Table of Contents
The Orpington was a breed developed in the 1880’s by William Cook, in the quest to find the ideal dual-purpose bird, one that served both egg laying and meat producing purposes. The first Orpington was bred from 3 other breeds namely, Minorca, Langshan and Plymouth Rocks. William Cook displayed the first Orpington to the public in 1886, this was the Black Orpington. It was bred to be black in color to hide the soot and dust that was common in cities during that era. The black coloring was soon followed with other colors including the most popular, sometimes controversial, to date, Buff Orpington.
|Country of Origin:||United Kingdom|
|American Poultry Association:||Recognized as a breed of chicken in the United States|
|Chicken Category:||Large Breed|
|Bantam Variety Available?||Yes – Single Comb Clean Legged|
|Good Starter Chicken?||Their sweet and quiet dispositions paired with their relatively hardy constitutions make them great starter birds.|
Eggs: They are very good egg layers.
They lay large light brown eggs from 175 – 200 per year.
They start to lay eggs from around 24 weeks old.
Meat: They produce a good amount of light meat due to their white skin color. As they were bred as dual-purpose layer/meat birds they make good table birds.
Breeding: Hens are known for being very broody and make excellent mothers and brood hens.
If you are breeding the Orpington for show choosing the correct hens and rooster bloodline is crucial.
Foraging: While they will scratch and forage, they will prioritise feed troughs more and tend to rely mostly on feed provided. The birds do well in confinement.
Show Bird: Their recent resurgence in popularity has seen them become a popular choice for show birds.
Pets: Their very affectionate nature that seeks out human comfort and tendency to make little noise, makes them excellent pets.
Other: It is the quintessential breed that just screams barnyard appeal, paired with their general hardiness, sweet personalities and dual-purpose functions makes them a great choice for all types of owners.
|Flyers?||Though large birds they are known to fly short distances.|
|Noisy Birds?||They produce little noise, making them excellent choices for city dwellers.|
|Interaction with other chickens:||They have very gentle dispositions making them great flock mates, however, their gentle nature will make them vulnerable should more aggressive breeds be introduced to the flock. As with any flock if you are introducing new birds it is best to slowly socialize them with the flock.|
|Good with kids?||They are very calm birds that seek out human affection readily and are found to be very tolerant around children. However, as with any bird, they have hard beaks that are capable of a good peck so children should be supervised during interactions.|
William Cook introduced the first bird, the Black Orpington to the UK in 1886 with instant success. The bird was the ideal table and egg laying chicken with a wonderful and tolerant disposition. Its fluffy squat appearance made it a very visually appealing bird too. The Buff was introduced soon after the Black, which to date remains the most popular of all the colors. The Buff color was achieved through a somewhat controversial manner by using breeds other than the original Orpington lineage namely, Gold Spangled Hamburg’s, Dorkings and Buff Cochins. Within 10 years the birds were found throughout the world. By 1891 the first Orpington’s were found in America and when the bird was shown at the Madison Square Garden’s USA in 1895, it was there that birds truly soared to massive popularity. The first bird recognized by the American Poultry Association was the Buff Orpington in 1902, followed by the Black and the White Orpington in 1905 and finally the Blue Orpington in 1923.
Appearance/Body: These sweet beauties have a low standing broad body with thick plumage and bare pinkish white feet. Their backs are curved and short with a small head. The Orpington’s feathers are smooth and broad with an overall fluffed out, full coverage appearance. Their beaks are pinkish white with eyes that are a reddish-brown color. Wattles, earlobes and combs are red in color.
Color(s) Black, White, Buff and Blue
Comb: Single Comb with five points
Ave. Weight: Pullet/Hen 6 -7 lbs.
Cockerel/Rooster 8 – 8.5 lbs.
|Life Expectancy:||The average lifespan is 8 – 12 years|
|Health:||They are generally a hardy breed. They are not particularly active birds and enjoy a good feeding, so obesity can potentially be an issue so ensure adequate exercise space for them and monitored diets.|
|You may Also Like:||HOW TO TELL IS A CHICKEN IS SICK|
|Temperament:||Sweet-natured with a tendency to seek out human attention.|
|Socialize Behavior?||They get along well with all other animals|
|You may Also Like:||HOW TO SOCIALIZING YOUR NEW CHICKENS|
|Known predators:||Despite their relatively large size their gentle temperaments can make them vulnerable to attacks from the usual predators.
If hawks and or foxes are in your area it is always best to take precautions. Although they are not an easy target for most feathery predators.
