The Polish chicken breed has an iconic look that makes them unique. Their unusual V-shaped and buffet-style crest of feathers make them so fashionable. Polish chickens are typically affectionate birds that will give your flock a visual appeal. Read on to learn more about this breed.
History and Background of Polish Chickens
When it comes to the historical background of the Polish chickens, a lot is not agreed upon. They have an obscure history, and most poultry experts do not believe that the breed originated from Poland. According to the most popular theory, the name of the breed stemmed from its appearance. Their fabulous crests appear like feathered caps that Polish soldiers mainly wear.
Poultry experts believe that the chickens originated from Spain. They were later taken to Holland by Spaniards who occupied the lowlands in Holland. The Dutch are credited for distinguishing the crests and refining the breed’s colors back in the 18th century.
There is another theory about Polish chickens, stating that their name was derived from the Dutch word pol, which refers to the head. This could have been because of the dome-shaped skull of the Polish. The birds could have been brought to Europe by Asian Mongols during medieval times.
In the 1700s, the Polish chicken breed was memorialized in Europe as it featured various artworks. Italian and Durch artists painted the chickens from the 16th up to the 18th century. During this same time, the birds were featured in several literature writings.
The chickens were later on introduced in France, where they were mainly used in the production of eggs. Between 1830 to 1831, the Polish chickens were introduced in America. By 1850, the had already spread in many parts of America. They won a reputation for themselves because of their egg production.
The coming of Leghorn chickens made Polish chickens lose their clout as egg producers. Most chicken keepers had to replace them with new breeds. However, they were still kept by some for exhibition purposes. Today, the breed still retains its exciting and unusual characteristics. They are popular as a show breed, although they can also lay eggs.
Breed Standard of Polish Chickens
Polish chickens are known for having fluffy crest feathers. Chicken keepers and breeders like to refer to the head feathers of Polish chickens as “pom-pom.” The birds have friendly personalities and are popularly kept as ornamental birds.
The American Poultry Association classifieds their breed as both bantam and standard varieties. Here is the summary of the breed standard:
- Class: Continental
- Purpose: Ornamental
- Type: Large and Bantam fowl
- Size: 4 up to 5 pounds
- Varieties: Black Crested White, Bearded and Non-bearded, and White Crested Black.
- Rarity: Common
The appearance of the Polish Chickens
The fanciest features of the Polish chickens include the iconic crest of head feathers and a V-shaped comb. Each of their foot has four toes. They also do not have leg feathers. Roosters have a V-shaped comb that appears to be hidden beneath the protrusion of head feathers. Their earlobes are white, and wattles are red.
Depending on the variety, the chickens can be bearded. They will have several feathers around the head and face if they are bearded. Their legs are typically grey, and they do not have feathers. Polish chickens also have white skin. Male chickens usually weigh about 7 pounds, while their hens can weigh about 5 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
Polish chickens are friendly and love to be cuddled. If you think of keeping chickens that are friendly to your children, then Polish chickens can be a good option. They are characterized as skittish, flighty, and easily frightened.
The breed will do well if handled gently and given a lot of reassurance and affection. If you are a compassionate chicken enthusiast who does not mind giving his chicken a little extra support, then they can be more suitable for you. Although they are gentle, they tend to be more inquisitive and love to investigate. You may more likely come across some of them at unusual places because of the curious personalities of the chickens.
They can tolerate and do better in confinement. The birds usually develop strong relationships with their mates and cry out if they are in a flock and you separate them.
Because of their temperament, Polish chickens are generally low on the pecking order. They are very calm and docile. Their roosters are also less aggressive as compared to other chicken breeds. If you keep Polish chickens in the same flock with other breeds deemed to be aggressive, you will have to be very watchful. Since they are calm, they are more likely to be victims of harassment from aggressive breeds.
Because of their characteristics, the Polish chickens will attract a lot of attention, especially from children.
Most chicken keepers and breeders agree that Polish chickens are not very good at laying eggs. Some of the egg production issues are based on the chicken diet. Their hens will not lay a lot of eggs and for a long time if you do not feed them properly. Polish hens usually do well when fed on a 16% egg-laying feed.
On average, a Polish hen can lay about two to three eggs in a week. This translates to approximately 180 eggs in a year. The size of their eggs ranges from medium to large. Polish hens are known to lay eggs at the end of the egg-laying seasons, unlike most chicken breeds. It usually takes them a little time to warm up. However, whenever they do, they become fairly consistent.
They lay white eggs and may start laying at the age of 5 months. This is much earlier as compared to other chicken breeds. They are not bred for having motherly instincts. Your Polish hens will hardly go broody even if you tried training them.
Care and Health Issues
Both the bantam-sized and standard Polish chickens will require similar needs if you are taking care of them. Some of these requirements include:
- They will need a coop to protect them from various elements and keep them safe from possible predators.
- You will have to supply them with high-quality feed that will help in the formation of their feathers. You must also include the necessary nutrients that are essential in the formation of an egg.
- Provide them with a regular source of fresh and clean water.
- Offer them some entertainment, such as a chicken swing.
The needs of the Polish chickens are much similar to those of other chicken breeds. Therefore, if you have ever kept any of the common chicken breeds, you will not find a hard time taking care of your Polish chickens. You should ensure that they have a suitable environment that is easy for navigation because they lack good vision. Your chickens will be happier if they feel safe.
If you get Polish chickens at a young age, you will have to observe them in the first few months. Polish chicks usually have bony head prominence. Therefore, they are susceptible to head injuries that can even lead to death if they are pecked on their heads.
Mature Polish chickens have a high density of feathers on their heads. You will, therefore, have to check your chickens for mites and lice regularly. If you find any, you should treat them as soon as possible. You can also trim some of the feathers that block their vision. It will ensure that the life of your chickens is easier and less scary.
Housing Polish Chickens
Unlike most chicken breeds that do well in a free-range system, Polish chickens will thrive in a coop that has an enclosed small run. The chickens will not mind confinement and will also not get stir-crazy.
One of the reasons why you must keep them confined is because of their poor eyesight. They may be prone to predator attacks and injuries because of their visual impairment. Since they can not keep themselves safe, you can help them to stay safe by keeping them in an enclosed section.
When designing your coop, you must ensure that it is spacious enough to accommodate your chickens. Since the chickens will not be free-ranging, the coop should be large enough to allow them to move around freely.
Feeding Polish Chickens
Feeding your Polish chickens will never be a hard task since their diet is straightforward. You can feed them on most of the store-bought feed. Since they grow extra feathers on their heads, you will have to consider giving them feed that has extra protein to facilitate growth.
You can also supplement their feed with treats such as mealworms which will give them proteins. If they are laying eggs, you should remember giving them calcium feeds to aid in the formation of the eggshells.
Polish chickens are adorable and quirky birds. Although they may not be good layers, they are worthy birds that you can keep because of their visual appeal. They are loveable and friendly birds that you should consider adding to your flock for variety and fun.