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Silkies are one of the oldest, most beautiful

and unique breed of bantam chickens

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How to Identify the Gender of Silkie Chickens

Silkie chickens are Bantam-style chickens with fur-like, fluffy feathers. They are mainly a show breed, and are not highly prized for either meat or eggs. Their skin is black, and they are not prolific layers; however, they are excellent mothers and are often used as surrogate mother hens for other farm birds such as quail or guinea hens. They make wonderful pets because of their gentle nature and friendliness. It is very difficult to determine the gender of a Silkie chick, and many owners find it easier to just "wait and see." As the chickens grow older, they will develop qualities that can help differentiate the sexes, but sometimes even those characteristics are not good indicators. A good poultry reference book can be very helpful as it will likely have comparison photos of the different features.

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging


Things You'll Need:

  • A reference book that includes photos of the male and female of the species
  1. 1

    Check the comb. Males generally will have a large comb that will develop faster than the combs on the females. That is not always true, as some birds have tiny combs no matter which gender they are.

  2. 2

    Examine the feathers on the top of the head, called the crest. Females will have a rounded crest, while the male crest will have streamer-type feathers and will look more swept-back. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule, but is a typical characteristic.

  3. 3

    Check the size of the wattle. A wattle is a fold of skin hanging from the neck of the bird. In males the wattle will be more pronounced and slightly rounded. In bearded Silkies this will be hard to do since the wattle is covered by feathers forming a "beard." You can feel the wattle through the feathers with your fingers if necessary.

  4. 4

    Look for spurs on the back of the feet. Males have spurs and females don't. Spurs take a while to develop, so this is not a technique that can be used on younger chickens.

  5. 5

    Listen to your birds. Like all male chickens, Silkie males crow. Females generally do not. However, some hens have been known to crow.

  6. 6

    Examine the feathers on the hackles, saddle and tail. Male feathers in those areas will be more pointed and harder then the usual soft, fluffy down. Females will have rounder, softer tails with no pointed feathers. Again, this is merely a guideline, since some females have been known to have pointed feathers as well.

  7. 7

    Look for eggs. Of course, egg-laying is the most obvious difference between males and females, but it is often so difficult to tell the difference between them that egg-laying may become the only way to differentiate between the sexes.