Polish chickens are a funny poultry breed known for their poofy feathers around their head.
They are small and rather energetic, but can they be free-range chickens?
Polish chickens can free-range, but it’s better to keep them contained. Polish chickens’ head crests cause visual impairment, making them vulnerable to predators and poor weather. Because of this, they do best when kept in a coop or covered run rather than being left to free range.
Read on to learn why your crested breeds do not do well when left to free range outside, why they do not do well when mixed with aggressive chickens, and the Polish chicken temperament.
Dangers of Free-Ranging for Polish Chickens
Unfortunately, these amusing birds do not make the best free-range birds, mainly due to their feather crest.
They do best when kept in a covered run rather than left to free range outside as a backyard flock.
They need to be protected from the weather and predators, which we’ll discuss more.
If the weather is nice enough, they love to be outside.
Make sure you watch them or have a way to keep them safe.
Protection Against Predators
It makes it hard for them to see, so they have no idea what is behind them, next to them, or sometimes right in front of them.
This makes it difficult for them to spot predators in the area.
They are extremely vulnerable to land, air, and even water animals since they can’t tell where they are.
Backyard chicken keepers have even reported them running toward predators because they didn’t see them.
Keeping them inside greatly reduces predator risk.
Foraging for Food
Their feathers make it difficult for them to forage for food outside.
So you need to provide them with the majority, if not all, of their daily needs.
Putting food out in the same place every day is your best bet.
Changing the food location will lead to confused birds who struggle to find it.
Feed them in or near their coop to establish a safe, reliable area to find food.
Once again, Polish chickens’ large feather crests become an issue.
When these large feathers get wet during cold weather, they will freeze. In addition to being uncomfortable, this can lead to frostbite.
In serious cases, it will even lead to death.
If you live in a cold area, add heaters to thaw your Polish chickens’ crests.
Further Reading: Polish chickens cold tolerance and how to help
Also, find ways to decrease the likelihood of their feathers getting wet.
Instead of using a water bowl or similar water source, use a nipple waterer.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is hot weather.
A dry climate is ideal for them, as hot and humid weather can lead to moisture being trapped in the feathers.
Ensure they have lots of shade and fresh water to relieve dehydration and heatstroke.
Keeping Polish Chickens with Other Breeds
Since chickens kept inside a coop or covered run cannot get away from the larger chickens in your flock, you need to ensure they get along with each other.
Polish chickens are not aggressive and typically fall low in the pecking order.
Do not keep them in a mixed flock with breeds known to be aggressive.
Even a Polish rooster is susceptible to bullying from hens of other breeds.
This Polish bird is in more danger when kept with larger birds.
Just like they have difficulty seeing predators outside, they have difficulty escaping from bullies inside because of their feather crest and lack of clear vision.
Bullied Polish chickens will have their crest feathers painfully ripped out.
Severe bullying can even lead to the death of your bird if left unchecked.
To avoid this, do not keep your Polish chickens with other standard-sized breeds, aggressive roosters, or assertive breeds.
Bantam breeds are smaller, so they usually inflict less damage.
Opt for gentle breeds like Silkies, Sultans, or Houdans, or keep an all-Polish flock.
If you have your heart set on having both Polish chickens and a more aggressive breed like Buckeyes, house them separately, although this adds an extra cost.
Are Polish Chickens Right for You?
You have the right climate, the right coop setup, and the right flock of birds. But are the Polish chickens right for you?
The first thing to consider is the noise level of your talkative chickens.
These funny birds are noisier than the average chicken.
Your neighbors probably won’t appreciate your chatty breed if you live in town.
Some neighborhoods also have animal noise limits.
Because they can’t see well, this leads to jumpiness and being easily startled. Running blind can lead to running into walls or other obstacles.
They may also pace around because they’re anxious.
Cut down on this behavior and make it easier to see.
Trim and tape their head crest feathers, or use a hair tie.
This vastly improves their quality of life, and so does a dust bath to help keep their crest of feathers clean.
Otherwise, they have a great temperament and an endearing quality.
They are extremely sweet and friendly and enjoy being picked up.
If you want to introduce children to chickens, they are a perfect bird to start with.
Some Polish chicken keepers report their birds let them carry them around while doing chores.
Are you looking for entertainment?
If so, these birds are very entertaining to watch.
Besides the humor of them not knowing what’s around them all the time, they have some other quirky mannerisms.
This Polish breed looks funny with their poofy head feathers, and they tend to run and jump around compared to the average breed.
In some ways, they resemble an 80s hair band.
The energetic shenanigans of these happy chickens may be the perfect addition to your flock.
Polish chickens are an ornamental bird variety, meaning they are not the best option if you are looking for free-range eggs.
They are small birds, so they are also not a great choice if you are looking for meat.
Further Reading: Using Polish chickens as meat
All in all, they are not a productive breed.
There is a wider variety of types when considering the non-muffed versus muffed varieties.
They come in an array of feather colors. Some common varieties include:
- Bearded Black Crested White
- Bearded White Crested Black
- Bearded Golden
- Bearded Silver
- Bearded White
- Bearded Buff Laced
- Non-Bearded Golden
- Non-Bearded Silver
- Non-Bearded White
- Non-Bearded Buff Laced.
Once again, they are best kept inside, away from predators and weather, particularly in cold climates.
This is not the right breed for you if you want a backyard flock free of maintenance or building costs.