Friday, August 26, 2016

How to Breed Frizzle and Sizzle Chickens

Frizzle chickens are becoming very popular, but please note that "Frizzles" are not a breed of chicken.  Frizzle refers to the type of feathers.  Frizzled feathers can appear on any breed of chicken.  In a frizzled chicken the feathers are loose and curve upwards or forwards.  As such birds with this type of feathering require special protection in the winter where it is cold as they are not at all cold hardy.  Additionally they don’t cope well with rain, but they sure look interesting.

A sizzle is the term given to a bird with frizzled feathers when the bird is also a silkie chicken.  Other breeds such as Cochins, and Polish chickens, are often bred for frizzling, but sizzle is a term reserved specifically for frizzled silkie birds.

My silkie rooster and sizzle hen. ©BNelson

The frizzle feather gene is dominant, however the presence of two frizzle genes can create birds with feathers that are so “frizzled” they break easily, potentially leaving the bird with many bald patches.  This is known as being “double-frizzled” and most breeders try to avoid it by breeding a frizzled bird to a smooth (regular feathered) bird.  The frizzle gene is dominant; any bird with even one gene will be frizzled. 

Breeding a double-frizzled (has two dominant frizzle genes) bird to a smooth feathered one (no frizzle genes) will always produce frizzled chicks.  The chicks will have one dominant gene for frizzled feathers and one recessive gene for smooth/regular/non-frizzled feathers. 

When breeding a frizzle feathered bird (one with one frizzle gene and one regular/non-frizzle gene) to a smooth feathered bird the results are that half of the chicks inherit the dominant frizzle gene and will be frizzled and half the chicks will only inherit the non-frizzle gene and will be smooth feathered.  This tends to be the cross many breeders prefer. 

When breeding two frizzled birds together where both have one frizzle gene and one regular/non-frizzle gene 3/4 of the birds will be frizzled, but 1/4 will be double frizzled which may be undesirable (as mentioned), and 1/4 will be smooth feathered (regular/non-frizzle).

Silkie chickens, frizzled chickens, and sizzles, are typically kept as ornamental pet chickens.  They are often taken to shows and can command high prices at sales.  They can be any color as per the breed of chicken.  Egg color is also related to the breed of chicken used and has nothing to do with being frizzled.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

On August 1 our bantam silkie hen hatched 9 eggs sometime in the afternoon.  She remained sitting on the chicks all that day and the next.  I thought it was a bit odd that she had not moved on day two.  On the 3rd I checked under in an attempt to see how many chicks she had and noted two unhatched eggs.  She refused to move.  On August 4th, one of the other two eggs hatched.

The rooster with a different chick.

For those of you not familiar with chickens it should be noted that a hen will normally lay an egg every day (roughly) for a period of time and then she will start to sit on all her eggs and stop laying any more.  After 21 days the eggs hatch, often within a few hours of each other, regardless of when they were laid.  Usually all eggs that are going to hatch will hatch at that time and any remaining are duds, and can be discarded. 

By the time the last chick hatched the hen decided to leave the nest but that chick was unable to keep up and was on the ground when I found it.  I picked it up and put it with the others, but later that day when I went out to check them the chick was where I put it, but the hen and her other chicks had already moved off...

I figured I should bring the little one inside and set it up in an empty guinea pig cage.  I gave it a light for heat.

I noted the chick had splayed legs (not too bad in that it could stand but they really made it hard for the little one to walk).  I learned that spayed legs were somewhat common in late hatching chicks.  There are two methods of fixing splayed legs in chicks.  One is to keep it in a small cup and take it out often to give it food and water; the other is to put an elastic band around the feet, with a cut portion of a straw in between.  I did the second method and should have taken a photo of that.  I kept this on for two days (but removed it in the night).
The chick sitting down because it could not stand well.

The little chick is now 1 week old and doing well.  We call it a "him" but really do not know for sure.  We take him outside for periods of time but he still is kept in the cage indoors as we have gotten close to him and he will be more friendly than the outside chicks as the hen and rooster are very protective of them so they think people are bad!

Two days old.
About Silkie Chickens

Silkie chickens are often kept as ornamental pets.  They are unusual in that they have black/blue skin and meat.  They also have an extra toe.

Silkies come in bantam and standard sizes.

We keep ours as pets, they are just fun to have around and are super cute.