When adopting new chickens for your farm, you need to know what you’re getting into.
Silkie chickens are great pets and one of the coolest and most unique types of chickens out there.
But do you know how long they live?
The average lifespan of a Silkie chicken is 7-9 years. This is within the normal limits for all chickens. With good care, they can even live for 12-13 years! However, their egg production decreases gradually, starting around 5 years of age and stopping around year 8.
Check out the details and tips on how to help your Silkies stay healthy and productive.
Table of Contents
What Is The Average Silkie Chicken Lifespan?
The average Silkie Chicken normally lives to around 7 to 9 years.
This is pretty standard for all backyard chickens, which typically live between 5 and 10 years.
However, it’s not uncommon for some silky chickens to live up to 12 or 13 years if they have excellent care (that’s a long time for a chicken!).
The major factors for health expectancy include:
- A proper diet
- A stress-free environment with plenty of room to roam around in
- Clean and airy coop
- Top-grade chicken feed
- Clean water
- The presence of other silkies to socialize with
- Excellent health care with a veterinarian who is experienced with chickens
This applies to Silkie roosters too!
Common Silkie Chicken Health Conditions
Silkies, in general, are a healthy breed of small chicken and are not particularly susceptible to many diseases that are common to standard chickens.
That being said, because of their fluffy plumage, silkies have a great propensity to pick up infestations of mites and lice.
Mites are nasty little eight-legged creatures that drink your silkie’s blood.
If you examine your silkie’s fluffy feathers and notice red, brown, or black specks at the base of its feathers, more than likely, it is a case of mite infestation.
Chicken lice are six-legged bugs that can also live in the feathers of your silkies.
Unlike mites, they do not suck their blood but rather live on dead skin.
If you pick a silkie up and ruffle his feathers lightly, you can often see plenty of lice falling away.
Examine your silkies at least once a month and if you notice mites or lice, take action.
This can include dusting the birds with Diatomaceous earth, cleaning the coop and changing the bedding, and giving your birds a chemical treatment prescribed by your vet.
There are a few diseases, such as Marek’s disease, a type of herpes, and water on the brain, a form of infection.
Marek’s disease generally requires euthanizing your birds, but vets can assist with problems with water on the brain.
Vaccination at one day old and again at two weeks can certainly go a long way to preventing Marek’s disease, as well as keeping younger birds and older birds separate.
In addition, silkies have fluffy butts, which tend to attract poo to their butts.
We discuss this more in our section on tips for keeping silkies alive and healthy, but just know that a dirty butt in your silky can lead to a rather nasty condition called flystrike, where flies lay eggs on your silkie’s rear end.
How Long Do Silkie Chickens Lay Eggs?
Silkie chickens are unquestionably slow starters in the egg department.
Don’t expect a baby Silkie chicken laying eggs anytime soon.
Most chicken hens start laying eggs at around 18 weeks of age.
But not so with Silkies.
Typically you can expect your Silkies to not lay eggs until 7 to 9 months after they are born, and it’s not uncommon to see Silkie hens not lay eggs even up to 1 year.
However, don’t fret about the slow production of eggs.
A side benefit of late bloomers in the egg department is that quite commonly, the later your Silky starts laying eggs, the more the likelihood that they will produce a greater overall egg production.
During the first two years after your furry chicken starts laying eggs, typically, they will lay between two and four eggs per week and continue this production for around 2 years.
After that, your silkie will continue to lay eggs, but the overall production will slide as they age.
At a certain point, you will likely notice that your Silky produces fewer eggs per week, or maybe even will skip a week without laying a single egg.
The Silkie chicken eggs will also end up as small eggs at this point too.
By the time your silkie is around 5 years old, their egg production will likely diminish around 50%, and by the time they are 8 years old, if the egg production has not stopped entirely, it may be down to once a month or even once every two months or so.
Silkie chickens, during their prime years, typically lay around 100 to 120 eggs a year, but they are small, typically being only around 1.5 ounces, so you would need several to make a good breakfast.
And in case you were wondering, silkie eggs taste just like regular chicken eggs, although they do have a tendency to produce bigger yolks for their size.
However, besides the bigger yolks, about the only other difference is the color.
The eggs will not be brown but rather may be a pinkish color or your traditional white.
Tips For Keeping Silkie Chickens Alive And Healthy
This section may be a little long, so we’ll break it up into two sections:
- How to organize your silkie’s living space
- Keep your silkies in the best health
The two sections of proper care may overlap somewhat.
