If you are considering a breed that balances productivity with companionship, then the Buff Orpington chicken might be right up your alley!
The Buff Orpington is a favorite breed of many not just for its beautiful warm yellow color but also its substantial egg-laying, friendly demeanor, and compatibility with children and other non-aggressive chicken breeds.
In this article, we delve into the fascinating world of Buff Orpington chickens, their traits, and care needs, offering practical advice to ensure these beautiful birds thrive in their environment.
Buff Orpington Chicken Overview
|200–280 eggs per year
|Docile and friendly
|Cost of Chicken:
|Cost of Chick:
Buff Orpington Chicken History and Origin
The Buff Orpington chicken had its roots in 19th-century England. This variety of Orpington was reportedly created by William Cook, a breeder from Orpington, County Kent, who had previously developed the black Orpington.
Cook allegedly used different breeds — Golden Spangled Hamburgs, Buff Cochins, and Dark Dorkings — to create the Buff Orpington.
However, several British scholars and poultrymen argue that the Buff Orpington breed was more likely developed from the rare Buff Lincolnshire chicken, an older breed with Buff Cochin and Dorking heritage.
Despite their fascinating past, Buff Orpingtons, like most heritage breeds, saw a decline in the 20th century due to the rise of factory farming.
These chickens, though known for their hardiness and docile nature, could not compete with the rapid egg production and growth rates of factory farm breeds.
Fortunately, their population has rebounded due to increased interest from backyard chicken keepers and breed fanciers, leading to their removal from The Livestock Conservancy’s endangered species list in 2016.
Buff Orpington Chicken Appearance and Standards
Buff Orpington chickens are notable for their large, heavy bodies covered by abundant, fluffy feathers.
Their build is stocky, characterized by a broad body, short backs and legs, and a low stance. These legs are often hidden under a cascade of loose, plentiful feathering.
They are known for a U-shaped silhouette, a characteristic particularly pronounced in roosters. Alongside this, Buff Orpingtons exhibit upright, medium-sized single combs and wattles and vibrant red earlobes.
Their feathers, a defining feature, are commonly smooth and buff-colored, radiating a warm light yellow color. However, this radiant buff color can fade with exposure to the elements, particularly the sun and rain.
Interestingly, after a molt, these feathers regrow in a more intense, deep buff shade. Buff Orpingtons also possess beaks, shanks, and feet that are pinkish-white in color. Meanwhile, their chicks are a fluffy light golden color.
Despite their stout appearance, proper handling is essential for their well-being. A show-quality Buff Orpington should be held upright and gently against the body, with the wings comfortably secured down.
This respectful handling ensures their well-being while highlighting their unique and beautiful appearance.
Buff Orpington Chicken Size and Weight
Buff Orpingtons are known as a large, heavy breed, with their dense, fluffy feathers further amplifying their size. Buff hens usually weigh around 6 to 8 pounds, while buff roosters are a bit heavier, measuring 8 to 10 pounds.
This substantial weight necessitates special considerations when installing perches in their coop to ensure their safety and comfort.
Alongside these large standard-size birds, you can also encounter Buff Orpingtons in a smaller version, known as bantams. Bantam roosters typically weigh around 38 ounces, with hens slightly lighter at 34 ounces.
While they are a little more challenging to find, Buff Orpington bantams offer an attractive option for those who adore the Buff Orpington breed but prefer smaller birds.
Buff Orpington Chicken Temperament and Personality
Renowned for their docile and friendly demeanor, Buff Orpingtons are an obvious choice if you want calmness and placidity.
It is also a practical breed for those looking for their first chicken breed or a new chicken to add to their flock. They rarely exhibit crankiness or ill temper, making them ideal family pets.
They also readily interact with humans and are particularly tolerant towards children. These hens appreciate pampering, often quite content to sit on your lap or follow you around the yard in hopes of treats.
The gentle nature of Buff Orpingtons extends to their interactions within the flock as well. While they may occasionally fight with other chickens due to hierarchy issues, these are resolved quickly.
However, their peaceable disposition can make them targets for more aggressive breeds, often finding themselves pushed away from feeders or subjected to pecking.
Therefore, housing them with similar temperament birds like Cochins is advisable to maintain harmony.
Broodiness and Egg-Laying of Buff Orpington Chickens
When considering Buff Orpingtons, it’s important to distinguish between the two strains: utility and show. Utility strain Buff Orpingtons make excellent egg layers, providing around 200 to 280 large brown eggs per year.
