Silkie Hen Vs. Rooster: How To Tell The Difference (With Pictures!)

The Silkie is a chicken breed known for its smooth and fluffy feathers. To name a few characteristics, they have black skin, feathers that feel like silk, and are friendly and docile. 

But, Silkies mature slower than other breeds, which can make it difficult to determine the gender of your Silkie chicks at an early age. Although it’s much easier to tell whether your Silkie chicken is a hen or rooster from 5-6 months old, often you’ll want to know at a much younger age to understand how your flock is going to work.

Here we go through the distinct differences between Silkie hens and roosters, from an adult age all the way down to baby chicks, so you can prepare accordingly!

Silkie Hen Vs. Rooster: How To Tell The Difference 

When Silkies are fully grown, it’s quite easy to tell which is a rooster and which is a hen.

When comparing a Silkie rooster to a Silkie hen, you can see Silkie roosters appear visually larger and have much larger wattles under their necks and combs on their heads than Silkie hens.

Not to mention Silkie roosters will crow and are naturally more aggressive and protective of their flocks than Silkie hens!

However, these differences aren’t always clear at younger ages. This is a major pain point for many new Silkie owners as it’s often at these younger ages of 1-8 weeks old that you would like to know if you’ve got yourself a Silkie hen or rooster!

Luckily there are a few noticeable differences that pop up at various ages that will indicate whether you’ve got a male or female Silkie chick.

Here are the main physical and behavioral differences between a Silkie hen vs. a Silkie rooster. 

Size and Body 

At adult age, there is a clear size difference between the Silkie hens and Silkie roosters. Roosters are usually a little heavier and larger. A male Silkie’s legs are thicker and have more feathers. They develop spurs around 6 months of age. Females don’t grow spurs at all.

Male Silkies will stand far more upright than female Silkies. In addition, they appear to be taller than their hen counterparts. However, these distinctions aren’t usually too noticeable until at least 12 weeks of age or more.

Crest and Comb

At around 7 to 8 weeks of age, male Silkies will grow longer crown feathers, called streamers. However, the crown feathers of female Silkies are not as long as the other feathers, and their crest will appear more like a circular afro.

There’s also a difference in the comb’s shape. Males’ combs are more U-shaped, while females’ combs are more V-shaped. 

Both roosters and hens eventually grow amazing-looking crests, which is why they are referred to as “Afro Chickens”!

Wattle

The appearance of the wattle is one of the easiest giveaways that your Silkie is a rooster. Even from as young age as 6 weeks old! You see,  normally a Silkie hen won’t start growing their wattles until at least 6-9 months, and even then they will be much much smaller.

A Silkie rooster will show a clear wattle growing from its cheeks to under its beak from as young as 6 to 8 weeks old!

This is the easiest tell-tale sign you’ve got yourself a Silkie rooster. If your Silkie is over 12-14 weeks old and still shows no sign of wattle at all then you know she’s a hen!

Wings

Female Silkies have more distinctive primary wing feathers than male Silkies do. The fluff in the male bird’s wing is more defined when they’re older. Also, the wings of some roosters will be shorter. After hatching, these differences are usually noticeable. 

Plumage

Feathers grow on the neck and in front of the tail of the rooster. Silkie hens don’t grow any long tail feathers at all, whereas a rooster will have definitive tail feathers from about 10-12 weeks old, and will stand out significantly more than a hen. 

Silkies are also capable of inheriting the Frizzle gene making Sizzle chickens, which have curly feathers all over their body!

Behavior

There are slight behavioral differences between the sexes, even from a young age. Male Silkies, for example, crow loudly – like you expect any rooster to! Around the age of 4 months, they start to crow, while the females don’t. 

Roosters usually have a bossy attitude and appear to be more confident. They’re more territorial, watchful, and physical with each other. The females are more timid and calm, which makes for perfect backyard companions for young families!

Baby Silkie Chicks: Hen Or Rooster?

With some other fluffy chicken breeds, you’re able to determine a chick’s gender by its crown plumage, like with Polish chicks,

However, Silkies don’t have many distinctive signs of gender at birth, unless their vents have been professionally examined.

So, if you’re needing to know if your baby Silkie chick is a hen or a rooster, there are two main physical characteristics that start presenting from about 6-8 weeks old. You can look for:

  1. One such sign that your Silkie chick is a boy, is that it will begin to grow its streamers at the back of its head forming its crest. This presents from age 6 weeks but is more prominent from ages 9 weeks onward. Silkie hens will not have any streamer feathers at all. 
  2. One more reliable tell occurs from as young as 8-12 weeks old. From this time your male Silkies will normally begin to show their wattles growing from under their beaks. It’s easy to distinguish males on this basis, as female Silkies will normally show no signs of wattles until about 5-6 months old! Even from this age, they will appear much smaller than rooster wattles. 

