Polish Chicken: All You Need To Know

The Polish chicken is a magnificent sight to behold.

Their head feathers are a head turner and a fashion statement for sure – once you see on these lovely birds they certainly leave an impression on you.

Although they were once considered a good egg layer they are now more commonly kept for show and exhibition purposes.

Her gentle disposition means they are good for children as they are quiet, friendly and do not mind being held or cuddled.

Keep reading to learn more about these top hat chickens…

Polish Chicken Close Up

Polish Chicken Overview

The Polish Chicken is an old and noble breed from the 15th century.

They come from the Netherlands and have been portrayed in a few pastoral paintings from that time.

These days they are mainly kept as ornamental or show birds but at the height of their success they were considered fine egg layers putting out a respectable number of eggs each week.

As show birds they require a good deal of prepping before the show to get their head feathers looking neat and tidy. Breeders spend a considerable amount of time making sure their chickens look the best.

However out on the yard they make a great family chicken.

She is kid friendly, docile and pretty quiet.

This makes for a low maintenance breed that is suitable for beginners.

You can find them in both standard and bantam size. Bantams rarely weigh more than a couple of pounds which makes them very economical to feed.

Polish Chicken
Beginner Friendly: Yes.
Lifespan: 8+ years.
Weight: Hens (4-5lb) Roosters (6lb).
Color: Various.
Egg Production: 2-4 per week.
Egg Color: White.
Known For Broodiness: Rarely.
Good With Children: Yes.
Cost of Chicken: $4-5 per chick.

Why We Love This Breed

Pros:

  • Polish chickens have a striking and distinctive appearance.
  • These birds have a calm and gentle temperament.
  • They are rarely broody which means they are good year long egg layers.
  • She is a docile hen that is tolerates children.
  • This is one of the few beginner friendly ornamental breeds.

Appearance

Polish Chicken

Polish chickens look like no other chicken breed!

They are very distinguishable by their head feathers. These feathers can vary from a tidy pom-pom to an untidy and wild in nature appearance.

These feathers can often impinge on the vision of the bird.

They also hide the V-shaped comb of the rooster.

Overall they are a medium sized chicken that has a graceful and upright carriage. The body is fairly long with a straight back and broad shoulders. Wings are held close to the body and are moderately long.

Polish have red comb and wattles with white ear lobes.

They will have a large horn colored beak and red bay color eyes.

As for their legs they are yellow and wide set. Each leg has 4 toes and there should be no feathering on the legs.

Polish roosters usually look like they are having a bad hair day – their head feathers are spiky and untidy whereas the hens tend to have a neat pom pom appearance.

Also he will have pointed sickle feathers in his tail and hackles.

Size and Weight

The Polish chicken is considered a standard chicken that is on the smaller side.

  • Roosters generally weigh around 6lb.
  • Hens will be somewhere between 4-5lb.

There are bantam varieties too – they weigh up to 1.8lb depending on the sex.

Color Varieties

There are many different colors of polish Chickens available but only 10 colors are recognized by the American Poultry Association.

The most popular of these are:

  • Silver polish chicken.
  • Golden laced polish chicken.
  • Buff laced polish chicken.
  • Blue polish chicken.

One of the most popular non-approved colors is the Tolbunt (they are black, white and brown).
As mentioned there are several more varieties too that are works in progress.

What Is It Like To Own A Polish Chicken?

Polish Chicken Outside Roaming

This is an active breed that makes a good forager when they are allowed to free range.

They can fly very well and have been known to fly up into trees for safety when something startles them.

If you have a mixed flock then think carefully about the breeds you already have. Some of the more assertive breeds can bully the more docile Polish and pluck their head feathers relentlessly until they are bald.

Polish really do better with other docile breeds such as Cochins, Orpingtons and Silkies.

Personality

The Polish is a gentle and calm chicken with a good disposition.

You can expect an inquisitive chicken that sometimes lets their curiosity get the better of them.

Some strains can be flighty and nervous but this can be attributed to the head feathers which can often reduce their vision dramatically.

It is recommended that you talk, whistle or sing as you approach a Polish flock so you do not startle them into a panic.

As they are gentle and quiet they are usually towards the lower end of the pecking order. When they are mixed with more assertive breeds (Rhode Island Reds) they can have a rough time being tormented and can lose many of their head feathers from constant plucking.

Ideally they should be kept with other docile and gentle birds.

Polish Chickens

Egg Production

Although they are not considered a good egg layer they do in fact lay a respectable 3-4 eggs per week – so around 200 each year.

However just remember that birds that have been refined for show or exhibition often do not produce that many eggs.

So their exact egg laying capabilities will depend on the strain of chicken you purchase.

You can expect them to start laying any time after 20 weeks and they will produce white eggs.

