Health Benefits of White Silkie chickens
The White Silkie chicken is a very unusual chicken. Besides their beauty, friendliness, and their ability to adapt, they have amazing health benefits. Chinese have recognized this since before the 7th century!
- The beginnings of my White Silkies
- Recognizing a White Silkie
- Health Benefits
- Some specific history
- The End :)
The beginnings of my White Silkies
I’ve been meaning to write this article for some time - my chicken friends pick on me because I eat my adorable Silkie chickens, but if they only truly understood why - they’d eat theirs too! I know that in America people are a bit more picky in distinguishing pets from food - and here, White Silkie chickens are considered more pet than food. This is such a mistake. I know they’re adorable, and very affectionate - and can even be house broken! Lord knows I wouldn’t want a chicken in my house, but for some, the White Silkie is a perfect pet - so good for them. But for me, while I love my babies - I love eating them just as much as holding them.
By nature, the White Silkie is a very calm chicken. It adapts well to most any environment - being ok whether it gets to roam about a field to find it’s own food all day, or whether it’s grown and spends it’s whole life in a cage as a show bird - either way, and anything in between, a White Silkie will adapt and accept. My very first Silkie was a show bird. His name was Q-ball. I’d gotten him quite by chance (as many of my farm animals started). He’d belonged to a young boy in Paris, MO who had raised him as a show bird. He was even the Grand State Champion show bird for Missouri. Unfortunately the city of Paris decided that there could be no chickens within city limits and the young boy was forced to sell his babies. My friend, Hollie, bought them all - and she told me the young boy cried as he parted with Q-ball, begging her not to eat him. Hollie thought Q-ball would be fine in her chicken pen with the other chickens. Boy was she wrong! That chicken had NEVER been with another chicken, and thought he was a miniature person, so when he was put in with other chickens he freaked - and they all were attacking him, even the hens! Those hens didn’t want any prissy rooster in their coop! Hollie was afraid for Q-balls life. She knew I had multiple pens and tractors and hoped I could help Q-ball adapt to being a chicken - so she gave him to me.
I’d picked him up originally just because I don’t like any chicken not having a good happy home. I find myself ‘adopting’ all sorts of animals - chickens, turkeys, guinea, pot belly pigs, goats and a dog - everyone on my farm got their start here as an adopted critter in need of a good home. Q-ball was no different at first, just another rooster. He was really pretty though - all that white fluff... fluff.... not actual feathers, but fluff.....and it felt like silk... how odd, I thought to myself. Me being who I am, had to get online and find out why he seemed so very different from all the other chickens (besides his prissy “I’m not a chicken” attitude). What I discovered was so amazing that I soon found myself online ordering 50 more White Silkies from Pennsylvania! And thus was born my love for Silkies.
Recognizing a White Silkie
Now, besides the fact that they don’t have true feathers like other chickens, there are some other notable features. It’s important to know that there are different colors in Silkies now as people have crossed them in all sorts of ways to ‘improve’ on their colors. Myself, I prefer animals as God made them - don’t figure man can do any better than God, and White is a beautiful and pure color. So, a true Silkie in my book, is only a pure White Silkie. Next you notice that their feathers are more of a silky fluff than true feathers, while the Silkie can hop about and get slightly airborne, they can’t fly as other chickens, their feathers simply won’t allow it. Then, if you ruffle their feathers and look a bit deeper, you’ll notice that their skin is pure black! Quite the contrast under those adorable white feathers. Their comb is also different. A good quality White Silkie will have a walnut shaped comb that’s a deep burgundy/blue color. His tongue should be pitch black. His ear lobes should be blue/green. And lastly is his feet - a true White Silkie will have 5 toes! (For those that don’t know, a normal chicken has only 4 toes) The toes are so important to distinguish a true silkie, that if you buy one that’s been butchered, the feet are left on as proof to the consumer that the meat being bought is indeed White Silkie.
