The Polish Chicken
Unlike many livestock breeds named after their place of origin, the Polish chicken did not originate in Poland. The Polish chicken’s most unique feature is its feathered crest. Crested chickens such as the Polish were first documented in the Netherlands. Breed standardisation took place mainly in Holland and also in England and Germany. Arie Boland, a Dutchman, is credited with helping preserve and popularise the Polish.
The birds possess a V-shaped comb as well as a large crest. The crest of feathers grows from a protuberance or cone on top of the head and covers almost the entire head. The Polish chicken was once bred for its egg-laying abilities but is now mostly kept as an ornamental breed. It rarely goes broody and if you wish to hatch eggs from the Polish, you will need to set them under an obliging hen of another breed or place them in an incubator.
There are a number of variations with the Polish chicken. Some are self-coloured and they may be bearded, non-bearded or frizzled.
The cocks are active and have an erect stance. The flat back tapers to the tail. Large wings are carried close to the body and the tail is full and carried rather low. There are a number of well curved sickle and covert feathers. The breast is round and full and the shoulders wide. Abundant hackles fall well over the shoulders and the neck is long. The large head has a medium length beak and large, round eyes. If there is a comb, it is of the horn type. If the bird is muffled, the muff is large and goes round to the back of the eyes. The face is almost hidden and the very small, round ear lobes are hidden in the muffled type.
White, black, blue and cuckoo Polish chickens are available. The splash or sport variety is mostly white but with blue, grey or black shading. There are laced varieties, bearded and non-bearded varieties. Bearded varieties have covered wattles and the red wattles of the non-bearded should be visible. The frizzle type has feathers which curve back towards the head. The curl should be even, close and very profuse. All varieties have red eyes, faces and combs.
Bearded Polish chickens come in Golden (orange-brown with black lacing), White (pure white), Silver (white with black lacing) and Buff Laced (tan with off-white lacing).
Non-bearded types include:
- White-crested Black (black with a white crest)
- White-crested Blue (grey with black lacing with a white crest)
- Black -crested White (black and white crest)
- Golden, Silver, White and Buff Laced varieties are similar to the bearded versions of the same colour.
Only the non-bearded and White-crested types have wattles. The slender legs do not have any feathering. Apart from being lighter and having a globular shaped crest, the hen is similar to the cock. Mature standard cocks weigh around 2.6kg and hens 2kg. In the bantam versions, cocks weigh from 680 to 790 grams and hens from 510 to 680 grams.
These chickens are quite unlike most breeds and are fashionable as exhibition specimens. They are certainly attractive.