Crested chickens have been known for centuries. In fact, Charles Darwin classified all chickens with crests as “Crested or Polish.” The breed of chicken most closely associated with crests is the Polish.
The history of the Polish chicken is obscure. The breed is not from Poland, but rather derived its name from the resemblance to the square, spreading crests on the feathered caps historically worn by Polish soldiers. Poultry historians believe that Polish chickens were brought from Spain to Holland when the Spaniards occupied the lowlands. Credit is given to the Dutch fanciers of the eighteenth century for refining the color patterns and developing the crests of Polish chickens. The breed was utilized in France for production purposes. Polish chickens are believed to have arrived in America between 1830 and 1840 – by 1850 they were fairly widespread and appreciated for egg production.
Polish chickens were known in England during the 1700s. The breed, or fowls very similar to Polish chickens, figured in paintings by Dutch and Italian artists of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. They were also mentioned in literature of the same period. With the rise of Leghorn chickens in England and America, the 1850s through the 1890s, Polish chickens lost favor as egg producers and were maintained for exhibition purposes.
Polish chickens have many interesting characteristics. They are excellent layers of medium-sized white eggs, tending to begin a bit late in the season but persistently laying once they commence. Polish chickens are non-sitters and rarely will go broody. Their crests tend to obscure their vision, which makes them more prone to aerial predators. Polish chickens are easily surprised and a bit nervous, so care should be taken not to startle them. They are similar to Leghorns in both size and type. And Polish chickens come with or without beards on their faces.
Polish chickens are recognized by the American Poultry Association in the following varieties in the years: 1874, Non-Bearded White Crested Black, Non-Bearded Golden, Non-Bearded Silver, Non-Bearded White; 1883, Bearded Golden, Bearded Silver, Bearded White, Bearded Buff Laced; 1938, Non-Bearded Buff Laced; and 1963, Non-Bearded White Crested Blue. Males weigh 6 lbs and females weigh 4.5 lbs.
Did you know:
The Livestock Conservancy is America’s leading organization working to save over 150 heritage breeds from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants, and donations from the public to raise the $700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare breeds of farm animals. Click here to learn how you can help.