The other major difference won’t be noted till you actually see a butchered chicken, ready to eat. The meat is much darker than normal chicken - dark bluish to almost black, and it has a black film on it. It also has a slight sweetness in taste - some don’t like it. I LOVE the flavor of White Silkie meat! Same with the bones - very dark, not quite black, but dark, with a black skin on the bones. Many people in America are put off by the blackness of their meat (which is the biggest reason it isn’t sold commonly in America as food). You’ll want to eat this blackness as it’s the strongest essence of health you can find!
Speaking of which - the whole point of the article is the health benefits of a White Silkie chicken. We’ll get to that now, but did want to let you know what they looked like, and how to identify one. Otherwise, what good would it do to tell you the health benefits?
White Silkie chickens date back to the 7th Century in China - probably earlier, but that’s the earliest documentation that I could find reference to. They were revered for their beauty, their friendliness, their ability to adapt, AND their health benefits. The Chinese loved their chickens and treated them well, but when it was time to butcher, not a single piece of the chicken was tossed out (well, maybe the intestines?) They had long since noted that people were just healthier and lived longer with these birds in their lives. It would be centuries later before science would prove that there was reason why this was so. The meat and skin was eaten, the bones were used to make chicken stock. And even when the bones were spent - they were dried, crushed, and used as medicine. You’ll still find these same uses today - right down to the bones being dried, crushed and put into pill form.
When you are sick, many people will recommend chicken soup. Have you ever wondered where the belief in the medicinal value of chicken meat came from? It’s believed to have roots in the White Silkie chicken, which plays an important role in Chinese medicines. Soup made from the White Silkie chicken is said to be particularly helpful for women’s health during their pregnancy. In some cultures women are encouraged to have chicken soup daily for a month after giving birth.
Now, you wonder - why? Why the importance? Well, it’s simple enough - that blackness that is in the skin, the meat, the organs, and the very bones. Researchers in poultry breeding and genetics have discovered that the unusual pigmentation in the black-bone chicken breed--in the skin, bones, connective tissues, muscles and tendons, and some other internal parts--is due to the combination of two genes. See R.D. Crawford, ed., Poultry Breeding and Genetics, Elsevier, 1990.
In recent years, foods with black or dark colors have been recognized as a health food with medicinal effects. Japanese scientists discovered that black-colored food is rich, not only in antioxidants that prevent cancer, heart diseases and menopause, but are also loaded with isoflavins, minerals and anthocyanins. Scientists from the University of Georgia have proven that these foods are indeed very beneficial for the kidneys.
Chicken in general provides a significant amount of niacin, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals - the healthier the chicken eats, the healthier it will be for you to eat. Research suggests that black chicken offers higher levels of iron and nutrients usually present in regular chicken in addition to a lower fat content.
Notable data on the White Silkie comes from researchers in China who report that the meat from the White Silkie chicken is higher in carnosine than typical chicken meat. Carnosine is used as a dietary supplement to ‘protect against aging.’ It has also been shown to alleviate diseases such as autism and diabetes. Carnosine can also prevent atherosclerosis, joint inflammation, and Alzheimer's. Researchers in Europe discovered that using the eggs from the White Silkie chicken can also have health benefits. The White Silkie eggs were found to be lower in cholesterol and higher in unsaturated fatty acids than regular chicken eggs. There are reports that these eggs are able to treat severe headaches, headaches that develop after giving birth, asthma, and kidney problems. Some believe that meat from the White Silkie chicken is more effective than viagra.
In the Tang Dynasty, the 'maifengdanyao,' which has the black-bone chicken as the main ingredient, was thought to be the cure-all medicine for the gynecological diseases. The famous medicinal book written during the Ming Dynasty titled “Compendium of Materia Medica” says that "Taihe Old Chicken is a tonic and nourishing food to treat women's diseases. It enriches blood and builds up the health".
