The Orpington chicken is an extraordinary breed that offers a unique blend of practicality, beauty, and friendliness. Thanks to their distinctive qualities and widespread appeal, they have become a staple in the poultry world.
Originating in the United Kingdom, these large, fluffy birds have quickly become favorites among poultry enthusiasts worldwide, earning a special place in backyards and competitive shows.
If you are interested in chickens, whether as a serious hobby or a casual pastime, this guide will equip you with all the knowledge you need to become an expert on this breed.
Orpington Chicken Overview
|Dual-purpose (meat and eggs)
|3.63–4.54 kg (8–10 lbs)
|2.72–3.63 kg (6–8 lbs)
|Black, blue, buff, white, splash
|Gentle, docile, calm, patient
|Known for Broodiness:
|3–4 eggs per week
|$5–$30 per chick
Orpington Chicken History and Origin
The Orpington chicken breed was introduced in 1886 by William Cook, a famous breeder who lived in Orpington, Kent, in Southeast England.
William Cook’s motivation was to create a bird that would maintain egg production during the English winter while providing a good meat source, which would align them with other chicken breeds that are bred for quality meat.
The result was the Black Orpington chicken, which quickly captured the attention and interest of the poultry world due to its multipurpose utility and attractive appearance.
Within a decade of Cook’s discovery, the breed’s popularity had caused it to spread worldwide, reaching as far as South Africa. Today, the Orpington chicken continues to be admired for its distinctive traits and history.
Orpington Chicken Appearance and Standards
The Orpington chicken has a broad body with a low stance and an abundance of feathers, which portrays an image of healthy, classic farmyard poultry.
This is primarily due to how their feathers puff out when they walk, making these birds appear much bigger than they actually are.
Adult male Orpingtons generally weigh approximately 10 pounds, while adult female Orpingtons typically weigh around 8 pounds.
When it comes to young Orpingtons, cockerels usually weigh around 8 ½ pounds, and pullets weigh about 7 pounds.
These weight standards provided by the American Poultry Association (APA) highlight the ideal size and proportions for Orpington chickens, ensuring consistency and uniformity within the breed.
Orpingtons have a curvy silhouette with a short back and a U-shaped underlining, which adds to their appeal. They also have small heads with a red single comb and wattle.
Moreover, Orpingtons are characterized by their unique colors. The original Black Orpington was admired for its iridescent, green-black plumage.
Breeders have added a variety of colors over the years, including buff, white, and blue, each of which has its own distinct appeal.
Different Orpington Chicken Varieties
The Orpington breed of chickens offers a diverse range of captivating varieties, each with its own distinctive beauty.
From the iconic Black Orpington with its glossy plumage to the enchanting Lavender Orpington with its subtle lavender hue, these chickens come in various colors that add charm and elegance to any flock.
Here’s a list of some of the different Orpington chicken varieties:
- Black Orpington: This is the first type of Orpington ever made. Black Orpingtons have an all-black plumage with a green iridescence, which helps them keep a neat appearance even in dusty and dingy conditions.
- Buff Orpington: This is the most popular color of Orpington. The Buff Orpington has a lovely golden sheen to its feathers. Along with their friendly and gentle nature, Buff Orpingtons are a favorite among backyard chicken enthusiasts for their striking appearance and calm temperament.
- White Orpington: These birds are stunning, with their pure white plumage and elegant posture. Originally called Albion, its name was eventually changed to White Orpington.
- Blue Orpington: Introduced in 1910, this Orpington variety has a blue-grey color. People initially didn’t take much interest in it, but its popularity has grown recently. In fact, blue has recently become a popular color for many chicken breeds.
- Cuckoo Orpington: This variety was developed by Elizabeth Jane, the daughter of the creator of the original Orpington. Its unique barred feather pattern earned it its name. However, it never gained as much popularity as the other varieties.
- Jubilee Orpington: This color variation was created to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It has multicolored feathers, typically with black, white, and mahogany markings.
- Birchen Orpingtons: Birchen Orpingtons are beautiful birds with unique color patterns. They are primarily black with contrasting silver or white birchen markings on the neck, chest, and tail.
- Spangled Orpington: As its name suggests, the Spangled Orpington is a sight to behold thanks to its stunning mottled feather pattern. The primary feather color can be any shade, but the spangles are always white or light-colored, giving the bird a charming speckled appearance.
- Lemon Cuckoo Orpington: The Lemon Cuckoo Orpington is a stunning breed that exhibits bright lemon-colored feathers mixed with soft white ones, creating a distinctive cuckoo pattern.
