Silkie Hen vs Rooster: What's the Difference?

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The silkie is one of the most unique breeds of common chicken and bantam in the world today. These birds come from China and are often used as companions and often as livestock. They have exotic plumage and are known for their willingness to brood a variety of eggs. Like many other birds, silkies are sexually dimorphic, so there are differences in their maturation. We'll show you the difference between a silkie and a rooster.

Whether you're just curious about their unique characteristics or want to determine the sex of your flock, this information will help you distinguish between males and females of this popular chicken breed.

Note that we will be using information on American standard breeds rather than data on Australian and British miniature bantams.

Comparing Silky Hens and Silky Roosters

rooster vs silky
Silkies are smaller than roosters.

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silkie hen silky chicken
size Weight: 1.5 lbs – 3 lbs Height: 8" – 14" Weight: 2lbs-4lbs Height: 8in-14in
thorns Brambles develop later than roosters and are smaller Brambles develop faster and grow bigger than hens
comb Smaller V-shaped comb Larger "walnut-shaped" comb
Crown feather Crown feathers are round and of uniform length The longer, less uniform crown plumage is called the "streamer plume"
The spurs Silkie hen does not grow spurs Silky roosters grow spurs up to an inch or so in length

Main Differences Between Silky Hens and Silky Roosters

Silkies roaming the yard
The differences between silky hens and roosters are much more than that.

© Mr. AEKALAK CHIAMCHAROEN/Shutterstock.com

The biggest difference between silkies and roosters is their body shape, wattles and crested feathers. Silkie males are larger than silky females, they develop wattles early in life that are larger than females, and males have crested feathers while females do not.

These differences make it easy to tell whether the chickens are male or female. The only downside is that many of these changes don't happen until the chicken is fully mature. Therefore, sexing these young chickens can be very difficult.

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Silky Hen vs Silky Rooster: Size

Silkie hens are smaller than silky roosters. Silkie hens can be anywhere from 8 to 14 inches in average height and can weigh up to 3 pounds or less. Silkies also grow to 8 to 14 inches, but are more likely to reach taller sizes than hens. Silkies will also weigh between 2 and 4 pounds and are significantly larger than hens.

Silky Hen vs Silky Cock: Wattles

The wattles of silky hens develop later than males and are smaller than males. The wattles of silky males begin to develop at 3 to 4 weeks of age, but do not begin to grow until later in silky females.

Both creatures have wattles, but those of a silkie tend to be much larger and longer than those of a hen. Plus, when you see your silky's comb and wattles combined, you'll know right away if it's a hen or a rooster.

Silky Hen vs Silky Cock: Combs

Silkie, also known as silkie or Chinese black-bone chicken.
This silkie has a large comb and wattles.

©Andi111/Shutterstock.com

Silkie hens have combs that are smaller and differently shaped than silky roosters. Silkie hens have combs that are not only smaller than silky roosters, but also V-shaped.

The comb of a silkie is usually much larger than that of a hen and is considered "walnut-shaped" so it appears large, wrinkled in places and bulbous overall. The silky rooster's comb is the signature feature of its head and is certainly more prominent than that of a hen.

Silky Hen vs Silky Rooster: The Crown Feather

Silkie in front of the Yellow House
This Silkie Might Be a Rooster Due to the Streamer Feathers

©Hand Robot/Shutterstock.com

Silkie hens do not have a more even and rounded crest compared to roosters. If you look directly down at a silkie's head, you'll notice that it has a large tuft of crested feathers. The overall shape of the crown feather is round, and the feathers are neat and compact.

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Not so with Silkie. Their crest feathers are square. Also, not all crested feathers are the same size. They have what are called "streamer feathers" that grow taller than any other feathers on their heads. In general, the crest feathers of silkies look much messier than those of hens.

The presence of streamer feathers and the overall shape of their crown feathers is a defining feature of the silkie.

Silky Hen vs Silky Rooster: Spurs

Silkie roosters have bone spurs while silky hens do not. Basically, spurs are the long toenails that roosters grow, and they're used in much the same way as claws on other birds.

These spurs are rare in hens, and when they do appear, it is usually a few years into the chicken's life. That being said, these spurs are something people need to look out for in silkies, as rooster spurs require regular care. If they grow too long, they can make it difficult for chickens to walk and can even cut their skin.

Other Methods of Determining the Sex of Silkies

Silkie in front of the barn
Some silks are more difficult to mate than others

©iStock.com/Alexandros Michailidis

While the data above may help you figure out the difference between a silky hen and a rooster, if you don't have much experience in determining the sex of a chick, you may need more data to help a silky do it correctly gender identification.

On the one hand, you can watch the silky pose. Silkies will stand more upright, and their tails are usually higher than females. Silkies usually anchor their bodies more horizontally to the ground.

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You can also observe their feet, as males have thicker feathers on their feet compared to females. Unfortunately, you can only use this method of sexing if the chickens you are comparing belong to the same brood because this trait is inherited from both parents.

Finally, you can consider the crowing behavior of chickens. Silkies begin to crow when they are about 4 or 5 months old. The vast majority of hens do not actively crow unless they are trying to establish a place for themselves in the 'pecking order', or they are completely unique.

These differences between silkies and roosters should make identifying them easy, especially as they get older and their differences become more pronounced.

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I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in various fields such as Managed Service Providers, Animals and Retail Distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading and writing.

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