background of Black Silkie Chicken Breed
The Black Silkie Chicken breed’s true origin is still unknown.
But its most documented potential origin is China, and its Mandarin name is (烏骨雞) wu gu Ji, which translates to “dark-boned chicken” or “black-boned chicken.”
It’s a high-prized trade item on the Silk Road in China, hence the name Silkie Chickens.
However, rumors say it probably originated in other Asian countries like India and Java (Indonesia).
But what’s most sure is it’s just around Asia since Spanish explorer Marco Polo beheld this beautiful breed during his travels in Asia in the 13th century.
He described the Silkies as a “furry chicken.”
His writing is the earliest written document ever found.
Then in 1598, Ulisse Aldrovandi, an Italian writer and naturalist at the University of Bologna published the first comprehensive account of this breed.
He described Silkies as”wool-bearing chickens” and a breed “clothed with hair similar to a black cat.”
This breed was eventually brought to North America through maritime trade.
And its gorgeous looks easily charmed many Americans.
The American Poultry Association officially recognized it as an official breed in 1874.
Today, this breed is among the most popular and most loved because of its unique appearance and admirable temperament.
In fact, Black Silkies are always present at poultry shows.
If you want to know how they look and how you can distinguish this breed, join us as we detail out the Black Silkie chicken’s standard.
Appearance & Standard of Black Silkie Chicken Breed
To help you clearly distinguish this Silkie variant, here’s a detailed description of the standard Black Silkie chicken.
Black Silkie Chicken’s Color
The standard Black Silkie Chicken has black plumage consistent throughout with bettle sheens to the feathers.
Their eyes are black, and their ear lobes are turquoise, while their beak is slate blue.
On the other hand, Black Silkie Chickens’ comb, face, and wattles’ standard color is mulberry.
Because of their adorable looks, beautiful plumage, and their tendency to sit at their owner’s lap, they were nicknamed “fluff balls” and “lapdogs” in the chicken world.
They have five toes, crests, and feathered feet, making them a unique and fancy breed.
And similar to other Silkies, Black Silkies possess black skin and meat.
It owes its black color to a rare genetic mutation of hyperpigmentation called fibromelanosis.
Therefore, their skin pigment melanin is the one responsible for its deep color.
This pigment is also present in other chicken breeds like Ayam Cemani from Java.
Black Silkie Chicken’s Feather
This Silkie variety possesses unique fluffy black plumage, which looks and feels like fur, thanks to the lack of barbicels in their feathers.
Barbicels refer to the minute hooked filaments that interlink the barbules of a bird’s feathers.
While it looks aesthetically pleasing, there’s a downside to it.
Black Silkies couldn’t fly, making them more prone to predators.
Black Silkie Chicken Size
Silkie chickens in the US and Canada are considered bantams no matter what their size is.
Yet, there are large fowls in the UK.
But to be considered one, the Silkie must weigh around 4lb (64oz) for males and 3lb (48oz) for females.
So, bantams should be around 600g (21oz) for males and approximately 500g (18oz) for females.
Egg Laying & Disposition of Black Silkie Chicken Breed
Black Silkie chickens are broody, and they have excellent maternal instincts.
Silkie hens often co-mother and help each other in raising 20 or more chicks.
They have been raised for that reason.
These responsible and reliable mothers can even rear the offspring of other birds like turkeys, ducks, and pheasants and help hatch the eggs.
They can become broody several times in 1 season.
The downside of this broodiness, though, is they are not prolific egg layers.
It means that they produce fewer and smaller eggs compared with average chicken.
A New Roots Charter High School student in New York named Rosemary Glos, who raised Silkie chickens at their farm since she was 4, said that her two dozen Silkies produce 1 to 3 dozen eggs per week.
Another Silkie owner reported a yield of about three small eggs per week per chicken.
With that average, you can get 120 eggs per year.
It could vary depending on the season, but it’s less compared to other breeds.
Their eggs are small, and their colors range from white to cream or tinted.
Therefore, their black skin and feathering do not affect their eggs.
Silkies start laying in between late December or early January.
Their laying season is earlier than other hens, just in time when the days start getting longer.
If you don’t mind having fewer eggs and want to be stress-free, you can allow her to go broody.
