Can Polish Chickens Tolerate the Cold?

Polish chickens originated from Europe, but not Poland, as their names suggest. 

Its name comes from the feathered caps Polish soldiers wore in the 16th through the 19th century. 

These chickens are a friendly breed for any backyard flock, but if you live in a cold area, you may need extra care. 

Key Takeaway:

Polish chickens don’t tolerate the cold very well and aren’t considered winter-hardy by any means. Any exposure to temperatures below freezing (32° degrees Fahrenheit or 0° C) can have severe effects on their health, even to the point of death. Use heaters and well-insulated coops to keep them warm and healthy. 

Read on to find out why Polish chickens don’t tolerate the cold well and how to keep them warm in the bitter winter months.

can polish chickens tolerate cold

Are Polish Chickens Winter Hardy? 

If the Polish chicken came from Poland, they might cold-hardy. 

But they didn’t, and they’re not! 

This is not a good cold-weather chicken.

Both males and females of this beloved breed have a feather crest resembling a bad hair day. 

The curled, forward-facing feathers are attached to a bony prominence on the chicken’s head. 

This grows long enough to cause vision issues, and some owners choose to trim these feathers.

However, this practice is frowned upon for show chickens. 

The crests are a standard of perfection.  

Alternately, some keepers put hair ties on their chicken’s head crests to increase their sight. 

If your chickens like to run around in the rain and snow, this is problematic for their long feather crests. 

Once wet, these crest feathers can freeze, increasing the risk of frostbite on your chicken’s face. 

Your backyard pets will need help drying off. 

The dense layers of feathers do not dry well on their own.

Additionally, some varieties have beards (feathers around their face and beaks). 

These head feathers also freeze if they get wet. 

Frostbite can damage the sensitive wattles and combs of Polish roosters hidden beneath these damp feathers. 

Another problem backyard chicken keepers have with this docile breed in winter is with their water dish. 

This crested breed can’t help dipping its head and beard feathers into its water dish, which can also lead to the soft feathers freezing. 

So, this breed requires more attention in winter than the average chicken. 

These gentle breeds are better in temperate climates.

They are relatively heat-tolerant but still need plenty of fresh water and shade to keep from overheating. 

Alternately, this crested chicken works well as a pet chicken, and some enthusiasts even keep them inside the home. 

How Frigid Can Temperatures Get for Polish Chickens? 

Chickens usually can tolerate cold temperatures to an extent. 

The internal temperature of the coop cannot fall below 32° degrees Fahrenheit (0° C) for any length of time, though. 

Coops usually run about 15° degrees warmer than outside temperatures. 

So, as long as you have a well-ventilated, dry coop, your chickens will be able to tolerate temperatures falling around the 20s and teens. 

Generally, Polish chickens do well with confinement. 

This gentle bird’s limited vision makes it hard for them to see predators. 

Polish chickens use the coop as protection against predators. 

Aerial predators, in particular, can swoop down on this chicken breed unawares. 

So, a coop gives them a sense of security. 

Polish chickens are an active breed. 

However, once your chickens explore outdoors, they increase their risk of frostbite. 

Moisture is a big contributor to risks from cold weather. 

How Can You Help Your Polish Chickens Survive Through a Harsh Winter? 

Firstly, a dry, well-insulated coop is essential to keeping your Polish chickens safe in bad weather. 

You do not want rain and snow getting into the coop. 

Also, cracks and holes let drafts in, lowering the coop’s temperature.

Before cold temperatures set in, seal and repair any holes or cracks in the coop. 

Some owners opt for different water dispensers. 

Buy a nipple waterer. 

This type of waterer keeps the water in a tank with a nozzle for the chickens to get the water through. 

Bowl-type waterers are easier for chickens to spill, which can lead to excess moisture in the coop. 

This will help keep your Polish chickens from dipping their feathers in water. 

It also helps prevent water from spilling and adding moisture to the coop.

If the water becomes trapped in the coop, the cold water droplets can accumulate on chickens’ combs and wattles, increasing the risk of frostbite.

Should I Have A Heater In My Chicken Coop? 

If you live in a particularly cold area with lots of snow and temperatures regularly falling below 20° degrees Fahrenheit (-6° C), you will want to invest in a heater like this one on Amazon to increase the coop’s heat in winter. 

Install heaters according to directions to ensure your chickens’ safety. 

The heat lamp should be mounted high enough that your chickens cannot reach it.

Then, your chickens can move closer or further away from the heater to better manage their body temperature. 

Other options for electrical heat sources are heating blankets like the one on Amazon. 

Your chicken can cozy up on the heating blanket when it gets cold. 

Adjust the temperature as needed too! 

What are Other Ways to Heat a Chicken Coop in Winter? 

If you don’t want to worry about installing a heater properly, there are other ways to increase heat in a coop during winter. 

Add extra bedding to their nesting box. 

The extra bedding will help your chicken retain more of its body heat.

Add deeper litter to the coop. 

As the litter breaks down, it will generate more heat.

Put an outdoor barrier to keep cold air out of the coop. 

Popular options are bubble wrap, blankets, and cardboard. 

You will need secure these, so they don’t blow away in the wind. 

Do Polish Chickens Continue To Lay During Winter? 

Polish chickens have been popular since the 15th century when they were depicted in paintings in Holland. 

This chicken breed is an excellent family bird. 

Polish birds are decent egg layers. 

However, they are not generally raised for egg production.

These chickens are late layers. 

They lay around 4 eggs a week or 100 – 200 a year. 

They lay a white egg color and do not generally continue to produce during the winter months.

Learn more: Polish Chicken Egg 101

Increase Feeding For Polish Chickens During Winter

Add extra protein to your chicken’s feed as winter sets in. 

Proteins help chickens fight off disease and maintain body functions. 

Proteins are essential for Polish chicken to maintain its body heat. 

To increase protein in your chicken’s diet, add natural ingredients such as the following:

  • Sardines
  • Sprouted lentils
  • Meat scraps
  • Eggs
  • Black soldier fly grubs

Also, show bird and gamebird feeds often contain more protein than regular chicken feed. 

Switch your flock to this higher protein feed during winter to give them the tools to fight off the bitter cold. 

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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