Summary

With Silkies, it’s notoriously hard to tell between the sexes at a young age, particularly when compared with Isa Brown, Golden Comets, or other hybrid chicken breeds.

But, between the ages of 8-12 weeks old, you can normally start to identify which Silkie chicks are males and females.

This is by the appearance of their wattles and streamers. This is because Silkie hens won’t start growing wattles until much later in their development, but many Silkie roosters will show theirs from as young as 6-8 weeks!

If you are having trouble identifying the gender of your new Silkie chicks, please feel free to comment, post on our Facebook page, or send pictures — I would love to see them!

For more about our beloved Silkies, check out:

  1. When Do Silkies Start Laying Eggs?
  2. Helping Silkie’s Egg-laying Longevity

35 thoughts on “Silkie Hen Vs. Rooster: How To Tell The Difference (With Pictures!)”

  1. Hi. I’d love some help determining the sex of a couple of my young silkies if you don’t mind. Just shoot me an email and I will send you some pictures back. Thank you

    Reply
  2. Hi!

    I would love your email address so I can send you a pic of my silkie to see what your thoughts are if its a male or female. We have a fun family bet going on and it would be fun to have you play along!

    Reply
  3. Hi, I have a couple of silkies and a sizzle who are now 5 months old – no crowing or eggs but tail feathers and no wattles?
    very confusing! Would love to have your opinion
    Thanks Vanita

    Reply
    • Hey Vanita,

      My last Silkies didn’t start laying until 7-8 months, silkies can take a little longer to first lay than others.

      Infact, one of them took almost 12 months, we were concerned she was never going to lay and may have had some reproductive issues but she made it!

      Based on what you’ve said it sounds like you’ve got some young hens. Even hens grow some tail feathers, just not as prominent as roo’s.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
  4. I’d like some help determining sex on two chicks, if you have a minute or two. I cannot keep roos where I live, so some help would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  5. Hi Blake,

    Great article! I have two 10 -11 week old silkies. One has became a little more aggressive toward to us lately and is more dominant toward to other chickens . We are wondering if it is a rooster. Can i send you some pics of my two silkie?
    Thank you,
    Ania

    Reply
  6. Hi! I have read your page several times. I am a second grade teacher and we have hatched a silkie chicken and lovingly named him/her Jelly Bean. We are waiting patiently to figure out for certain whether it’s a rooster or a hen. Any feedback would be great to share with them as we make our predictions!
    Happy to send you some photos!
    Thank-you!
    Heidi

    Reply
  7. Hi there! Thank you for the information! I have 2 silkies at the moment, and I’m starting to think one is a rooster. Would you mind taking a look?

    Reply
  8. Hello

    I have 3 silkies around 12 weeks old. One I believe is a rooster the other 2 I can’t decide. Would love your opinion! 🙂
    Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Hello,
    I have a couple of silkies that i got from the store and were sold to me as females. I noticed a while back that they started looking different..It be nice to know if one’s a rooster so I know what to expect… I could use your help if you have the time.

    Reply
  10. Hi Blake,
    I have a beautiful flock of silkies (a frizzle, a satin & two standard). I have already had one that turned out to be a roo & had to find him a new home as I can’t have roosters where I live. This didnt come as a surprise as he was much bigger than my others and a bit bossy. I have raised them all since they were 2 days old so it was heart breaking to be woke by crowing this morning again. However, I cant tell which of my silkies it is. Im afraid it may be both of my standards. Can I send you pictures to see if you can tell?

    Reply
  11. We have recently adopted a group of 11 week old silkies and are not 100% sure how many are hens or roosters. We would love to send you some pictures.

    Reply
  12. Hi, wondering if you can let me know if we have a rooster or not, leaning more towards one of the silkies is definitely a rooster! I can send pictures if needed.
    Thanks Nicole

    Reply
  13. Hi Blake, I have 4 silkies. one looks like a rooster but not sure on the other 3 can u help me figure this out plz. Thanks. Email me

    Reply
  14. Would love for you to take a guess on my almost 6 week old Silkies when you have the time, first time chicken owner here lol 😂

    Reply
  15. Hello. I have 9 week old silkies. Can you help me with them? I keep going back and forth, but I’m pretty sure out of the 7, we have 6 boys! 😬😬😬 let me know if you have time to help me out and I’ll get pics of them in the am. Thank you so much!

    Reply

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