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Polish Chicken Care

Polish Chickens, also known as Poland chickens, do not get their name for being from Poland, but more likely from the Middle Dutch word pol, which means head. These chickens are quite distinguishable due to their crest of feathers on their heads. Polish chickens’ large crest covers nearly their whole head, which limits their vision which can affect their temperament. Because of their limited vision, although they are normally tame, they may be skittish and easily spooked.

Polish chickens are primarily used as show chickens because of their attractive colors and decorative crest, but they were once used as productive egg layers. Some say that Polish chickens rarely go broody, while others say they often go broody. Polish chickens have a vaulted or dome-shaped skull on the top of their heads that covers their elongated brains, which can cause problems like part of their brain being exposed therefore increasing their risks of injuries. They get neurological damage from this which results in a condition called wry neck, crookneck, or star gazing.

The Polish chickens have a V-shaped comb and waddles that are bright red and earlobes that are white, which are all usually hidden by their crest of feathers. Polish chickens tend to be tall standing elongated birds. Their bony skull protuberance is also called the top knot which is where the crest of feathers sits. In female Polish chickens, the crest tends to be more of a globular shape, whereas in the males it tends to fall like a shawl around their heads. These chickens have very high set horny nostrils that are set close together but are wide and deep.

Caring for Polish chickens

Polish chickens tend to be high maintenance birds, mainly because of their large crest. These large crests make a great home for lice and mites because they are not easily seen and the chickens cannot preen this area easily. They should be checked regularly for infestation. Their large crests also cause vision problems and irritate their eyes. Although you can trim their crest, it is not highly recommended, but instead, you can use a bobble to pin it out of their eyes. Be careful when pinning the chicken's crest back because if it is too tight it can cause irritation to the crest itself. Due to their restricted vision, it is best to keep food and water in the same place so that they can easily find it and to keep them confined to prevent them getting lost in unusual places or injuring themselves.

Housing and watering

Due to Polish chickens’ restricted vision from the crest, keeping them in an enclosed area rather than letting them roam free is much safer. When they are free roaming, they tend to get lost or stuck in odd places and will cry out and panic because they cannot find their way back, although not all Polish chickens are like this and do well when free roaming. When considering a coop, you should consider nesting boxes because of how timid they are so they will have a feeling of safety in their new home. They will need about two feet of space per bird as well. They also do well in small gardens or orchards because they love the sun and shade and do well for pest control. Although some say they do well in the cold season, others say they do not, so just like with regular chickens it would be best to have a well-insulated coop for them to be in if you do not keep them inside. When finding something for Polish chickens to drink out of, it is best to find something that has a thin lip which is wide enough for them to drink out of, but not so wide that their crest will fall in and get wet.

All weather and winter care

Although some say that Polish chickens love the snow and being out in all weather, this could cause illness if not carefully taken care of during certain seasons. You may think they just need a nice insulated coop with a heated lamp, but this is not true. What Polish chickens really need is to stay dry. Yes, they may love to go out and play in the snow and rain, but if they are not dried quickly or kept dry it can cause illness and death. Polish chickens do not have the same kind of feathers as other chickens that can fluff up and trap air to keep them warm or propel water to keep them dry. Water drips through the feathers of frizzles and silkies and the top knots of Polish chickens become sodden. If they can be kept inside and dry, that is the best for them. Some people even go as far as blow drying their chickens to dry them.

Polish chicken colors

These interesting birds come in a variety of colors that are quite beautiful and even includes some laced versions as well. A laced feather pattern is when the feathers are outlined in a different color than the color in the center of the feathers. Polish chickens even have a frizzle gene which causes the feathers to turn and twist outward instead of lying flat, making them look extra fluffy. Although breeders are working on more color variations, they are not included in the breed standard just yet. The available colors for Polish chickens are White Crested Black, White Crested Blue, White, Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Buff Laced, White Laced Red, and Black Crested White.

Roosters vs hens

It is quite easy to tell the difference between Polish roosters and Polish hens just by looking at the feathers on their head. Polish roosters’ top knots have a crest of feathers that is very flamboyant and tends to be sharp tipped and tousled. Their feathers have a crazy undone look to them that is common of a rock star. Polish hens’ top knots have a crest of feathers that are very clean looking, sleek and smooth. Their feathers curve around their head in a globular ball shape and does not have a crazy undone look like the roosters, but a very upkept clean look. You could probably compare this to men and women by how the women tend to have a more cleaner looking hair style and the men go for the unkept messy look.

Show quality

Because of the Polish chicken’s elaborate crest and beautiful variety of colors, they are a great bird to show at fairs and chicken shows. Obviously, their crest is most of what these chickens are judged on, so show chickens tend to have bigger and fuller crests. Show chickens are usually kept separate from the rest of the flock before shows to reduce the risk of crest-mutilation because feathers can take months to grow back and fill out the crest. Breeders need to be careful when breeding these types of chickens, having a good balance of beauty and health of the animal. If breeders are not careful and breed too drastically, the top knot that holds the big beautiful crests can become deformed.

Breeding Polish chickens

Since these types of chickens are not aggressive, they get along with each other quite well. You can keep several cockerels together because they rarely fight or have disagreements. When breeding, it is best to have six to eight hens with one cock bird. Polish hens’ eggs tend to be smaller in their first year, so it is best to breed them from their second year on. It is said that sexing these chickens is almost impossible until they crow. When breeding, you can breed a frizzle to hatch both frizzle and non-frizzle, but it is recommended to never breed a frizzle to another frizzle because they will hatch without any feathers. You should also never breed Polish chickens with crests that come in front of the nostrils or sit off-center. Since males inherit their combs from their mother, if you use a hen with a small comb it will keep the cockerel from having a comb.

Mixing Polish with other breeds

Although Polish chickens are quite calm and not aggressive, their elaborate crests tend to draw a lot of attention, including unwanted attention when in mixed flocks. The other chickens will want to investigate which will lead to feather pecking of the crests which can lead to injuries. If blood is drawn, this will send the chickens into a pecking frenzy. If this happens it is essential to remove the pecked bird before it is eventually killed. Polish chickens are on the bottom of the pecking order because of how the look, their restricted vision, and how they behave, which makes them an easy target. Not all Polish chickens are timid though, it all really depends on the individual bird. The best options are to either raise the Polish with the other baby chicks so that they grow together as a support system or to have a Polish flock separate from other chicken breeds. 

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