How to take care of silk hens (with pictures)

How to take care of silk hens (with pictures)
How to take care of silk hens (with pictures)

Thanks to its silky plumage and docile demeanor, the Silk hen, also called the Silk Negro, can be an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to raise poultry in their garden. Generally, this breed of hen does not need as large a chicken coop as other breeds, but does need a lot more food and water. Other than that, they are not very demanding. As long as they are clean and healthy, they can live for up to seven years.


Part 1 of 4: setting up the chicken habitat

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 1

Step 1. Set up a chicken coop of at least 1 m for each hen

Since this is a small breed, the Silk Negro does not need as much space as the larger hens. However, if you have the option of offering your loved ones more space, then do so. In this way, they will have more comfort. You need at least 1 m for each hen, it would be best if they have 20 m2 grassland.

  • You can order a chicken coop online or build your own. A good chicken coop should have a mesh window that will provide ventilation and can be closed on rainy days. There must also be a door that will allow them to exit into the yard.
  • Create a place where they can roost and make their nests and lay their eggs. You can set up a bar where they can roost and use hay for the nest.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 2

Step 2. Protect the coop from predators

Owls, hawks, dogs, cats, foxes, and raccoons are some examples of animals that can attack chickens. To protect them, you need to make sure the coop is predator-proof.

  • Use a fine mesh chicken screen (less than 13mm wide) to build the chicken coop to prevent other animals from entering.
  • Make sure the barn floor is sturdy or bury the wire mesh under the barn. This will prevent burrowing animals, such as rats, from digging in to enter.
  • All openings must be screened. Check the coop regularly for holes or gaps.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 3

Step 3. Leave a space outside the chicken coop

This open space, but surrounded by fencing, will allow your hens to roam safely during the day. Make sure the space is covered to prevent hawks from attacking them. Since Silk hens are not comfortable in wet weather, it is best if part of this space has a roof.

In addition, the roof will have the advantage of protecting them from predators and preventing them from escaping and getting lost

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 4

Step 4. Enclose an outdoor space

If you want them to be free, you will have to. In case you don't feel like setting up outdoor space, but still want them to have the opportunity to get some exercise, you can keep them in a fenced yard. You can give them as much space as you want.

  • If you let them roam free, they will generally have a healthier diet, because this way they will supplement their food with insects and herbs.
  • Be sure to cover part of the space to be fenced or make sure it is in the shade so that the free-range hens can protect themselves from the rain and too bright sunlight. For example, you could install a roof or plant trees that will create shade.
  • It is always important to cover the space for the free range hens, as predators can attack them during the day.
  • Even if the hens are allowed to roam free, they will need a chicken coop to spend the night safe from predators, cold and rain.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 5

Step 5. Set up a nest box for four hens

The nest box will give the hens a place to lay their eggs. You can buy one with dividers (or without) for each hen on the Internet or at a pet store.

Place them in a dark, quiet corner of the chicken coop. They should also be close to the ground, as Silk hens cannot fly or jump too high. Another option is to make a ramp for the nest boxes installed higher up

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 6

Step 6. Place a 5-7 cm layer of litter on the floor of the hen house

Wood chips, sawdust, or shredded newspaper are great options. Cover the entire floor of the hen house as well as the nesting boxes.

  • The litter is used to insulate the hen house and keep the hens warm. It will also absorb excrement, which will facilitate cleaning.
  • Do not use hay for bedding, as it can cause breathing problems.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 7

Step 7. Keep them together

You can also keep hens with the same temperament together. This breed of hen is generally docile, which means other breeds can intimidate them. If you still want to keep them with other hens, go for Polish hens and the Peking hen.

Since these hens are docile, it is possible to leave several males in the hen house. However, if the males start to fight, you will need to separate them

Part 2 of 4: feeding the silk hens

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 8

Step 1. Install a feeder and waterer in the barn

Make sure they are covered to prevent droppings from falling into the food and water. There are several types of drinkers you can buy. For example, there are drinkers equipped with nipples that hens can use.

  • Hang feeders and drinkers about 2 to 3 inches from the ground. Hens should be able to easily reach their food and water without climbing on them.
  • If you have a hen that's brooding or has chicks, put another feeder and waterer next to her. Buy a drinker suitable for chicks and capable of preventing them from drowning.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 9

Step 2. Feed them once a day

To feed them, you can give them: a mixture of cereals, seeds, corn and mineral supplements. Ideally, you should at least feed each hen 60g to 90g. You can buy ready-made chicken feed at a pet store or on the Internet.

  • Add just enough water to the cereal so that they can stick together when you go to squeeze them, a technique that will prevent food from sticking to their beaks.
  • If they are less than 20 weeks old, you will need starter foods.
  • If they are over 20 weeks old, feed them a food for laying hens that usually contains calcium supplement.
  • If you plan to breed them for consumption, feed them a high protein feed suitable for broilers six weeks before slaughter.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 10

Step 3. Give them fresh water every day

Fill the drinker with fresh water every time it empties. Do not leave the waterer empty during the day, especially in hot weather.

