If you are looking for a large chicken breed with a placid personality to add to your backyard flock, the Orpington chicken is an excellent choice.
These birds are heavy but loosely feathered which makes them large. Orpington chickens like to be free-range and have a short wingspan which means they do not need high fences. This chicken breed comes in four recognized color varieties, including black, blue, buff, and white. The buff variety, however, is the most popular. It is also available in some attractive color pallets like jubilee, chocolate, and lemon cuckoo.
Orpington chickens are dual-purpose birds that are both friendly and cold-hardy because of their fluffy plumage. In addition, they are also good egg layers that can give you 3 to 5 eggs per week. So, do you think this breed is the right choice for your backyard flock?
Our article today talks all about Orpington chickens including their colors, egg production, appearance, noise levels, and much more.
But before that, where did the Orpington chicken breed come from, and what makes it so popular?
Orpington Chicken Breed History
Developed through crossing a Black Plymouth Rock, Langshan, and a Minorca, the Orpington chicken has its roots in Britain. This breed was created by William Cook in the 19th century as a dual-purpose chicken for both meat and eggs. Soon, these chickens would become show birds and have held this role to date. They are a favorite box office chicken breed.
Orpington chicken popularity soared in 1895 after the first black variety, created in 1886, was presented in Madison Square Gardens. These birds come in a range of beautiful colors that differ in recognition depending on the country, the American Standard only accepts the original colors. This chicken breed also has a Bantam variety that was developed in the 20th century by Herman Kuhn of Germany. Although smaller in size, the Bantam has the appearance and personality of a full-sized bird and comes in a huge variety of colors.
The Orpington chicken breed has clubs in the UK, the US, and Australia that accept it. The Buff Orpington is the most popular of all.
A table for the Brahma Chicken Breed
|Good for Beginners?||Yes|
|Weight||Hen (8 lbs.), Rooster (10 lbs.)|
|Temperament||Calm, Friendly & well-mannered|
|Lifespan||8 to 10 years|
|Egg Production||3 to 5 weekly|
|Egg Color||Light Brown|
|Color Variety||Spangled, Cuckoo, Jubilee, Blue, and more|
|Good with kids||Yes|
|Are they Broody?||No|
|Price||$5 to $35 per chick|
Orpington Chicken Types
The original colors of the Orpington chicken breed include black, white, buff, splash, and blue. And although there are many standard varieties globally, the American Standard only recognizes the original colors that including blue, black, and white.
Typically, the Orpington chicken breed has soft, copious feathering that almost hides its legs from view. These chickens have a small head, a single medium upright comb, and very beautiful colors. Orpingtons have fluffy feathers that somehow make them bigger than they really are. However, they are big enough to produce meat for a family of four.
Despite the color an Orpington has, all varieties have red wattles and a short beak with a deep amber color. The color of their legs, however, depends on the color of their feathers. Expect them to commonly have pink-colored legs.
Size & Weight
A full-size Orpington chicken size depends on their gender with hens weighing approx. 8 lbs. and around 10 lbs. for roosters. The Bantam variety is smaller than the full-size ones with a weight range of between 3 and 3½ lbs.
It is, however, worth noting that the white and buff varieties are slightly smaller than the others.
Orpington Chicken Colors
So, what colors do Orpington chickens come in?
The Orpington chicken breed comes in lots of color varieties to choose from. Some of the most popular colors are recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) as Orpington chicken standard of perfection. Some colors, however, are yet to be documented as a true breed.
The standard colors for the Orpington chicken breed include black, white, buff, and blue (laced). Other colors include black, cuckoo, spangled, red, diamond jubilee, chocolate, partridge, lemon cuckoo, lavender, ermine, silver laced, and gold-laced. Although the gold-laced Orpington is rare here in the U.S., it is popular in Europe. The lemon cuckoo Orpington type was brought recently to the US but not in large numbers.
Orpington Chicken Color Chart
Check the color chart below:
The Buff Orpington was introduced second after the black Orpington. Yet, it is the most popular of this English chicken breed. In fact, the buff variety is the first color that comes to mind at the mention of Orpington.
The buff Orpington variety was developed using gold spangled Hamburgs, Buff Cochins, and Dorkings. It is also thought that Lincolnshire, an ancient bird breed, was also used in creating the buff Orpington. However, William Cook disproves these claims.
