Questions Regarding Silkie Chicks & Hens

I have been asked some questions relating to silkie chicks and hens. I don’t have silkie hens myself although a friend has some and they hatched some of my guinea fowl eggs and looked after the keets brilliantly so I know they make great mums!

Dear friends,
Hope you are doing good with your pets ūüôā

I want to raise a pair of silky chicks. So please share your precious knowledge with me about silkies. Adult Silkies are very expensive so i’ve decided to raise chicks.
My few questions are:

  1. Once they are adult will they hatch their own eggs or will I have to buy an incubator?
  2. If they will hatch their own eggs will I still have to keep the new born chicks in a brooder?
  3. Can silky chicks be identified as male and female?
  4. At what age silkies will not be attacked by cats?
  5. When is good weather to start raising chicks? Currently it’s very cold in Pakistan. Should I wait for summer?

regards,
Ahmed

Here is my response to Ahmed:

Hi Ahmed,
Silkies are said to be good at going broody and incubating their own eggs. I don’t have silkie hens myself although a friend has some and they hatched some of my guinea fowl eggs and looked after the keets brilliantly so I know they make great mums!

If they hatch their own eggs then they should look after their chicks. You would only need to make yourself a brooder if the chicks were not accepted by the mother hen or were not well.
I am not sure about gender identification in silkie chicks, I will do some research into this. (Dear readers, if you know about this then please let us know.)
Silkies would need to be adult size before cats are not likely to be a threat.
I would start to raise the chicks in Spring/Summer just like we do here in the UK.

Let us know how you get on.
Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends

Do you have experience of keeping Silkies and raising silkies from chicks? If so then we would love to hear your comments.

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What Causes Curled Toes In Poultry?

I have been asked what cause curled toes in poultry and waterfowl chicks.

Curled toes is when the chick, keet or duckling is born with toes or feet that are curled up.

This can be caused by a number of things:

  • Curled feet can be genetic and due to inbreeding. It’s only safe to breed ducks down by three generations, thne new stock needs to be introduced.
  • It can be due to poor nutrition and a vitamin (riboflavin) defiency in the breeding stock.
  • It can also be due to infra red light in the brooder.
  • Conditions in the incubator can also lead to problems – bacteria in the incubator can lead to hatching problems and if bacteria has gone through the shell then it can effect the keet, duckling or chick.

A useful book for a poultry, game and waterfowl keepers is the book Poultry & Waterfowl Problems By Michael Roberts.

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Tips If You Have Splayed Legged Chicks

I received a couple of tips if your chicks have splayed legs that I thought would be useful to share.

  • “Its my opinion from many years of hatching, that getting the splayed (spraddled) legged chick on 1/8 inch wire as soon as possible will correct most chicks with this defect. Keith”
  • “My wife has cured splayed legs in quail and chicken by tying the legs together with soft yarn. Like a pair of handcuffs a loop arond each leg just above the feet then joined in the middle. Tie the legs so they are parallel to each other.Not an easy task, but worth the effort.¬† We have had good results after only five days. The sooner you do this after the hatch the quicker the result. Trevor”
  • “Easiest thing to use is elastoplast. The normal finger ones with the lint in the centre are best. Just trim into thin strips and shorten a bit then apply between the hock and the feet. The centre lint is just the right length. You should only need to leave this on for a couple of days. Sallie” http://farmingfriends.com/splayed-legs-in-guinea-fowl-keets/
  • “If the method from poultryhelp.com is used to correct this problem using bandaids, rubber bands or pipe cleaners as a type of brace, the splayed legged chick should be quarantined to prevent other healthy chicks from pecking the brace. Keith”
  • “Always make sure new chicks have a non slip surface to stand on. Newspaper is too slippery. Towelling is ideal. Trevor” http://farmingfriends.com/litter-suitable-for-brooders/
  • “Splayed legs are typically caused by staying a little too long in the egg at hatching although other incubation problems can cause this to occur. Keith”

If you keep poultry or are interested in keeping poultry then visit the farmingfriends forum for the latest chat.