To be honest, because of their odd looks, they require a bit more work in the “keeping clean” department and so may not be the best choice or perfect pet for brand new chicken owners.
Still, they’re wonderful mothers and make excellent pets as one of the most docile chicken breeds.
Fun fact: Did you know Silkie chicken breeds have extra toes? They have 5 when most chickens have 4!
Bringing A Silkie Into The House
The first thing we should address is whether or not you should keep your silkies indoors.
After all, they are cuddly, good pets with a docile nature around kids and seem like the ideal, fluffy pet.
Did you know this breed of chicken has black skin?
But there are plenty of reasons why you should not keep your silkies indoors.
First of all, for the people in the home, realize that silkies are just cute chickens and will poop everywhere in your house.
Bring a silky into the house, and your furniture, floors, and carpets will almost certainly be covered in poop.
Also, many people, especially small kids, are allergic to chicken feathers, and bringing your silkie into the house may lead to allergic illnesses.
In addition, silkies, despite being cute, are smelly animals. So, if you want to avoid your home smelling like a barnyard, raise your silkies outside.
In addition, trying to raise silkies inside is not good for them either.
Silkies, first of all, need Vitamin D to be healthy, and they obtain that vitamin D from sunlight.
In addition, silkies need plenty of exercise.
They love to play in the grass and interact with other silkies.
They are social animals and will become quite unhappy living without interaction with other silkies.
So they won’t really be happy living in the house.
Besides that, your home is not an ideal environment for silkies as they are prevented from expressing their natural urges, such as scratching the ground and foraging for bugs.
Also, realize that silkies, like all chickens, have no teeth.
To digest food, they store food in their gizzards, and in nature, they will ingest small pebbles to help them grind down their food.
Where are they going to get pebbles indoors?
Provide The Basics
First, provide your silkies with a well-constructed chicken coop.
It can be a manufactured one or one you build yourself, but make sure that sure your silkies do not get wet.
They can tolerate heat and cold climates quite well, but water does not roll off a silkie like a duck.
You want your chicken coop to protect your silkies from rain, the wind, and too much sun.
Next, provide your silkies with a protected, fenced area, and give them plenty of running room (or even let them free range), of around 12′ to as much as 30′ square feet per silkie, with the latter referring to larger silkies.
Your silkies will naturally desire space to scratch for bugs, seeds, and other delectable treats.
Also, provide perches for your silkies, as they do not like to sleep on the ground.
Next, provide your hens with nesting boxes with straw liners to give your birds a quiet, stress-free place to lay their eggs.
A heat lamp may be needed if these get too cold.
Finally, be sure your silkies get plenty of fresh food, notably a mash made of bran, grated apple, carrot mixed with meat meal, and occasionally a little vegetable oil.
Also, add vegetables and bread as table scraps.
As to water, silkies need fresh water changed every day, but make sure the water is lukewarm.
Never give your silkies cold water, even when it is hot. Your silkies can become chilled and die.
Use a no-drowned waterer designed for small chicks and bantams.
When adding new silkie chicks to the mix, some people like to add small marbles to the water bottle.
Somehow, the light from the marbles attracts the chicks and reminds them where water is to be found.
We’ve already covered that silkies are generally healthy, fairly healthy, with a few exceptions such as mites and lice.
As to health, providing your silkies with a great coop, ensuring they have room to root about, and being sure they are fenced and protected from predators and have great food and water are the main essentials of keeping your birds healthy.
Make sure they have an opportunity to engage in a dust bath often, and most problems such as mites and lice will be prevented.
And if your birds get overly dirty, give them a simple rinse and then pat them dry, and that will do the trick.
This is particularly important to avoid flystrike problems.
Quite naturally, you want to consult a vet at first sight of your birds being listless or acting odd, but one of the best tips is to ask the vet how you can inspect and evaluate your silkies yourself.
Then, be sure an inspect each one at least once a month.
By learning the warning signs of diseases and pests in your silkies, you can generally nip the problem immediately in the bud.
Silkies can be a joy to own as long as you are using common sense.
Also, be sure and teach your younger children that silkies, despite their level of cuteness, are not really pets, and so they need to be particularly careful around them, and after handling them, to be sure and wash their hands.
Learn the needs of your silkies, and you will reap the rewards.