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Silkies are a tame and adaptable breed of chicken. They range in size from large to bantam Silkies. Their extremely soft, almost fur-like plumage, covers their bodies from head to toe like a winter parka. This gives them a unique and lovable appearance. Silkies are also easy to care for. They can adjust to a variety of housing types and situations. It is purely a matter of taste as to what your Silkie housing looks like. You can buy a professionally made chicken coop, create a chicken tractor with scrap lumber or even use a discarded dog or children's playhouse. Any of these options will work for Silkie housing as long as they include a few essential qualities.
Make the coop draft free. Good Silkie housing must have a solid roof and walls. Silkies tolerate heat and cold well, but Silkies' feathers are not like other chickens' feathers. Water will not run off their backs. Your choice of housing must offer your birds a place of protection from rain, wind and too much sun.
Offer fresh air and sunshine. Chickens thrive on foraging in the open. Silkies cannot fly because of their unique feathers. They adapt well to confinement, but they will be happier and healthier if you provide an enclosed chicken run where they can scratch for bugs, seeds and other delicacies. Plan four square feet of run area per bantam Silkie; eight to ten square feet for heavier Silkies.
Provide perches. Chickens like to roost sleeping with their feet off the ground. An old wooden ladder can work for large birds. Use one-inch dowels rods or small tree branches to accommodate bantam Silkies. Place the bottom roost at least two feet off of the ground and do not place roosts immediately above each other. This will help avoid birds pooping on other flock members while roosting. Allow about eight inches of perch per bird.
Offer quiet nesting boxes. All chickens will seek a quiet nest area to lay eggs. Stressed birds will not lay eggs nor remain healthy for long. If you don't provide nesting boxes, your birds will find somewhere to lay eggs--leaving you to search for them or leaving you eggs that have become covered in droppings. Nesting boxes needn't be elaborate. Just three enclosed sides with a roof and bedding is all your Silkies need. Place nesting boxes two feet off the floor of the coop. Bantam Silkies can use 12-inch nesting boxes and larger birds need a larger, 14-inch box. Line nesting boxes with fresh straw. Provide one box per four hens.
Protect your Silkies from predators. Silkies are not aggressive birds. They cannot defend themselves from predators like some other chicken breeds. Good Silkie housing should be fully enclosed. Identify what type of predators you have in your area to ensure adequate protection. Neighborhood dogs and cats can be just as dangerous to your Silkies as hawks, raccoons or foxes. Consider using electrified wire around the bottom of your coop to discourage digging by predators.
Provide clean food and water. Allow one feeder and waterer per 25 chickens. Place them far apart to discourage bullying by dominant birds. Hanging food and water troughs work well and stay cleaner. Be sure they are raised only a few inches off the ground so the littlest Silkie can reach them.
- Courtney Poultry: The Silkie History Time Line
- "Hobby Farms Chicken;" Sue Weaver; 2005
- out post image by Joy Fera from Fotolia.com