In winter, bring the waterer in at night and leave it in a protected place so that the water is not too cold or freezing. Fill it in the morning and put it back in the chicken coop

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 11

Step 4. Provide them with a bowl of chippings

It will help them digest their food. As Silk hens do not have teeth, they will need chippings or gravel to be able to digest their food. Place a small bowl of chippings near their feeder. You can buy it at pet stores, on the Internet, or at pet food factories.

  • The hens will themselves regulate the amount of chippings they must consume.
  • Fill the bowl whenever there is no more.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 12

Step 5. Add oyster shells to their diet

This will allow them to lay healthy eggs. With a suitable feed for laying hens, they will not lack calcium. However, if not, add crushed oyster shells to their food. This will help them lay strong eggs.

You can buy crushed oyster shells at a pet store or online

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 13

Step 6. Supplement their diet with green vegetables in winter

During the warmer seasons, the hen can have access to grass and consume enough vegetables. However, in winter, she may not get enough. Put cabbage, kale or Brussels sprouts in the feeder.

Part 3 of 4: keep the bristle hens clean

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 14

Step 1. Trim the feathers around the eyes and behind

By trimming the longest feathers slightly, you will help them see better and keep their bottom clean. With one arm, hold it so that it is still, using a pair of nail scissors, carefully cut off the end of the long feathers. Make sure you don't cut them too close to the skin, otherwise you may injure it.

The Silk Hen cannot fly, so there is no need to cut off the feathers on the wings

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 15

Step 2. Dry them if wet or damp

The famous feathers of this breed of hen are not very waterproof. If your hens are wet, dry them with a towel before putting them in a warm room or chicken coop.

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 16

Step 3. Provide a place for the dust bath

Hens clean themselves naturally with dust baths. Ideally, part of the yard or course should be dirt. If this is not possible, place a bowl with 6 inches of soil or sand inside the coop.

If necessary, purchase dirt or sand from a building supply store

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 17

Step 4. Clean the coop once a week

A clean chicken coop will help keep the hens healthy and happy. Once a week, remove the dirty litter and clean the nest box and floor with a disinfectant safe for chickens. Replace the litter with fresh litter. If there is any droppings stuck to the nest box, dispose of it.

Do not use ordinary disinfectants, as they can irritate the respiratory system of hens. You can buy a safe product from a pet store

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 18

Step 5. Collect the eggs in the morning

This breed of hen does not lay as many eggs as the others. At best, you will be able to get two to three eggs per week. Pick them up every morning. Throw away any that are cracked or split. Clean up and keep the rest.

  • You can cook and eat them, just like you would any chicken egg.
  • If a hen refuses to leave her eggs or becomes aggressive when you approach them, it means that she is brooding. In this case, leave the hen and her eggs alone. Soon you will have Silk chicks!

Part 4 of 4: watch the hens for signs of disease

Care For Silkie Chickens Step 19

Step 1. Get them vaccinated

This will help prevent them from suffering from Marek's disease. This disorder is caused by the herpes virus and is very common in silk hens. Have your chicks vaccinated at a young age by a veterinarian to prevent the spread of disease.

  • Many farmers end up spreading the disease by selling infected hens. Take this into consideration when choosing where to buy your chickens.
  • Symptoms of this disease include: gray or misshapen eyes, skin lesions and weight loss.
  • Unfortunately, this disease is incurable. If your hens have been diagnosed with this condition, you will need to either quarantine them permanently or euthanize them.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 20

Step 2. Review them regularly

This will let you know if they are infested with parasites and lice. Once a week, brush their feathers looking for small black or red spots that move on their skin or feathers. If you see any, take her to the vet.

  • Other signs that show they are infested include: restlessness, excessive feather pecking, ruffled or irregular feathers, and skin damage.
  • If you find anything on any of the hens, clean the coop thoroughly. Use a disinfectant that is safe for chickens.
Care For Silkie Chickens Step 21

Step 3. Check if the eggs are fertilized

A hen can only hatch from fertilized eggs. In addition to wanting to isolate itself in another part of the hen house, the Silk hen can avoid contact when brooding to protect her eggs. She can puff up her feathers and giggle loudly if approached.

  • After 21 days, place the hen in another cage to keep the eggs until the chicks hatch. Remember to feed her and give her water during this time. You can then put the chicks back into the coop as soon as they have hatched.
  • Even if you have the option of hatching the eggs in a brooder, the Silk hen is an excellent brooder, as she is not used to abandoning her eggs or chicks.
  • Do you have other breeds of chickens that do not brood? If so, try feeding a Silk Hen their eggs. These hens are famous for hatching anything, even egg-shaped objects like pebbles!


  • Silk hens are an excellent breed that can be kept as pets, especially for children.
  • Since they do not fly, they do not need perches.

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