These Chooks May Resemble Bobbing Pompoms, but Polish Chickens Make Delightful Farm Pets
Updated: Jan 15
Perhaps one of the most unusual poultry breeds is the Polish Chicken. Their heads sport a colourful bouffant of feathers that often spills over their faces; and while making gorgeous show birds, are not commonly used for poultry flocks.
But for Adalyn and Mariam Kinkle and their parents, Maria and Nick, these birds make extremely bondable – and educational – garden pets.
The family purchased three, week-old Polish Chicken chicks from a Villa Nova area breeder in the late spring to raise as summer pets on their 100-acre farm in the former Townsend Township.
“The girls really enjoy and love them and they are certainly not afraid to pick them up. It’s really good for their development and to have respect for them,” said Nick.
While Kinkle said that the birds belong to Adalyn, 8 and Mariam, 6, Kinkle admitted that one of them is his own chook.
For the past three years, the family researches and purchases two or three chicks from regional breeders, which Maria finds online.
The chicks dwell in a portable pen which is moved around the yard to ensure their safety when the family is not around. The Kinkles re-home the fowl each autumn.
Their first birds, purchased in 2020, were Welsummer Chickens -- a Dutch breed. Last year they brought in Indian Runner Duck ducklings.
“This (Polish) breed is quite social compared with the other ones we’ve had,” said Kinkle. “If we go outside now, the two roosters and a hen expect us to crow back.
Polish Chickens are non-aggressive birds who enjoy being picked up. Their prominent head poufs and tuffs make them high-maintenance as these feathers may cause vision and grooming issues.
While their meat is stringy, this breed makes acceptable layers, producing 150 to 200 eggs annually. Polish Chickens are poor brooders, handle the cold poorly, and need a higher protein feed to ensure healthy feather growth.
Polish Chickens stick close together, but are kept away from other chickens as their timidity leaves them at the bottom of the poultry pecking order. “We all get a little excited when the dog gets out and chases them,” said Kinkle.
Like the Silkie, Polish Chickens make glamorous show favourites. Its’ a crested or frizzled-headed breed, meaning that its feathers curl outward and upward, moving away from the body as opposed to lying flat.
Their plumage varies from black to buff, gold, white and silver, with white skin and grey legs.
Despite their name, Polish Chickens are not Polish in origin. Their past is mysterious, with reports of them originating from Spain in the 1600s or brought over by medieval Mongols. The breed was likely standardized as an ornamental breed in the Netherlands.
Some say that the “Polish” got into the name because the Dutch word for “head” is “pol.” Kindle said that he heard that Charles Darwin coined the name because he thought that their frizzled crests reminded him of the feathers on the uniforms of Polish Army officers.
Kinkle admits that the impending autumn re-homing of this year’s mini-flock will cause “a bit of resistance from the girls. But we make it clear that we are not keeping them. We’ve found really good places in the past and later they can go back and visit. “
Kinkle is better-known for his day job, as an Economic Development Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), usually working from the ministry’s Simcoe office.
Otherwise, Kinkle custom grazes cattle for an area farmer, who rounds them up each autumn.
“Do you see a theme here --about not having livestock for the winter?” said Kinkle, laughing.