Egg Production
Eggs Per Week: 2-4 Eggs.
Color: White.
Size: Medium.

Noise Levels

Overall this is a quiet breed.

Apart from the inevitable rooster crow and the hens’ egg laying song, they are peaceful and chatter to each other in subdued tones.

This quietness makes them good for urban settings (even if you have fairly close neighbors).

Facts About This Breed

  1. Polish chickens are also called Paduan, Poland and Top Hats.
  2. There are several colors available including: golden, silver and white.
  3. Their history is unclear but it is thought they originated in either Poland or the Netherlands.
  4. Polish chickens do not do well in wet or cold climates.
  5. This breed also comes in bantam size.

Polish Chicken Care Guide

Buff Laced Polish

Health Issues

The Polish is not a delicate chicken but care should be taken with their head feathers (especially over the winter months).

Certainly the head feathers should be dried thoroughly if they get soaked by rain or snow. If you are not going to show your chickens then trimming these head feathers away from their eyes will help the bird’s field of vision stay sharp.

Also the usual parasites can be expected – especially if your Polish have beards and muffs.

When the weather turns cold and miserable many keepers move their flocks into warmer draft proof coops.

Other than this special consideration needs to be given to their head ridge:

Polish chicks have a prominent head ridge that does not knit together immediately – so there is a possibility of sudden death from an adult pecking the chick on the head. To be on the safe side it is best to keep these chicks away from birds other than mom for a few weeks until the head ridge becomes more united.

Feeding

A regular 16% protein feed is for adult Polish chickens during the laying season. You will only need to change this during the molt where you can give them a 20% protein feed until most of their feathers have been replaced.

Free feeding or a set feeding regime is your choice.

I feed all of mine free choice for my convenience.

Polish Crested Chicken

Coop Setup

Inside the coop Polish chickens will need at least 4 square feet each.

As always if they have a large area to roam around in outside then you can get away with slightly less coop space.

For roosting space the standard 8 inches is good for these birds. However if you can then give them a bit more room as it will allow them to spread out a bit during the summer heat.

The standard nesting box (12×12 inch) will be adequate for this breed.

A ratio of one nesting box for every three chickens will mean that all your chickens can find a quiet place to lay an egg.

Run and Roaming

The Polish breed will tolerate confinement very well and in fact it is recommended that you pen them to keep them safe from predators.

Their head feather can impact their sight a lot so Polish are actually a bit safer if you can confine them.

As they are curious chickens make sure to give them plenty of things to do and investigate to prevent boredom. Lots of perches, dust baths and quiet areas for the more timid flock members to escape to is advised.

Curiosity often gets the better of them so they should be kept in a safe run.

You should aim to give them each at least 8 square feet of run space.

They do not mind being confined to a run area as long as they have the basic amenities such as food, water, dust baths and some perches.

Polish Breed History

Polish Chicken Outside

This is without a doubt an ancient breed.

The exact origin of this bird is unknown however the likely place seems to be Holland. There are Dutch paintings from the 15th century that show these chickens as a popular barn fowl.

How they became known by the name Polish is also uncertain – there are two lines of thought on this:

  1. The first believes that it is from the old Dutch word pol which means large head.
  2. The second thought is that they were named for the helmet of the Polish soldiers at the time which sported an array of feathers at the crest.

The breed was well known in Europe and was especially loved by the French.

In the 1700s it finally made its way to the UK where it became a success story. Although they were originally imported for their egg laying ability, they were also much favored as exhibition chickens because of their wild head feathers.

The next stage of this breeds journey takes them to America in the mid-1800s.

Again it was imported as a good egg layer and remained one of the best laying breeds until surpassed by the Leghorns and subsequent breeds.

Unfortunately the breed fell in popularity for several decades until its novel appearance put it in the spotlight again. Since the turn of the century they have become a very popular family breed as they are a gentle soul as well as a decent egg layer.

Summary

The Polish chicken has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity over the last decade or so.

Many people keep them for the novelty value as the looks of the Polish always gets attention.

Yet others keep them as egg layers.

Whilst they are not as prolific as some other breeds they can still lay a respectable 3-4 eggs each week.

Because of their sweet personality they are great for kids or as a pet chickens and they tolerate being picked up and held. The Polish chicken is certainly visually entertaining and they can lay a decent amount of eggs – so why not give them a try?

Let us know in the comments section below any of your questions…

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and are interested in backyard chicken health and care. Her work has been shared on HuffPost, Mother Nature Network, Community Chickens, Mother Earth News and many more outlets. Today Chris keeps 11 chickens including 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Silkies. She is our backyard chicken expert at Chickens And More, and shares her knowledge on raising healthy, happy chickens with our readers. You can contact Chris at chris@chickensandmore.com

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