Eventually, the buff Orpington increased in popularity and it became Queen Elizabeth’s (the Queen Mother) chicken breed of choice. In fact, the Queen’s flock was so beautiful that it won a number of awards. This variety, however, was said in danger of extinction until 2016. Thanks to its fanatics and the American Breed Livestock Conservancy, the Buff Orpington is coming back.
These calm and imperial birds are good layers, great brooders that will hatch eggs placed under them, and make excellent mothers. Buff Orpingtons can lay between 200 and 280 eggs per year. But if you want to raise them for meat purposes, they are ready to eat by the time they are 22 weeks old.
Blue Orpingtons have large, furry feathers that make them look big and stout. You will love their outgoing, friendly, and curious nature as well as how they get along with other chickens. They are fun to watch and can be easily cuddled if introduced from a young age. These birds are loyal to those that feed them and are good with kids and other pets and birds on the homestead.
The blue Orpington variety has bluish-grey feathers that give them a striking appearance while protecting them from harsh winters. Expect these birds to start laying eggs when they are 20 weeks old. They can lay over 200 eggs per year. Blue Orpingtons were developed in 1886.
Created in 1897, the Jubilee Orpington is a rare Orpington chicken variety here in the U.S. as they were imported here in the US and in Canada in the last decade. This loyal bird features a mahogany background color with black and white speckles. It was named in honor of the commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee on the throne. The Queen was given a flock of these adorable birds as part of the celebration.
Jubilee Orpingtons have a quiet and kind disposition that makes them children-friendly. They can make excellent lap chickens as they love being cuddled and petted. The feather patterns of these cute birds take up to 18 months to reach their full pigmentation. Expect to see dense, fluffy black, white, and brown patterned feathering around the thighs and butt.
This Orpington variety has red eyes, wattles, combs, and earlobes while their feet, legs, and beaks are white. Unlike the Buff and Blue Orpington varieties above, these birds take longer to start laying eggs as they begin when they are 24 weeks old. They lay more than 150 eggs per year.
For the most part, Orpington roosters are known to be very protective of their chicks and female counterparts. These boys will alert the rest of the flock to flee as they remain to face the predator. However, some of them can have a high level of aggressiveness making them a challenge for most farmers.
Surprisingly, the Buff Orpington rooster has a great reputation for being quiet. Some of these variety roosters tend to have even more approachable dispositions. It is also not noisy like other chicken breed roosters. That and the friendly nature, particularly, makes them a regular favorite rooster for any homestead.
The Lavender Orpington rooster, on the other hand, tends to be non-aggressive towards humans which makes them an excellent choice even for families with children. However, it can be extremely protective of its flock, especially from predators. They are also not noisy birds.
What is it like Owning an Orpington Chicken?
Unlike other chicken breeds such as Brahma, Sapphire Gem, and Wyandottes, Orpingtons are not great foragers. The breed loves to eat and can spend most of its time around the feeder which is not a good thing as it tends to gain weight very fast which is not healthy.
That being said, you will love the beauty they spread in your yard as they range freely in search of bugs and seeds. And while they can tolerate confinement very well, they need ample space, or they will develop undesirable behaviors such as feather pecking.
Personality: Orpington Chicken Characteristics
What are the characteristics of Orpington chicken?
Orpington chickens are quiet and gentle which means that they can be transformed into pets very fast. Even better, they do not mind cuddling and stroking so they make excellent lap chickens. These birds are very family-friendly as well as beginner-friendly.
Unfortunately, their docile nature makes them an easy target for other chicken breeds that loves picking on the quiet ones. If you, however, try to take away eggs from an Orpington hen, she will protect them but not in an aggressive way.
The Orpington chicken breed is known for its broodiness which makes it an outstanding mother that will protect and raise her chicks well. Typically, these birds are not that active or energetic. As such, they will take slow strides when walking in the yard and will rarely be on the move. Expect your Orpington chickens to eat a lot of food and crave treats.
Are all Orpington chickens friendly?
Yes, all Orpingtons are very friendly towards people and other chicken breeds. As you would expect, however, some roosters can be a little aggressive when trying to protect their flock.
Are Orpington chickens good layers?
The egg production of Orpington chickens mostly depends on the color variety you prefer. If you are looking for Orps that will lay eggs excellently, the Buff variety is the most ideal choice. Besides having a cute color, being good layers is another reason why they are so popular among the breed’s varieties. The rest of the breed varieties are considered moderate layers.
