buff orpington chicken
Elias Gayles / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Eggs, Meat, Pet
  • Eggs: Light Brown, Dark Brown
  • Egg Size: Large, Extra-Large
  • Color: Blue, White, Black, Buff
  • Comb Type: Single or Rose

Glinting like a ray of golden sunshine, the image of a Buff Orpington chicken striding across the yard is a vision in soft, fluffy, curves and shimmering feathers. If you’ve ever had the delight of sharing space with one of these friendly, gentle, and generous birds, you’ll quickly understand how this chicken has firmly earned its place in the coops of farms across the world.

Do you want meat for your family? Enough eggs for your baking? A friendly creature to share time with? A beautiful-looking bird to grace your farm? The Orpington can be the answer to any new chicken keeper’s query of what breed to get.

These dual-purpose beauties are truly the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to poultry-dom, offering pretty much anything that you might need from a chicken.

Characteristics

With a single or rose comb – both are found in the breed – and thick, fluffy feathering, Orpingtons take cold winters in stride. They are decent at foraging, but they don’t roam very far in search of food.

In addition, their heavy body keeps them from taking to the air, so you can be sure that your birds will be well-grounded! If you decide to keep them contained, they will exist quite happily in confinement.

One of the stand-out qualities of the Orpington is its friendliness. They are quite people-oriented, often excitedly running up to their keepers. As far as children are concerned, they are curious and gentle, and a highly-recommended breed for both 4-H projects and families in general. This is the bird that will make your small homesteading children love, rather than fear, chickens!

Hens are willing to brood and are known as good mothers. They will often brood the eggs of other chickens – and even other species of poultry – and raise the young with careful attention. Roosters are sometimes gentle enough to keep as flock protector without fear of them turning on the hands that feed them.

Of course, every rooster is an individual, so be sure to know the temperament of a cock before you turn your back to him, regardless of breed!

A Bird Without Reproof!

If you research chicken keepers’ experiences with their birds online, you will encounter dozens of individuals who say that the Orpington is their favorite breed they’ve ever had. Some keepers even claim that it is near impossible to find something to dislike about the Orpington — unless their large size takes up too much space in your coop.

But if space is a problem, perhaps you should just opt for the bantam variety of the bird! As a keeper of two wonderful Buff Orpington hens, I must admit that I find nothing worth complaining about. They’re just that good!

What’s the Yield?

In keeping with its dual-purpose intentions, the Orpington is a generously-fleshed and dependable egg-layer. Hens usually lay at least 200 large or extra-large eggs a year, though some have been reported to lay an egg almost every day. Eggs range from light brown to dark brown.

Females are weighty at 8 pounds, and roosters can reach 10 pounds at maturity. You’ll have to do some research into different breeding lines to find them, but some strains of Orpington are able to grow at quite a quick rate, resulting in the most meat for your dollar.

Though there are showier birds that you could choose as a pet chicken, there’s no denying the charm of a gentle Orpington Hen. With a tendency to sidle up alongside its people, a willingness to be picked up, and contentment with sitting on a lap, they are willing to put up with the antics of people – and their children – a lot more than other breeds!

Orpingtons Steal the Hearts of England

The original Orpington was created by an English chicken breeder, William Cook. A resident of the city of Orpington – hence the name – he crossed Minorca, Langshan, and Plymouth Rock birds to make an ideal dual-purpose bird.

After the waves of “Chicken Fever” that had consumed the West in the decades preceding — resulting in beautiful but debatably useful birds, the practicality of his dual-purpose creation made it an overnight success. The first Orpingtons were bred to be black — that way, they would still look clean while living in the soot-ridden cities of Victorian and Edwardian England!

Photos of Orpington Chickens

orpington chicken
Josh Larios / Flickr (Creative Commons)
orpington chicken
Josh Larios / Flickr (Creative Commons)

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