How to Care for Japan's Silky Chicken (Silkie)

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How to Care for Japan's Silky Chicken (Silkie)
How to Care for Japan's Silky Chicken (Silkie)

The Silkie hen, also known as the silky chicken from Japan, has soft feathers and a docile behavior, making it a perfect species for those who want to get away from the obvious and start breeding exotic birds in the backyard. She doesn't need a chicken coop as big as other species, but the amount of food and water needed is still high. Other than that, the bird is undemanding. As long as it stays clean and healthy, it can live for up to seven years.


Part 1 of 4: Assembling the Chicken Coop

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 1

Step 1. Set up a chicken coop that is at least 20 cm long for each bird in the brood

Silky is a small bird, so it doesn't need as much space as larger species. Still, if you can provide more space, do so to increase the hen's comfort.

  • Order a chicken coop at a joinery or build your own. A good chicken house should have a screen window for ventilation that can be closed on rainy days. He also needs a door to release the chickens into the yard.
  • Set up an area for the hen to roost, nest, and lay eggs, such as a board or bar.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 2

Step 2. Protect the chicken house from predators

Owls, dogs, cats, foxes and rats are some examples of animals that can attack chickens. To keep yours safe, build a strong chicken house.

  • Use a chicken coop screen with a tight weave so that other animals cannot enter.
  • Choose a chicken coop with a solid floor or bury the structure in the ground to keep animals from digging the ground and entering.
  • All windows and openings must be screened. Always keep an eye out for holes or openings on the screen and fix them.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 3

Step 3. Set up a nursery outside the chicken coop

This outdoor space should be fenced so that the silks can scratch and walk around the yard safely during the day. The area should have a cover screen so that birds of prey cannot attack the chickens. Since Silkie doesn't do very well in wet weather, it's better if part of this space has a roof.

The enclosure protects the chickens from predators, as well as preventing them from running away and getting lost

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 4

Step 4. Enclose the outdoor space if you want extensive creation

Prefer to dispense with the nursery and let the silky girl explore a larger space in the backyard? Make a large pen for the chickens, offering as much space as you can.

  • Chickens raised this way tend to have a healthier diet, as they supplement their diet with grasses and insects.
  • Choose a shaded or covered area of ​​the yard so the silks can protect themselves from rain and strong sunlight. You can install a small roof or plant trees.
  • It is still important to cover the space for released birds, as predators can attack them during the day.
  • Even if the chickens are allowed to run free, they need to have a chicken coop to spend the night safe from predators, cold and rain.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 5

Step 5. Place one nest for every four birds

A crate provides the hens with a place to lay their eggs. It is possible to buy a community nest or a crate with dividers for each bird online or at a specialized store. You can also make nests at home.

Place them in a dark, quiet corner of the chicken coop. They should also be close to the ground, as the silk can't fly or jump very high. Another option is to make an on-ramp

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 6

Step 6. Place a 2-inch layer of bedding on the floor of the chicken coop

Wood chips, sawdust or shredded newspaper are excellent options. Cover the floor of the entire chicken coop as well as the nests.

  • The lining helps to insulate the chicken coop and keep the silks warm. In addition, it absorbs excreta, making cleaning easier.
  • Do not use hay as a liner as it can cause breathing problems.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 7

Step 7. Leave birds with a similar temperament together

This species is usually docile, that is, other breeds can intimidate it. Do you want to keep them silky with other chickens? Two options are the Polish chicken and the Garnisé rooster.

As Silkie is docile, it is possible to leave more than one male in the chicken coop. However, if males start fighting, separate them

Part 2 of 4: Feeding the Silks

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 8

Step 1. Include a feeder and a drinker in the chicken coop

Purchase a covered feeder and water cooler to prevent faeces from falling into food and water. Some drinking fountains even come with spouts.

  • Hang the food and water containers about 2 inches from the floor. Chickens need to reach them easily without being able to climb into the bowls.
  • If there is a broody hen or a hen with chicks, put a separate feeder and a drinker just for them. Buy a chick model, which prevents the chicks from drowning.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 9

Step 2. Feed the chickens once a day

The foods that can be offered are: a mix of grains, seeds, corn and mineral supplements. The ideal is to give from 60 g to 90 g for each bird. Buy ready-to-eat chicken feed at pet stores or online.

  • Add enough water to the grains so that they stick together when pressed, a technique that prevents food from sticking to the birds' beaks.
  • If the chick is less than 20 weeks old, buy a starter feed.
  • If you are older than 20 weeks, give a laying hen feed. This product usually contains a calcium supplement.
  • If you want to consume the silk meat, give a ration to broilers six weeks before slaughter.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 10

Step 3. Offer fresh water every day

Fill the drinking fountain with fresh water whenever it is empty. Do not leave the drinking fountain empty during the day, especially when the weather is hot.

