Polish chickens are odd and strange, but more importantly, they are incredibly endearing. Their exquisite head feathers are a distinguishing feature of this species.
The Polish chicken breed has good looks (though with some unusual ones), a calm demeanor, and plenty of production.
This breed has a long and illustrious history, and it has the potential to become the centerpiece of your backyard chicken coop very quickly.
There is no other breed of chicken quite like the Polish breed, but are you up to the challenge of raising one?
History of the Polish Chickens
As with many chicken breeds, it’s unclear where this bird originated.
One theory that is often told is that Asian Mongols brought the breed’s ancestors to Eastern and Central Europe in the Middle Ages.
As a result, the breed is very likely to have originated in Poland.
There is also the possibility that immigrants in the late 16th century brought the breed’s ancestors from Italy or Spain. This is an alternative theory.
In either case, the breed was standardized and recognized in the Netherlands, which is also where it was deemed to be a thoroughbred in the future.
This breed is one of the few whose reputation has stood the test of time. Chickens that look like Polish chickens can be seen in paintings from the 1500s to the 1700s.
The birds were treasured by the aristocracy of France, which kept them because of their refined appearance. The King of Poland brought them to this country when he was forced to flee to France after being dethroned from his throne.
He brought these chickens in his luggage!
There are a lot of different theories concerning the origin of Polish chicken. Some people believe that the breed is truly Polish, while others believe that it originated in a Polish territory or another country, such as the Netherlands.
Why is it named “Polish chicken” if it didn’t come from Poland in the first place?
According to one theory, the bird was named because it has a large head, and the Dutch word “pol” means just that.
These chickens are considered to be among the breeds that produce the highest quality eggs in France.
Many American chicken farmers don’t know this interesting fact because Polish chickens aren’t known for laying a lot of eggs.
Although they were brought to the United States originally to be used as a layer of white eggs, they were eventually outcompeted by the White Leghorn, which is now the most popular commercial egg-laying breed in the world.
On the other hand, the American Poultry Association accepted three Polish varieties as part of the Standard of Perfection in 1874, and additional variations were accepted in the years that followed.
This breed of chicken is also known as Poland chicken, Tophat chicken, and Paduan chicken; however, the name “Polish chicken” is the one that is most commonly used.
Appearance of Polish Chickens
The Polish chicken, like many other chicken breeds, comes in both standard and bantam sizes, which are both recognized by the American Poultry Association.
The Tolbunt is one of the most recently recognized and breathtakingly beautiful varieties of Polish chicken, but the American Poultry Association has not yet recognized it.
This bird is absolutely stunning to look at because its feathers are a combination of brown, white, and black colors.
Even though they can come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, you’ll always be able to recognize a Polish chicken when you see one.
These hens have unique hairstyles that look like pom-poms and look like they’ve been groomed and styled well.
The appearance of roosters, on the other hand, is a little bit more disheveled; it almost seems as though they are having a bad hair day.
Both male and female chickens will grow long feathers on their heads that will eventually fall over their faces and, in some cases, make it hard for them to see.
In Polish chickens, the crest of the head is characterized by a bony prominence that projects upward from the skull, and some of these birds also have beards (though not all).
Roosters are easy to spot because they have red wattles, white earlobes, and combs that are shaped like a V. It’s interesting to note that these chickens have gray legs, and each foot has four toes on it.
The feet and legs do not have any feathers on them.
These chickens are not particularly large; on average, a rooster will only reach a weight of about six pounds, while a hen will only reach a weight of about four and a half pounds. The color of the skin is standard white.
The Personality and Temperament of Polish Chickens
It is common knowledge that Polish chickens are exceptionally placid and mild-mannered birds.
This bird is another fantastic option for your family as a pet, and it is an excellent choice for people who keep chickens in their backyards and also have children or other animals.
Some people even raise them as pets inside their homes.
These chickens have a tendency to fly away. It is possible to clip their wings, but doing so is not recommended if you intend to put your bird on display in a show. This is due to the fact that clipping wings can sometimes result in a bird being disqualified from the competition; check the requirements of the show you intend to apply to see if this might be the case for your bird.
A free-roaming Polish chicken may appear in unexpected places; if given the chance, it may even roost in the trees!
Furthermore, these birds can become agitated at times. This is typically caused by the chicken’s inability to see properly.
To improve the bird’s ability to see potential predators, you might consider trimming the head feathers around the facial or ocular area of its head.
