White Crested Polish Chickens Care Guide

The hardest thing that any chicken lover will ever have to do is pick their favorite breed. There are so many domestic breeds out there, each with its own personalities, perks, and characteristics, that settling on that number one bird can be an excruciating process.

white-crested Polish hen
a white-crested Polish hen with black feathers

But even if you aren’t picking your favorite, picking the right bird for you is critical if you want to have a good time raising them. You need to know how to handle a given breed, what the pitfalls are for them, and how to mitigate any problems.

To help you do that, today I’m bringing you a guide to the White Crested Polish, one of the most striking and gorgeous ornamental breeds out there. Their huge crowns of feathers are unmistakable, but they can also be troublesome. I’ll get right into it below…

Easy Starting Guide To Having Backyard Chickens: 101 (Polish Breed)

White Crested Polish Breed Overview

The White Crested Polish is an instantly recognizable ornamental chicken that, despite what the name suggests, hails from the Netherlands. Or at least, as best we know: the oldest historical accounts of the White Crested Polish hail from the Netherlands, but the exact origin of these majestic birds is almost a total mystery.

Some sources claim they were originally from Russia, others from the East Indies. In truth, we just don’t know!

With a striking black body and a brilliant white plume of feathers and often a matching beard on their neck, these birds really do look like royalty. They’ve been depicted as such in artwork for hundreds of years now!

These are medium-sized chickens with roosters weighing around 6 lbs. (2.7 kgs) or just a little bit more. Hens are significantly lighter at between 4 and 5 pounds (around 2 kilos).

Crested Polishes have an upright posture with a narrow, tapering breast. The shanks are gray and featherless, and each foot has four toes. In most varieties, the skin is white.

They have small, V-shaped combs, too, but you’ll rarely see them considering they are always buried beneath those enormous crests. The combs, wattles, and earlobes are all bright red.

Notably, Polishes also come in a bantam variety, and these pint-sized showstoppers weigh slightly less than 2 pounds as a rule. And if you really want to go all out on stunning looks, you might look for a frizzle variety which is covered from head to toe in curling, bark-like feathers!

What are White Crested Polishes Best Kept For?

Today, Polish chickens are kept predominantly as ornamental birds and pets. They are reasonable producers of eggs for small operations or backyard flocks, but compared to other high-producing egg layers, they fall way short: expect anywhere from 150 to 200 medium white eggs yearly.

Egg collection is a cinch as these chickens rarely, if ever, go broody.

And as expected, the crested Polish is a regular entrant at various poultry expos, shows, and other competitions thanks to its gorgeous appearance. There is no other chicken quite like it!

If you want a beautiful bird for the backyard, or are hankering to enter competitions yourself, the crested Polish can be a good choice.

Buff Laced Polish pullet
Buff Laced Polish pullet

Are They Easy to Handle?

They are moderately easy to handle. It isn’t that they are aggressive; they really aren’t. However, roosters have a reputation for being high-strung and fairly confrontational.

The problem is that those giant crests on top of their heads droop down and cover their eyes, meaning that these chickens have an extremely limited field of view under all conditions.

Being prey animals, this makes them very nervous, erratic, and edgy. Any sudden movement, any shadow, any loud noise might set them off and send them running and flapping away.

Many Polish owners report that their birds get startled even when they walk up on them, even if they’ve raised them from chicks!

It isn’t their fault; it’s just the way they are, but you’ll need to work harder to build trust with these birds and not startle them, and potentially take action to alleviate the problem caused by those crest feathers.

Announce Your Presence to Keep These Birds Calm

One thing you’ll have to start early with your crested Polish flock is letting them know you’re there when you walk up on them.

Normally, the wide-set eyes of chickens let them see in pretty much all directions around them except directly behind, and so normally they’ll always be able to see you coming when you approach.

Not so with the crested Polish for reasons we’ve discussed. It’s shockingly easy to sneak up on them even when you aren’t trying, and if you startle them at close range, it can give them a major fright, drastically increasing their stress.

Make it a point to sound off the entire time while you are drawing close to them. You can whistle, talk to them, or make any other noise repeatedly that they will associate with you. That way, when they know you are coming, they feel relief and not fear.

