The Polish chicken did not get its name because it is a Polish breed.
The Polish chicken breed was imported from Spain to the Netherlands as far back as the 15th century.
During the 18th century, Dutch breeders refined the breed to have more significant plumage.
The Polish chicken got its name because the topknot of feathers on its head resembled the hats worn by Polish soldiers at the time.
Polish chickens are very popular among backyard chicken enthusiasts because of their unique appearance.
You may have difficulty distinguishing between a Polish rooster and a hen, so what is the easiest way to tell the difference?
To identify a Polish rooster or a hen, you only need to look at the crest of feathers on its head. A Polish rooster will have a wilder topknot, with the feathers sharp-tipped and a tousled appearance. The Polish hen has a much sleeker topknot, with the feathers being more rounded.
All Polish roosters have these fluffy topknot feathers, and their appearance on each sex will always be consistent.
There are many crest feathers on a Polish chicken’s head, and they frequently need to be trimmed to keep them from obstructing the bird’s vision.
Is It Difficult to Tell the Difference Between a Polish Rooster and a Hen?
It is very easy to tell the difference between a Polish rooster and a hen once they are adults.
The chicks of both sexes look very similar, but as adults, they are easily distinguished by the style of their head feathers.
Most Polish chicks can be sexed when they are just 1-2 weeks old when they start to develop their topknots of feathers.
After they lose their baby fluff feathers, it is difficult to tell them apart until they are around eight weeks old and their adult plumage begins to appear.
Polish roosters have a wilder appearance than the hen’s more rounded and sleek topknot feathers.
Polish roosters are also heavier than the hens, with a more slender body, long legs, and a narrow frame.
Polish hens weigh between 4 and 5 pounds, while the roosters will weigh 6 to 7 pounds.
The tail feathers also provide a clue about the sex of a Polish chicken.
Like their topknot, the roosters tend to have long, bushy tail feathers, and the hens have shorter, more upright tail feathers.
Do Polish Hens Have Combs or Wattles?
Polish hens have a small V-shaped comb and small wattles, both of which are usually red. Polish roosters also have a comb and wattles, but they are much larger and more distinguished than the hens.
It is often difficult to see the comb or wattle on the Polish hen because they are small and usually hidden by the thick plumage of feathers.
Polish roosters do not have the most prominent comb or wattles compared to other chicken breeds, but they are still large enough to identify them compared to Polish hens.
Is There a Color Difference Between a Polish Rooster and a Hen?
There is no difference in the plumage color of the Polish rooster and hen, and the breed comes in various feather colors and patterns. The breed standard includes only a handful of plumage colors, but there are several unrecognized variations.
The American Poultry Association recognizes the following plumage colors and patterns:
- White-Crested Black
- White-Crested Blue
- Silver Laced
- Buff Laced
This variety of colors and patterns may also include bearded Polish chickens.
Some other colors and patterns not officially recognized by the American Poultry Association include:
- Black-Crested Blue
- Black-Tailed Red
- White-Laced Red
- Black-Crested White
Either sex of Polish chicken may have any of these different color and pattern combinations.
Black feathers usually have an iridescent blue-green sheen to them as well.
Polish hens make our list of show chicken breeds (click the link to learn more).
Does the Frizzle Gene Affect Polish Roosters and Hens the Same Way?
The frizzle gene causes the chicken’s feathers to curl outward instead of lying flat. This dominant gene affects both Polish roosters and hens in the same way.
Since the frizzle gene makes the feathers appear wilder, it may be more difficult to distinguish between a Polish rooster and a hen when the crest feathers are affected.
The main downside to the frizzle gene is the feathers may be brittle and more likely to break.
Frizzled feathers may also be too soft to hold their shape very well.
Do Polish Roosters and Hens Have the Same Temperament?
Polish roosters and hens have the same friendly, docile temperament. However, if the rooster is guarding a small flock in a small area, it may become more aggressive.
This aggressive behavior stems from the Polish rooster’s instinct to protect the hens in the flock.
The bird needs to know you are not a threat to prevent your Polish rooster from being aggressive toward you.
Give your Polish rooster plenty of space when you approach the flock and handle him.
Eventually, your Polish rooster will learn you are friendly and do not intend to cause any harm to his hens.
Related: Chicken breeds with the most aggressive roosters
Do Polish Roosters and Hens Exhibit the Same Behavior?
Polish roosters and hens share similar behaviors regarding eating habits and exercise. There are only a few subtle differences in behavior between the two sexes.
Polish roosters and hens are both avid foragers as well as excellent flyers.
Do not be surprised if you see your flock roosting in a tree, as it is one of the breed’s favorite activities.
While they are only able to fly as high as 4′ feet, it may be challenging to keep your Polish chickens confined to your yard.
Polish roosters are usually more alert and vocal than the hens since it is their job to protect the flock.
Polish hens are not very broody, so it may be difficult to get them to hatch their eggs.
While the hens may seem interested in brooding, they tend to lose interest before the eggs have hatched.
Polish hens are also not known for being reliable egg layers.
Mixing your flock with different breeds may cause your Polish chickens to get bullied.
Because of the feathers that often obstruct their vision, Polish chickens are considered at the bottom of the pecking order in a mixed flock.
