Polish Chickens: Temperament, Color and Egg Laying

polish chickens

Are you ready to meet with a fun, friendly, quirky chicken with personality and good looks? Well, wait, no more here they are! The Polish chicken has a long history, with much of it lost in the mists of time.

It has become beloved by ‘chickenistas’ worldwide.

There really isn’t another bird that comes close to being as outrageously blessed. Blessed with head feathers that are unique in that respect.

They sport 1970s’ hairdo’….need I say more?

Polish Frizzle Bantam Chick

In this guide on polish chickens, we discuss their temperament, egg-laying capabilities, recognized varieties, and also how to establish if it’s the right breed for you.

Here’s our guide to this unusual and striking bird.

Polish Chickens Breed: The Complete Guide

Polish Chickens

History of the Polish Chickens Breed

Truly, the origins of this bird are unclear. There are several anecdotal stories of how it came into Europe.

My favorite is that in 1736, the King of Poland was unseated and fled to France. With him, in his ‘luggage,’ he brought his beloved Polish chickens.

They became the darlings of French society at the time, being loved by the French aristocracy, and from then on, their future was assured. As romantic as this might seem, it is doubtful to be true.

The truth is probably more mundane. The first real mention of them comes from the Netherlands, where they were possibly imported from Spain. It is thought that the name Polish was derived from the old Dutch word ‘pol’ for a large head.

There are paintings of the bird from the fifteenth century where it seems to be part of everyday life, so it has been around for a long time. It was declared a thoroughbred in the sixteenth century by the Dutch.

The Polish traveled from Europe to England (1700s), eventually finding their way to the USA in 1830-1840.

It was initially imported as a good white egg layer but was later surpassed by the white Leghorn for superior egg-laying.

Polish Close Up
Its reputation as a good layer was eclipsed by its unusual appearance and became an ‘ornamental’ breed and was bred for appearance rather than eggs.

It also goes under ‘Paduan,’ ‘Poland,’ or ‘Tophats.’

Recognized Varieties and Breeds

Polish comes in standard and bantam size, and the American Poultry Association recognizes both in their standards book. The Polish are classified as a ‘Continental’ breed.

The types, colors, and year of recognition by the APA are as follows:

  • 1874: Non-bearded white crested black; golden;  silver; white.
  • 1883: Bearded golden;  silver;  white;  buff laced.
  • 1938: Non-bearded buff laced.
  • 1963: Non-bearded white crested blue.

In the later years of the twentieth century, another variety has emerged: The Tolbunt.

It’s a stunning mix of white, brown, and black – a real head-turner. The APA does not yet accept this color, but I think it’s only a matter of time.

 

Needless to say, there are many different color mixes and varieties around, but if you want a bird that conforms to the APA, you will have to stick with the colors noted above.

Polish Chickens

Polish Chickens Appearance

It’s hard to mistake a Polish chicken – the hen will have a ‘pom-pom’ hairdo which is fairly neat and tidy.

On the other hand, the roosters look like a ‘wild thing’ with the feathers giving a ‘bad hair’ day impression! Both sexes’ head feathers grow up and then cascade over her head and faces, sometimes causing visual problems.

The head crest is supported by a bony prominence that arises from the skull.

Polish chickens can also be bearded (depending on the variety), which sees a profusion of feathers around the head and face.

The rooster has the unusual, red V-shaped comb, which often gets lost in his head feathers. Earlobes are white, and wattles are red.

The coloring of the legs is gray, and they have four toes to each foot. The feet and legs should not have any feathering.

The male bird can attain a weight of around six pounds, while the hen is usually around four and a half pounds. They are white-skinned birds.

Egg Production

The egg production of polish chickens can be widely variable depending on the line of breeding.

If you want a reliable daily egg layer, it would be wise to choose another breed since the Polish are so variable.

In general, they lay a fair amount of white, medium/large eggs. The average is around 150 eggs per year. As we have already noted, they will rarely brood, although it is not unknown.

