Black Crested White Polish in North America

Craig Russell

with permission from
SPPA Bulletin, 2000, 5(4):11

A group of Polands (from Old and Rare Breeds of Poultry, J. Butler)

Although accepted by the APA, the Black Crested White Polish is still not well known in North America. Probably most of those who are familiar with them don't realize that the variety has been here before. Several poultry writers from the mid-1800s mentioned them. In my younger days I recall seeing a short article that I believe placed them on Long Island about that time. A good many later writers have considered the evidence flimsy and lacking in specifics. However, the only documentation I'm currently able to examine directly seems rather compelling to me. Solon Robinson in Wisdom of the Land mentions only four varieties: Golden and Silver Laced, which he calls spangles and which were fairly common at that time, and White Crested Black and Black Crested White. Mr. Robinson's experience was in the New York area. If he based his Polish section on reports from overseas, he certainly would have mentioned Buff Laced and White, which were far better known and certainly in North America by 1867 (perhaps not in the New York area). Prior to 1850, the Black Crested White variety may have been fairly common in Holland. Since then the variety became rare everywhere, although a few remnant flocks remained until late in the 19th century in Holland, Belgium, France and Ireland. (Editor's note: In The Practical Poultry Keeper, 1909 edition, Lewis Wright observes that "There is indisputable evidence that there once existed a breed of Black Crested White Polands; but, unfortunately it is equally plain that the strain has been totally lost. Its disappearance is the more to be regretted, as it seems to have been not only the most ornamental, but the largest and most valuable of all the Polish varieties. The hen described by Mr. Brent dwarfed even some Malay hens in the same yard.")

The current Black Crested White Polish, both here and in Europe, are recreations. The stock in North America needs considerable work to perfect the color. Despite some very good strains of White, White Crested Black and Buff Laced, the Polish breed in general needs some dedicated breeders to work on both production and fancy points. This breed has declined very seriously both in numbers and quality in the past twenty-five years.

Polish have existed in solid Blue, solid Black, solid Buff, Cuckoo, White Crested Cuckoo, Black Crested Buff and even Black Breasted Red, in addition to the varieties currently recognized by the APA (Black Crested White, White Crested Black, White Crested Blue, White, Golden, Silver and Buff Laced). Many of these are recognized and doing quite well in other countries. Some have existed in the U.S. at various times, and some, such as the White Crested Cuckoo, may still survive in North America.

Although we think of them as an ornamental breed, the Polish were historically one of the paramount egg production breeds. Their crest makes them easier to handle than most other light breeds. These historic beauties not only need our help but can also be both a practical and beautiful part of your poultry conservation project.



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