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Brooder Litter For Chicks, Ducklings and Keets

I have received this tip and advice about litter for a brooder.

“The safest, most comfortable ,most hygienic, most chick friendly and cheapest litter for a brooder is clean chopped straw. All you need is a small bale of straw and your lawnmower (with it’s collection bag on if possible). Lay straw on a clean,dry floor and just mow it with up .It could not be easier ,by the way store in a dry bag / place. One square bale of straw will give you and the chicks a lotta pleasure. If you do’nt have a mower, get out the scissors ( get help from a adult please), you will chop a lot of straw in 4/5 minutes. For easier and quicker cleaning of brooder etc ,lay a few sheets of newspaper or cardboard on the bare floor followed by about a half inch of your chopped straw, add some more straw to this every few days,making sure that the chicks feet are always clean.Just roll up and replace when as required. Also for the first 3 to 4 days the chicks are in the brooder place a long single strip of cardboard 6 inches high around the inside of the brooder,rounding the corners, it stops them bunching and smothering.”

Thanks Stephen for this tip.

A litter material is placed on the floor in the brooder to help insulate the floor for the birds comfort and to absorb moisture. Litter also helps control disease and can prevent splayed legs which chicks and keets can easily suffer from if the correct flooring is not provided.

Suitable litter materials include;

  • Wood shavings.
  • ground corncobs.
  • Sawdust.
  • Sugarcane.
  • Rice hulls.
  • Finely chopped straw.
  • Wheat straw.

Whichever litter material is chosen it must be clean, fresh, not mouldy and 2-8 inches or 5-20cms deep.

Unsuitable litter materials include;

  • Newspaper.
  • Paper.
  • Metal.
  • Plastic.
  • Lino.
  • Wood.
  • Ordinary cardboard.
  • Any slippery surface.

Cloth, carpet or corrugated cardboard may be used as a flooring in a small homemade brooder as these surfaces can provide traction for the keets to get a grip on and not slip.

I have successfully reared guinea fowl keets, ducklings and quail chicks on carpet and straw.

If you keep poultry or are interested in keeping poultry then visit the farmingfriends forum for the latest chat.

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Day Old Quail Chicks In Brooder

At Monday tea-time the quail chicks were moved from the incubator to the brooder.

29 Day Old Quail Chicks In Brooder

29 Day Old Quail Chicks In Brooder

There are 29 quail chicks in the brooder and some are dark brown a few are a fawn colouring and one or two are creamy coloured.

The chicks are very lively and quickly found the chick crumbs and started eating them, which they seem to enjoy. They are happy moving about the brooder on the straw and there are no signs of splayed legs.

If you fancy having ago at incubating and hatching and if you live in the UK then I  have  quail eggs for hatching for sale.

Click on the image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this incubator or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

Japanese Quail Chicks Hatching

Yesterday the 42 japanese quail eggs that I had in my incubator where due to hatch. I had been away in the caravan on Saturday night and when I returned on sunday afternoon some of the eggs had pipped and I could definately hear cheeping.

At about 7.15pm one chick hatched by 7.45 there were about 16 and at 9.30 there were 20 with more still pipping. It’s just amazing how quickly they all hatch out. By this morning (Monday) there were about 30 chicks although it was hard to count them.

Apparently quail chicks will call to each other in the shells to synchronise their hatching. I have taken a video of the hatching and some photos and will post them soon.

Tonight I have taken the chicks out of the incubator and put them into a brooder. The chicks were in the incubator roughly 24 hours before moving to the brooder.

The brooder consists of a guinea pig/ rabbit run with a carpet on the floor and them straw on top of the carpet to stop the quail chicks legs from becoming splayed. They have chicks crumbs on a feeder plate and then warm water in a drinker with marbles around the edge to stop the tiny (bumble bee sized) quail from falling into the water and drowning. There is also a heat lamp rigged up over the run to keep the chicks warm.

