This article contains affiliate links, and we may earn a commission at no cost to you if you choose to purchase through these links. I never recommend products that I do not trust or will not advise my veterinary clients and patients to use.
So you might be considering getting these cute fluffies for your backyard, but wondering how much you need to budget for this hobby. We put together your ultimate silkie chicken budget and included a handy table with the costs of everything silkie-related.
The cost of a silkie can vary greatly depending on breeding quality. A ‘show-worthy’ silkie can cost up to $100, but backyard adult silkies will cost around $25. The initial investment will cost about $300-1000 for a coop and a few birds and thereafter ongoing costs are around $7-10 per month per bird.
Before jumping into the fantastic world of Silkie ownership, it is good to have a wallet check. Your silkies will most definitely reward you with years of joy if you can provide them with the best care. Nobody likes unexpected expenses, and you might be surprised to find the total price tag attached to these bantams.
Backyard Silkie Startup Costs, e.g., The Coop and Run
As a general rule, you will need about $200 to buy all the basic requirements to keep silkies in your backyard. The chicken coop will initially be your most significant expense.
Luckily, silkies are easily contained in a backyard with standard fencing as they can not fly (they can jump a maximum of 12 inches – check out our article on silkie feathers to see why). Because of this, they are incredibly vulnerable to predators, and you will at the very least, need to have a secure coop to keep them in at night.
If you buy a ready-made coop, you will be spending anywhere from $200 on Amazon. A great example is the
If you want to go the DIY route, check out this video for a great example of a coop with a run attached. The Only disadvantage to this coop is that it may turn out to be a muddy mess during rainy weather.
Feed will probably be your most expensive ongoing cost. The general feed for silkies is a good quality layer feed. Silkies have different nutritional requirements at different ages. Ideally, you would need to feed them according to their life stage. Have a look at this article we wrote to know what to feed at the different life stages and to check out a few recipes for silkie feed and snacks.
As a general rule, adult silkies need approximately 80g per bird per day. A good quality layer feed costs roughly $60 for 50 lb, so a good ballpark for feed will be $6-7 per bird per month.
It will be good to have an amount saved up for unexpected expenses such as veterinary care and medication. You will be extremely happy you saved up a few dollars for the day your birds get sick. Consulting a vet on a vaccination program tailored to your area will also be extremely helpful to keep preventable diseases from affecting your flock.
A good ballpark figure will be to save up $10 – 50 per month for unexpected veterinary expenses for your silkies.
Which silkies should you buy?
It can be quite daunting when you start shopping for silkies. There is a wide variety of phenotypes available at a wide variety of prices. Many sellers will claim to have show-quality silkies and some will claim to have silkies for sale when it really is a bantam cross that may resemble a silkie.
Pet Silkies vs. Show Silkies
If a chicken is small and has fluffy headgear and boots, it does not necessarily mean that it is a silkie. If your main reason for keeping chickens is as a hobby or as pets, you might not be too bothered by your chicken’s specific genetics, but if you m would like to show your chickens at a fair or would like to sell their offspring, you need to pay careful consideration to the quality of stock that you buy-in.
Show silkies resemble the breed best. Black skin and wattles, fivetoes and feathered legs and feet, and the fine, hair-like feathers are examples of the breed standard characteristics of show silkies. Pet silkies may not conform to one or more of the breed characteristics.
How to Spot a Good Quality Silkie – Things to Look Out for When Shopping for Silkies
You do not have to look too far to find silkies for sale for a wide range of prices, but good quality silkies are a bit harder to come by and generally more expensive.
We can give you a list of all the characteristics of show silkies, but most of these traits are extremely hard to assess in chicks, so have a look at the characteristics of the parent stock if you can.
Silkies should have a short, broad body covered by soft feathers. There should ideally be no hard feathers (feathers that have central barbules). The skin should be black, the ear lobes blue, and the comb and wattles should be blue or purple. Silkies have five toes,and a good feather covering of the feet is ideal. When buying silkie chicks, check forapparent deformities such as splayed leg.
Should I only buy NPIP certified silkie chickens?
The NPIP or National Poultry Improvement Plan is a National-Federal voluntary testing and certification plan in the US that poultry owners can participate in. The certification requires regular testing for Pullorum and Typhoid. Pullorum and typhoid are highly infectious forms of salmonella in chickens that can potentially wipe out an entire flock if contracted. The zoonotic potential of these diseases is low, meaning that the risk that humans can acquire this type of salmonella is extremely low.
Participation in the NPIP is not compulsory and only requires monitoring for these 2 specific diseases, although they do offer monitoring and testing of other common poultry diseases as well. Anyone can breed poultry in their backyard and sell it without the certification, but if you are looking to buy stock, it is strongly advised that you only buy from a producer that carries the certification as introducing new stock to your flock that potentially carries these disease can be detrimental.
What is the Cheapest Way to get Silkies?
Buying fertilized eggs will be the cheapest you can get silkies at around $2 – $8. At this stage, the selling stock is at the lowest cost to the producer. You will need an incubator to hatch the eggs which can cost $50 -$150. It is not uncommon to have a hatching rate of 50 – 60 %, so plan to buy more silkie eggs than you think you will need.