I could not find any information on the mother hen’s parenting ability, so I assume it’s a fairly rare occurrence!

Is The Polish Chickens Breed Right For You?

The Polish really shines in the show or exhibition area, whether it be your local agricultural show or a top poultry show. If you think you might like a bird that is a pleasure to work with and sure to attract many comments, this could be your ideal bird.

Polish Hen

Although buying a ‘show-line’ bird is expensive, there are many Polish out there that are inexpensive to buy and can be show quality birds – you have to shop around after doing your homework on the ‘standard of perfection for the Polish.

You need to know that much work goes into preparing birds for the top shows, but the local county shows are a bit more forgiving. These are the places to start to get a taste of all that is involved.

If, on the other hand, you want a bird for the kids’ 4H project that is easy to work with and docile, not inclined to peck or have ‘temper tantrums, the Polish could fit your needs very well.

The 4H projects emphasize ‘hands-on’ learning, so having a bird that can be handled frequently and thrive is a true blessing.

The majority of folks buy Polish for their backyard flock as something ‘different. They are a bird sure to make you smile when you see them! They are good to raise with small kids in mind because of their gentle nature, and children seem to be unable to resist holding and cuddling them – all of which the Polish hen will tolerate very well.

This breed bore confinement very well, and due to its inquisitive nature and impeded eyesight, it’s probably best kept penned for safety. It will certainly need dry quarters for the winter months. The head feathering can be a big issue once they get wet and then freeze.

You Want An Egg Layer

The Polish are not well known for their egg-laying ability these days, but they do lay a good number of eggs in general, around 200 eggs/year.

It takes them a while to get into the swing of lying, but they can lay pretty consistently once they do. If you want an egg-laying machine for your flock – the Polish is not it!

If your home flock is packed with assertive breeds such as Rhode Islands, Welsummers’ etc., the Polish may be picked on. They tend to be low in the pecking order because of their docile nature and good temperament – and pulling the head feathers seems to be irresistible to some birds!

Due to their visual impairment, the Polish are not equipped and other breeds for free-ranging lifestyles. While they enjoy foraging, they are easy targets for predators as they cannot see them as they attack.

Finally, the head feathers are especially prone to lice or mites’ infestations, so the hens need to be checked regularly before the problem becomes especially troublesome.

Temperament

The Polish are generally said to be a calm and gentle bird, suitable for children to have as pets.

They can be nervous and flighty, but this is usually attributed to the bird’s head feathers’ visual problems. Talking or whistling on your approach to the bird will alert them that you are coming, and they will be less inclined to startle.

Polish Chickens

 

Trimming of the feathers around the facial area is frequently necessary for the wellbeing of the bird, not only for the ability to see predators but also to keep feathers out of the eye, leading to an eye infection.

The hens rarely go broody, but this can obviously vary from strain to strain.

Although many Polish are bred purely for exhibition or ‘eye candy, some breeders have chosen to remain truer to the birds’ origins. These birds are more likely to be better layered and tend toward some broodiness.

They are inquisitive birds who like to investigate things, so they can end up ‘stuck’ somewhere and require assistance in getting out. Because of this, they are better kept in confinement which they tolerate really well.

If they get separated from the flock and cannot see the others, they will often cry out and respond to the other hens calling them.

Pecking Order

They are low in the pecking order since they have such a mild and calm temperament. Most other chickens can’t resist pulling those head feathers, leading to bald chickens….or worse.

Polishes’ are great foragers in the yard and can fly fairly well, so beware of them roosting in trees!

They are also pretty hardy, tolerating most climates well, although they don’t handle being wet too well. The crest should be dried if it becomes soaked.

Many breeders move their flocks inside a draft-proofed building in areas of freezing and damp winters.

They can be kept in most climates, special consideration must be given to their loose feathered areas (such as their bouffants). Ensure they do not become wet and frozen in the winter. Freezing feathers can cause hypothermia and frostbite.