In addition to that, this can help prevent eye infections, which are common in this species of bird.
If you don’t want to trim the feathers around the eyes for personal or exhibition reasons, you can soothe your Polish chicken’s nerves by talking or whistling to it as you approach.
This will alert your bird to your presence, which will help calm it down.
Polish hens rarely go broody, but this varies by individual.
Even though they are usually raised for shows or to be kept as pets, there is still some natural variation in their genes.
While some birds are excellent layers, others tend more toward the role of a brooding parent.
These birds are known to be quite inquisitive due to their naturally curious nature. Often, they will become trapped and require your assistance to escape.
This is especially true in the event that they become separated from the flock and lose their ability to see.
While they are not known for being noisy birds, they will frequently squawk loudly until the other hens find or hear them.
Due to the fact that these chickens are always so calm and have such luxurious head feathers, they are at the bottom of the pecking order.
Despite this, these chickens are very good at finding food in the wild.
They will do a good job of finding their own food and entertainment, so you shouldn’t have to worry about feeding them as much.
However, it is still recommended that you feed them a nutritious pellet or some other feed that is designed specifically for layer chickens.
Does the Polish Chicken Have a Reputation for Being a Good Egg Layer?
At first, Polish chickens were bred for their “dynamic egg-laying ability,” which was said to be very good.
However, despite the fact that individual Polish chickens lay a good amount of white eggs that are medium to large in size, the breed as a whole simply does not produce eggs with the same size, shape, or color throughout.
Some chickens will have a very high egg production, while others will not be nearly as productive with their laying. So, in terms of egg-laying, Polish chickens are about average.
These birds will typically lay between three and four eggs each week on average. In a typical year, they will lay between 150 and 200 eggs.
They don’t get broody very often, but there have been reports of them acting this way from time to time.
However, there is not enough evidence to suggest that Polish hens make good mothers. They go broody and hatch their eggs so rarely that most of the evidence comes from personal stories.
There are a few “hacks” that you can implement in your Polish chicken’s routine in order to achieve your goal of increasing the number of eggs she lays.
They are all safe for your bird and can aid in natural egg laying.
Here are some concepts to consider:
- Put a golf ball or a fake egg of white color in each of your nest boxes.
- Make sure that all of your birds have access to a sufficient number of nest boxes, each of which should be stuffed with fresh, clean bedding.
- Installing curtains over your nest boxes will provide an additional layer of discretion.
- Include a calcium supplement, such as an oyster shell, in your chickens’ diet.
- Make sure there are no factors that could cause the flock undue stress, such as dangerous predators in the area or unfriendly members of the flock.
Is the Polish Chicken a Good Breed for Meat Production?
Unfortunately, due to Polish chicken’s small size, it is not a great option for the production of meat.
There have been some reports of people culling members of their flock and using the resulting bird as a meat bird; however, due to the small size of the Polish chicken’s carcass, you won’t get very much meat off of one of these birds.
As previously stated, it would be more beneficial for you to raise this chicken for its eggs rather than for its meat.
Breeding Polish Chickens
Natural breeding can be difficult to encourage in your Polish chickens, not because the roosters won’t mate with the hens, but because the hens are untrustworthy sitters who rarely hatch their own chicks.
You can encourage hatching by removing eggs and hatching your own in an incubator.
This is not difficult to accomplish because Polish eggs remain fertile for several days after they are laid.
The fact that the roosters can be overly aggressive during the mating process is the second most difficult obstacle to overcome when breeding Polish chickens.
During the mating process, it is common for roosters of all breeds to pluck the feathers of the hen they are mating with. This is particularly true in the case of the Polish chicken.
If you notice a poor hen getting too much attention, you can move her from the breeding pen to a new location.
After mating, the eggs won’t lose their ability to make fertile babies, so you can keep collecting them and letting them hatch.
If you don’t want to collect your own hatching eggs—for instance, if you aren’t allowed to keep a rooster in your flock due to zoning laws—you can always purchase hatching eggs online and still be able to incubate your own at home.
Ideal Environment for Polish Chickens
Polish chickens are small, so they don’t need much more space than other chickens live. Within the coop, they require at least four square feet per bird, but they require significantly more space outside of the coop.
During the winter months, they should be kept in dry quarters, and they are not the best choice of chicken for environments that are either extremely wet or extremely cold.
