Fast forward a couple of months, I am able to tell that these chicks are Silkies. Suddenly there seemed to be a lot of testosterone outside with little chickens fighting constantly. At one point I thought there was actually 5 cockerels. I was able to give one to a coworker who had a bunch of layers and could use a male. I also got rid of one to someone on Craigslist. I decided that the one which appeared to be an Alpha would be the one we kept. We kept him around until about the 16th week. He started "surfing" the ladies as I have heard it called before. No problems there, the kids were looking forward to having baby chicks. The next week however he started crowing. Until we can actually move to the country we had to get rid of him unfortunately. He always cared for his ladies and he is missed.
Well shortly thereafter one chicken started laying and a couple weeks later all three started laying. Our original chicken Lady who is a Buff Brahma actually stopped laying June 22. The day gets one minute shorter and she stopped. Lady will be 3 years old at the end of February. She has always been a sporadic layer and started laying later than the originals. But she has always been healthy. She is the matriarch and my wife's favorite so she will be around for as long as she lives naturally. In previous winters I have used lights to "keep her warm" as my wife worried about her. The lights were really not needed, but it made my wife feel better and the net result was she actually started to lay in the winter. I thought that was a good deal since the more eggs the better for me and I have had some bad luck with predators when I first started, I thought we might as well get all we can while we have them.
This winter I haven't used any lights, but the Silkies continue to lay. We consistently get 3 eggs one day, 1 egg the next day, 2 eggs the next in a continuous loop. I have been really impressed with the Silkies. Being bantams I thought they would be very small, but in fact they look like a regular sized bird compared to big ole Lady. Their eggs are about 3/4 the size of Lady's based on what I remember. It's been so long since I have seen an egg from her though they might be the same size now.
I sold an old chicken coop to a couple last year and they recalled their story of chicken keeping. They mentioned they started out with their kid's 4H project and they shifted over to Silkies and they had 75 or so of them. They talked about how they liked the Silkies the best and how the eggs were better. Before they started laying I was actually buying local eggs so I do think they are better than what I was buying.
All in all I would recommend the Silkies for home use. They appear to be very hardy from the limited time I have had them as well. I was looking at some chicks today and it made me think of how hard it is to pass up buying chicks from TSC or the Coop in the spring. Here is looking forward to March!