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Their head feathers are a head turner and a fashion statement for sure — once you see on these lovely birds they certainly leave an impression on you. Although they were once considered a good egg layer they are now more commonly kept for show and exhibition purposes. Her gentle disposition means they are good for children as they are quiet, friendly and do not mind being held or cuddled.


Written by : Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky. Figure 1. Genetic basis for sex determination in mammals and birds Image created by Dr. With most animals, it is relatively easy to determine the sex of the newborn.

What is the polish chicken?

The male reproductive organs are located on the outside of the body and are relatively easy to see, even in newborns. This is not the case with poultry. In male birds, the reproductive organs are inside the body cavity. This makes sexing newly hatched chicks difficult There are two methods of sexing chicks that can be used at hatcheries: vent sexing and feather sexing. Vent sexing was developed in Japan and brought to North American poultry producers in the s. Vent sexing is a skill that takes a long time to develop.

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It involves holding the chick upside down in one hand, expelling the fecal material and everting turning outward the vent area. The producer can then look for the presence or absence of a rudimentary male sex organ. This process sounds much easier than it actually is. To accurately sex chicks in this way, you need to be well trained and to have had a great deal of practice. There are very few schools that still teach chick sexing.

Feather sexing is possible for some chicken breeds. Male chicks have a white spot on the down over the wing web. This spot is lost when the chick down is shed and replaced with feathers. However, there is considerable normal variation in the size of the spot, so sexing in this way is not always accurate. This gene produces a white bar on an otherwise black feather.

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The gene is incompletely dominant over the non-barring gene b. As a result, males are overall lighter in color. The sex of purebred Barred Plymouth Rocks chicks can be determined on the basis of the size and shape of a light-colored spot on the top of the head.

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At hatch, males have a large white spot. The spot is much smaller and narrower in females. Photograph of a Barred Plymouth Rock chick with a white spot on top of the head. The spot is much smaller and narrower in females image by Dr. To understand how this works, it is important to have a basic understanding of the genetics involved.

It takes a pair of sex-related chromosomes to determine the sex of the offspring. The mother contributes one sex chromosome to the offspring, and the father contributes the other. Most breeds do not have this type of sex-linked characteristic, but crossing certain breeds can result in different feather characteristics for the offspring. In mammals, males carry an X and a Y chromosome, while the females carry two X chromosomes.

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It is the male that, genetically, determines the sex of the offspring. In birds, it is the other way around—females carry a Z and a W chromosome, and males carry two Z chromosomes. It is the female, therefore, that, genetically, determines the sex of the offspring see Figure 1. Photo by Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky Throughout embryonic development, there are no external characteristics that identify the sex of the chick.

At hatch, male and female chicks are the same weight, and—except for the down color and feather length as mentioned earlier—neither males nor females show any distinguishing secondary sexual characteristics. The most accurate way to sex chicks is to watch them grow.

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As the chicks get older, they will exhibit differences in behavior and feathering. The males switch from chirping, which is common to all chicks, to attempting to crow.

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The males have larger bodies, combs, and wattles than the female. The males develop larger spurs than the females.

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The males have longer, more pointed, and narrower hackle feathers located on the neck. The hackle feathers typically have a rounded oval shape in females. The males and females both have main tail feathers, but only the males have saddle feathers. In crested chickens such as Polish, Sultans, and Crevecoeurs, the crest feathers of the females are curved and form a soft topknot.

The crests of the males are pointed to give a more punk-like appearance. The combs of young roosters begin to develop earlier than those of females. The timing of this varies from breed to breed.

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In most breeds with large combs, it is relatively easy to distinguish between the two sexes. For some of the breeds with small combs, such as those with pea combs, distinguishing the sexes may be more difficult. There are, of course, exceptions to these differences.

Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky Figure 1.

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This makes sexing newly hatched chicks difficult.

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Their head feathers are a head turner and a fashion statement for sure — once you see on these lovely birds they certainly leave an impression on you.


The breed name Polish came from the Polish army's feathered caps because it resembled their feathered crests.


The Polish breed of chickens has an iconic look that makes them truly unique.