In winter, leave the drinking fountain in a protected place so the water doesn't get too cold. Fill it up in the morning

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 11

Step 4. Place a bowl of bird mineral

Because chickens don't have teeth, they need a mineral (also known as grit) to be able to grind their food. Offer a small bowl near the feeder. You can buy mineral grit at pet stores or online.

  • Chickens know how to regulate the amount of mineral they need to consume.
  • Fill the bowl whenever it starts to sink.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 12

Step 5. Provide oyster meal for the silky ones to lay healthy eggs

With a feed for laying hens, it may be that there is no lack of calcium in the diet of the hens. If not, however, add oyster meal to the birds' food, helping them to lay stronger eggs.

Buy the product at pet stores or online

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 13

Step 6. Complement the silky feed with vegetables in winter

In warmer seasons, the chicken can have access to grass, consuming enough vegetables. However, in winter, maybe she doesn't eat enough. Add cabbage, sprouts or Brussels sprouts to the trough.

Part 3 of 4: Keeping Silks Clean

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 14

Step 1. Trim the feathers around the eyes and on the back

Cutting the longer feathers lightly can help the hen to see better and stay clean. Hold the bird with one arm and, with a nail scissors, carefully trim the ends of the longer feathers. Do not cut them too close to the skin as you may injure the bird.

The silky chicken doesn't know how to fly, so it doesn't need to clip its wings

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 15

Step 2. Dry them if they are wet or damp

The famous feathers of this species are not very waterproof. If your silks get wet, dry them with a towel before they return to the warm chicken coop.

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 16

Step 3. Establish a place for the earth baths

Chickens clean themselves naturally with sand or earth baths. Ideally, part of the yard is made of earth. If not possible, place a bowl of earth or sand inside the chicken coop.

If necessary, buy dirt or sand at a building supply store

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 17

Step 4. clean the chicken coop once a week.

A clean chicken house helps keep birds healthy and happy. Weekly, remove soiled bedding and clean the nest and floor with a harmless bird disinfectant. Change the bedding for a fresh one. If there are droppings stuck to the nest box, rub it well.

Do not use common disinfectants as they can irritate the bird's respiratory system. Buy a safe product at pet stores

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 18

Step 5. Collect eggs in the morning

Silky does not lay as many eggs as other chicken species. At best, you can get two to three units a week. Collect them every morning and throw away any cracked or broken eggs. Clean and save the others.

  • You can cook and eat the silk eggs, just like any other.
  • If the hen refuses to leave the nest or becomes aggressive when you approach, it means she is hatching eggs. Leave her alone. You will soon have silky puppies!

Part 4 of 4: Monitoring Common Diseases

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 19

Step 1. Vaccinate the chickens to prevent Marek's disease

It is caused by the herpes virus and is very common in silks. Take the chicks when they are still very young to be vaccinated at the veterinarian, preventing contamination of the group.

  • Many breeders end up spreading the disease by selling contaminated chickens. Assess the bird's provenance before purchasing it.
  • Some of the symptoms of this disease are: gray or deformed eyes, skin lesions and weight loss.
  • Unfortunately, there is no cure. If the bird is diagnosed with Marek's disease, it must be separated from the others forever or sacrificed.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 20

Step 2. Always check chickens for parasites or lice

Once a week, brush the feathers from the silks. Look for black or red dots moving on the skin or feathers. When you notice something, take her to the vet.

  • Other signs of parasites are: restlessness, pecking too much feathers, ruffled or irregular feathers, and skin lesions.
  • Thoroughly clean the hen house if you find something in one of the birds. Use a disinfectant that is safe.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 21

Step 3. Observe the hen's behavior to find out if she is laying fertilized eggs

The hen only hatches eggs that are fertilized. In addition to wanting to isolate herself in another part of the chicken coop, the silky can avoid contact when hatching eggs in order to protect them. She can puff her feathers and cackle loudly if you get too close.

  • After 21 days, place the hen in a separate cage to preserve the eggs until the chicks hatch. Don't forget to give her food and water during this period. Then you can put the chicks back in the henhouse as soon as they hatch.
  • It is possible to hatch eggs in an incubator, but the silk hen is an excellent brooder, as she is not in the habit of abandoning eggs and chicks.
  • Do you have other species of chickens that don't hatch the eggs they lay? Try putting them in the silk nest. She is famous for shocking anything, even stone!


  • The silky hen is a great species to raise as a pet, especially for children.
  • As it does not fly, there is no need for perches.


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