Orpingtons are popular chickens because of their beauty and versatility. The buff varieties are truly beautiful, as they walk with grace while displaying their bright color in your yard.
These birds are not only beautiful, but they are super easy to care for, and they can even care for themselves if you let them.
To learn all you need to know about Buff Orpington chickens, read this article.
Table of Contents
History and Origin
These beautiful chickens were first bred in Orpington, Kent, England in 1866. The breeder, William Cook, bred Orpingtons specifically to have quality eggs from a chicken that produces good quality meat.
Orpington chickens are the products of crossing Lanshan, Minorca, and Plymouth Rock chickens.
The bantam version of Orpington chickens was made in Germany early in the 20th century.
The beautiful Orpington was first bred as black so that it could remain beautiful amidst air pollution and other environmental hazards. However, other colors such as buff are popular across the world today.
You can identify these relatively large chickens by their short and curvy backs. They have smooth, fluffy feathers. Their sizeable combs usually have up to five points.
Both bantam and full-sized varieties of Orpington chickens are available. Full-sized chickens can weigh between 7 to 8 pounds. As for bantam Orpingtons, they have weights ranging from 3 to 3 1/2 pounds.
Orpingtons come in different colors. Some popular colors of the breed are buff (most common), blue, black, and white.
For Buff Orpingtons, their feet, beak, and legs come in pinkish-white colors. Their eyes are reddish-brown while other parts such as the comb, wattle, and earlobes are red.
They don’t call the Orpington breed a dual-purpose breed for nothing. These chickens can lay between 200 to 280 large brown eggs yearly.
If you need a steady supply of eggs, this is the breed for you. Just ensure that you give your birds feed with the right nutrition (enough protein and calcium).
These beautiful chickens can live for five to ten years when you raise them as pets or show birds.
You do not have to wait that long to harvest your birds (or their products) if you are raising them as meat birds.
As in the case of other breeds, Orpington roosters are significantly bigger than Orpington hens. The roosters are also louder and more territorial.
Adult male Orpington chickens have some pointed cape feathers around their necks, backs, and shoulders.
When they are still chicks, you cannot tell which chick is male or female simply by looking at it. To identify the sex of an Orpington chick, use the vent sexing or DNA testing method.
The venting method is less complex and more common. Just use your fingers to gently press the stomach of a chick to release poop from the anus.
If you see a little bump around the anus of the chick, you are holding a male Orpington chick.
Behavior and Temperament
This is a very friendly breed that you can keep as an outdoor pet for schools, clubs, and families. These large, gentle birds respond well to attention, so you can handle them.
Orpington chickens are non-aggressive. However, they do not do well when you raise them in mixed flocks, especially those that include aggressive breeds such as Plymouth Rock chickens.
It is completely safe to leave the eggs of other chickens and birds under the care of your Orpington hen.
These birds have normal chicken behaviors such as dust bathing, foraging, parenting their young, etc. The breed truly is an interesting one.
These chickens are not just beautiful; they are also dual-purpose. “Dual-purpose” refers to chickens that lay a lot of eggs and produce meat.
Aside from laying eggs and meat production, Orpington chickens have other uses, as you’ll soon discover.
Of course, your Orpingtons will give you a lot of meat. In less than 22 weeks after hatching, your chickens can weigh up to a whopping 8 pounds. Cool, right?
When you are raising these chickens for meat, prioritize proteins in their diet. The presence of proteins helps your Orpington chickens to grow as large as possible.
They are dual-purpose, so while they grow large for meat production, they also lay a lot of eggs. Your Orpington chickens will even lay in winter.
To help your chickens lay eggs throughout the year, ensure that their feed is protein and calcium-rich. Also, keep them in a suitable coop where they can lay their eggs without disturbance.
A lot of breeders have been breeding Orpingtons for showing. This is affecting egg production from this chicken, as egg production has been falling over the years.
These days, there are a lot of Orpingtons registered as show birds. Orpington chickens are truly beautiful and large, so they qualify as show birds.
Remember that aside from buff, Orpingtons come in other colors, some are even extremely rare or new.
Incubating and Brooding
Buff Orpington hens are great mothers, so you can employ them to incubate the eggs and care for the chicks of other chickens.
When you see your Orpington hen incubating her eggs, add one or two eggs without her noticing.
She will also protect the chicks from harm and help feed them until they grow and become independent of her.
Take a look at this chicken breed once again. Isn’t it just adorable? If you love the beauty and calm nature of these chickens, raise them as pets.
Your kids and other pets are completely safe around your chickens. Also, the chickens will allow you to touch them and even play with them. Cool, right?
Hatching and Raising
The Orpington is a heritage breed. As a heritage breed, this chicken has been around for a long time.
Heritage chicken breeds are usually hardier and easier to raise than more recent breeds. This means that your Orpingtons will be very easy to care for.
The complete care for Orpington chickens involves watching their eggs during incubation, assisting a mother hen to care for her chicks, feeding the growing chicks, and housing your chickens.
Incubating and Brooding
The very first way to care for a chicken is to incubate it when it is still in its egg. For some types of chickens, you need an incubator to incubate their eggs.
For Orpington chickens, you can leave the mum with her eggs, because she will take good care of them.
However, if you want your Orpington hen to stay productive and continue to lay eggs, collect the eggs and incubate them by yourself.
When the eggs hatch under their mother’s care, you can leave the chicks with their mum if you wish. The mother chicken will care for her chicks and protect them from harm.
However, ensure that both mother and chicks have access to quality feed, water, and shelter.
As a breed that has foraging experience, your Orpington chicken does not mind being left in the yard to search for food on its own. Chickens can find fruits, seeds, insects, or invertebrates in your yard.
However, do not raise your chickens without giving them access to quality feed.
Go to a feed mill and buy quality chicken feed with 18% to 23% crude protein content according to the age and type of your birds.
Your chickens can also get proteins from grains, seeds, and healthy treats such as insect larvae.
Ensure that your chickens have clean water. If you can’t drink what you are giving your chickens because it looks unhealthy, don’t give it to the chickens.
Unlike some other breeds, your Buff Orpingtons do not mind staying in confinement even though they enjoy going out.
So long as the temperature inside the coop is cool and stable, your chickens will be just fine inside the coop.
These chickens are calm and do not fly too high, so a fence that is four feet high is just fine for them.
Orpingtons prefer cool to warm temperatures, so provide shade for them (outside their coop) so that they can escape the sun during the hot parts of the day.
If you are raising Orpingtons and other chickens in the same coop, ensure there’s enough space and feed for all.
This will help prevent your male Orpingtons (and the other breeds) from fighting each other or becoming too territorial.
This breed of chickens is cold-hardy and even continues to lay eggs through the very cold winter days, so it does not need too much attention from you during winter.
Just make sure that the chickens get quality food. Add grains to their diet, especially at night. Digesting grains can help keep your chickens warm.
Your chickens can go outside if they like even if it’s very cold. However, keep an eye out and ensure that they are safe. If they look inactive outside, take them back inside.
Buff Orpington chickens are truly special and if you can, raise several of them in your yard. These chickens will reward you with their beauty, eggs, meat, and so much more.
While raising them, ensure that you meet all their care requirements so that they can grow beautiful and healthy.