If you live in a cold climate, it’s best to keep this bird inside during the severely cold months.

Health Issues and Special Needs

The chicks need to be carefully watched for the first few weeks of life due to the bony head prominence. This prominence does not knit together immediately, so one well-aimed peck to the head could kill or seriously injure the chick.

The crest and beard, if present, should be checked frequently and regularly for infestations of lice or mites and treated accordingly. Feathers that impede vision should be trimmed lightly so that the bird can see.

If you show or exhibit your birds, cutting the feathers will not be feasible during show season.

The Polish chicken doesn’t differ greatly in health problems from any other chicken other than noted above.

Folks who show their Polish take great pains and a lot of time. They prepare their birds to be looking their finest on the judging days. If you think you might like to get into showing your birds, contact the Polish Breeders Club.

These birds’ docility makes them great project birds for kids to show in local county fairs since the Polish are always a bird that will attract looks and comments from visitors.

Summary of The Polish Chickens

This quirky bird is sure to bring a smile to your face when you see them!

They may not be prolific egg layers. But they are certainly worthy of a spot in your flock for the visual appeal alone.

They are currently listed as a ‘watch’ status on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. This means their numbers are low and are being carefully monitored.

It would really be a shame if the last King of Poland went to all that trouble only to have his breed become extinct!

We hope you will consider adding this beautiful bird to your ‘must have’ list.
Learning how to groom your chicken and be ready to maintain their hairdos.

Polish is a fun chicken to have in your flock. While flighty, they are a great conversation starter for those looking to decorate their flock with this ornamental breed.

If you already have some, let us know in the comments below…

Read Next: Double Yolk Eggs: Causes, Safety, and Other Egg Laying Anomalies

Share This…

polish chickens

59 thoughts on “Polish Chickens: Temperament, Color and Egg Laying

  1. I raise Silkies as a backyard hobby. It Is a lot of fun I enjoy it. I have had both good and bad experiences. The worst was with preditors night. Each time I need an answer or solution I turn to you (Happy Chicken) You have published great information and thank you for doing so!

    1. Been having predator issues as well mostly cause of where I live. Found the best solution is a pot of coffee, warm clothing to sit out at night with a 22 and some bait. If they don’t stop coming back you can also lock up all your pets, inform your neighbors to keep theirs in and trapping and poison works too. If you don’t get rid of predators the issue can often get worst. I care more about my chickens than the wild coyote population personally. Never thought I would be a dog killer till I owned chickens. I’m not into hunting myself and I love animals, but I got no issues killing predators that don’t know boundaries. Sometimes keeping the threat out isn’t enough, I’ve had some sneaky yotes and foxes in my area. Also you can get yourself a nice guard bird can go a long way. Geese, certain Roo’s and Guinea seem to do a pretty good job at keeping the henhouses safe. I only do 1 goose myself cause they tend to bond more with he chickens that way and be more protective.

      1. I will tell you this, we have never seen so many possums in our history of chicken keeping compared to this year. The issue is, there is no stopping them, they will just keep coming. They have become so bold where in broad daylight sometimes I see them trying to steel feed. I will have a special article just on this soon.
        Claire

  2. I currently have a broody bantam Cochin hen sitting on two eggs. A RIR and a polish Frizzle cross. We should have chicks in less than two weeks.

  3. A friend has a hen that we do not know the breed – it has very fluffy brown-gray feathers, and its feet and legs are totally covered with feathers. Can you give us a hint as to what breed it might be?

  4. I am 4 weeks into my first batch of 10 crested Polish baby girls and they are growing like weeds. I have a nice little bantam black orpington that I think wants to be their mama. She is been Broody and now she is hanging around their enclosure instead of going out with the other big girls!

  5. I have just recently gotten into Polish chickens. My littlest one I have named Luci absolutely loves to just sit on my shoulders!