- Gold-Laced Orpington: The Gold-Laced Orpington is a real head-turner. It exhibits an intricate pattern of golden feathers outlined by a lustrous black, creating a stunning laced effect.
- Chocolate Orpington: This rare variety is known for its unique chocolate-brown feathers. The Chocolate Orpington isn’t recognized officially, but it’s still sought after for its distinct color.
- Lavender Orpington: A relatively new variety, the Lavender Orpington has pale, lavender-grey feathers. It’s currently one of the most expensive varieties because of its rarity and high demand.
Each of these varieties brings something unique to the table, be it in terms of color, temperament, or egg-laying abilities, making Orpington chickens one of the most interesting and diverse breeds to explore.
Orpington Chicken Temperament and Personality
Orpington chickens are known for their friendly and calm dispositions. These birds are often considered docile, making them a favorite among backyard chicken keepers. They’re also great with kids.
They’re not easily frightened or overly aggressive, contributing to their popularity as family pets. These chickens also tend to get along well with other poultry.
Another notable aspect of their temperament is their adaptability. Orpingtons can thrive in various settings, from free-ranging in a backyard to living in a chicken coop in a more urban environment.
Orpington chickens tend to go broody. They are excellent mothers and are known to be very protective of their young, which is a plus for farmers who like to raise their flocks more naturally.
Overall, Orpingtons’ gentle and friendly nature, coupled with their adaptability, make them an excellent choice for both novice and experienced chicken keepers.
Egg-Laying of Orpington Chickens
One of the many attributes that make the Orpington chicken breed a favorite among poultry keepers is its prolific egg-laying ability.
These fluffy birds are not only beautiful to look at but also highly valuable because of the sheer number of eggs they lay.
In this section, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of Orpington chicken’s egg-laying, offering insight in terms of their productivity, the color of their eggs, and when they typically start to lay.
Are Orpington Chickens Good Egg Layers?
Orpington chickens are renowned as one of the best egg-laying breeds. A healthy Orpington hen can produce anywhere from 200 to 280 large eggs annually.
This places them among the more productive breeds, making them an excellent choice for backyard chicken keepers who want a steady supply of fresh eggs.
While they might not lay as many eggs as some commercial breeds, the quality and size of their eggs are highly valued.
What Color Eggs Do Orpington Chickens Lay?
Orpington chickens are known for laying brown eggs. The eggs are often a medium to light brown shade, although this can vary somewhat between individual hens.
Do Orpington Chickens Lay Blue Eggs?
Orpington chickens do not lay blue eggs. Orpington hens typically lay light to medium brown eggs. While some breeds lay colored eggs, Orpingtons stick to the typical egg color scheme.
How Often Do Orpington Chickens Lay Eggs?
Orpington chickens live up to their reputation as prolific layers. At the earliest, hens can start laying when they’re around 22 weeks old.
Orpington hens usually lay eggs three to four times a week. This equates to about 200 to 280 eggs per year.
However, it’s worth noting that every chicken is unique, and their egg-laying patterns can vary depending on their age, health, nutrition, and environment.
Do Orpingtons Lay Eggs in the Winter?
Orpington chickens do lay eggs in the winter, although the frequency might slightly decrease compared to the warmer months. Given that daylight stimulates egg production, this is typical of most chicken breeds.
However, Orpingtons are known for being hardy in different weather conditions. Originating from England, they’re used to cold climates and can adjust well to winter conditions.
Their fluffy feathers help keep them warm, allowing them to stay healthy enough to continue laying eggs year-round.
Noise Level of Orpington Chickens
Orpington chickens are generally known for their quiet and calm demeanor. When it comes to noise level, they tend to be on the quieter side compared to some other chicken breeds.
However, much like any other type of chicken, Orpingtons can become more vocal when they’re feeling anxious, threatened, or excited, such as after laying an egg.
Nevertheless, they tend to be relatively quiet birds. This makes them a great addition to any backyard flock, especially in suburban or urban settings where noise could be a concern.
How to Take Care of Your Orpington Chicken
Over the course of more than a decade, I’ve had the pleasure of raising a wide variety of chicken breeds at my backyard farm. However, the Orpington chicken stands out and has won my affection more than any other breed.
The experience of caring for Orpington chickens has allowed me to learn more about poultry keeping while also enjoying their company.
