Polish Chicken Breed Information
The Polish chicken is a beautiful breed known for its ornate head feathers. With a kind and gentle temperament, decent egg laying, and the looks to be the belle of the ball, the Polish chicken is a favorite among many backyard chicken keepers. Learn a bit more about this breed, and whether or not it is right for you!
History of the Polish Chicken
There are many different theories on the history of the Polish Chicken, but there are a few popular ones. First, the Polish breed may have come from the Mongols through Poland into Europe during the medieval times.
Another theory holds that Dutch and Italian immigrants brought the Polish chicken into England in the 16th century. There are many paintings and depictions of chickens looking similar to these breeds from the 15th and 16th centuries, suggesting the chicken existed in these arease before coming into popularity in the rest of Europe.
The Polish chicken has been especially popular in the United States. First introduced in the early 1800’s, the American Poultry Association accepted three varieties into their Standard of Perfection in 1874, with several other variets added in the coming years.
The Polish is known primarily for its extravagant head crest. Coming in both standard and bantam sizes, the Polish hen is often between four and five pounds while males weight six or seven. There are many different varieties, and they may be white, silver, black, brown, or blue-laced.
The chicken’s crest is often large, with feathers falling down around the face sometimes. This is supported by a protruding head bone that can be especially fragile when young. There are some bearded varieties, which may have extended feathers around the cheeks and chin. Their face and crown are their most notable features, and make them prized show birds.
Their legs and feet are most often grey, although they may also be white or silver. True Polish chickens contain no feathering on the toes or legs.
Although they were once a favorite of American egg farmers, many of the Polish hens today produce eggs at a medium rate at best. With an average of about 200 eggs a year, these chickens are not known as the best layers. Furthermore, the different varieties and crossbreeding makes it a gamble. Some Polands lay much less, while others may be quite efficient layers.
Polish hens lay medium-sized white eggs. They are not known to be a broody breed, but they may sometimes do so. In general, a Polish will lay an egg every 48 hours and not brood over them. For more information on raising these chickens as layers, we recommend checking out this book Answers to Raising Chickens.
Polish Chicken Temperament
The Polish chicken is known for being a rather docile breed. It is largely a calm bird, comfortable being handled, and suitable for children to be around. They may sometimes be fidgety or nervous, but this is usually related to the fact that they have difficulty seeing through their crest feathers. Letting them know you are approaching by talking softly can help them respond with less nervousness.
Because they are calm and mild, they often fall low on the pecking order in flocks of mixed breeds. They are often curious birds and enjoy foraging. Because of this, they’re known to wander off from their flock, get themselves stuck in places, and/or find themselves on the wrong side of a fence or wall.
A relatively hardy bird, they can handle decent heat and some cold. The one place they struggle greatly is in getting wet. In damp or rainy climates, these chickens should be kept inside or in a place with a draft. If they do get wet, their crown feathers should be dried. It’s also useful to trim their crest in order to help keep them dry and seeing clearly!
Health and Needs
The Polish chicken doesn’t have many special health needs in general. The only exception is their crest feathers and beard. When they are young chicks, the bony head is soft and not fully formed. A hard peck or fall right on the protruding bone can cause serious injury or death, and the chicks must be watched closely.
As adults, it is sometimes beneficial to trim a lot of the feathers above the neck, including the face, neck, and crest plumage. However, Polish hens are common show birds, so trimming them does not make much sense in many cases! Trimming the feathers can help them stay dry and warm, and see clearly.
Is the Polish Chicken Right for You?
The Polish chicken is not a great layer, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great bird! If you want to show your bird, get attention, or enjoy a feathery face, the Polish is definitely a breed of choice. It also makes an excellent bird for children, especially as an introduction to chicken keeping. Because it is so calm and docile, it is perfect for kids and to teach them how to care for an animal and show bird.
If you’re interested in hatching your own Polish chickens, check out the Incubator Maker guide!
For more information on chickens, check out our Chicken Keeping Resource Guide with FAQ’s, book recommendations, information about different breeds, and all you need to know about coops, runs, feed, and more!