On the other hand, show or exhibition strains, due to their specific breeding lines, yield significantly fewer eggs.
Do note, though, that regardless of their plumage color, all Orpingtons lay similarly colored light-brown, large-sized eggs. However, compared to many laying hens, they start a bit later.
The color of their eggs is also pinkish-brown, aligning them with other chicken breeds that lay pink eggs.
While most hens begin at around 20 weeks old, Buff Orpingtons may take up to 28 weeks before they start laying shelled eggs.
I remember my uncle’s favorite broody hen, which didn’t start laying eggs until it reached 22 weeks and sometimes even 26 weeks. Regardless, he is proud of the large-sized eggs this Buff Orpington produces.
Although he loves these dual-purpose chickens, he is most fond of their egg-laying capability.
Another admirable trait of Buff Orpingtons is how they go broody. They not only exhibit a strong inclination to sit on their eggs but are also known to make exemplary mothers, nurturing their chicks with dedicated care.
This makes them an excellent choice for those interested in raising chicks. Their nature as excellent layers and attentive mothers makes them a practical choice among both utility and backyard chicken keepers.
How to Take Care of Your Buff Orpington Chicken
Keeping healthy and productive Buff Orpington chickens entails many responsibilities, including preventing them from getting ill.
This section shall guide you accordingly on these care aspects, making your Buff Orpington journey an easier one:
Lifespan and Health Issues
Buff Orpingtons, with their hearty and robust nature, are generally healthy birds. On average, their lifespan mirrors that of most chicken breeds, typically ranging between 5 and 8 years.
However, certain breed-specific issues can affect their well-being, primarily related to their dense and fluffy plumage.
The Buff Orpington’s fluffy feathers around their vents can occasionally collect fecal matter, necessitating regular monitoring and cleaning to prevent discomfort or infection.
This issue is prevalent among all Orpington varieties, not just the Buffs. To maintain their overall health, performing regular checks and treatments for external and internal parasites is advised.
Their dense feathers can also provide hiding spots for lice and other biting pests, warranting proactive pest management.
Buff Orpington chickens require a balanced diet for optimal health and productivity. A diet consisting of commercial feed designed for either egg production or meat birds may serve as a solid nutritional base.
This feed can be complemented with kitchen scraps and treats like mealworms to add variety and additional nutrients.
However, their leisurely nature and love for eating can lead to a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, predisposing them to obesity. It’s usual for Buff Orpingtons to linger near the feeder, taking advantage of easy food access.
This can cause issues such as reduced egg production and increased risk of prolapse or egg binding.
Should your Buff Orpingtons become overweight, it may be necessary to impose food restrictions. Remember, monitoring their weight and adjusting their diet is key to maintaining their health and productivity.
Meanwhile, check this video to get an idea of how to prepare a simple meal and treats for your Buff Orpingtons:
Coop Setup and Roaming
When setting up a coop and run for Buff Orpingtons, there are several factors to take into account due to their larger size and specific needs.
While the general rule of thumb is to allocate four square feet per chicken, Orpingtons appreciate a little more space, especially during the warmer months when they value personal room.
A minimum of eight inches of perch space per bird is recommended, with perches ideally situated 18 to 24 inches off the ground to prevent injuries from jumping down.
Further, the nesting boxes should be of standard size, which is approximately 12×12 inches, with one box available for every 2 to 3 Buff Orpingtons. This helps minimize squabbles and egg breakage.
These large birds may also require more space on roosting bars and a larger pop-hole door, or an easy-access ramp or large steps for the regular-sized door.
Moreover, though they tolerate confinement quite well, Buff Orpingtons enjoy free-ranging. This encourages them to forage their own nutritious snacks and provides necessary exercise, promoting overall health.
Hardiness to Heat and Cold
Buff Orpington chickens, despite their lush feathers, can struggle with extreme weather conditions, particularly heat.
Their heavy and densely feathered bodies make temperature regulation a challenge, and some chicken keepers have experienced the loss of Orpingtons during severe heatwaves.
Signs of heat stress include seeking shade, panting, and holding wings away from the body. In such cases, providing unlimited fresh water and shade may not suffice.
It is advisable to consider additional cooling measures such as coop fans or even air conditioning. Additionally, dust bathing spots in the shade can offer relief, as they enjoy this activity.