Due to the dense feathering on the birds’ heads, they are prone to getting their feathers wet and frozen during times of inclement weather because the dense feathering does not dry out very well.
You should be fine as long as you keep your Polish chicken in a draft-proof building during periods of extreme cold.
They will dislike being wet, and if they become wet, you will need to assist them in drying out their fluffy head feathers.
You could also put a heat lamp inside your coop to assist in warming it up during the times of the year when the weather is cool and wet.
They should be able to handle the heat just fine, but you should make them fresh by providing them with plenty of shade and water that hasn’t been sitting around for too long.
As was mentioned earlier, these birds do well when confined, but for their own safety, you should make sure to keep them in a run that is covered.
It tends to be very curious, and the dense feathers on its body make it hard for it to see. This makes it easy for it to get into trouble with other chickens, pets, or even predators.
You don’t necessarily need a large coop, but you should make sure that your chickens have enough space to get away from larger birds in the event that there is any tension within the flock.
If you keep your Polish chicken in close quarters, you will need to be concerned about its safety because chickens have a natural tendency to become more aggressive when they are confined. This will cause you to worry about the safety of your Polish chicken.
If you are worried about raising your Polish chicken in a flock with other breeds, you might want to think about housing it with other breeds that have similar markings or behave in a similar way.
The following are some excellent breeds to take into consideration:
- Golden Comets
- Plymouth Rock
- Buff Orpington
- Easter Egger
Does the Polish Chicken Have Any Health Issues?
Unfortunately, Polish chickens do not have a reputation for being the healthiest chickens in the world.
During the first few weeks of life, chicks must be closely observed and monitored.
Because of their extremely bony heads, they are extremely dangerous during the first few weeks after hatching.
The prominence does not fuse together in the correct way, so if your chicks engage in any sort of pecking behavior, you should be aware that even a single peck could kill or damage your chick.
In addition to this, you should make it a routine to check the crest and beard of your bird on a consistent basis.
It is entirely possible for the feathers to become infested with lice, mites, or other kinds of parasites due to the fact that these chickens have such lush feathering.
You can make it less likely that the bird will hurt itself by giving it medicine and cutting back any feathers that have grown too long.
If you’re worried about your chicken sustaining any injuries related to feather pulling or mite infestation, there’s a good solution to your problems.
Apply some Blue Kote to the areas of your Polish chicken that are bleeding or exposed to the air when you notice that its feathers have been plucked out and that there are areas of bloody skin.
When given the chance, chickens will peck nonstop and may even eat their own kind because they are naturally drawn to places where there is blood.
Blue Kote will not only help cover up the red, but it will also act as a barrier to stop bacteria from getting into the wound. During this time, we will allow your chicken to rest and get better.
Bear in mind, however, that Blue Kote leaves stains, so your chicken may look a little strange for a while after you use it.
If nothing else, the susceptibility of these chickens to a variety of diseases won’t differ all that much from the susceptibility of other chickens.
If you want to show your Polish bird, you will probably need to put in a little bit of extra work to make sure that your chicken is always clean, groomed, and coiffed in accordance with the standards that are set for the Polish breed.
Make sure you check out the Polish Breeders Club if you want to learn more about showing your bird off at competitions.
Tips on Raising Polish Chicken
In general, Polish chickens don’t need much more care than the rest of your flock. However, if you want to show the bird, you’ll need to give it more attention.
In any other case, you can give your birds laying feed, which is available at almost every feed store and has all the nutrients they need. This feed can be found in the poultry section.
During the months of fall, when they are more likely to bolt, all chickens will require additional protein. Around the age of one year, all chickens experience a molt.
Your chickens will come out of this process with a new, shiny coat of feathers that will help them stay clean as the weather gets colder.
Because Polish chickens need to grow additional feathers, they might put a little bit more protein in their diet.
You can either switch to a feed that is specifically designed for molting or add supplements to your chicken’s diet, such as the following:
Feed for chicks
Seeds and nuts
During the winter, you will also need to pay close attention to where the waterers for your chickens are placed.
There is a good chance that your birds will get their heads wet whenever they go to drink, which will lead to the formation of ice in the water.
Make sure that your Polish chickens are using the appropriate waterers to hydrate themselves rather than sticking their heads into buckets of water.
You could also just cut the feathers back during the winter months, which is the time of year when these birds are typically exempt from the requirements that they meet to be eligible for shows anyway.