Consider Trimming Their Crests to Reduce Their Anxiety

Many owners who want their birds to live their best lives will sacrifice looks for practicality. This is done by carefully trimming back those crest feathers so they can enjoy much better visibility and, as a direct consequence, be calmer overall.

How to Trim a Chicken's Crest

This can be done with any good, sharp pair of scissors, but you must be careful not to cut the feathers back too quickly.

It could be done safely without harming the chicken, but it takes practice, so if you aren’t familiar or comfortable with the operation, have someone seasoned show you what to do.

Their Crests and Beards Need Extra Care to Prevent Problems

That crest sure is gorgeous, but like every fancy hairdo, it requires a lot of work to keep it looking good. Your crested Polishes will need extra care to keep the crest clean, free of mud and debris, and away from the skin.

If it gets caked down against their head or, worse, their eye, the health consequences can be significant. The same goes for their beard if they have one.

It’s a little bit of extra work from you, but other than this fancy feature, your crested Polishes won’t require any special treatment compared to other breeds.

These Birds are Highly Vulnerable to Bullying in Mixed Flocks

As mentioned, crested Polish chickens tend to be friendly, but they are very anxious and tend to run away when confronted or startled. Roosters might be aggressive, but this is more because they are in a borderline panicked state much of the time.

Accordingly, you’ve got to be very careful to keep them from getting bullied if you put them in a mixed flock. Even if they would defend themselves, and they won’t, they can’t see well enough to do so, and this means that they can easily be tyrannized by larger, meaner birds.

Food and Water

These chickens need a typical chicken diet according to their weight (2 to 2.8 ounces per day, spread across 2-3 smaller meals), and one that consists of feed and other healthy, whole foods like bugs, plants, grains, fruits and veggies. But there are a few special considerations for these birds and their glorious haircuts.

For starters, Crested Polishes are not good foragers; they don’t see well thanks to that crest which hampers their field of vision. Avoid any wet foods like mash, juicy fruits and veggies, or anything else that will dirty their crest feathers; they will get messy otherwise.

Drier foods are preferred for cleanliness and to avoid accidents, as wet feathers can stick to each other and, most worryingly, to the poor bird’s face, blinding them and potentially resulting in eye infections.

Special care must be taken with waterers, too. Choose a plastic model that has a tight lip or trough for the water where it is dispensed as this will help to keep the feathers from getting in it. Wet feathers, again, cause issues and will also contaminate the water.

Repeated contact with food and water can also stain the crest feathers. Not the end of the world, but definitely something to be aware of if you plan to show or compete with your Crested Polish. This is part of the reason why you want to avoid metal waterers; they promote staining.

Predator Protection

In the same way, this severely hampered visibility means that your crested Polish birds are sitting ducks, or I guess chickens, against every kind of predator. Birds of prey will absolutely massacre them because their visibility is arguably worse going up over their heads and towards the sky.

Ground predators of all kinds will have an easy go at them, too. Turns out that interfering with a chicken’s vision is actually pretty terrible for their overall well-being, especially when it comes to getting away from danger or defending each other!

You must plan to step up predator protection efforts if you want to keep your Polish chickens safe. Heavy-duty, predator-proof fencing, overhead netting, the works. And if you are nearby, always be prepared to run to their aid if you hear them cry out.

Is the White Crested Polish the Right Chicken for You?

The White Crested Polish is the right chicken for you if you care about gorgeous good looks more than anything else, and you’re willing to put in the patient effort to cultivate a bond of trust and affection with a bird that tends to stay pretty scared and vulnerable. If you can do that, you’ll find the sweet-natured birds underneath the anxiety.

They can even give you a modest supply of eggs, certainly enough for your family, but they aren’t good for much else, meaning they are purely ornamental birds first and foremost.

If that sounds good to you, and you don’t mind some enhanced care requirements for taking care of those gorgeous feathers and working around the clock to keep them safe, the White Crested Polish is a fine choice.

Consider the White Crested Blue Polish, Too!

If you like the White Crested Polish make sure you check out the White Crested Blue variation too! They have dark skin, charcoal gray legs, and steely blue feathers set off by the white splash of their crest. It’s a dramatic look that makes these chickens look like a living, breathing work of art!

White Crested Polish Chickens pin image

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