The Orpington chicken breed lays between 3 and 5 eggs per week which means more than 200 eggs per year (up to 280 eggs).
How long do Orpington chickens lay eggs?
Mostly, Orpington chickens start laying eggs when they are 20 weeks old except for the Jubilee Orpington variety which takes up to 24 weeks to lay the first egg.
Orpington Chicken Eggs
The Orpington chicken egg color is a light brown that is medium in size.
Typically, the Orpington chicken is considered one of the quietest chicken breeds. Like other chickens, however, expect the hen to have very low, hardly audible bursts after laying an egg. Due to their quiet nature, Orpingtons are a great choice for chicken fans that live in the city.
Facts about the Orpington Chicken
Here are fast facts about the Orpington chicken breed:
- Orpingtons come in a wide variety of colors that are recognized differently depending on the country.
- The first black Orpington chicken was developed using a Black Plymouth Rock, Langshan, and a Minorca.
- Mr. William Cook named the Orpington chicken breed after a town he hailed from called Orpington, Kent, England.
- While their fluffy feathers help them endure extreme winters, they can’t tolerate heat very well.
- Until 2016, Buff Orpingtons were considered to be in danger of extinction.
- Orpingtons are said to have been capable of laying up to 340 eggs per year until chicken breeders decided to choose appearance other than utility.
Orpington Chicken Care Guide
Good care of your Orpington chicken breed begins with feeding the right diet that is formulated for chicken breeds with moderate energy levels. It is also good to be aware of the health issues that this breed is predisposed to as well as protect them from predators.
Orpington chickens are considered a hardy breed with very few health issues, and this is evident from those who own these chickens. In fact, it is unlikely to come across a sick Orpington. Like all birds, however, the breed is susceptible to mites, worms, and lice.
These birds should be dewormed two times a year while parasite treatment can be done via spot or regular modes. Due to their heavy feathers, they are prone to overheating when the climate is too hot. As such, make sure that they have access to cool water and ample shade.
Orpingtons have mid-sized combs that are inclined to frostbite. Make sure that chicks are vaccinated against coccidiosis.
During their young stage, Orpington chicks should consume a premium diet that consists of over 20 percent protein. When they are 16 weeks old, you can transition their diet to layers feed and make sure that you ration their intake to prevent obesity.
You are also recommended to give your Orpington chickens grit and oyster shell in a different bowl. Make sure that these birds have clean fresh drinking water.
Coop Setup and Roaming
Orpington chickens have fluffy feathers which makes them large in size. As such, they need a lot of space to feel comfortable. And while more space is always a good thing, each chicken should have at least 4 square feet of space inside the coop.
These birds are heavy so, make sure the perches they roost on are strong enough to hold their weight as they rest. This is also safe as chickens like to cuddle together when it gets cold to feel warm. Nesting boxes should measure 12 x 12 inches for each bird. They must get 8 to 12 inches of space on perches to allow them to stretch their wings.
Orpingtons are not high-energy birds but still like to free-range. As such, make sure each chicken has approx. 8 to 10 square feet of space outside to roam. The lavender, white, and buff Orpingtons have bright colors that can attract predators easily. Therefore, make sure they are safe from predators by fencing their roaming space. And since they are heavy with a low tendency to fly, a 2 feet high fence is good for this breed.
Orpington Chicken Lifespan
These birds are hardy with very few health issues. A healthy and well-fed Orpington chicken, therefore, has a life expectancy of between 8 and 10 years.
Orpington chicken for Sale: Where to Buy
Orpington chicken price will depend on the breeder and whether you want one that is bred for looks or egg-laying. You can find Orpington chicken breeders in Australia, the UK, NZ, and here in the US who have dedicated themselves to these birds.
This chicken breed tends to be expensive so, expect to spend anywhere between $5 and $35 for an Orpington chick.
Should you keep this breed?
If you are looking for the perfect backyard chicken breed that is best suited for small farms, the Orpington chicken is an ideal choice. These birds tend to be good layers, especially if they are not purposely bred just for their looks. They are also very cute and docile making them family-friendly and excellent pets for kids. Orpingtons are good for cuddling and their quiet nature makes them good pets for apartment living or those individuals and families in towns. Here noise is a problem for the neighbors.
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