Breeding Colored Birds:
by Nikki Stetson
article © Hattrick Silkies
In my opinion, colored silkies are among the most beautiful birds
in the poultry world. Their striking colors and beautiful patterns
are a sight to behold. It is in the last few years that I have developed
an appreciation for them and the challenge in breeding them.
My expectations in the beginning were quite high. I expected every
bird I bought to be "show quality" and I expected perfect
chicks every time. The reality is that just doesn't happen. It's "buying
the line" of an established breeder or someone with a line of
birds that fits what you're looking for, that can make all the difference.
Sometimes what's on the outside isn't as important as what's on the
Which brings me back to the term "buying the line". A few
years ago I bought some birds from a well established breeder who's
colored birds (in my opinion) were the best. During the course of
our conversations, I jotted down everything he told me about his birds,
how to breed, what to expect, how not to breed, etc. At the time I
didn't pay much attention. Then as I began breeding and seeing for
myself what was working and not working, I went back to my notes.
I was amazed at how everything he had told me was true. I could finally
see for myself what he was talking about, some of the mistakes I had
made and I started to understand what it takes to breed colored birds.
I'd like to show some examples of our birds and you'll see what I'm
talking about. Picture A is a 3yr. old Buff rooster. What I like about
him is he's compact and typey. What I don't like is his comb, it's
a little larger than I like. He has bluish black coloring in his tail,
crest and beard. Picture B is his year old son. In one generation
I can see a smaller, darker comb, clear crest and beard, clear tail
and an all over evenness of color. I am thrilled with this cockerel.
What this cockerel will produce is too soon to tell, the chicks are
too young, but what his father produced is stunning, even though he's
not "perfect" on the outside, he is worth his weight in
gold (to me at least) for what offspring he has given me.
In closing I'd like to reiterate that breeding colored birds is a
challenge, but a rewarding one. Pay attention to the advice each breeder
gives you about their line, as all lines are different. And above
all don't be too quick to judge a bird at a young age or not appreciate
what a "less than perfect" bird can offer you.