Orpington chicken breed and management information

The Orpington chicken breed is a large-sized bird developed in England in the late 1800s, by William Cook. Gentle and friendly the Orpington is available in 4 recognized varieties which are Buff Orpington, Blue Orpington, White Orpington, and Black Orpington. 

Developed to be a dual-purpose chicken breed, the Orpington gains weight fast, has good egg production, and has great table meat. It also became famous as a show bird. 

History of the Orpington Chicken Breed

William Cook, a British coachman, from the town of Orpington in Kent set out to develop a chicken breed that was fit for the weather condition and market needs in England. He needed to come up with a breed that gained weight fast, hardy, great egg-laying capabilities. 

This was after the hen fever epidemic and dual-purpose American chicken breeds were being introduced to the market in England. The dual-purpose American breeds were loved for their practicality,  but consumers’ preference was not for the yellow-colored skin. 

William cook crossed Minorca roosters and Black Plymouth Rock hens. He then crossed the resulting birds to clean-legged Langshan chickens. The resulting offspring was the black colored Orpington.  

William Introduced his breed to the market in 1886. Within 10 years,  the Orpington chicken became popular in England and began being exported to other countries. 

After the success of the black Orpington, Cook then developed other colors. He developed the white Orpington, the Buff Orpington, then Jubilee (Speckled) Orpington and the spangled Orpington. The blue and cuckoo Orpingtons were developed by A.C. Gilbert, Cook’s son in law. 

Later in the 20th century, Herman Kuhn, a german developed the Bantam variety of the Orpington, with a wide color variety including blue, black, laced, white, buff, red, barred, birchen and buff Colombian. 

Variaties of the Orpington Chicken Breed

There are 4 recognized Orpington varieties by the American standard. These are:-

  • Buff Orpington
  • Blue Orpington
  • White Orpington
  • Black Orpington
Black Orpington

Physical Characteristics of the Orpington Chicken Breed

The Orpington weighs 8.5 pounds for the cockerels and 6.5 pounds for hens. They have a broad large body, with loose soft feathers, making them appear larger. The Orpington has a curvy back and a deep breast. It has short legs. The thighs are covered by thick feathers. The shape of the Orpington is curvy, with a short back.  The head is small with a single comb. 

Black and Buff Orpington. They are good at foraging.

The temperament of Orpington Chickens.

Orpington chickens are calm gentle chickens. Dues to their docile nature, they do well in confinement but thrive in free-range conditions. 

Be careful when doing a mixed flock of Orpington chickens and other aggressive breeds. Due to them being nice, they get bullied a lot by other chicken breeds. 

Orpington chickens as pets.

Orpington chickens make great pets. If you love a gentle, calm pet that is easy to handle and can be kept around children, then Orpington chickens are the chickens to go for. 

They do mind their business but will hang around you from time to time. Giving them treats is a great way to bond with Orpington chickens. 

Feeding Orpington chickens. 

Feeding Orpington chickens will depend on your ultimate goal. Whether you are raising them for eggs, meat, or dual purpose. 

If you are raising Orpington chickens as layers, it is important to put them on layer feed. If they get too big on broiler feed, they might not lay to their full potential. Orpington layers will take about 0.25 lbs of feed per day. 

When raising Orpington chickens for meat, put them on broiler feed, so that they can develop muscle and gain weight as much as possible. This way you will be able to reap the benefit of having a heritage chicken for meat.

Housing Orpington Chickens. 

Orpington chickens are huge. Because of their body sizes, they will need extra space in their coops and runs. The normal 2-4 square feet per chicken might not be ideal for Orpington chickens. Provide more space, of at least 6 square feet per chicken. 

If your Orpington chickens are laying, provide a big nesting box for them. Store-bought nesting boxes may not work for Orpington chickens to die to their body size. You can improvise and make larger nesting boxes for them. 

Orpington chickens, like other chicken breeds, might not sleep while roosting but may prefer to sleep on the floor. Provide enough dry bedding for them since they are heavy. Direct contact with the hard floor might lead to pressure sores. 