Their bright red combs and wattles also make Polish chickens a target for being pecked on the head and neck areas.
Polish chickens are also known for their friendly and docile nature.
Do Polish Roosters and Hens Have the Same Health Issues?
Aside from reproductive issues, Polish roosters and hens are equally at risk for additional health issues unique to their breed. These health concerns include hydrocephalus in chicks and mite and lice infestations in their fluffy feathers.
Hydrocephalus occurs when fluid in the skull pushes against the chicken’s brain.
Polish chicks are particularly susceptible to head injuries because their bony head prominence does not come together right away, leaving a soft spot exposed until the bones fuse.
Since Polish chickens have so many extra feathers on their head, face, and neck, they are more prone to mite and lice infestations.
Mites and lice are very difficult to see, and it is important to regularly check your chickens’ feathers for any redness, swelling, or scabs on the skin.
Feather loss is also common when a Polish chicken has a mite infestation.
A light dusting of diatomaceous earth on the chickens and in the coop effectively eliminates chicken mites.
The excess plumage around a Polish chicken’s face will also cause vision issues, making them an easier target for predators.
If your Polish chickens are not presented at poultry shows, it is best to keep this abundance of feathers neatly trimmed to allow the birds to see better.
Polish chickens are not very tolerant of cold climates despite their fluffy plumage.
Polish chickens are prone to freezing feathers, especially during damp winters, and it is essential to keep these birds warm and dry during the colder winter months.
Related: How cold of temperatures can baby chickens tolerate?
It is also essential to ensure your Polish chickens are provided with a high-protein feed and clean, fresh water to keep them healthy.
Do Polish Roosters and Hens Have the Same Lifespan?
Polish roosters and hens have very different lifespans. On average, a Polish rooster will only live for up to 5 years, but a Polish hen will live between 8 to 10 years with proper care.
The discrepancy in lifespan is due to the different lifestyles of roosters and hens.
Polish roosters are tasked with protecting their flock, so they are always on high alert.
The stress of always being on the lookout for predators, combined with their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the flock’s safety, contributes to the Polish rooster’s shorter life expectancy.
Polish hens typically live a more pampered lifestyle and can maintain a more even, docile temperament.
Since hens are egg layers, they usually receive extra nutrition to accommodate their egg production.
Are Polish Roosters or Hens Better Show Chickens?
Although Polish roosters tend to have more vivid feathers than the hens, both sexes do well as show chickens. Neither sex of Polish chickens is favored more than the other in poultry shows, and both sexes are expected to meet the breed standards.
Your show chicken needs to have a docile temperament and be well-trained to make showing them much easier.
Polish chickens are usually raised as ornamental birds because of their unique physical characteristics and luxurious feathers.
A Polish chicken is generally too small to be raised as a meat bird, and the hens are not prolific egg layers.
The physical appearance of your Polish chicken needs to match the breed standard as closely as possible.
Your show chicken also needs to be free from any physical or health defects, which may get your bird disqualified.
Once you have chosen the chickens you wish to show, they need to be separated from the rest of the flock so their health and appearance may be closely monitored.
With Polish chickens, you will lose points if the feathers on their face are trimmed, so save the haircut until after the show.
Commonly Asked Questions
Are Polish chickens noisy?
Polish roosters are generally only loud when they crow.
A Polish rooster does not learn to crow until he is around 4 to 5 months old, but some have been known to wait until they are eight months old.
Polish hens are very talkative and make noise almost all of the time, but they are only loud when scared or angry.
Further reading: Do chickens make noise at night?
Are Polish hens good egg layers?
A Polish hen is considered a decent egg layer, but its egg production is highly variable and inconsistent.
A Polish hen will produce between 150 and 200 medium- to large-size white eggs in one year.
Polish hens are not very broody, so breeding them is often tricky because they typically lose interest and abandon their eggs before they hatch.
If you want Polish chicken hatchlings, you may need to incubate the eggs artificially.
Are Polish chickens skittish?
Polish chickens are usually calm and gentle birds.
However, Polish chickens tend to get nervous and may be startled easily when their crest feathers obstruct their vision.
Since they cannot see well, it is easy for predators to sneak up on Polish chickens and attack them before they know what is happening.
Trimming the crest feathers, so they can see better will usually result in a more docile chicken with less stress.
Are Polish chickens blind?
Despite their often erratic movements, Polish chickens are not blind.
Behind their face feathers, Polish chickens have excellent vision.
If your Polish chicken is easily startled or starts exhibiting strange movements, it is likely because the crest feathers are preventing the bird from seeing well.
It is recommended to regularly trim the feathers around a Polish chicken’s eyes so their vision remains unrestricted.
Do Polish roosters fight?
Polish roosters have a very docile temperament and will rarely fight each other.
Since Polish roosters are perceived as weak by other breeds of chickens, they may be bullied if they are in a mixed flock.
Polish roosters are also targets for other chickens because of their bright red comb and wattles.
It is not uncommon for other chickens in the flock to pull out the crest feathers on a Polish rooster.
However, even if the Polish rooster is being bullied, it will rarely fight back, preferring to keep to itself.