I have moved 29 chicks out to the brooder and left one of the chicks in the incubator as the chick doesn’t look as lively as the others and seems to have been attacked by some of the chicks as it has some blood on it’s vent area. I am not hopeful for this chick but will keep my fingers crossed. I’ll keep you posted.

If you fancy having ago at incubating and hatching and if you live in the UK then I  have  quail eggs for hatching for sale.

Click on the image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this incubator or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.


Broody Hen Bullied Off Nest But Chicks Still Hatched

I received an email about a broody hen that was bullied off her nest of eggs for about 5 hours. I sent a reply and corresponded with Kate and was delighted to hear that the hen managed to get back on the nest and the eggs hatched out. Here is our email correspondence tracking the events.

Not sure if you can help – my broody was bullied off her eggs by another hen she could have been off them for a maximum of 5 hours but hopefully far less – it was after about 10 days – do you think all are lost or do we still have a chance – she is a great mother otherwise! Kate

Hi Kate,

Thanks for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your question. I don’t
have much experience of broody hens. I am sorry to hear that your hen
was bullied off her nest. 5 hours doesn’t sound too long and as the
eggs will be warm it would take a while for the temperature to drop.
Hens do get off the nest when sitting so they can feed and drink
although it wouldn’t be for 5 hours.
If your hen is back sitting on her eggs but gets off to feed and drink
then I would be inclined to have a go at candling the eggs to see if
there is embryo and chick development in the eggs. Here is some info
about candling eggs. http://farmingfriends.com/candling-eggs/

I will add your question to the farmingfriends forum
http://farmingfriends.com/forums/ and see if anyone gives a reply that
know about broody hens.

I hope the eggs are ok. Let me know how they get on.

Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends

Dear Sara

Very many thanks for your kind reply.  She is otherwise a very good hen
and indeed tends to come off every other day – she tells me when she is
ready…I have to keep her penned in as it were to stop the bullies!

I have never done candling but may have a go!

Thanks for your advice.

Very best wishes

Kate

Dear Sara Р6 out of 7 have hatched!!  Very sweet as you can imagine-
they have yet to eat or drink but shall encourage them later this
morning – they all came late last night…

Hooray!

Kate

Hi Kate,

Am delighted to hear this. The chicks can go up to 24 hours without
food and water as they have absorbed the yolk sac but obviously the
sooner you train them to go for the feed and water the better.

May I post your story on my website – I will only mention your first
name. I think me readers would be intersted to hear your success story.

Keep me informed as to the progress of the chicks and hope your hen
enjoys being mother hen!

Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends

Sara of course you can – she survived to visits by the fox that
took/killed 8 of my hens in total.  She was also bullied by some new
arrivals and could have remained off her nest for up to 7 hours maximum
although I suspect it was less than this…I am very proud of her!
Thanks for the info – I won’t panic yet – they have just had a little
bit of chick crumb – will give them a break for a bit now!

Thanks

Kate

It was great to hear from Kate and know that the chicks have hatched and are now eating. If you want advice about your hens then why not join the free farmingfriends hen forum where you can chat about your hens and get advice and tips on looking after your hens.

In fact I posted Kate’s initial email on the forum and was delighted to get a response from one of my regular members who said,

“I have asked my friend who has many hens and she is confident that the eggs will be ok at this time of year if it wasn’t a cold snap. She says that if the chicks hatch, they might also get picked on by the bully so suggested that pehaps she could have her own area for a while? Campbell Ridge

I was delighted to receive this email and photo this morning.

Hi Sara – they are indeed in their own space – do see pic attached!

Kate's hen and chicks

Kate's hen and chicks

They are a joy!

Thanks so much for all your advice and support!  And that of your
friend!

Best wishes

Kate

So join the farmingfriends hen forum today.

