The Orpington chicken originates in the United Kingdom. While it is a chicken designed to be raised for both eggs and meat production, there is a surprising amount of history behind the color. They come in a few solid color varieties, black Orpington being the first, then the white and later the buff, of which Buff Orpington is the most common.
Orpington Chicken at a Glance
|Eggs||175 – 200 (per year)|
|Use||Eggs + Meat (dual purpose)|
|Comb Type||Single Comb|
|Weight||Male: 10 lb (4.55 kg) |
Female: 8 lb (3.60 kg)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
Where Do Orpington Chicken Come From?
The Orpington chicken was developed by William Cook in Orpington. You may be interested to know that William Cook also developed the Orpington Duck.
The Orpington chicken is a mixture of these breeds:
- Plymouth Rocks
The chicken was bred to be high in both eggs and meat production.
The earliest chickens were also bred to be black in color. The black Orpington chicken was introduced in 1886.
This is because they were also meant to be a ‘show’ chicken and, as a result, you didn’t want the color of the chicken to change.
This was important, because the UK was at the height of the industrial revolution, and there was all sorts of dust and soot floating through the air. It would easily get stuck to the feathers of chickens and other bird.
By being black, it would still get stuck, but you wouldn’t realize it had stuck to the animal.
Three years after the black, the white was introduced in 1889, and the buff Orpington in 1894. A late introduction, the Jubilee Orpington, is now rarely seen.
For a good part of this century, the Orpington chicken has been regarded as an ‘endangered’ chicken, but it seems there has been a rise in the number of people picking up the Orpington to raise in their backyards as of late.
The Look of the Orpington Chicken
When we are talking about the Orpington Chicken, we are talking about the original, not the ‘buff Orpington’ version that has become very popular in recent years.
The original chicken is on the heavy side. A good few kilograms. This is due to the intention of the chicken eventually being on the table. They are quite low in their stance.
Their backs are also quite short. They will have slightly fluffy feathers which have the result of making the chicken look larger than it actually is. Even though this is one of the largest chicken breeds in the world.
Their skin is white, as are their beaks. The Orpington chicken comb should have five points and should be a bright red in color.
Orpington Chickens Colors
According to the American Poultry Association there are four recognized varieties of Orpington chicken colors:
Orpington Chicken Eggs and Meat Production
The Orpington chicken is a dual-production bird. This means that if you raise one, you are going to be getting a decent number of eggs and some meat at the end of the day.
Of course, it is a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’, so if you do want a chicken that borders on the egg-laying side because you do not want to slaughter the bird later on, then the Orpington is not going to be the right chicken for you.
To be honest, the current breeds of Orpington are not great at egg-laying. Well, not as good as they were in the past.
You are going to be getting 4 eggs out of them per week, at the absolute maximum. That is around 175 – 200 eggs per year.
This is, partly, down to the fact that the Orpington chicken has become more of a show chicken.
As breeders worked on developing the look of the Orpington, egg production tailed off. If you had an original Orpington, then you could be getting six eggs a week from one. Nowadays, they just struggle to come even close to that.
The positive side is that the Orpington is productive throughout the year. The only time that they are going to deviate from their egg-laying schedule is when they are molting. They can produce eggs during the winter months. They are quite a cold hardy chicken breed.
Orpington Chicken Temperament
The Orpington Chicken is a very friendly chicken. Most of the time, they are going to be calm and docile. The only time the Orpington ever tends to ‘overreact’ is when they spot some awesome food that they want to eat. Other than that you are going to have a fairly calm chicken.
Some people do claim that the Orpington is a little bit on the needy side, and this is something that we can agree with. They do love attention, and they aren’t going to leave you alone at certain times!
There are very few health issues with the Orpington. However, you do need to be aware that the Orpington has feathers that border on the thicker side of things. This means that they are not going to dry out easily.
If your chicken gets wet, then you are going to need to physically dry the chicken on your own. If you do not do this, then your chicken has a big chance of getting sick and dying.
During the rainier days, you will probably want to keep them locked up in the coop as a result.
Overall, they would do it better in cooler climates due to their large body size, but can acclimate to warmer regions.
Related article: Buff Orpington chicken growth rate chart