But if you want to want them to break away from this behavior, placing them in a wire-bottomed cage away from the flock might help.
Black Silkie Chicken’s Temperament
This unique breed is generally calm, broody, and docile who can live in confinement.
Black Silkies are social birds who love to sit in their owner’s lap.
Hence they’re called lapdogs in the chicken world, and most kids love them.
However, this docile temperament is what makes them prone to bullying in mixed flocks.
Dominant birds might pick on them, so it would be best to put them with Polish hens with similar characteristics.
Any Common Health Issue of Black Silkie Chicken
Silkies are generally healthy, but this variety is also prone to Marek’s disease.
Most breeders opt to breed their stock for natural immunity, but you can choose to vaccinate them.
However, they can also be susceptible to mites and lice because of their fluffy feathering.
In that case, you’ll need to tend them and trim the feathers around their eyes to help them see better.
The fluff at their rear end also needs occasional trimming for hygiene and breeding purposes.
They need a lot of care, but they can live up to 7 to 9 years when cared for properly.
Is The Black Silkie Chicken Breed the Best Breed For You?
Black Silkies possess all the pros and cons of other types.
Since they’re primarily good-natured and quiet, they are ideal for apartment living.
However, they also need extra TLC like other Silkies.
And if you want a chicken breed that will provide high egg production, Black Silkies aren’t ideal for you.
If you live in a place that is usually wet or muddy, they’re not ideal for such an environment because of their feathering.
These fluffballs can tolerate cold weather fairly but not being wet.
You’ll need to wipe them to dry to prevent hypothermia from occurring.
But if you want a broody hen that can help hatch the eggs of your turkey, duck, and pheasants, they are the breed for you.
Although they can live in confinement, you can still let them free-range since they’re great foragers.
However, you need to ensure that the place where they’ll forage is safe from predators because they couldn’t fly to escape.
They’re also ideal for those who are looking for exhibition and ornamental chickens.
A pair of Black Silkies will make a good starting point for a newbie Silkie owner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Black Silkie chickens have five toes?
Yes, like other Silkies, this variety is also polydactyl, which means they have five toes.
Their extra toe is usually small and causes no problem in their body.
Additionally, they have feathered feet and shanks, which makes them unideal for wet and muddy areas.
Do Black Silkie chickens lay black eggs?
Like other Silkie varieties, Black Silkies lay small white eggs.
Although the deep blue-black feather and meat color is dominant, it has nothing to do with their eggs.
Can Black Silkie chickens fly?
Unfortunately, Black Silkies can’t fly due to their fluffy feathering and split wings.
Split wings occur when their axial feather (the boundary between the primary and secondary feathers) is missing.
As a result, their wings droop, and it prevents Silkies from flying.
Why do Silkies have vaulted skulls?
The vaulted skull is caused by a mutation that makes it look like an opening at the top.
It has a soft spot at the top of its head which makes them vulnerable to attacks.
Sometimes, the hole grows over, but sometimes it doesn’t.
Vaulted skulls often come with more prominent crests, so people usually like them for those reasons.
However, a prominent crest can be a problem because a Black Silkie could die from a hard peck on their chest.
How much feed does a Black Silkie needs?
These Silkies need about ¼ lb of feed per day.
They’ll do well with a 16% layer feed, but it would be best if you could give them fresh greens.
Black Silkies will also enjoy occasional treats as they can make them happy and active.
What is the lifespan of a Black Silkie chicken?
Their lifespan can range from 7 to 9 years, but they need lots of TLC to reach that age.
How much does a Black Silkie chicken cost?
Silkie chickens are usually expensive because they’re a popular choice for raising chicken pets.
The prices vary depending on the quality, but top-quality chicks can cost around $10-15 while hens are anywhere between $25-50.
This renowned chicken breed can be pretty expensive, and they require lots of TLC, but these charming fluff balls can surely brighten up your day.
They’d love to sit in your lap, cuddle with you and follow you around.
Black Silkies may not give you lots of eggs, but their broody nature and maternal instincts make them an excellent addition to your flock.
So, if you can provide a good and safe environment for adorable birds like the Black Silkie chicken breed, then it’s definitely worth considering.