The Silkie has a very long history. They where first seen in China by Marco Polo on his expeditions there. The Chinese used them to hatch pheasant eggs and to raise chicks of other types of poultry. Silkies are one of the oldest breeds known; even though they are very different from the ones Marco Polo saw in China. Our Silkies now have bigger crests, leg feathering, and they now come in different colors other than white. The colors recognized by the APA (American Poultry Association) and the ABA (American Bantam Association) are white, partridge, gray, splash, black, blue, and buff. They also come in bearded and non-bearded types. Silkies are shown in the feather legged class in shows.
Silkies are good setters. They go broody whether there is an egg to sit on or not. That is the reason the Chinese chose them to raise chicks. It is a terrible thing to happen to your show birds because you cannot stop them from being broody. But a good point about it is that if you have them hatch some eggs of a flighty and unfriendly bird the babies tend to be nicer when they grow up.
Silkies are unusual because they have a fifth toe that most other breeds do not have, but some poultry in the continental class also have the extra toe feature. Silkies also have black skin and black bones. The Chinese think that ground up bones have special healing powers and other sorts of powers. But I would never eat some ground up Silkie bones.
Silkies have walnut combs that are black to deep mulberry in color and the comb is almost circular in shape on the males while on the females the combs are very small and well formed. Their beaks are leaden blue, short, and stout while the face is smooth and fine. They should be broad and well rounded in the breast and body. One problem many Silkies seem to have is with their wing, the wing sticks out at the bottom when folded up. Another wing problem that seems common is the not so full wing on Silkies. They should have a nice full wing with as few gaps in it as possible.
A thing that many people over look is eye color. I never really thought about it until this year. They should have dark dark brown to black in eye color. But, black is what I prefer. Silkies should also be able to see. Some times their crest grows so big that they cannot see. When this happens I pluck some feathers in front of their eye, toward the beak. Some people like to cut the feathers more, but I pluck them because it looks natural. A Silkie's crest should be round and full, but not too full so the crest gets too big.