Complete Guide To The Polish Chicken Breed
Have you ever entertained the idea of adding a living ornament to your home?
You probably haven’t… I mean, who does that?
However, the Polish chicken is one of the few creatures on this planet that appears to be exactly that.
This ornamental bird is a treasured breed that deserves your attention if you happen to be on a quest for a chicken companion that will add some beauty to your surroundings.
- Polish Chicken In A Nutshell
- History of the Polish Chicken
- Profiling Polish Chickens
- Varieties of the Polish Chicken Breed
- Verdict – A Polished Poultry Prodigy
Polish Chicken In A Nutshell
|Purpose for Breeding||Ornamental|
|Weight||Standard: 2-2.75kg (4.5-6lbs); bantam: 740g-859g|
|Egg production||Around 200 eggs|
|Broodiness level||Low – very rare|
|Ease of care||High maintenance|
|Temperament||Friendly and sociable to humans|
|Sociability with other chickens||Low in the pecking order|
History of the Polish Chicken
To the surprise of many, the Polish chicken is not actually Polish, but Dutch. Although some poultry historians maintain that this old breed may indeed trace its origins to an Eastern European country, others claim that the bird was imported to The Netherlands from Spain or Italy sometime around the 15th century.
It is believed that the breed was given its name because its crest resembled the caps worn by Polish soldiers at the time.
Since it was Dutch poultry breeders who developed this bird and its many varieties, credit has been given to them. In fact, the breed became so important to Dutch culture that they feature in many paintings that date as far back as the 15th century. Poultry Yard, a painting by Melchior de Hondecoeter from 1668, is the perfect example – illustrating what seems to be a White Polish chicken next to a White Crested Black.
An age-old poetic description of the breed, on the other hand, refers to the Polish chicken as (1):
The flower of all poultry and, moreover a Dutch breed, is the Dutch crested.
The cocks and their magnificent crests, elegantly bent backwards
and hanged over aside with small, vertex snow-white feathers; the crest
looks like a Japanese chrysanthemum.
The hens have a pure global crest, like a pumpkin, resembling the Dutch
guelder rose. This white looks bright in combination with
the black, green shining feathers of the body.
Profiling Polish Chickens
But what are the qualities of such a peculiar breed? Find out more about this bird’s physical characteristics, personality, and purpose in the upcoming section.
Polish chickens are one of the most cartoon-like poultry breeds out there, next to Silkie chickens, of course! And the similarity of their crests with Tina Turner’s hair is just hard to ignore.
Apart from their stylish hairdo (head feathers), though, Polish chickens are characterized by having a relatively short body, medium-length back, and a large and well-spread tail. Their neck is also of medium size and slightly arched in shape.
They are a clean-legged chicken, meaning no feathers grow on their slate-colored shanks. Their wattles are rather small and bright red in color, while their earlobes are also small but white in color. Their beaks come in varying shades of horn or blue, such as bluish-black or slate-blue, and their eyes are normally reddish-bay.
This chicken has a V-shaped comb, which is a type of comb that divides itself in two – making it look more like two tiny, wobbly horns on top of their heads (that is, if you manage to find it beneath the tuft)!
Considered a small-sized breed, the weight of a standard Polish hen reaches about 4.5 pounds or 2 kilograms, while a standard rooster reaches 6 pounds or 2.75 kilograms.
This breed also comes in bantam size. Polish bantam hens weigh around 1.6 pounds or 740 grams, while Polish bantam roosters weigh around 1.8 pounds or 850 grams.
The Battle of the Sexes
You might be wondering about the differences between hens and roosters when it comes to this particular breed.
Well, the male vs. female situation is somewhat tricky. Before the birds are fully developed, most backyard chicken keepers are unable to tell their Polish hens and roosters apart until the latter ones start to crow – which will usually happen between 4 to 5 months of age.
You can always try sexing Polish chicks when they hatch, by looking at the shape of their crests. However, there are as many people who claim this sexing method works as there are who claim it doesn’t. But it’s always fun to give it a try!
Once the birds have matured, it’s easier to distinguish roosters from hens, since roosters tend to be a bit larger and their crests more pronounced. For hens, it is rounder in shape, while roosters’ appear more disheveled.
Note: Have you ever wondered when baby chicks can start going outside? Read all about it in our article on the subject.