Not all sellers will package eggs well, and not all courier companies will handle eggs appropriately, so more common than not, expect a few cracked or broken eggs. Being transported and exposed to varying temperatures and rough handling can have a massive negative effect on your hatching rate. The best, sure-fire way to avoid this is to buy eggs from a seller in your area and go pick up the eggs yourself. This certainly applies to live birds as well.
The younger the silkie, the lower the cost to the producer is. The downside of buying young silkies is that they are almost impossible to sex up to 8 – 11 weeks. DNA sexing can be done from day one but will cost you around $15 per bird. Some labs offer a discount if you send several samples, for example, more than 10.
Older silkies, around layer age, are at the peak of their value, and pullets and good quality roosters will be most expensive at this age. You are probably looking at around $25 – 55 at this stage.
Many people will sell pairs for a better price as a way to get rid of unwanted roos and will even rehome roosters for free. Keep in mind that rooster comes at a price that might not cost you cash. Roosters will crow (most silkie roosters may be less loud than other roosters – read more in our article on how noisy silkies are for tips to keep your silkies quiet). In addition to this, keep in mind that keeping more than one rooster may lead to some flock politics and potentially fighting among the roosters.
Where to buy silkies
1. Directly from breeders
The best place to locate reputable breeders will be at your local fair. Most silkie owners will love being complimented on the quality of their birds, so make use of that opportunity to contact someone who will probably have good quality birds for sale.
2. Classifieds websites such as eBay, Gumtree, or Craigslist
Many backyard poultry owners, especially in the US report mostly positive experiences ordering anything from eggs to live birds on eBay. The trick is to order from suppliers located no more than 250 miles away.
3. Ordering directly from hatcheries
There is a multitude of large hatcheries all over. Not all hatcheries will sell silkies, though. Hatcheries will be able to ship eggs that you can incubate at home. Some hatcheries also sell day-old chicks. Check out Meyer Hatchery, Mcmurray Hatchery, or My Pet Chicken.
There are many local poultry associations, livestock markets, or stockyards that have regular auctions. Feed stores and co-ops or a search on Google or Facebook should point you in the direction of your local auction.
A search for ‘Silkie Chickens’ will result in a myriad of groups, often location-based, dedicated to the rehoming of silkies. Facebook’s commerce policies prohibit the sale of live animals, but rehoming of livestock is allowed.
Check out Facebook’s commerce policies here if you want to read more. Facebook is a popular place for people to, for example, advertise roosters, who need a new home. You might also be able to contact people who breed good-quality silkies. Look out for brag posts on the silkie-related group. It probably won’t be long before you would also want to show off your gorgeous silkies online!
6. Online forums
Forums such as Back Yard Chickens are a great place to find all kinds of poultry and to connect with other people who might have silkies for sale. You can search according to your area code to find people in your area as well.
Things to look out for when buying silkies
Checklist before ordering stock
Before placing that order, have a look at the checklist below. There is a lot more that needs to be considered when ordering livestock than you might think at first!
Can you view the parent stock? Are they well cared for and good quality birds?
Is the seller located within 250 miles of you? Any further and you may risk receiving less than you paid for as long travel time takes its toll on eggs and live birds.
From what type of climate will the stock come? It is best to avoid massive temperature fluctuations. If you live in a very cold area, it will be best to try and order when the temperature won’t go below freezing.
Is the courier company equipped to handle very delicate parcels? High-speed sorting won’t do a package with fertilized eggs in any favor!
Is the seller NPIP certified? This is an optional requirement but can help prevent the spread of important poultry diseases. If they are, the seller must be able to provide proof.
Does the seller have any reviews? Reviews can say a lot about a seller, so have a read before you place that order!
Watch out for ads saying things like “show quality silkie eggs” or “show quality silkie chicks”. A silkie’s potential for showing can not be evaluated before threemonths of age. Ideally, this should be assessed at 5-6 months. Eggs from champion birds can still yield mediocre silkies. Even if you pair two champion birds, not all of the offspring will be of competitive quality. The best guess as to the quality of chickens you are buying will be whether the parents comply with the breed standards.
The Ultimate Silkie Budget
Use this handy table as a guideline on what all things silkie-related might cost. Feel free to print it out and fill in your specific quantities.
Once-off or seldom costs
$50 – 150
Chick (day-olds are cheaper)
$20 – 50
$10 – 45, heavily dependant on the quality
$25 – 55
$25 – 40
$ 300 – 2000
Coop with caged in run
$ 400 – 2500
$ 15 per bird
Cost per month
Feed per bird per month (average)
$ 5 – 7
Veterinary care per month (average depending on the size of the flock)
$ 10 – 50
Medication and vaccines per bird month (average)
Water per bird per month (average)
Coop maintenance per month (average)
Total once-off costs (coop, run, and stock)
Total ongoing cost per month
I truly hope this guide makes planning and buying everything silkie-related just a tad easier. If you are able to plan to provide your silkies with a good environment, the nutrition and care that they need, as well as how to look out for good quality silkies, they will be able to provide you with many years of happy silkie-ownership!
Dr. Annerien de Villiers graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Pretoria in 2018. She has since worked full-time in clinical practice tending to all kinds of companion animals in general practice. Serving the human-animal bond with care and compassion and making accurate information accessible to pet owners is at the heart of her driving force as a veterinarian.