The Silver Laced Polish must be one of the most ornamental and beautiful chicken breeds. With a spectacular crest and boldly laced feathers, they truly are something to behold. Coming in non-bearded and bearded varieties, they can be found at shows throughout the United States. Let’s discover more about this fascinating breed!
Table of Contents
- Bearded or non-bearded
- White egg layer
- Calm, friendly personalities
Background & History of the breed
The origins of the Silver Laced Polish are not entirely known. Potentially Polish-type chickens could have originated in Spain and then found their way to the Netherlands after Spain invaded in the 1500s.
It is thought that the Dutch developed the birds’ crests to make them larger with more prolific plumage and refine the colors and patterns.
As you can see, the chicken breed doesn’t come from Poland as you may have thought. Indeed, one reason given for their name is attributed to Charles Darwin. He called any chicken breed with a crest “Polish” because their feathered top knot reminded him of the hats worn by Polish soldiers at that time. Others believe it comes from the term “Polled,” again referring to their crest.
The breed was popular in many parts of Europe due to their strange appearance, which made them appealing to the higher classes and the aristocracy. They are featured in several paintings by Dutch and Italian artists in the 16th to 18th century. They were also kept for egg production.
It wasn’t until the 1800s that Polish chickens first arrived in America. As fancy fowl and for egg production. They are today a heritage breed, often kept for showing and as pets.
At one point, the Polish chicken was almost extinct, but the birds have enjoyed a rise in popularity in more recent times and are currently on the Livestock Conservancy Organization’s watch list.
Temperament and Behavior of the Silver Laced Polish Chicken
Polish chickens have big, quirky personalities that match their unusual looks. They are easy to tame with regular handling and will eagerly come to you in search of a tasty treat or two.
The hens are pretty chatty and are very docile, making them suitable for children to keep as pets. It’s best to teach children to talk to their chickens as they approach; this is because the sizeable feathery crest of the polish makes it difficult for them to see, and they can be easily startled.
If you want a chicken that will sit on eggs and raise chicks, then the silver laced polish may not suit you. They aren’t particularly broody and begin laying later than many other breeds.
Roosters are sometimes quite possessive of their hens and will protect them loyally. However, if you don’t want to raise chicks, then you may not need a rooster.
Their lack of vision and gentle natures mean other more dominant breeds can pick on them. It is better to keep them with docile types that are not too active.
Silver Laced Polish Breed Specifics and Traits
The crazy-looking head feathers, combined with the attractive laced feathering of the silver laced polish, make them a true ornamental breed. They are a good show breed and also useful for laying a reasonable number of eggs, although the egg size is sometimes relatively small depending on the strain.
Roosters weigh an average of 6 lbs. and cockerels 5 lbs., while hens are around 4.5 lbs. and pullets are 4 lbs. Bantam versions are also available, with roosters weighing in at 1.8 lbs. and hens 1.6 lbs.
They aren’t known to be an exceptionally long-lived breed and, on average, will survive for between 4 to 7 years, although some, with reasonable care, can live a lot longer than this.
The unusual head feathers of a polish chicken are produced due to its unique skull formation, which thrusts upwards towards the top of the head, resulting in a bony protrusion. As a consequence of this, the birds have significantly enlarged brains in comparison to other chicken breeds. This large brain has been shown to increase their cognitive abilities.
Silver laced polish chicks are a mottled grey and greyish-yellow color. They have extra dense fluff on top of their heads where their large feathered crest will develop.
They have a beautiful feather pattern of silvery-white plumage, with each feather being laced by a broad, lustrous black edge.
Many other color types of Polish exist. They include bearded varieties:
- Bearded buff laced
- Bearded silver
- Bearded golden
- Bearded white
And non-bearded varieties:
- Non-bearded buff laced
- Non-bearded silver
- Non-bearded golden
- Non-bearded white
- Non-bearded white crested black
- Non-bearded white crested blue
Most bearded varieties were recognized by the American breed standard of perfection in 1883, while non-bearded types achieved recognition from 1874 to 1996. They also come in both smooth and frizzle feathered.
In appearance, the silver laced polish has clean gray legs with four toes, no visible comb, and in bearded varieties, no visible wattles. The wattles of non-bearded birds are reasonably long and red.
The hen and the rooster have a similar appearance, other than their feathered crest. In roosters, the crest has an abundance of long feathers sprouting upwards. The hairstyle is somewhat neater for hens, with shorter feathers that form a kind of helmet appearance.
This chicken breed seems to do well in moderate heat or cold. Providing they are given a well-ventilated coop where they can shade from the sun during the summer and retreat from the rain, frost, and snow in winter, they will usually be alright whatever the weather.
One thing to watch out for is their crest feathers becoming frozen. If you live in a particularly cold area, it may be good to provide an over roost heater to prevent freezing at night.
Perhaps not too surprisingly, your silver laced polish chickens can easily make a tasty snack for a crafty predator due to their poor vision. They don’t tend to fly and sadly make easy pickings.
Health and Disease
Polish chickens are prone to Marek’s Disease, which is incurable. To avoid it, all you need to do is vaccinate all young chicks.
Their conical head shape has also caused them to be prone to cerebral hernias. Their brain can protrude through the gap in their skull. This isn’t usually a problem for adult birds due to their dense plumage, but it can be fatal for a chick that gets pecked on the head.
Extra care is necessary for the crest feathers and if the birds are not being shown, you can trim them from around the eyes. This helps birds that are kept free-range and also stops them from getting eye problems.
In parts of Europe, notably France, Polish hens are still kept as an egg-laying breed. American strains have had much of their egg-laying abilities ignored in favor of looks, and this has meant that birds today don’t lay a massive number of eggs, although it is still quite respectable at around 120 white medium-sized eggs a year.
How to Get Your Own Silver Laced Polish Chickens
The calm temperaments of the silver laced polish, and their striking appearance make them a good show bird. You may be able to find breeders at exhibitions and shows or look them up online.
Another potential source is to find them at hatcheries. If you specifically want to show birds, check that the hatchery has a strain of suitable quality to avoid disappointment. The laced varieties are hard to keep true.
We recommend Cackle Hatchery, which has silver laced polish and other polish varieties of chicks available at certain times of the year.
As a guide, you can expect to pay between $3.85 and $4.25 per chick, depending on the quantity you order.
The silver laced polish can be a great breed of chicken to own. They make good pets for children and are also suitable for beginners, providing care is taken of their crest.
They are calm and friendly, look amazing, and make an exciting addition to a mixed flock of docile chicken breeds.
If you have limited space, they are also a good candidate, as their lack of predator resistance makes them a poor choice for a genuinely free-range hen.