After visiting with one of her friends, Kim called me and announced, “We’re getting Silkies!” I had no idea what she was talking about; then she explained that her friend just bought two baby Silkie chickens. She said they’re supposed to be the friendliest and most gentle chicken, and are a great pet for kids.
I didn’t know much about Silkies, but I have been very interested in getting Ameraucanas (aka, Easter Eggers). They are supposed to lay a lot of multi-colored eggs and the hens are very quiet, so they shouldn’t bother the neighbors. Since our neighbors are our friends, we’d like to keep it that way. Maybe a dozen eggs every once in a while might help keep everyone happy.
Within a couple of hours, Kim returned home with three Silkies and six Ameraucanas. The Silkies came from an individual in a nearby town ($4.00 each) and the Ameraucanas came from Tractor Supply ($1.99 each). Kim intended to buy two or three of each, but the person at Tractor Supply said the law required everyone to buy six at a time. I guess they’re trying to prevent children from buying one chick with their allowance or keep parents from buying a chick as an Easter present.
Most of our chicks are about three days old, but one of the Silkies is a month old and larger than the others. They definitely act like little kids. They run around and play with each other, and then the smaller ones gather around the larger one, burrowing under her wings and tail, almost knocking her off-balance as she stands guard. They must think she’s their mother and she must like all the heat they are providing.
Actually, I don’t know which ones are male or female, but we only want hens, so we’ll refer to all of them as “her” and “she” until we learn otherwise. We just found out that we could have paid a couple of dollars more for “sexed” Ameraucanas to improve the odds of getting all hens, but the young lady that helped Kim didn’t mention it at the time and now it’s too late. That’s OK, since we really don’t need nine chickens we’ll just sell the males as soon as they reveal themselves. Hopefully they’re not all males.
We are also calling them our aquaponic chickens, because we plan to mostly feed them with food we grow in the aquaponic system, if that’s possible. To be perfectly honest, we really don’t know what we’re doing, but we are learning fast. Hopefully we don’t make any big mistakes that cause the chickens to suffer. I’ve been re-reading “A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store’s Guide to Chicken Keeping” by Robert Litt as fast as I can to make sure we do everything right. If you have any suggestions, please let us know. We are open to any advice from experienced chicken keepers.
Here are some photos of our new chickens. We’re keeping them in a 2′ x 4′ oval stock tank that is 2′ high and filled with about two inches of pine shavings, a one-quart water fountain filled with tap water and a little sodium ascorbate powder (i.e., Vitamin C to dechlorinate the water and enhance their immune system), a chick feeder filled with Manna Pro Medicated Chick Starter and Farmers’ Helper UltraKibble for Chicks, some untreated boards to climb on, and a brooder lamp with a 250w infra-red light bulb (not shown in photo) to keep them warm and give them some light at night without keeping them awake when they’re tired.
Somehow they’re getting pine shavings in their feed and water, so we put the water fountain on top of a board to make it more difficult to kick the shavings in the water and we clean out the feeder once a day before adding more feed.
Here is the one month old Silkie with the smaller chicks…
They are always hungry and thirsty. One of them was able to push its way through one of the openings in the feeder and crawl around in the feed for a while before scurrying back out. They also like to climb on top of the feeder and look around. It reminds me of our three-year-old son when he climbs on top of me and says, “Look at me daddy. I’m a big boy.”
These two are buddies. According to the people we bought them from, the one on the left is an Ameraucana and the one on the right is a Silkie.
Here is a close-up of the one month old Silkie…
Here’s one of the smaller Silkies. The other one is white.
Here is an Ameraucana chick…
And here is our son’s bug vacuum. Last night we vacuumed up a spider and put it in with the chickens. It quickly hid in the pine shavings as soon as we dropped him in. I hope one of the chicks enjoyed their snack.