The Fascinating Features Of Silkie Chickens

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

29 December 2014


When people think of backyard chickens, most will conjure up images of brown feathers, stick legs with a lovely little red crescent perched atop their head- quite the standard farmyard animal.

However if this is the case, it is very likely that they have not come across the most marvellous chicken breed of all- silkie chickens.

Silkie chickens really are in a league of their own when it comes to appearance- you won’t find another breed nor animal that can compare to their ‘pom pom’ presentation- silkie chickens sure do have style in spades!

Of course, who could forget to mention their sweet and gentle temperament? Unlike some chickens that can be quite skittish and flighty around us humans, silkie chickens are very at ease and fond of human interaction, they really come into their own with a little love and attention. They will sit in your lap and be happily petted like a lap kitty, and follow you around the yard like a loyal dog- really giving you the best of both worlds with their perfect personality.

But if you can look past silkie chickens quite bizarre, yet beautiful appearance, you will soon learn they have a number of quite fascinating features that make them truly unique, and of course a wonderful addition to your bustling backyard flock!

Sensational Skin

Forget plain old boring skin, silkie chickens like to stand out from the rest, so they thought they would give having black skin a go- one of only a very few rare chicken breeds that possess this trait. Their beautiful dark skin, unlike most chickens yellow skin, helps to enhance their already brilliant coloured feathers, making silkie chickens quite the catch indeed.

One downside to this unique skin colouring is that they are often considered a popular delicacy in some Asian countries. However we wouldn’t dream of our silkie chickens in that way!

Combs! Wattles! What Fun!


This dark trait of silkie chickens is also transferred to their comb and wattles which are both a dark, almost purple shade known as mulberry. This can often make them difficult to see against their similar coloured shade of skin, but makes them aesthetically pleasing all the same.

You will find that silkie chickens have a ‘walnut’ shaped comb- which gets its name from its walnut shell like figure. This style comb has been derived from two dominant alleles for the rose and pea combs, and has found itself atop silkie chickens head! Unfortunately, some silkie chickens, mainly hatchery birds, will have badly shaped combs. However this should not put you off, as not matter their comb size, figure or colour- silkie chickens will be a delightful pet regardless!

Some especially lucky silkie chickens have been blessed with vibrant turquoise coloured earlobes- sure to grab the attention of anyone who lays eyes on this beautiful breed.

Four Toes? Try Five!

Humans may most commonly have five toes, but generally chickens only have four. Silkie chickens- bless them, do like to do things a little differently and like humans have five toes adorning each foot.

There is no real reasoning behind why silkies have five toes or what this means for them, just another quirk that makes them truly individual in the chicken breed world!

Like with their combs, some silkie chickens may only have four toes, fused or partial toes as their gene is often confused and it is quite difficult for breeders to get the strain for five toes juuuust right.

Luckily, this doesn’t affect silkie chickens in any way, and they are lovable whether they have five, ten or no toes!

How Very Wise!

Silkie Chickens come in two varieties- bearded and non-bearded, and yes, this is exactly as it sounds. The bearded variety will have a prominent tuft of feathers found on their chin, adding to their profuse plumage, whereas those silkie chickens that are unbearded are a little more ‘naked’ in this area.

Whether you like your silkie chickens wise and bearded, or more clean cut (definitely a stretch considering the rest of their do), it really is personal preference of the breeder who is raising them.

We personally like our silkies bearded- just can’t get enough of those funky feathers and the more the better we say!

Haute Couture Hair

As first mentioned, silkie chickens are a stand out in the chicken world first and foremost because of their fantastic feathering, and this is definitely our favourite feature of theirs, so it seemed fitting to go into a little more detail.

What creates a silkie chickens fluffy appearance is due to their feathers lacking barbicels that traditionally keep feathers smooth and neat. So because they are lacking these, their feathers whisp and curl which make them such a striking sight!


Their plumage is so prominent that silkie chickens even have profuse feathering on their feet! While we find this very cute indeed, it does mean they do require a little bit of extra maintenance with cleaning should they should be gallivanting about in a muddy area.

Silkie chickens are fashionable little fellows and come in several different feather patterns besides their regular block colours of white, black, grey and brown. Some fabulous feather variations of silkie chickens include cuckoos, partridge and splash- each are equally exquisite.

For those that are looking to add even more ‘pizzazz’ to already quite funky looking silkie, they can be temporarily coloured using food colouring, making them quite the sight indeed! (do a quick google search and you will see what we mean…)

If this idea takes your fancy, just be sure to use food-safe colourings. Doing this doesn’t hurt nor harm silkie chickens in any way- we wouldn’t preach it if this were the case!

So if you are currently in the market for a new pet that will be the family’s best friend, will look simply stunning parading around the back garden, and of course assist with your eggs benedict addiction- then adding a few silkie chickens to your plethora of pets is a wonderful investment!

It won’t be long before your silkie chickens will be taking over Cheeky the chihuahuas place on the bottom of your bed! Or, if a free ranging backyard chicken is more your style, then they’ll take pride of place in a Taj Mahal, Penthouse or Mansion - perfect for these fluffy, feathered friends.

Sources and further reading

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