So today was a day I have been looking forward to for years. For my birthday, my husband had agreed to let me get some silkie hens! I adore these ridiculous looking chickens with their 5 toes and beautifully soft feathers. I have held off getting silkies for years due to concerns over Marek’s disease and keeping the chickens warm and dry enough over winter.
Happily, the new Omlet Eglu coop we bought a few weeks ago, needs some occupants. I cleared out the nest box, assembled the run and checked it over thoroughly. I need to replace the clips that keep the run together, get some t-screws to pin down the anti-fox skirt around the run and buy a cover for the run to keep the silkies dry. As usual, the British weather is fickle. This morning, the weather was delightful, sun, a few clouds and quite warm considering the time of year. By the time we set off to collect the silkies, the weather had turned. Heavy black clouds, strong wind and, the British speciality, sideways rain.
After a minor confusion over which farm had the silkies, we were met by a cheerful farmer who showed us his breeding set up. He had a large heated shed which housed several small coops and an enormous incubator. We had a peak inside the incubator and, to our great excitement, saw two newly hatched chicks! He showed us the different chicks, ranging in age from a few days to several weeks. He had half a dozen five week old DNA sexed chicks. There were two dark blue, one cuckoo and two mini white silkies. I quickly chose a gorgeous dark blue, a mini white and the cuckoo. Transferring them gently into the pet carrier, all you could hear was loud cheeping. The mini white was half the size of the other two. I was quite worried when the other two chicks kept walking over it or pushing it out of the way. Maybe three chicks wasn’t a good idea?
The farmer then took us for a tour around the other barn which housed the rest of his breeding silkies. We were astounded at the variety of colours and I was particularly taken with a gorgeous white Silkie that had random black lines on it. Apparently it’s called a painted Silkie and I immediately put it on my list of chickens I would like to have. Unfortunately for my husband, my list was getting longer by the second! It occurred to me that if the white chick was struggling on its own, I could come back and pick up a pencilled Silkie to keep it company….
On the way home, we stopped by Lea’s to pick up some chick crumb. I had assumed the chicks would be older, requiring growers pellets rather than chick crumb. Luckily, the shop was still selling chick crumb in 2kg bags. We grabbed two and headed home, hoping the chicks would be alright after the long journey. I set up the small indoor coop we had used for the Rhode Island Red chicks in March and gently transferred the chicks. At first, they didn’t know what to do but cowered in the corner. The grey cuckoo chick was the bravest, taking a few steps forward before throwing itself into the sawdust and having a bath. The other two watched confused before deciding to give it a go too.
What followed was several minutes where sawdust flew everywhere. Hilarious though this was, none of them had shown any interest in the food or water bowl which worried me. I tried hand feeding them but they ran away. Eventually, the dark blue chick ambled across to the food bowl and gave a cautious peck. The other two chicks instantly joined her and for a couple of minutes all you could hear was the sound of pecking and happy hungry cheeps.
Here’s hoping they settle in ok! The radiator has been turned on to keep them warm overnight and they have lots of food and water. Fortunately our cats have shown no interest in the new arrivals whatsoever. Long may that last!