Silkies Can Fly
If you take them on an airplane!
by Inga Ladd
Edited by Alan Stanford, Ph.D.
The unique structure of a Silkie's feather gives the appearance of
chicken covered with fur. A closer examination of a Silkie reveals
that the "hair" is not really hair but is actually feathers
which are downy in texture. The fluffy appearance is caused by the
fact that a Silkie's feathers lack the tiny hooks on the barbules
of their feathers which would normally hold the feather's shape. Lacking
normal feathers, a Silkie Bantam cannot really fly - except on an
I had the great fortune to be able to attend the ABA National show
in Lake City, Florida a few years ago. The show hosted the American
Silkie Bantam Club's Eastern National meet. I would encourage breeders
of ANY breed to attend their chosen breed's national if at all possible.
It was great fun! I met so many different Silkie breeders and learned
much more than I could have ever learned at a typical show. Simply
having approximately 200 Silkies at one show was certainly something
I was expecting a baby to be born during the July after the show so
for me flying to the show was the only option. I could not stand the
thought of driving over fourteen hours by myself since my spouse could
not take off from work to drive with me. I called my travel agent
and booked reservations with Delta Airlines. My travel agent, a lovely
lady with a southern accent said, "Flying with chickens? To a
CHICKEN show? Please tell me this expedition reaps greater awards
than ribbons!!! Certainly money?" I laughed and told her that
monetary rewards were not expected.
I booked my reservations with Delta because they have a reputation
for being easier to deal with in regard to flying with show poultry
than many airlines. Still, if you fly with your birds, plan for at
least an additional 45 minutes at the check-in counter to convince
the ticket agent that flying with show poultry is truly allowed. When
flying with Delta, I was warned to write down the term "G DISPLAY
*729" on my ticket for future reference but forgot to do it.
This code takes the ticket agent straight to the information needed
to expedite the process. Trying to tell the agents to just pretend
that your crowing and cackling crate contains a little poodle is not
likely to work. The cost to transport the plastic pet carrier is $75
each direction so the cost was not prohibitive. However, remember
to say, "My chickens are traveling as ADDITIONAL BAGGAGE."
This magic phrase will prevent the birds from being misdirected to
a straight cargo flight.
Our American Silkie Bantam Club president, Valerie Hirvela, has designed
a special pet carrier for poultry. The diagram is easy to follow with
anyone with a shred of carpenter's skill. My father helped my build
mine. The only problem with the carrier is that it must be completely
disassembled to load and unload. Thankfully, Silkies cannot fly by
themselves. Keep an assistant on hand to catch birds when you unload!
I shudder to think of using exactly this carrier with any chicken
more flighty than a Silkie!
Be prepared for a lot of comment on the contents of your pet carrier
if you do travel with your Silkies. I heard "What on earth is
in that carrier?" I got many strange looks. People on the airport
shuttle bus inquired of me, "Why would anyone want to show a
chicken?" I was asked, "Is that some kind of funny-looking
rabbit or cat?" I was asked if I ate my chickens. I was asked
if I ate their eggs. I was asked more questions than I can even remember!
It was certainly an experience to treasure...