Europeans first heard stories of these marvelous creatures when Marco Polo returned from his travels through Asia in the thirteenth century, a breed with ‘hair like a cat’ in his writings about the Orient. However there is no doubt that the breed is far older. They arrived in the UK from China sometime in the early 1800’s. Since then they have become extremely popular particularly as children’s pets – there is no doubt that their unusual feathering fascinates youngsters. The comb is known as a mulberry or cushion and is almost circular in shape. The male has a slightly spiky crest, while that of the female should be short and neat, resembling a powder puff. Some strains also have a beard. Both males and females have an extra toe at the back of each foot. Also typical of the breed is the blue-black skin colour. The feather have no barbs to hold them together, as found in normal feathers and this explains the fluffy hairlike appearance of the breed. These disunited feathers also mean that this breed is not waterproof and must be rigorously protected from bad weather. The silkie is widely used for crossing with other breeds to produce excellent broodies. The hen’s main ambition in life seems to be motherhood. They make good winter layers, often continuing to lay when other breeds have called a halt.
Key: 1 = low, 5 = high
- Class: Bantam
- Purpose: Exhibition/Ornamental