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Silkies Can Fly

If You Take Them on an Airplane

By Inga Ladd

The unique structure of a Silkie's feather gives the appearance of chicken covered with fur. A closer examination of a Silkie reveals that the "hair" is not really hair but is actually feathers which are downy in texture. The fluffy appearance is caused by the fact that a Silkie's feathers lack the tiny hooks on the barbules of their feathers which would normally hold the feather's shape. Lacking normal feathers, a Silkie Bantam cannot really fly - except on an airplane...

I had the great fortune to be able to attend the ABA National show in Lake City, Florida a few years ago. The show hosted the American Silkie Bantam Club's Eastern National meet. I would encourage breeders of ANY breed to attend their chosen breed's national if at all possible. It was great fun! I met so many different Silkie breeders and learned much more than I could have ever learned at a typical show. Simply having approximately 200 Silkies at one show was certainly something to see.

I was expecting a baby to be born during the July after the show so for me flying to the show was the only option. I could not stand the thought of driving over fourteen hours by myself since my spouse could not take off from work to drive with me. I called my travel agent and booked reservations with Delta Airlines. My travel agent, a lovely lady with a southern accent said, "Flying with chickens? To a CHICKEN show? Please tell me this expedition reaps greater awards than ribbons!!! Certainly money?" I laughed and told her that monetary rewards were not expected.

I booked my reservations with Delta because they have a reputation for being easier to deal with in regard to flying with show poultry than many airlines. Still, if you fly with your birds, plan for at least an additional 45 minutes at the check-in counter to convince the ticket agent that flying with show poultry is truly allowed. When flying with Delta, I was warned to write down the term "G DISPLAY *729" on my ticket for future reference but forgot to do it. This code takes the ticket agent straight to the information needed to expedite the process. Trying to tell the agents to just pretend that your crowing and cackling crate contains a little poodle is not likely to work. The cost to transport the plastic pet carrier is $75 each direction so the cost was not prohibitive. However, remember to say, "My chickens are traveling as ADDITIONAL BAGGAGE." This magic phrase will prevent the birds from being misdirected to a straight cargo flight.

Valerie Hirvela, has designed a special pet carrier for poultry. The diagram is easy to follow with anyone with a shred of carpenter's skill. My father helped my build mine. The only problem with the carrier is that it must be completely disassembled to load and unload. Thankfully, Silkies cannot fly by themselves. Keep an assistant on hand to catch birds when you unload! I shudder to think of using exactly this carrier with any chicken more flighty than a Silkie!

Be prepared for a lot of comment on the contents of your pet carrier if you do travel with your Silkies. I heard "What on earth is in that carrier?" I got many strange looks. People on the airport shuttle bus inquired of me, "Why would anyone want to show a chicken?" I was asked, "Is that some kind of funny-looking rabbit or cat?" I was asked if I ate my chickens. I was asked if I ate their eggs. I was asked more questions than I can even remember! It was certainly an experience to treasure...

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