If you are searching for a calm and friendly chicken, you’ve come across the perfect breed.
This breed is of a mild nature, making it the perfect match for a family with children. They like being around people and get used to human handling without much fuss.
Something to consider, however, is that they often spook easily at things around them. This is because their fuzzy head feathers limit their vision; consequently, they become jumpy when unexpected things happen in their surroundings.
Whistling or making noises of some sort as you approach them can help prevent these terror-stricken reactions. If kept with other backyard chickens, it is possible for them to end up at the bottom of the pecking order.
Try to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t being tormented, especially if there are any overly-dominant chicken breeds present in the flock.
Note: If you are thinking about adding a Polish pal into an existing backyard crowd, you may benefit from our article on How to Introduce New Chickens!
Polish adapt well to confinement, but if you decide to free-range them, special care must be taken, since their limited vision makes them vulnerable to predators.
Finally, these birds are not exactly celebrated for their motherly traits, because they rarely go broody!
Purpose and Egg Production
Their imposing looks and unique feathering makes these chickens one of the most popular show and ornamental breeds out there. However, this wasn’t always the case for these birds.
Back in the 1800s, for example, the Polish were widely used for egg production in North America. This changed the moment the Leghorn set foot in U.S. territory and took their place as the most prolific layer.
Since then, these birds have evolved for exhibition purposes and the remarkable pets we know them as today.
Despite not being the most productive, you may still occasionally stumble upon good egg layers that will supply you with as many as 200 white eggs per year. The size can vary from medium to large. But, bear in mind that this will always be the catch with this breed: you may or may not come by a good layer.
In other words, if you are looking for reliable egg producers, this chicken might not be the choice for you!
Taking Care Of This Chicken
When it comes to Polish chickens, special care mostly involves keeping their crests as clean and dry as possible at all times. Keeping the birds in a coop and run will help prevent them from getting dirty, but if the crest happens to get soiled it is necessary to wash and dry it (3).
When the washed bird is removed from the final rinsing, the plumage should be dried as much as possible. Work as much water as possible out with the hands, then dry with a towel.
If you are unable to wash the crest, you can apply an organic insect repellent to prevent mite infestation – just make sure it doesn’t make contact with their noses or eyes!
You’ll know your birds have a mite issue if there are black dust particles in the base of the crest plumage. Irreversible injury can be caused to the chicken’s eyes and ears if this problem isn’t addressed quickly.
For more information on how to detect if your chooks have mites, check out this great video from Tractor Supply Company below:
Note: Need more help determining if your chicken is sick? Learn what symptoms to look for in our article, Chicken Diseases 101.
Trimming the head feathers will not only allow the chickens to see better but will help prevent eye infections, too. Finally, avoid crest pecking by keeping them separated from non-crested chicken breeds.
Varieties of the Polish Chicken Breed
The breed was first recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874, whereas the British Poultry Standards recognized the breed in 1865.
At present, there are 7 different Polish chicken colors recognized in the United States for large fowl and 6 for bantam (2). Four of these apply to both bearded and non-bearded types of Polish, while two apply to non-bearded Polish only. In the UK, there are nine recognized varieties that apply to both bearded and non-bearded Polish.
Golden Polish Chicken (A.K.A. Golden Laced Polish)
Female Golden Polish chickens are a greyish-buff color that varies from light to dark. The fore part of the neck and breast has a salmon hue, and the tail is black with grey accents. Their wings are brown and have black highlights over a grey color.
Male Golden Polish chickens have a creamy white color to their heads and hackles, a golden back, and golden wings with black and white accents. Black dominates the fore parts of their necks, breasts, bodies, and tails.
The beak for both female and male Golden Polish is dark horn in color, and their shanks and toes are slate blue.
This variety is recognized for both bearded and non-bearded Polish. The British Poultry Standards color specifications, however, differ from the American ones.
Although not its official name, this variety is frequently called Golden Laced Polish or Polish chicken recognized variety bearded Golden.
Silver Polish Chicken
Female and male Silver varieties are almost entirely covered with laced feathers. Their plumage ranges from silvery grey to silvery white with black lacing. Their beaks are dark horn in color, and their shanks and toes slate blue.
This variety is recognized for both bearded and non-bearded Polish.
