Cute and fluffy with a personality to match, it’s no wonder silkies are growing in popularity! There is a myriad of reasons why you should consider this adorable bantam as a pet for a family with young children living in an urban home with a small backyard.
Silkies’ gentle nature and small size, as well as their affinity for human affection, make them great pets for families with young children. Silkies are not aggressive and are easy to tame. They are low maintenance and good egg producers making them the family backyard chicken breed of choice.
There are many things to take into consideration before getting silkies for the kids. We cover everything from behavior traits, how they can benefit the kids and what you need to know before getting them.
Silkies are Great With Children
Silkies are arguably the most cuddly chickens of them all and are commonly used as therapy birds. Holding a sweet silkie is like hugging sunshine with fluffy feathers.
Most silkies will not object to being picked up or held. This being said, as a parent, you should be watchful over younger children that are still learning to handle small animals. For your silkies to continue to tolerate being handled, make sure that the kids are always holding the silkies gently and support them on both sides of their bodies. If silkies are handled in a kind and gentle manner regularly, they will become more willing to be picked up and love hanging around the family even more.
Silkies are known to love following their owners around the garden. They often seem to seek out human attention, or perhaps it’s just because they know where the treats come from? I will probably place my bet on the latter. Giving treats is an excellent way of bonding with silkies and a great pastime for young children. Check out the article on feeding silkies and what treats are safe to give on our website.
It’s hard to resist the cuteness of a fluffy one-day-old silkie. If you are up for it, hatching silkie eggs at home can also be a wonderful learning opportunity for young children. Plus raising silkies from a young age helps them to bond with their owners.
I recently read a wonderful story of a retired chicken farmer that bought a few silkies for his two grandchildren living down the road from them. It was not long before the silkies became magnets for the kids (I’m sure this was all part of grandpa’s scheme) and they could not wait to get back from school to spend time in their granddad’s backyard, tending the silkies and collecting fresh eggs.
Soon the flock started growing and they decided to select a silkie to show at their local fair. The little fella was dirty from a dust bath so they washed and dried it and kept it in a special enclosure to take to the fair the next day. Needless to say, their little silkie won best in the category and they were rewarded with a rosette and the rest is history – the two kiddos are now avid silkie breeders. Their chicken coop is their pride and joy and they are now one of the local go-to’s for anyone wanting to buy silkies.
Silkies Help Teach Kids Important Life Skills
Teaching children to feed and care for a living thing teaches countless invaluable life skills.
Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of looking after our four hens. Tending to another living thing teaches a child responsibility and kindness. Caring for silkies will reap the reward of fresh eggs and I have yet to see a kid who is not beaming after collecting a basket full of eggs from the coop.
The keeping of silkies is also a great opportunity to teach the kids a few things about budgeting and planning. My husband’s dad used to help my husband as a young boy budget to buy feed for his silkies and in turn, will then help him to sell the eggs or chicks in order to buy more feed or new breeding stock.
Silkies are hardy in general but that does not mean they do not get sick and sometimes die. It’s a rather gloomy thought but the truth is: that’s just a part of life and unfortunately, also a part that is rather hard to address. Learning to love something, care for it if it becomes sick, and letting go if the inevitable ends up happening is something all human beings have to go through at some stage in life.
Embrace all the highs and lows that come with owning silkies. I can guarantee you that the highs will by far outweigh the lows! For my husband and me, caring for backyard chickens has played a major role in both our decisions to become veterinarians. I will often think back in wonder at all the amazing things I have learned caring for animals as a young girl and will forever be thankful to my parents for affording me and my brother the opportunity to care for and love all the small fluffies.
Silkies are Hardy but can be Vulnerable
If you feed them correctly, provide them with protection from predators, rain, and extreme temperatures – they will not have much to complain about. Silkies usually live to be about 6 years old but I have come across a 9-year-old silkie before. The average backyard silkie does not have too many health conditions to be concerned about and parasites are rarely a problem.
Most silkies have exuberant head plumage that will obstruct their field of vision. This, in a combination with them being completely flightless, makes them especially vulnerable to predators. If you live in an area with foxes or other predator species, make sure to have a secure coop to keep them in during the dark.
Silkies in Your Backyard
Silkies do Not Need a Lot of Space
Silkie chickens do not need large amounts of space. Smaller birds equal less space needed per bird! Most even small suburban backyards can accommodate a small flock of 5 silkies. As a general rule of thumb, they need roughly 2 square foot per bird in the coop and at least twice as much in free-ranging space.
Silkies can Help to Control Garden Pests
Silkies can help with pest control in your back garden. I would advise keeping them out of the veggie garden because they do love to nibble on greens but they are excellent at helping to control the snails and other common garden critters among your flower and shrub patches. On that note, it is worth mentioning that silkies are far less destructive in a garden compared to most other chicken breeds. They do like to nibble on a few things but will never stray far from their feed tray.
Silkies are not Noisy
Silkies are not nearly as loud as other chicken breeds. This is mainly due to their small size rendering them less capable of producing the decibels the larger breed chickens are able to. If noise is a concern, you may consider keeping hens only as the roosters do crow from time to time. For more information on how noisy silkies can be and tips on keeping them as quiet as possible in suburban areas, check out our article in this regard.
Silkies Need Protection from Rain, Cold and Predators
Silkies can not fly and therefore do not need special fencing to keep them inside your backyard. Their fluffy hair-like feathers make them unable to use their wings to gain air. Compare this to the bar and shaft feathers of other bird species. For this same reason, they also do not cope well with getting wet. Instead of raindrops running down their plumage, they become entirely soaked in wet conditions. For these reasons, make sure you have a coop safe from predators (they can’t fly away to escape) with good coverage in case of rainy weather.
Silkies’ feathery feet become dirty easily. They tend to collect mud on the feathers on their feet when the ground is wet, and snow tends to cause similar problems in this regard.
Silkies are Inexpensive to Keep
Silkies do not need a lot of space, nor a lot of food or high fencing. Your biggest expense will firstly be the coop and from thereon their feed. It’s hard to find another small fluffy pet species that can compete when it comes to the low maintenance, low cost of keeping silkies.
Silkies are The Ideal Family Pets
It’s hard to go wrong with silkies if you are looking into adding a low-maintenance pet to your family home. Just be warned, even if your best intentions are to only keep a few, it’s hard not to let your flock expand! Trust me, your children will make it even harder so just a word of advice: get a chicken coop slightly larger than you think you would need at the beginning! Once you start keeping silkies, there is no going back. I have yet to meet a silkie owner or kid that does not enjoy the company of these fluffy bundles of joy!