Orpington Chickens and Noise.

Orpington chickens are not noisy. Apart from making the normal chicken noises like clucking and the egg song, Orpington chickens are quiet. Due to their calm nature, they will let you pick them up and pet them, without making a single noise. Orpington chickens will not make noises when you get close. 

Orpington Chickens and Broodiness.

Orpington chickens will go broody when they are mature enough. Due to their fluffy warm bodies, they are perfect at sitting on eggs and hatching them. Expect Orpington chickens to go broody soon they start laying at six months. They will likely go broody after their first laying cycle. 

Cost of Orpington Chickens.

Orpington chickens can be purchased from any hatchery that carries them. The price for Orpington chicks varies depending on whether they are sexed or not. Straight runs, which means mixed gender, cost about $3.5, while female Orpington chicks cost $4.2. Making Orpington chicks cost $2.8. 

If you plan on keeping Orpington chickens for shows, look for a local breeder with a good reputation. Orpington chickens for the show will cost more than you would buy from hatcheries and poultry sale events

Orpington Chicken Size.

Orpington chickens are large-sized birds. At their peak, standard-size Orpingtons will weigh about 8 pounds for roosters and about 6 pounds for hens. Bantam Orpingtons will weigh 3 pounds. 

Orpington Chicken Eggs. 

At about 6 months of age, Orpington chickens will lay brown medium-sized eggs. The size of the eggs will increase as the Orpington hens continue to mature. 

Expect Orpington chickens to lay 3 to 4 eggs per week. This makes it 175 to 200 eggs per year. 

Orpington Chickens Meat.

Orpington chickens will yield a good amount of meat at processing time, due to their large body sizes. The skin is white in color. For tender meat, you can process Orpington chickens at 4 months. Processing at 8 months will give you more tender meat. After 8 months, the meat tends to harden.  

Orpington Chicken Health Issues.

Orpington chickens do not suffer from specific health issues. However, it is recommended to check for bumblefoot, spraddle leg, and impacted crops once in a while. 

Due to the fact that Orpington chickens are heavily feathered, it is good to check for parasites that can hide under their thick cover of feathers. A mild infestation of mites and lice is hard to detect in heavily feathered birds. Provide a dust bath for Orpington chickens as this helps control lice and mites. 

Orpington chickens, if provided with feed throughout, will eat themselves into obesity. This might lead to other issues, including leg problems and the rate of laying will drop. It is advisable to provide enough space for Orpington chickens to roam so that they get the much-needed exercise. 

Are Orpington Chickens Right for You. 

Orpington chickens will make the perfect chicken breed for you if you are looking for a dual-purpose chicken breed that is suited for cities, backyards, and homesteads. They will be happy around family and children, with your children being comfortable and safe around this friendly non-aggressive chicken breed.

Orpington Chicken Breed Profile

The Orpington is active, calm, and gentle. Care should be taken when mixed with other breeds, as it can be bullied by other aggressive chicken breeds.  

  • Buff Orpington Egg Color (Egg Shell Color): Light Brown.
  • Egg size: Medium to large.
  • Egg Productivity: approximately 3 to 4 eggs per week (175 to 200 eggs per year). 
  • Skin Color: White.
  • Orpington Chicken Breed Standard Weight.
    • Rooster: 8 ½  lbs
    • Hen: 6 ½  lbs
    • Cockerel: 7 ½  lbs
    • Pullet: 5 ½  lbs
  • Purpose: Meat and eggs (Dual Purpose).
  • Temperament: Calm and Gentle.
  • Size: Large.
  • Broodiness: Good Brooder and sits on eggs. 
  • Comb: Single Comb or rose comb, depending on the country’s standards. 
  • Climatic Tolerance: Endures cold temperatures. 
  • Varieties of the Orpington Chicken: Buff Orpington, blue Orpington, white Orpington, and black Orpington,  with buff Orpington being the most common. There are also Bantam Orpingtons with a variety of colors. 
  • Color Description: Different colors depending on the variety. 
  • Conservation Status: 
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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