I’ve figured out how to take care of their specific needs, from giving them the right chicken feed to maintaining their living spaces to even helping them with occasional health issues.
In this section, I’ll be sharing tips for raising Orpington chickens to guide you through their basic needs and how to ensure their health and happiness.
Like other breeds, Orpington chickens are prone to various common health issues. They may encounter parasites like mites and lice that can irritate their skin and feathers.
Regularly check their bodies and maintain coop cleanliness to keep this issue under control. Providing a designated dust bath area would also help.
They can also pick up internal parasites, such as worms, from their environment. These parasites can cause various health problems, from reduced egg production to severe illness.
Thus, it’s advised to deworm your chickens twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Moreover, Orpingtons are prone to obesity due to their large size and love of food. Monitor their diet and ensure they get enough exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
Orpington chickens are not picky eaters, so feeding them should be easy. Orpingtons are happy to forage for snacks, but they rarely go far from their perches.
To remain healthy and productive layers, they will require quality feed. Orpington chickens enjoy a balanced diet that includes egg or broiler feed, pellets, grains, and chicken mash.
They also love to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. These can be a healthy supplement to their diet.
Furthermore, make sure to give them access to clean water. Chickens need a steady supply of fresh water to stay hydrated and healthy.
Be sure to regularly clean and refill their water containers to ensure the health and happiness of your flock.
Coop Setup and Roaming
The living space you provide for your Orpington chickens is key to their happiness and health. A well-designed coop that is safe and spacious is essential for these large birds.
The coop should be big enough to accommodate the size of Orpingtons, with at least four square feet of indoor space per bird.
Orpingtons also enjoy having time outside the coop and need plenty of space to roam, peck, and scratch. You can give them this freedom in a safe environment by providing them with a fenced yard or a run.
They’ll require around 8 to 10 square feet of perch space each in the run to feel at ease. Also, they aren’t known for being high flyers, so a moderate fence should be enough.
Providing them with outdoor space allows them to exercise, lowering their risk of obesity, a common problem in this breed.
Is the Orpington Breed Right for You?
Weighing the breed’s benefits against any potential drawbacks can help you decide if Orpingtons are the right breed for you. First, you should consider your needs and preferences.
The calm and docile temperament of Orpington chickens makes them a good choice if you prefer chickens that are easy to handle and have a friendly disposition.
Orpingtons are a dual-purpose breed, suitable for both good meat and egg production, which can be appealing if you’re looking for a balance of both.
Take into account your environment as well. Orpingtons are a hardy breed that can thrive in various conditions.
Because of their versatility, they are good birds for cold climates, but they can also tolerate heat with enough cover. If you live in an area with noise restrictions or close neighbors, their relatively low noise level is also a plus.
However, some possible drawbacks should be taken into account. While Orpingtons are productive layers, their egg production is moderate compared to some other breeds.
Moreover, their larger size requires a spacious coop and outdoor run. This also means higher feed requirements. Orpingtons may also exhibit broodiness, impacting egg production.
By carefully evaluating these factors, you can decide whether the Orpington breed suits your preferences and goals as a chicken keeper.
Check out the following video for additional information about the breed:
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Orpington Chickens Aggressive?
Orpington chickens are not known for being aggressive. Their calm demeanor and friendly nature make them a popular choice among chicken keepers, particularly those with young children or pets.
Of course, personalities can differ among individual chickens, but Orpingtons are generally peaceful and not likely to become aggressive.
Are Orpington Chickens Quiet?
Orpington chickens aren’t big on making noise. They make typical chicken noises when laying an egg, such as clucking and squawking. But compared to other breeds, they’re more on the quiet side.
Do Orpingtons Like to Be Held?
Orpington chickens are known to enjoy human interaction and are generally comfortable being held. Their calm and friendly temperament makes them good companions, even for children.
Like any bird, individual Orpingtons may have their own preferences and personalities. Some may like being held more than others.
Hence, it’s always best to approach chickens gently and hold them securely to ensure a pleasant experience for both you and the bird.
Are Orpington Chickens Good for Beginners?
Orpington chickens are an excellent choice for beginners. They have several traits that make them ideal for those new to poultry keeping.
Orpington chickens are strong and resilient, so they are less likely to contract diseases or have other health problems that might overwhelm newcomers.
Their calm demeanor and friendliness make them easy to handle, and their consistent egg-laying is a welcome bonus.
Which variety of Orpington chickens do you find fascinating? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please comment below and share your stories about these wonderful Orpington chickens.