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    Polish

    Chicken Breed

    Ornamental breed known for top-of-head crests of feathers.

     

    Authored by Sam Peterson



    Breed type

    Ornamental


    Egg color

    White


    Pen or free-range?

    Works well in both


    Temperament

    Docile, can be flighty

    Polish quick facts

    Lifespan: 5-8 years

    Weight: (Hens) - 4 to 5 lbs; Males (Roosters) - 6 lbs.

    Appearance: Colors vary but can include silver, white, black and more with feather crests atop their heads

    Egg Production: Approximately 100 eggs/year

    Good for Beginners: Yes


    History

    The Polish chicken breed is an eye-catching breed distinguished by the upright crests of feathers which sit atop their heads. This crest has made Polish chickens one of the more recognizable ornamental breeds in poultry. Their history is long but cloudy, having muddy origins in Central Europe and Asia. Most agree that the breed was popularized out of the Netherlands, but the ‘Polish’ name suggests that the breed finds its contemporary origins in Poland.

    Polish temperment and good-to-knows

    The temperament of Polish chickens is very friendly. In this sense, they are suitable for beginner owners or families with slightly older children. A defining trait of the Polish temperament is dictated by their feather crests, which can obscure their vision when fully grown. Since they have poor peripheral vision, approaching them silently will often startle them and they will fly off. Most owners recommend making noise when you intend to approach your Polishes so that they know you are coming. Spending time with your chickens will help them know to lower their guard. With this in mind, Polishes are calm, friendly, and get along well with other docile breeds. They may be bullied by more dominant breeds due to their timidity, so keep the pecking order in mind when building your flock.

    One downfall of their feather crests is their vulnerability to predators. Though Polishes make good foragers, they can be easily picked off by flying predators. Their lack of peripheral vision makes it difficult for them to protect themselves, so for this reason you should generally keep your Polish chicks and chickens protected under a topper or wire sheet.

    The Polish chicken was once regarded as a reasonable egg-layer. As time passed, they lost a bit of their utilitarian status to other, more specialized breeds, so now they are mostly seen as ornamental chickens. They typically lay around 100 medium-sized, white eggs a year. Polish owners should not expect any prolific egg production from their chickens, but they remain rather reliable layers. The breed is not known to go broody very often, either.

    Visual characteristics of Polish birds

    The feather crest atop the heads of Polish chickens led to become a prominent show breed, with owners taking great care to keep their crests looking prim and proper. The crest is a result of an elongated skull, which pushes upwards towards the sky. It is from this protrusion that the crest feathers can grow. Polish roosters have a less organized crest when compared to hens, often looking a bit like a downturned mop. The crest of hens usually forms a tighter ‘ball’ atop the head and makes the sexes quite easy to distinguish. Many varieties of the Polish exist. There are bantam varieties available for those looking for smaller chickens. Bearded Polishes come with a full fuzzball head, looking something like a feathery helmet. Buried beneath their crests, Polish roosters have unique, angular combs.

    Color varieties are varied amongst both the bearded and non-bearded Polish chickens. They range from silver, white, black, buff, and all the laced-feather variants in between. Prospective Polish owners have many options to choose from to make sure they get a beautiful ornamental chicken which suits their preferences, though all Polishes can make standout chickens with proper care and grooming.

    Health and care

    Polish chickens are not as hardy or adaptable as other breeds. Their crests present special challenges when it comes to weather, as extreme cold can cause their feathers to freeze. In the rain their crests can become waterlogged, so it is recommended to keep your Polish warm and dry. They need plenty of shade to withstand high temperatures. Those who live in extreme climates may want to look towards a hardier breed or be prepared to pay close attention to your Polishes. The skull protrusion creating their crests creates health challenges as well, with Polishes sometimes suffering from cranial hernia or hydrocephalus. These conditions often require veterinary attention. With proper care, Polishes reward their owners with beautiful feather displays and their loving demeanor.

    Frequently asked questions about Polish Chickens

    Can Polish chickens fly?

    Yes, Polish chickens are good fliers and can fly up to 6 feet high.


    Are Polish chickens friendly?

    Polish chickens are generally friendly and curious birds. They enjoy human interaction and can make good pets.


    Do Polish chickens get along with other chickens?

    Polish chickens can be a bit shy and may be bullied by more aggressive breeds. They do well in flocks with other calm and docile breeds.


    What is the lifespan of a Polish chicken?

    The average lifespan of a Polish chicken is around 5 to 8 years.


    Are Polish chickens good for meat production?

    Polish chickens are not typically raised for meat production as they are a smaller breed and do not have a lot of meat on their frame.


    Do Polish chickens require special care?

    The Polish breed requires regular grooming to keep their crest of feathers in good condition. They also need protection from cold weather as they are not very cold-hardy.


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