Check with local animal shelters, zoos, vets, animal control and or pet stores about common predators in your area.
|Conservation Status:||Although they were previously on endangered status, they were taken off the list in 2016 thanks to a resurgence in popularity, mostly with backyard breeders. This can be checked with your local or national conservation centers.|
|Garden Size:||They adapt well to most sized gardens and take confinement well. They do not mind free range but are prone to prefer feeders for their full meals.|
|Ideal Climate:||Their full and fluffy plumage makes them ideal for cooler climates, however, they do adapt well in warmer climates to so long as there is an adequate shade to keep them cool.|
|Ideal Coop:||The rule of thumb for any coop is 50 cm x 50 cm per hen/rooster in the coop.
Ensure there is a good space for the nesting boxes and nightly roosting rails at least 1.5 inches wide.
Good ventilation for air but not too drafty especially in winter.
It is always a good idea to raise the coop off the ground to give the birds a dry place to roost and lay especially in wet weather.
|Ideal Coop Run:||Orpington are big chickens and generally don’t like to fly but they are capable of short bursts of flight. It is advisable to cover the coop run just to be safe.|
|Ideal Flock Size:||Due to their sociable nature they are happy with any amount of company so long as there is some.|
|Special Instructions:||Ensure feed intake is monitored and adequate space to exercise is provided. Although they do well in cold climates, should their feathers get wet they might require assistance at drying them off as they can catch a chill despite being hardy in nature.|
|Accessories:||The following accessories are ideal for your coop:
Straw for the boxes and roosting area
Animal carrier for transport purposes
|You may Also Like:||45 FREE DIY CHICKEN COOP PLANS, TUTORIALS AND DESIGNS|
WHERE TO FIND THESE BIRDS TO ADD TO YOUR FLOCK
There are a few live poultry dealers or outlets that will sell Orpintong’s along with some internet sites such as Purely Poultry, You can find registered breeders on the UNITED ORPINGTON CLUB website along with a host of valuable information. They will also be able to help with any special requirements, attention or care they may need. If you plan on breeding your chickens, you will want to make sure that they are from a good bloodline.
CARING FOR THE BIRD(S)
Please click here for our full guide to “Taking care of chickens”. This is a comprehensive guide to owning chickens. It covers where to start from choosing your ideal flock, the coop that would best suit your garden, your bird and you to buying and bringing your bird(s) home.
Except for their feathers, they are a low maintenance bird and their size tends to deter predators. These gentle giants have a calming regal influence on a flock.
As with most fowls, these lovelies enjoy a good dust bath. Their love of cuddles and human attention makes for an easy regular examination for mites, lice and various other parasites. Checking for these pests in their feathers should be done at least once a week to your chickens healthy. Always get your birds de-wormed on a regular basis especially if they are around other animals or interacting with kids.
DIET AND NUTRITION
Give your Oprington a balanced diet of chicken pellets, grains, chicken mash or grain mix from 8 weeks old and older. This should be fed to them first thing in the morning before they are let out to roam about to ensure they are getting all their nutrients. Their feed does need to be monitored as they like to stay close to their feeders and can over eat.
For baby chickens, the best is always Chick Starter when they are under 8 weeks old.
Laying hens should get extra protein and calcium in their diets to ensure the quality of their eggs and to keep them in tip-top health.
Orpington does love getting table scraps in the form of vegetables and fruit. They find these scraps even better if they are served as ice-cubes on very hot days.
Feeding your chickens correctly will give your organic garden a lot of nutritious fertilizer to make your vegetables or flowers grow.
Please see our comprehensive guide to “Feeding your chickens” for more information of the different types of chicken feed for chicks, hens, laying hens, roosters, etc. and where to buy the feed and approximate cost of the feed.
SOCIALIZING THE BIRD(S)
An Orpington is very easy to socialize thanks to their gentle natures, however, this also makes them vulnerable to more aggressive breeds when it comes to the pecking order.
Always check on how well a breed will get on with your current flock before buying them as you do not want to upset your coop or stress your current flock.
If you want to introduce another breed with your Orpington, ensure its a breed that has a gentle nature that will match theirs.
As with any newcomer to the roost, you will have to quarantine the bird for 7 – 31 days to ensure it does not have any unwanted critters or disease that could spread to your current flock.
Even though they are gentle sociable birds, even they have a pecking order, so it is advisable to socialize newcomers slowly and determine when it is right to allow them to become a permanent part of the flock.
NOTES / SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS
For breeders, it is imperative that you always check your bird’s bloodlines and ensure you are buying your birds from a reputed breeder/farm. In order to sell birds of such stature, they have to be recorded and documented, always check with local animal breeding organizations for these records.
These legitimate documents are also required should you wish to show your bird(s) in various poultry shows/competition showings.
For information and advice on adopting rescued animals, you can visit or contact your local animal welfare center.
- Caring for your Chicken
- Socializing your Chicken
- Breeding Chicken
- Raising Chickens A-Z
- Hatching Eggs
- What is Molting
- Animal Shelter (ASPCA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- American Poultry Association
- American Animal Welfare Society
- American Animal Control
- American Animal Husbandry Society