Polish chickens are a very old breed –an ancient statue of a Polish chicken is housed in the Vatican– but it wasn’t until the cusp of the 21st Century that the tolbunt color variety was created. Tolbunt is the German word for ‘wildly colorful,’ or as one German described it in English, ‘jazzy.’ Tolbunts were created in Eastern Germany while it was still a satellite of the Soviet Union, but with the reunification of Germany tolbunts were released to Western Europe for the first time. They were shown in the Netherlands in 2000 and imported in very small numbers to the United States shortly thereafter.
The tolbunt color pattern is a complex mix of brown, black, and white, and the distinctions between the colors in each feather should be well defined. While the colors sound subdued, in reality the tolbunt effect is one of the most striking feather patterns seen on any chicken. Tolbunts can be found in both flat and frizzle feathered varieties, and Greenfire Farms produces both varieties. Although there are reputed to be tolbunt bantams, all the breeding stock we were able to locate are large fowl.
Tolbunts have always been very scarce in the United States, and problems related to inbreeding are common. Greenfire Farms found tolbunt stock from a number of sources, and then to inject even greater genetic diversity into the line, we bred the gold laced pattern into our line before back-breeding to tolbunt. This strategy seems to have produced a more robust line with more clearly defined tolbunt markings. Although this process took a period of years, it was worth it. The birds we are now producing show a significant improvement over our original stock.
In addition to their uniquely striking color pattern, tolbunt Polish can be excellent chickens for the urban poultry hobbyist who wishes to enjoy a beautiful bird with a quiet temperament and the ability to produce a respectable number of medium-size white eggs. The tolbunt are perhaps the quietest and most sedate of any breed we have raised. The visual impairment caused by the natural growth of their outlandish head feathers makes this breed reluctant to move at a high speed. While tolbunts may not be able to see themselves, you will not be able to keep your eyes off this most remarkable variety of chicken.