polish chicken breed
Donald Judge / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Ornamental
  • Eggs: White
  • Egg Size: Small
  • Color: Black, White, Golden
  • Comb Type: V-Shaped Comb

Though they were used as egg layers in the past, it seems that the primary use of modern Polish chickens is shifting to the ornamental side of the spectrum.

These birds will always be eye-candy, but their dependability as breakfast-producers will have to be proven. You need to judge your birds by who they are as individuals, not their breed!

Polish chickens are typically calm and tame birds. In a group of mixed breeds, their docile nature will usually place them at the bottom of the pecking order. If you decide to show your crazy-crested chickens, however, you’ll see that their adaptability to confinement, their willingness to be handled, and their generally gentle temperament will be quite handy indeed!

Characteristics

With an eye-popping headdress, the Polish chicken isn’t your average bird. Ornately decorated with a head-encircling spray of feathers, sometimes a beard, and a wide array of colors, these crested cuties are the darling of the exhibition hall.

But why limit their good looks to the catwalk? Perhaps this centuries-old breed could bring a touch of fancy flair to your backyard as well.

There’s a Price to Pay for Being Fabulous

While that glorious feather arrangement is the Polish chicken’s claim to fame, it is also its biggest hindrance. It has the potential to cause an array of problems. The crest does not win the Polish esteem among its chicken peers.

More dominant chickens may be prone to bullying gentle Polish birds and pulling the pronounced feathers. Be cautious when deciding to mix Polish chickens into a diverse flock, particularly if you have potentially aggressive chickens such as Rhode Island Reds, Malays, or Leghorns.

Feather lice and mites are also attracted to the crest, so your birds may need you to check them regularly to prevent infestation.

The crest also inhibits quite a bit of the Polish chicken’s ability to see. Though they are inherently calm and docile, they can be easily startled. Give your girls a heads up when you approach by whistling or softly talking to them and save them the heart attack!

These birds are great with warm weather, but cold weather isn’t their cup of tea. If their crest dips into their drinking water during freezing weather, ice can accumulate and cause further problems.

What’s the Yield?

The Polish chicken was once well-known for its egg-laying abilities, rivaling breeds like the prolific Leghorn. The show-appeal of that crest, however, led to the birds most recent breeding focusing on appearance alone. As such, the dependability of eggs from a Polish hen varies quite widely. You could get as many as four or as little as one small, white egg a week, depending on the individual.

Though you could really eat any chicken, these are not the meatiest choice. Males weigh 6 pounds and females 4.5.

They Aren’t Necessarily From Poland

Their name is misleading, as these crested chickens’ origins are certainly old, but also quite unknown. There is no evidence that they ever came from Poland! It’s thought that the name may come from their feathers’ resemblance to an old style of Polish hat, but no one really knows for sure.

What is known is that these birds have been recognized as a breed at least since the 16th century. There’s a statue of a crested chicken in Vatican City that seems to imply how old this breed really is!

Pictures of Polish Chickens

polish chicken
David Goehring / Flickr (Creative Commons)
polish chicken
David Goehring / Flickr (Creative Commons)

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