Standard Varieties of Chickens:

White-Crested Black Polish

One of the oldest varieties of poultry is the Polish (fig. 27), their ancestors being traced as far back as the sixteenth century. Among the varieties of fowls mentioned in those early days was the "Wooly" fowl, similar to the Silky fowl of today; mention in history is also made of the "Frizzled" fowl, the "Persian" fowl, the "Turkish" fowl, and the "Crested" fowl. The latter is described as being a fowl with a lark's crest. Another variety is known as the "Patavinian" fowl, which is believed to be the progenitor of the Polish variety. The cock is described as being exceedingly beautiful, being richly decorated with five colors, black, white, green, red, and ocher; the body black, the neck covered with white feathers, and the wings and back partly black and partly green; the tail of the same hue, but the roots of the feathers whitish, and some of the flight feathers also white. The eyes are surrounded with red circles, the comb is very small, the bill and feet yellow, and the head is adorned with a beautiful crest. In the hen there is no white except the white pellicle at the opening of the ears. She is altogether of a greenish-black color, with yellow feet and a very small comb, slightly tinged with red.

FIG. 27. - Pair of White-crested Black Polish.

The general characteristics of the Polish are those of a medium-sized fowl, slightly larger than the Hamburgs; with a full, round breast, carried well forward; with the neck of the cock carried back and beautifully arched; with a perfectly straight back, broad at the shoulders and narrowing rapidly to the tail; with large and closely folded wings; with an abundance of tail coverts and sickle feathers; with shanks of a bluish color, in all varieties but the While-crested Black, in which they are of dark slate or nearly black; and above all with a large crest and leaf comb. The crest of the cock is composed of narrow feathers, something like those which form the hackle of the neck and saddle. They should rise well in front so as not to obstruct the sight and fall over to the back and sides in a flowing, even mass. If they fall forward, as is sometimes the case, they both obstruct the sight and are liable to get wet when the bird drinks. Such a crest, also, is hollow in the center and loses much of its beauty. The crest of the hen is formed of feathers growing upward and turning in at the extremities, and should be large and globular in form and compact in character, with no sight of parting. The larger the crest the better, provided it is of good shape, but a close, compact, well-formed crest is to be preferred to one that is larger but of loose texture and falling in all directions. The comb is peculiar, and belongs to the class of combs which forms a fancied resemblance to a leaf, and are designated leaf combs. It is better described, however, as two fleshy horns diverging like the letter V, the upper extremities retreating into the crest. The smaller the comb the better, and if wholly wanting, except when removed by design or accident, it is not regarded as a disqualification.

Polish are bred extensively in this country and by some are considered practical for general purposes, but while some may have good results in breeding them they are not to be fully recommended as a general-purpose fowl. They are considered more as a fancy fowl, and are generally bred for pleasure and the showroom. Their large crests are against them, hindering their vision and causing them to become listless, inactive, and suspicious in their natures. Extra care must be given them to be fairly successful in raising them, and their houses and coops must be kept absolutely dry - the least water in their crests is likely to result fatally to them.

They are fairly good layers of medium-sized eggs, and are nonsitters. For table purposes they are considered good, their flesh being fine-grained, tender, and sweet.

Of the varieties of Polish the White-crested Black Polish is the most popular. The color of their plumage is a rich glossy black throughout, with the exception of the crest, which is pure white. The shanks and toes are black, or dark slate; comb and wattles are bright red and earlobes are white.

The Golden and Silver varieties are beautifully marked in plumage. In the Golden the feathers are marked with rich, golden bay and spangled or laced with black. The feathers of the Silver are silvery white, instead of the golden bay, and spangled or laced with black. The illustration (fig. 28) shows the general markings of the feathers. The White Polish is pure white throughout the plumage.

FIG. 28. - Bearded Silver Polish hen.

There are two distinct classes of Polish, the plain and bearded. The latter class has a thick, full beard, running back of the eye in a handsome curve, and in color corresponding with the balance of the plumage. The eight varieties of Polish are, White-crested Black, Golden, Silver, White, Bearded Golden, Bearded Silver, Bearded White, and Buff-laced.

No standard weight is given for Polish; they are of medium size, about that of Leghorns.


The first two images below come from the Oklahoma State University Department of Animal Science's Poultry Breeds pages. The remaining three are from the FeatherSite, "an on-line zoological garden of domestic poultry". The Polish page at Oklahoma and the Polish page at FeatherSite contain further information about this breed's history and more images of these fowl. Clicking on each image takes you to the page specifically about that particular variety.

White-Crested Black Polish Bearded Silver Polish White-Crested Black Polish Rooster White-Crested Blue Polish Male Silver Polish Hen

Image Credits (from left to right): Copyright © 1996, Oklahoma State University Board of Regents; Copyright © 1996, Oklahoma State University Board of Regents; Courtesy of Bill and Sue Tivol; Courtesy of Barry Koffler; Copyright © Frank Quinn

Please note: These links point to pages that are being served off of the Oklahoma State University's web server and off the web server, which are not part of the Chickscope project. Because of this, the pages may be missing or corrupted, and control of this is generally out of the hands of the Chickscope development team.

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