  6. Hello,
    We’re looking to start a chicken coop in our new home in Las Vegas. We’re trying to decide on the best hens to raise. Due to the extreme heat were looking for hens that can substain the heat but also provide us with a nice amount of eggs being we have a family of 5. We would love to avoid broody hens and ones that are aggressive being we have young children. If someone could help us in deciding the best hens for our coop we would greatly appreciate it. Thanks

    1. Our polish do really well here in Vegas. We have two really gentle leghorns and the best is the mottled houdan. We LOVE the houdans!

    2. My experience has been that they can be a little flighty because of the feathers obscuring the vision too much. If you trim them it helps. These seem to be very docile and you can hold them. The kids just need to be shown how to handle them, and the chicks need be handled regularly! Have fun!

  7. I would like to buy three to four bearded polish chicks preferably golden or black with white top. Please let me know where and when I can get/ order them. Thank you Regina Hovaldt

  8. I have 4 polish chickens and they are so much fun, thinking to try and raise a few next spring ? Two are buffs and two are crested. They are pretty much the only ones in my flock that allow holding and scratching! Everything I have read says they should lay white eggs. I have a white egg showing up periodically but the rest are tan colored. My other young pullets are EE’s so not sure who is laying them. Hopefully NOT the EE’s!

  9. I have one polish hen, she’s very gentle and easy to handle. About one white egg a week but she looks good. My flock was put together for a colorful egg basket and she provides the white one.

  10. I have 13 chickens; one of them is a gorgeous golden-laced Polish. They are 8 1/2 months old. Can’tsee, the Polish, has not laid any eggs yet. Is this normal for them to be late layers? The other breeds have been laying since mid summer. She’s the only one who is supposed to lay white eggs, so we wait. She’s absolutely delightful to watch! We sit outside after work and just laugh at her antics. She gets a free pass on laying. 🙂

    1. My Golden Laced Polish hens were very late to lay but now that they are a year old lay nearly every day! And they make me smile!

  11. I have a neighbor who has way too many animals. As a result, a golden laced polish crested rooster has decided to come live in my yard. I have returned him to neighbors, but he always comes back here. Apparently he gets picked on over there. Along with him ( I call him Todd), is a peacock ( Mr. Blue) of about the same age. They both look a little over a year. We have resigned to the rooster living here, the peacock runs all over the neighborhood…… my trouble is I have seen Todd ‘ over preening’ I have checked him regularly for fleas, and just now have found small mites on him. What is the best dust to control this? I am going to try the kiddy pool with wood ash, but wonder if cedar wood chips as bedding would be better then straw ? He lives on a half acre here, but we put him in a dog run at night with a rubber made dog house for warmth. We have coyote trouble so this keeps him safe, then he is released in the morning to do his thing. He’s about half trained to put himself away at dusk….Todd is very friendly, never aggressive. In fact he will hang out with our two cats and small (10#) dog during the day, soaking up in the sun. Just want to keep him comfortable and healthy.

    1. I wish I had an answer for you because I don’t know anything about these chickens but I do want to thank you for caring for them even though the owner doesn’t your very kind

    2. Polish love to do beauty care too. We let them do dirt baths and sun baths. Hopefully the notes to away

  12. Thank you for this detailed post on the polish chickens. I found out I have one out of a variety pack and want to raise him or her right! 🙂

  13. Just picked up a lovely pullet to form a ‘mini-flock’ with our Silkie, as the big girls in our mixed flock either peck her or ignore her…so far so good, the Polish and Silkie appear to be bonding a bit and avoiding the ‘mean girls’ (austrolorp, NHR, Americauna, BR)…it’s tough being beautiful! 😀

  14. I recently purchased 10 “pullets” from a feed store, so as we know, they may or MAY NOT be pullets. I did get 2 polish (buff colored) chicks and they are probably 6-7 weeks old now. Beautiful feathers growing nicely from their heads. How/when will I know if they truly are PULLETS?? I have 2 that were born April 9th and the other 8 is a guess at Late April – Early May (??) I have them all together now and they seem to be getting along. I hope it continues.