Taihe chicken was named 'Wushan Chicken' by Emperor Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty. The story goes that in the early years of the Qing Dynasty, there was a person whose name was Tu Wenxuan in Wushan, Taihe. This person sent the silky fowl to the Emperor Qian Long. The Emperor ate the chicken and found it delicious. Then Tu Wenxuan was appointed as an official and the Taihe Chicken was named as 'Wushan Chicken' by the Emperor.
Some specific history
In 1915, China sent the silky fowl to Panama Pacific & International Fair and won a gold prize for the silky fowl due to its unique characteristics.
In the late Qing Dynasty, there was a disaster that killed almost all people and silky fowl in Wushan. In the 1930's, two scientists in Jiangxi province collected 10 Taihe Silkie, with 2 cocks and 8 hens from the peasants, in order to save the silky fowl which was on the brink of extinction.
Until 1938, silky fowls that remained in Taihe only numbered in the hundreds. In 1944, the Japanese attacked and occupied Nanchang, then bombed Taihe. The original Taihe silky fowls were almost totally wiped out. In order to protect the original Taihe silky fowl, scientists there, disguised as peasants, risked their lives to protect and raise the silky fowl until the end of the war.
In 1959, the Jiangxi Taihe Wushan Original Chinese Farm was established. Located in Wushan, the farm is set up with the unique purpose of raising the original Taihe silky fowl.
When the Chinese leaders visited Thailand in 1983, they presented 20 eggs from the Jiangxi Taihe Wushan Original Chinese Farm as diplomatic gifts.
For many years Taihe people have made many kinds of products from Taihe chicken. They have made a series of tonic liquors and nourishing foods. The 'Taihe Wuji Bujiu' is one of the four famous Chinese gift liquors. In the Taihe country brewery, black-bone chicken mixed with Chinese angelica, dangshen and 14 other traditional Chinese medicinal herbs are steeped in liquor for three to four months, then stored for six months.
In Chinese folklore, there is a fairy tale that goes with the black-bone chicken. It is said that the celestial Lu Dongbing made pills of immortality on Tiger-nose Peak long, long ago. On the day when the pills of immortality were successfully made, Lu Dongbing invited other celestial beings to the celebration party. When the celestial beings were drinking wine, a pair of wild chicken flew from the forest into the pill-making pool and ate the pills of immortality. The chickens then became a pair of white phoenix. Lu Dongbing was not glad and reported to Buddha Guanying, but Buddha Guanying smiled and said: "It's a good opportunity for them to live on earth." Buddha Guanying pointed at the Tiger-nose Peak, and the white phoenix immediately became silky fowl.
For reference, Tiger-nose Peak is also known as Two-finger Peak of the Wushan Mountain in Taihe. The site for making pills of immortality in the fairy tale can still be seen at the Two-finger Peak of Wushan. There is a spring, known as the "pill-making pool." The pool is about 20 cm deep. The spring water there is clear and sweet. In summer, tourists and natives would come by and drink the water. What is strange is that the pool never overflows and cannot be depleted even drunk by many people.
Chinese believe the properties to be sweet in flavor, warm in nature, related to the channels of the spleen and stomach. It functions to warm the middle region, benefits the spleen, nourishes qi and the blood, tonifies the kidneys and semen, brings down heat of the deficiency type. They use is for treatment of hectic fever, diabetes, lingering diarrhea due to hypofunction of the spleen, dysentery, metrorrhagia (profuse uterine bleeding especially between menstrual periods) and leukorrhagia (whitish discharge from the vagina resulting from inflammation or congestion of the mucous membrane.) It can also be used for the treatment of asthenic disease, soreness of waist, leg pain, etc. Chinese encourage it to be eaten stewed, stir-fried, in soup or used as an ingredient of a prescription. It is used in most of tonifying medicated diets.
The End :)
Now, if all the information above isn’t enough to make you want to eat White Silkie chicken on a regular basis - well, I don’t suppose there’ll be any convincing you. That’s ok, we each have to make our own decisions in life. I just felt that the White Silkie has so much to offer us, both as pets and food - that I wanted to share this information with you.
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