The Numerous Advantages of Raising Polish Chickens
The Polish chicken is an excellent option for a potential show chicken breed.
It is possible to spend a lot of money purchasing a Polish chicken with “show-line” genetics; however, there are many Polish chickens available that can be purchased for a low price and are still considered to be show-quality birds. You are going to have to do some window shopping first.
The process of raising an ornamental bird requires quite a bit of work, but participating in local county fairs or 4H projects is a fantastic way to get your feet wet in the hobby.
Polish chickens are great to raise, especially if you have kids in the house.
In addition, many people decide to add Polish chickens to their backyard flock because they raise them to be an interesting and unusual addition.
These birds are entertaining to look at as well as fun to interact with, and because they are so docile, they make fun pets for young children.
They like to be held and cuddled, and they have no trouble getting used to having a human friend around.
In addition, if you are looking for an egg layer that is at least somewhat dependable, you might want to consider keeping a Polish chicken.
If you want to maximize your egg production, you should probably go with a breed that is well-known for its egg production, such as the White Leghorn.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind the occasional egg, a Polish breed might be a good choice for you.
The Problems of Raising Polish Chickens
It is not always easy to integrate a Polish chicken into a flock consisting of other breeds of chickens. This is especially the case if you have a true number of dominant chickens, such as Welsummers or Rhode Island Reds, in your flock.
Because Polish chickens are so friendly and well-behaved, they often end up at the bottom of the pecking order.
This would not be a problem if this bird were not on the smaller side in comparison to others of its kind—and if its feathers were not so plush.
Your Polish chickens are likely to be hurt by this rude behavior since chickens tend to pull out feathers as they try to figure out where they stand in the pecking order.
Because Polish chickens have their feathers plucked so often, they are more likely to get lice, mites, and other types of parasites. This makes an already bad situation even worse.
In order to make certain that these pests do not become a problem, both the hens and the roosters will need to be inspected and treated on a regular basis.
If you let your chicken roam free without supervision, you may find that it loses large clumps of feathers or experiences other health problems.
However, it is not always easy to determine whether the feather loss is the result of aggressive behavior from other chickens or from pests.
You will be relieved to know that treating mites and lice is easy and can be done by doing the following:
- You should ensure that all of the birds in your coop have sufficient access to dust baths.
- Maintain a regular cleaning schedule for your chicken coop and living quarters.
- The chicken coop was dusted with diatomaceous earth.
- Keeping an eye out for any signs of infestation among your Polish chickens
- Ensuring that your chicken coop has the appropriate number of chickens in relation to the available space
Frequently Asked Questions
There is a possibility that you will experience some uncertainty before you decide whether or not this breed is suitable for you. So, to help you decide, I’ve put together a list of some of the most frequently asked questions.
Are Polish chickens known to be friendly?
Indeed, Polish chickens have a reputation for being friendly. They appear to enjoy being held, and their demeanor is typically friendly toward children.
On the other hand, if the feathers on their head block their vision too much, they may be skittish and easily scared.
What is the significance of the abundance of feathers on the heads of Polish chickens?
The naturally occurring pom-pom head feathers on top of the head of a Polish chicken are adorable. The majority of keepers let the feathers grow long for the purposes of show and exhibition.
Even so, many people trim the chicken’s feathers every so often because the feathers can get in the chicken’s eyes and make it uncomfortable.
Are There Any Other Crested Chicken breeds?
Indeed, there are a great many additional breeds that have a crest of feathers on their heads. Other varieties consist of the Silkie, the Houdan chicken, and the Appenzeller Spitzhauben.
The vast majority of head feathers do not serve any purpose other than their aesthetic value.
Should You Raise Polish Chickens?
It’s possible that the Polish chicken isn’t the best at laying eggs or producing meat, but there’s no denying that it’s an attractive bird to look at.
If you already have a healthy and happy flock of chickens in your backyard, you might want to consider adding some Polish chickens to the mix.
The American Livestock Breed Conservancy has placed this chicken on its watch list because its population size is relatively low and the organization is closely monitoring its progress.
This chicken is truly one of a kind, and we don’t want to see it go extinct because of that fact.
You should give some thought to getting a Polish chicken if you are searching for the ideal breed of chicken to either use in shows or raise as a pet in your home.
This chicken may not produce as much meat or eggs, but it more than makes up for it with its personality, and we believe that Polish chickens might be the perfect addition to your backyard flock if you keep a few of them.