    1. Hi Donna,
      Unfortunately you are going to need to wait until around 16 weeks. You can closely observe them for any roo behavior in the meantime though!
      Claire

  15. I am in Perth Western Australia and have a beautiful white crested black polish named Elvis and his 2 fair ladies Pricilla and Lisa Marie. I have 5 babies just hatched and more in the incubator now. Looking forward to adding more to my Polish family!

  16. I just picked up 3 two week old Polish chicks. I have them in my home for now. How long should I wait before I turn them out into the coop? I will also be getting 6 barred Rock variety pullets within the next two weeks. Should I wait and turn them all out together? Thanks for your advice in advance!

    1. Where do you live Katy? It depends on the weather but generally 4-6 weeks old and they are ready to go outside.
      Claire

  17. Recently determined I have a silver laced Polish rooster. We thought he was an Appenzell Spitz at first. About 4 months old and fairly aggressive towards my wife and kids, is this normal? According to what I’ve read they’re usually docile? He’s soon to be re-homed anyway, just curious.

  18. I have a super friendly silver laced polish chicken,who we named Titanium. She’s so friendly and isn’t scared of anyone.(This might be because she can’t see them through her feathers 🙂 ) Whenever I go near her she will walk right in between my legs and hang out there. I swear, one day, I’ll accidentally step on her.

  19. My 10 week old Tan laced polish has red small wattles and is making a long horn sound, so I have a rooster?

  20. I bought 6 black with white crests. I couldn’t resist so I hot a golden laced and a black and white laced ! They are so fun! My husband likes to trim them. He pretends like he is a fancy hair dresser!!?

    1. They are more likely to be noisy than not. But this does not mean someone couldn’t acquire one that is quiet.
      Claire

  21. I love my Polish Hens!! They bring me happiness day. I love all my girls but they are my favorites!! Shhh…..don’t let the others hear that. LOL
    Thank you for the great information!
    Cheers!
    Stephanie from Bakersfield, CA

  22. Hi there! I have three beautiful polish hens and this is my first time owning this breed. They are housed in a large closed French with a coop and get free run of the backyard during the day. They are 7 months old and always have food and snacks and over the past month they are become extremely noisy. They scream and carry on with there adorable (but loud) youdling calls and no matter what I seem to do they won’t stop. Has anyone else experienced this and any suggestions? Thank you

  23. I recently purchased 20 “straight run bantam” chicks as my flock is getting old and not laying and slowly dying off. To my surprise, I am pretty sure I have 2 Polish Frizzles. I never heard of or seen them before but I am so excited to have them in my flock!! ?

  24. Where can I buy frizzle polish chickens. I am in WI and want to start a flock of frizzle chickens but I want them to mostly be polish frizzle and I am having a hard time figuring out where to get some chicks! The first picture on this article is exactly what I’m trying to find.

  25. I bought a black polish chicken and a few ISA-browns as chicks and they were raised together and are now a little over two months old. I noticed the polish chicken is pecking at the browns and pulling feathers out while roosting. The polish chicken is smaller than the isa browns. Don’t understand why the polish chicken is so mean on the roost. They seem to get along throughout they day. They are always together and free range together. Do I need to separate them at night?

  26. Thank you for the information on Polish hens. We have two buff laced polish and one white crested tuxedo polish along with a variety of other breeds. I absolutely love my little polish hens, they are so sweet. One of the buff laced ones is named Ethel…we lovingly refer to her as our narcoleptic chicken. All you have to do is rub the feathers on her crest and she falls asleep within seconds. It is the cutest thing. Those three little Polish hens have the most distinct personalities of our whole flock of 17.

  27. I bought 6 buff laced polished babies at Rural King and had one female in the bunch. I am looking to buy at least 5 more females but everywhere I look everyone is sold out. I need help in finding the females in a hurry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *