Welcome back to our series “The Chicken Profiler”!
It’s been a long while since I’ve posted one of these blogs – far too long really.
When the bobcat came in and killed most of our flock, I lost a lot of motivation to even talk about them. It was really hard for me to focus on chicken breeds that were gone from my flock – but a couple years have gone by now & while I still feel the sadness and loss of those gone, I can also get back to business as usual.
Chickens. Chicken history, chicken facts, lore, info etc… and today we’re going to dive into one of my favorite breeds : Polish. Aka Poland, Paduan or simply Tophats.
I will admit – for my first foray back into this series, I chose a type that I currently have in my flock.
And let me tell you why-
Elvira and Buttercup are straight up majestically floofy goofballs. They lay medium sized white eggs on the regular, are good foragers, don’t go broody on me (here’s lookin’ at you Bee Bee). Plus, they are docile enough to be picked up for flock health and top hat trims (more on that later).
I happen to love my polish chickens: they have a quirky look to them, that just can’t be denied. Their crest is easily one of the most identifiable features to a polish, but I find their general form and body shape to just be very graceful. They remind me a bit of a road runner, and boy they are fast. They also, in my experience, can jump very high, especially when startled, which happens often, once again due to their “topknot”.
Polish hens and roosters are easily recognized by their flashy “tophat” that is a creation of the fluffy halo of feathers that poof from every direction. But these extreme feathers also create a vulnerability- they are more prone to be a victim of predation or even just bullying by other hens because they are less likely to see it coming.
So now- a bit about Polish Crest Care. With buttercup, her feathers are fairly up right, so we don’t have to do anything to help her see. Elvira however, gets a fringe trim after every molt or else all the chickens beat up on her. As it is, she’s more a friar then an Elvira… and its just because her feathers grow at all different angles and hang down in her eyes, pretty much cutting off half her vision. So, out come the safety scissors, and I chop a good inch or so worth of feathers completely off. She’s never HAPPY per say, but I like to think she’s grateful in her own way. She lets me do it without a fight, which is more then I can say about most chicken chores.
An interesting tidbit about Polish hens is that they are not from Poland! Their origins are rather mysterious & kinda lost to time. They first appeared on trade routes from Spain to Holland, with possible ancestry from Asia (but lets be honest, most fowl have some sort of ties to Asia). They were popular with the Dutch, and later the French, including the monarchy, with these countries being instrumental in making them a popular production breed of the mid-1800’s.
Recognized breed colors are Black, Buff/Gold, Silver & white – both solid and laced. They also have a black with white crest and a white with black crest. There is also a Tolbunt, not recognized by the APA but I’ve seen it & it is a beautiful mixture of browns, black and white.
They also can come Frizzle, Bearded or regular. With such an amazing array of looks, you could have a whole flock of polish and no two would look the same!
They even have an unusual V comb that matches their red waddles- but its typically hidden in the jungle of feathers. They also have stark white earlobes, which I always found just darling.
The hens average weights between 4-5.5 lbs and the roosters average slightly larger, with their weights averaging between 4.5 – 6.5 lbs. There are bantam varieties available, and obviously they are about 1/2 the size of the regular ones, weighing between 2-3 lbs.
Now some lore –
People say to not let polish hens free range by themselves as they will easily get lost.
The name Polish is thought to be in reference to the feather capped typically worn by old timey Polish soliders. Even this is up for argument – some say the name is simply derived from the old dutch word “pol” meaning large head.
According to legend, when the King of Poland was unseated in 1736, he apparently smuggled his favorite crested chickens with him to his new home in France, helping to spread them beyond the Netherlands.
They are currently listed on the “watch” list for the American livestock breed association – so if you’re considering adding these delightful beauties to your flock, I would do so post haste.
Until next time, Have a wicked good day!