Breeds

Orpington

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

Orpingtons are a large, heavy dual-purpose chicken breed with a kind temperament and are easy to care for. They come in different color varieties, where 'buff' is the most popular one. Their easy-going character makes them the ideal breed for beginners or chicken keepers with children.

These huge birds need more space than a normal-sized chicken requires, so it is best not to be kept in small backyards. But if you have the space, Orpingtons are an excellent choice as they are very good egg layers as well.

Let's start with a couple of key takeaways!

  • Large and heavy dual-purpose breed
  • Born by crossbreeding the Plymouth Rock, Minorca, and Langshan
  • Friendly and docile breed, easy to take care for
  • Lays approximately 250 light brown eggs per year
  • Easily go broody
Eggs240-270 eggs/year
Egg ColorLight brown
Egg Size(Extra) Large
Weight8-10 lbs
HardinessVery cold-hardy
TemperamentExtremely docile, easy to care for
Beginner-friendlyYes
ColorVaries, Buff being the most popular

Characteristics

Orpingtons are very easily recognizable. The heavy and oversized body is typical for this breed, as is their fluffy look. They are a dual-purpose breed and are being kept for meat and eggs.

They range in various colors: black, white, blue, and buff. Lavender Orpingtons are beginning to get more and more popular, but the color is not officially recognized. At this moment, Buff Orpingtons are still the most popular color in this fluffy breed. Buff Orpingtons have a rich golden light brown or golden yellow color, but their feathers can fade when exposed to the sun. After molting, their plumage comes back in a deeper, richer color than the 'old' feathers.

An adult Orpington hen weighs around 7 pounds (3,2 kg), and an Orpington rooster has a body weight of approximately 9 pounds (4 kg). Orpingtons also exist in a Bantam version. This miniature Orpington weighs around 3 pounds (1,4 kg) for a hen and 4,5 pounds (2 kg) for a rooster.

Because of their weight and body structure, Orpingtons can not fly or jump very high. This makes them highly docile and more susceptible to predators, as they aren't very good at escaping their attackers.

Orpington hen
Credits: @hanniganhomestead

The Orpington's large body does have one significant advantage. It makes them highly tolerant of cold weather. However, the comb, especially in males, can be susceptible to frostbite. So providing plenty of shelter during the winter months remains necessary.

Like most chicken breeds, Orpingtons take temperature changes reasonably well, but they stand cold temperatures better than hot ones. During a heatwave, always cool your chickens by providing plenty of cool water, shady spots, and proper coop ventilation.

The legs of Orpingtons have a pinkish-white color, and no feathers are present on the legs. Their skin color is white. The single comb is bright red and has five points. A variety with a rose comb also exists but is less common. The earlobes and wattles are bright red and medium-sized.

Personality

Orpingtons are known to be gentle giants. They are huge but have kind and pleasant personalities. This makes them excellent company for hobbyists or chicken keepers with small children. Even Orpington roosters are supposed to have a sweet but still protective nature, although there are exceptions, according to some online chicken owners' stories.

Orpingtons respond well to any kind of attention. They'll like your company and can be handled quite easily. Because of their docile and passive nature, they don't mix well with more dominant breeds like the Rhode Island Red or the Wyandotte.

When looking for a quiet chicken breed, Orpingtons are the number one choice. This breed is exceptionally calm and peaceful and won't make much noise. This makes them suitable as backyard chickens in a suburban environment as they won't bother your neighbors.

Lavender Orpington hen
Credits: @redbirdranch (IG)

As said before, Orpingtons are big chickens, so they love having as much space as possible. Therefore, they like free-ranging, although they are very docile and won't wander off too far from home.

You can find the minimum space requirements for chickens in our 'Chicken Coop Size Calculator', but for Orpingtons, you'll need to provide more space than just the bare minimum.

Egg Production

An Orpington pullet reaches adulthood at the age of 20 weeks and will start laying around that time. They are excellent egg layers and lay approximately five large light brown eggs per week. That's more than 250 eggs per year!

Because they are cold-hardy, most Orpington hens will keep laying during the winter, although their egg production can temporarily decrease. You'll enjoy their eggs all year round, except during molting.

The hens of the Orpington breed quickly go broody, making them excellent mothers. But if you're not planning to hatch chicks, broodiness is something you need to keep in mind, as it will stop egg production and fatigue or weaken the bird.

History

The Orpington breed originated from Britain and was bred in the late nineteenth century in Orpington, South-East England. During this time in history, there was an enormous interest in inland chickens and foreign and exotic birds.

During Hen Fever, people were obsessed with large exotic birds coming from the Far East, like Brahmas. However, the interest in exotic species and looks was only temporary and got replaced by breeding useful chickens to provide meat and eggs. Hello Orpington!

By crossbreeding the Plymouth Rock, Minorca, and Langshan, a new hybrid bird known as the Black Orpington was born. Because it was a very hardy dual-purpose breed, it became instantly very popular. The American Poultry Association recognized the Buff Orpington in 1902, later followed by the Black, White, and Blue variety. Since then, the Buff Orpington has always been the most popular variety.

Until 2016 the Orpington was to be found on The Livestock Conservancy's priority list. Luckily, they are no longer considered endangered now.

Summary

Orpington chickens are large, heavy chickens with a very kind and friendly nature. They're cold-hardy and beginner friendly. They are a quiet breed and can be kept in a suburban neighborhood. Although, because of their size, Orpingtons need more space than normal-sized chickens.

Orpingtons are a dual-purpose breed and can be kept for both meat and eggs. They are excellent egg layers and lay around five large light brown eggs per week. Orpington hens easily go broody, so they are a good choice when you're interested in hatching fertilized eggs.

If you want to learn more about chicken breeds, check out our 'Chicken Breeds Page' to see every specific breed we address. Or go to our listicle breed summary on 'The Classroom', or, if you're unsure where to start, browse our 'Chicken Breeds: Ultimate Beginners Guide'.

Picture Credit: @hanniganhomestead

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Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.

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