The Orpington Chicken breed is popular to both farm owners and casual animal caretakers (chicken breeders to be exact) because of being dual purpose chickens and also for being simply cute. Orpingtons are known for their cute and rounded appearance. They are also dual purpose, which means that they excel in egg laying and also provide a substantial amount of meat.
In this article, we will discuss all the important things that you need to know about Orpington chickens including their history and origin, egg laying capabilities, appearance, size and color, temperament, and how you could properly take care of them.
History and Origin
During the 1800s England, chickens were bred not for their eggs or meat but to make exotic looking birds that could satisfy people’s curiosity and give them entertainment. This however, did not last forever because chicken breeding leaned more towards creating chickens that would give many eggs and also provide good meat for consumption.
One major person involved in this shift is William Cook, a coachman who lived in a town called Orpington in the country of Kent, England. He didn’t have much interest in chickens until he got older. He had the idea of making breeds of chicken that would be excellent in both egg and meat production. He chose three breeds – Plymouth rock, Langshan, and Minorca.
In 1886, he introduced the Black Orpington Breed, which became an instant hit all over England. He made the resulting bred black in order to make the chicken not appear dirty in their country full of cities with lots of soot and dust.
He then revealed the color Buff not long time after the black one. This color remains to be the most favorite color of Orpingtons. Next colors revealed were splash, white and blue.
The breed met immense success, becoming the most popular breed in all of England. It was then introduced in countries like South Africa and the USA. The breed is also the most favorite by Queen Elizabeth (source).
The Orpington has a heavy broad body. It has a low stance and fluffed out feathers. It also has a short and curvy back. The feathers of an Orpington are smooth and broad. Its shanks and feet are clean and colored pinkish white. Its flesh is colored white.
The beak has a pinkish white color as well. But its eyes are reddish. The earlobes, comb, and wattles are all colored red. A single comb of an Orpington usually has five points.
Size and Color
In general, Orpington come in two sizes which are bantams and large fowl. A bantam can weigh 38 oz for males and 34 oz for females. On the other hand, a large fowl can weigh ten pounds for males and eight pounds for females. One interesting fact is that bantam sized Orpingtons are one of the largest bantam chickens in the world. However, they are quite difficult to find.
According to the American Poultry Association, there are four standard colors of Orpingtons which include buff, black, white, and blue.
Orpingtons were bred to become excellent egg layers. They can lay about 200 to 280 large sized brown eggs every year. If you want Orpingtons for meat, it could typically take 22 weeks before they become table ready. They are indeed, great dual-purpose chickens.
Orpingtons are great in brooding. Hens will sit atop of her eggs wanting them to hatch. Roosters on the other hand, are protective of their offspring. Hence, you may want to watch out for that when you go on egg harvesting. For best egg production, make sure you buy one of these best chicken nesting pads.
Orpingtons are known for being friendly and docile. They are also calm and stately but they do like to glide across the backyard or coop. they appear lethargic. But when you have your treats ready, they would run for it.
In general, Orpingtons are more suitable in warm climates. But they need shade to keep themselves cool under the hot sun. With their feathers, they can be cold hardy. But don’t let those feathers get soaked in water because they could die of hypothermia.
Orpingtons tolerate confinement very well. But having them free range once in a while would make them happier. They can also do well with children that’s why lots of families go for Orpingtons as backyard chickens. One thing to watch out for is an Orpington’s powerful beak which can hurt someone pecked.
Should I get an Orpington?
If you are looking for a good dual-purpose chicken, then the Orpington is the perfect one for you. As mentioned earlier, Orpingtons were specifically bred to be excellent in both egg laying and meat production.
Orpingtons are also fluffy, cute, kind, and friendly. Their sweet disposition make them great friends with children.
However, if you are planning to own one, just remember to be careful when it comes to introducing Orpingtons to your flock that have aggressive breeds like Welsummers and Rhose Islands Reds. These breeds might pick on your new Orpingtons.
Overall, the Orpington is an outstanding chicken breed, which is why it is considered to be one of the top 20 chicken breeds. You have been given the most important things that you need to know about Orpingtons – including how the breed originated, its appearance, temperament, size and color, and egg laying capabilities. The choice is up to you now to decide whether to get one for you coop or backyard. Whatever your decision may be, we wish you good luck in your chicken breeding journey!