Friday, March 25, 2016

Breed Spotlight: Orpington

The Orpington is one of the most common backyard chickens. They are large, fluffy birds that are good layers and excellent mothers. Chicken enthusiasts love them for their gentle demeanor and soft appearance. Lets dive more into this lovely breed!

Appearance

The Orpington comes in a variety colors and patterns, the most common being buff. They also come in blue, black, and white. Lavender Orpingtons are becoming popular, although it is not an accepted color in the American breed standard, as well as cuckoo, jubilee, crele, golden laced and many other colors. Orpingtons are a heavy, robust breed with very thick, fluffy feathering. They are so heavily feathered that show-quality birds often need trimming in order to successfully mate! Adult males weigh 9-10 lbs, females 7-8 lbs, making them a large breed. Orpingtons are clean-legged, clean-faced, and have a single comb.
A well-feathered black Orpington


History

Originally bred by William Cook in the village of Orpington during the late 1800s, these birds were intended as a dual-purpose chicken, and are still a popular choice today. Original DNA contributors to the Orpington include the Minorca, black Plymouth Rock, and Langshan. Although show stock has bred many of the original utility features in trade for a fluffier, rounder appearance, hatchery-bred stock is usually selecting for eggs and meat rather than conformity. It is believed that DNA from other breeds, possibly Cochins, was introduced in order to achieve the fluffy look of exhibition birds. 

In 1891, Orpingtons were first imported to the United States, and another shipment in 1903 by William Cook himself. The breed quickly gained popularity in the mid-western states, due to it's unique appearance and qualities as a meat bird.

A pair of buff Orpingtons. Female, left. Male, right.

Temperament

This breed is known for it's extremely docile nature. Because of this, Orpingtons are a popular choice for families with children. Roosters of the breed are known as one of the least likely to become aggressive, although they tend not to be as protective of the flock. Hens regularly go broody, and are known to be very attentive mothers. They are one of the most desired breeds of those who want broody hens, because their large size allows them to hatch large clutches at a time. Due to their behavioral traits, Orpingtons are an ideal choice for first-time chicken owners, families with young children, or those who want a hen to raise chicks.

Availability and Where to Buy

The Orpington is an extremely common breed, making them easy to obtain both by hatcheries and local breeders. Most hatcheries will carry this breed, although the birds from these hatcheries will most likely not be show stock. I recommend hatchery stock for those who are not showing, but are looking for a good dual-purpose bird. Local breeders may have laying/meat quality or show quality Orpingtons. If you wish to breed or show, I recommend studying the Standard of Perfection of the breed before buying your birds. 
A hatchery-quality Orpington may be the best option for the average chicken keeper


Some US hatcheries that carry this breed:



Sources and Links

"Orpington Chickens" Poultry Keeper. poultrykeeper.com. 25-3-2016

"Orpington Chicken" The Livestock Conservancy. livestockconservancy.com. 25-3-2016
https://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/orpington

Images used in this article are obtained via Creative Commons

Do you own or breed Orpington chickens? Leave a comment and share your birds! Don't forget to like our Facebook page and follow our Instagram for regular updates and pictures!