On the other hand, while they’re often dubbed as cold-hardy, there are exceptions to this claim. Large-combed Buff Orpington roosters can suffer from frostbite during freezing weather.
This can be managed by installing sweeter heaters over roosting bars to provide warmth and keep them dry during winter.
Are Buff Orpington Chickens Good Around Children?
Since Buff Orpingtons are renowned for their friendliness and tolerance, they are ideal for families with children.
Not only are these chickens comfortable with the unpredictable movements and noise levels that kids often bring, but they also seem to enjoy the attention.
I recall when a family with a six-year-old visited my grandfather’s farm. The boy, Timmy, was timid and a bit scared of the birds at first. To our surprise, a Buff Orpington hen gently approached him, capturing his curiosity.
Over time, Timmy’s fear transformed into fondness. He’d visit regularly, always running to his Buff Orpington friend first. I’d see them wandering the yard together, Timmy talking animatedly to the chicken as if it understood him.
This special bond truly exhibited the incredible friendliness of Buff Orpington chickens.
Are Buff Orpington Chickens Good Around Other Chickens?
Buff Orpington chickens are typically harmonious with other chickens, making them a great choice for a diverse coop. They also generally interact well with other Orpingtons, creating a peaceful flock environment.
While individual temperaments can certainly vary, Buff Orpingtons are largely gentle and non-aggressive towards other breeds. They are often seen socializing well, even with smaller chickens, like Silkies.
Further, Buff Orpingtons, known for their sweet and gentle traits, are not typically the instigators of conflict. Interestingly, this docile breed may sometimes become the target of aggression by more assertive breeds.
Hence, they thrive best in the company of other similarly calm and friendly breeds such as Brahmas, Cochins, or other Orpington varieties.
Places to Find Buff Orpington Chickens for Sale
When looking for a Buff Orpington, regardless of purpose, it is best to find reputable breeders of these breed of chickens to ensure that you end up with healthy chickens.
This section will help you with this task accordingly and give you some confidence as you scout for your very own Buff Orpington.
Below are some places you may want to consider in your search:
- Valley Hatchery – Based in Northeast Ohio, Valley Hatchery was established in 2009 with the commitment to fulfill backyard poultry enthusiasts’ dream of diverse flocks and to aid them toward self-sufficiency. By 2020, they already have 70 breeds of poultry and over 175 different varieties under them, including Buff Orpingtons.
- Myers Poultry – Since 1988, Myers Poultry has provided quality Buff Orpingtons to the entire continental United States. Their chicks are priced between $2 to $5, depending on the gender and volume of purchase. You may also get add-ons from them, such as vaccines and vitamins, to boost the health and protection of your chicks.
- Townline Poultry Farm – This hatchery has a very strong expertise in breeding and raising chickens, starting as early as 1913. Their Buff Orpington chicks range between $2,78 and $6.05, depending on their gender. Further, their special services include Marek’s vaccine and beak trimming.
Regardless of the breeder, ensure to do your research well and ask them the right questions so you get the best chickens that comply with the breed standards.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Buff Orpington Hens Aggressive?
Buff Orpington hens are known for their gentle and non-aggressive nature, making them an ideal choice for families, city or suburban environments, and educational projects.
They respond positively to attention and handling, enhancing their appeal for activities where interaction is required.
However, due to their passive demeanors, they might not fare well in mixed flocks with more assertive breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds. Therefore, these hens are best kept with other calm and friendly breeds.
Are Buff Orpington Hens Noisy?
Orpington chickens, including Buff Orpington hens, are generally quiet. However, hens can produce loud egg songs, a distinctive, repetitive vocalization associated with laying eggs.
Meanwhile, Buff Orpington roosters do crow, but their crowing is less shrill and lower pitched compared to some other breeds. While Orpington hens and roosters can be vocal, they are not considered excessively noisy.
What Chickens Get Along With Buff Orpingtons?
Buff Orpington chickens are known for their friendly and non-aggressive nature. They typically get along well with similarly calm breeds.
Some examples include Black Australorps, Brahmas, Faverolles, Cochins, Sussexs, Buckeyes, and Orpingtons of other colors and patterns.
These breeds mirror the gentle temperament of Buff Orpingtons, ensuring harmonious coexistence within the flock.
Do you have any experience with or questions about Buff Orpington chickens? Please feel free to leave a comment below! We would love to learn from you!