Although not its official name, this variety is frequently called Silver Laced Polish or Polish chicken recognized variety non-bearded Silver.
White Polish Chicken
For both female and male White Polish chickens, their plumage should be totally snow-white and range from glossy to matte. Their beak is dark horn in color and their shanks and toes light slate blue.
This variety is recognized by APA and British Poultry Associations for both bearded and non-bearded Polish. In the U.K., however, this color goes by the name of Self White.
White Crested Blue Polish Chicken
For both female and male White Crested Blue Polish chickens, their plumage should be fully blue with the exception of their crest, which is either completely white or white with a few highlights of blue in the front. Their beak is black with bluish tones and their shanks and toes a dark slate blue.
This variety is recognized by APA and British Poultry Associations for non-bearded Polish only.
Black Crested White Polish Chicken
For both female and male Black Crested White Polish chickens, their plumage should be entirely white with the exception of their crest, which is glossy black. The beak is horn in color, and their shanks and toes slate blue.
This variety is recognized by the APA for large fowl non-bearded Polish only.
White Crested Black Polish Chicken
For both female and male Black Crested White Polish chickens, their plumage should be totally glossy black with the exception of their crest, which is either all white or white with a few blue highlights in the front.
Related:17 Cool Black Chicken Breeds
The beak is black with blue hues, and their shanks and toes dark slate blue.
This variety is recognized by APA for bantam non-bearded Polish only, whereas Britain recognizes it for all bearded and non-bearded large fowl and bantams.
Buff Laced Polish Chicken
For both female and male Buff Polish chickens, their plumage should be golden buff with creamy white lacing. Their beaks, shanks, and toes should be slate blue in color.
This variety is recognized by APA and British Poultry Association for both bearded and non-bearded Polish. The British, however, refer to this Polish chicken recognized variety bearded Buff Laced as Chamois instead.
Didn’t find your perfect recognized variety yet?
No worries, there are other varieties that are still lined up to be recognized – such as the Black-Tailed Red, White Laced Red, and Splash. Or take a look at the British varieties that aren’t recognized in the U.S., such as the Self Black, Self Blue, and White Crested Cuckoo.
Verdict – A Polished Poultry Prodigy
So, do you think this distinguished chicken breed is right for you? Bear in mind that this chicken breed is most likely be a suitable choice if your backyard flock doesn’t consist of overly-dominant or non-crested breeds, there is a full predator-proof chicken coop and run, and able to provide the care they need. Also, if you live somewhere with a moderate climate.
Let us know all about your questions and opinions in the comments section below, and remember to pass this article along to your fowl-aficionado friends!
Yes, Polish chickens are more vulnerable to predators. Their head-turner head feathers block their vision. Therefore, it is always better to keep them well-protected in a suitable coop and run, and to supervise their outings when allowing them to free-range.
Learn what predators to look out for in our article, Chicken Predators and Pests – How to Protect Your Flock!
Polish chickens are currently categorized as a Watch breed in the Conservation Priority List of the Livestock Conservancy. This means that there are less than 2,500 yearly registrations in the U.S. and an approximate global population of less than 10,000.
No, Polish can’t tolerate heat. They were developed in The Netherlands and therefore have a reputation for being cold-hardy. In other words, Polish are more likely to do well in cold climates than hot ones. Nevertheless, this is not a breed that is capable of withstanding extreme cold or hot weather.
There are no different Polish chicken breeds. There is just one Polish breed that’s composed of several varieties such as the Silver, Golden, and White Crested Black.
Breeds are a group within a species that display similar characteristics that set them apart from other groups within the same species. In this case, the Polish breed of chicken can easily be distinguished from the Blue Andalusian breed, for example, or the Dorking.
Within breeds are varieties, which are subclasses based on the color of their feathers, combs, and the existence of beards and muffs.
- Polands Or Crested Dutch. Retrieved from: http://www.aviculture-europe.nl/nummers/14E06A03.pdf
- Accepted Breeds & Varieties. Retrieved from: http://amerpoultryassn.com/sample-page/apa-breeds-varieties/accepted-breeds-varieties/
- Preparing Poultry For Show. Retrieved from: https://counties.agrilife.org/harrison/files/2011/06/ps03700.pdf
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.