Feeding Silkies and what to give as treats
The diet for Silkie chickens needs to be based on a complete layers feed like crumbles or pellets. Scraps and treats should never make up more than 5 to 10 % of the diet and Silkies need access to fresh greens to stay in good health.
Because Silkies are not productive egg layers they do not need as much pelleted feed as some chickens
What do you feed Silkie chickens?
Silkies can be fed the same feed you would normally give to chickens, whole grains, layers pellets, scraps and treats and what ever they find whilst they are free ranging.
I blend our own feed for our adult Silkies and feed it year-round. Our chicks are fed a commercial medicated chick starter for the first 2 months, supplemented with grated carrots, hard cooked chopped eggs, greens, and an occasional yogurt-grain mixture when they get a little older.
Below: Some of my bantams getting treats.
Our feed blend starts with a 20% protein commercial poultry feed. Since Purina is available in our area, we use Purina Gamebird Layena, which does not contain the marigold oil supplement that can affect white feathers.
Do Silkies need special feeds?
Silkie chickens can eat the same foods as any large fowl chicken can, they do not need any special feeds in their diet.
I give mine small or short cut layers pellets, the same as I do with all my bantams, this makes it a little easier for them to eat and they only cost about 2% more than the standard.
Below: Silkie mothers can eat the same chick crumb her babies do.
This is my recipe for Silkie feed:
All my chickens are free range.
20% Small or fine cut bantam layers layers pellets
20% split maize
5% safflower seeds.
5% sunflower seeds - hulled without the shells.
5% flax seeds.
2% Buckwheat or hemp seed
2% Grit and shell.
0.25% Brewer's Yeast powder.
0.25% Garlic Powder.
0.25% pink minerals.
I mix it up in a 44 gallon drum.
You could use mash as it comes in small flakes and may be easier for your Silkies to digest.
The birds also get chopped eggs and grated carrots once a week, greens like kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce as they are available, leftover tomatoes, or any fruit that is starting to go bad.
In the summer, they absolutely love watermelon! I cut most of the red part off the rinds and put it in containers for the family, and feed the rinds to the Silkies.
How much should you feed Silkies?
In all my years I have never had a fat Silkie chicken. All my chickens have feed on tap during the daylight hours. Silkies consume the sane amount as other bantams, between 60 and 100 grams a day.
This is something that is very low down on my list of things to worry about when it comes to Silkies and bantams. They are active birds that never seem to overeat.
Do Silkies need different feed in winter?
I get through roughly 1.5 times as much chicken feed in the winter months as I do in summer.
Feeding all chickens is a little different as winter approaches, Protein levels are upped a little during the moult as they change their feathers and your Silkies will need more calories in the cold weather.
Also there is little if no insect life to be had while free ranging and greens can be in short supply or covered by snow.
There are a few things you can supplement their diet with as the cold approaches to make their life a little easier:
- Shelled or husked sunflower seeds
- Sprouted seeds.
- Specially grown green shoots.
- Some boiled and still warm whole wheat in the mornings.
- Scrambled egg.
- Game-bird feed for the extra protein.
Do you need to feed Silkies Grit and shell?
Grit is a necessary part of a chicken's digestive system, allowing it to grind coarse feed in their gizzards. I have quite a few dotted about the place and they are well used.
Below: I use hollow wall bricks as grit and shell dispensers.
You should provide your Silkie chickens with a supply of grit in their coop if they are rarely free-range.
What about treats for Silkies?
Treats should ever be more than 5% of the diet of any chicken otherwise it can upset the balance of the feed.
Good treats for Silkies include:
- Frozen peas or sweetcorn kernels - leave them cold for summer and serve hot for winter.
- Cracked corn.
- Sunflower or safflower seed kernels.
- A cabbage hung in the run.
Below: Here is a few Silkies eating treats from the keepers hand.
Much as it is with all chickens the way to any Silkies heart is through it stomach.