Taming Quail Chicks

Taming quail chicks requires;

  • Lots of time – frequent and daily contact is needed.
  • Daily contact with the quail chicks – frequently handling, feeding, playing and talking to the chicks throughout the day.
  • Frequent handling of the quail chicks – at least 3 times a day.
  • Hand feeding the quail chicks – placing chick crumbs or lettuce on your hand and letting the chicks eat from the hand.

Japanese Quail Chicks

Japanese Quail Chicks

  • Letting the quail chicks associate you with feeding – call the chick when you want to feed them and then let the chicks feed from your hand.
  • Time to play with the quail chicks – handle the chicks gently, let them get used to your hands and being picked up or stroked.

Do you have any tips for taming quail?

Click on the book image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.


How To Identify The Gender Of A Chick

It isn’t very easy to identify the gender of young chicks but there are a number of ways to do so.
Cloacal, or vent sexing is one method although this method is not easy to do without proper training and experience. This method involves examining the baby chicken’s vent, located under its tail, looking for a genital organ. If the genital organ is present in the vent, it will resemble a small pimple and the chicken is a cockerel/rooster.
Length of feathers and colour of feathers is also a way of sexing chicks in certain breeds. By looking at the feathers in hens, the primary and secondary feathers are noticeably different in size but cockerels/roosters have uniform-sized feathers.
Commercial chicks have been breed so that their gender can be identified by the colour of their feathers – Hens are typically white and cockerels/roosters are a dusty brown.

Splayed Legs In Quail Cured

Sara, one of the farmingfriends visitors, contacted me for advice as 2 of her day old quail had a splayed leg problem. I sent Sara some information which suggested that she use a band aid to splint the legs. You can strap/splint the legs so that they come back into line. This can be done with pipe cleaners, elastic bands or probably best of all an elastaplast bandaid. I have found a great article that shows you how to splint the chick. Here is the link
http://www.poultryhelp.com/spraddle.html      

 

I was delighted to receive this email from Sara with great news,

2 Day old quail cured of splayed legs“Great success with the splay legs cure.¬† Highly recommend it to anyone who has similar problems.¬† Can’t thank you enough for the info.¬† Lost one chick yesterday, it hadn’t looked quite right but seemed active, eating and drinking although it did lay with its legs¬†stretched out behind when sleeping.¬† This has been my first experience of quail chicks although I have had adults for 3-4 years and love them.¬† They are not¬†as scatty as some people say, I¬†go¬†into my pen 2 – 3 times daily and they are not spooked though I have noticed that if a stranger walks up to them they are a bit more flighty.¬† If anyone wants a very dark quail cock bird I have one I would happily rehome as he does not like the white cock bird and is quite aggressive.¬† Would probably suit being on his own with just hens!¬† I may have to build another run and separate him out with a couple¬†of hens of his own.¬† Anyone thinking of having quail – go ahead,¬†their song is a delight and the eggs are much appreciated by friends and relatives alike.¬† A lovely change to take to a dinner party instead of wine!!!¬† Their needs are not complicated and they do grow to know you, mine cope with 9 dogs (4 labs and 5 terriers) and, as their pen is by the back gate put up with the dogs going ballistic at anyone approaching.¬† None of this worries them, just goes to show they adjust to most things.¬† Once again many thanks for the advice yesterday.¬† Attached are two pictures of the quail before and after splinting.¬† Will recommend your website to everyone. Brilliant! Kind regards” Sara I am delighted to hear that sara’s quail are better and that the advice about splayed legs works.

  1. we have just had five chicks hatch & one of them had splayed legsthanks to the help link we spooted & treated it quickly
    & as soon as you put plaster to hold legs together the chick manages to stay upright

    Comment by PETER UPSHAW – August 9, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  2. Hi Peter,
    I am delighted that your chick is now able to stand. It is great to hear that the information is of use.
    Keep me posted about your chicks.
    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriends