If you’re new to raising chickens, it’s quite hard to choose which breed is the right one for you. First of all, you want a beautiful and friendly breed. But more importantly, you want the one you can easily take care of. Presenting, the Buff Orpington chicken breed! Well, it’s not only the most popular color variety of the Orpington breed. Buff Orpingtons are also known for various great reasons. If you want to know more about this interesting breed, here’s a complete guide about Buff Orpington chickens.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where Did Buff Orpington Chickens Originate?
- 2 What does Buff Orpington Chickens Look Like?
- 3 How Heavy are Buff Orpington Chickens?
- 4 How do Buff Orpington Chickens Behave?
- 5 Are Buff Orpington Chickens Heat Tolerant or Cold Hardy?
- 6 What and How Should You Feed Buff Orpington Chickens?
- 7 Are Buff Orpington Chickens Great Egg Layers?
- 8 Are Buff Orpington Chickens Good for Meat Production?
- 9 Do Buff Orpington Chickens Have Health Issues?
- 10 How to Take Care of Buff Orpington Chickens?
- 11 Buff Orpington Chickens Pros and Cons
- 12 Advantages of Raising Buff Orpingtons
- 13 Disadvantages of Raising Buff Orpingtons
- 14 Conclusion
Where Did Buff Orpington Chickens Originate?
First of all, the American Poultry Association (APA) has recognized five color varieties of the Orpington chicken breed – black, blue, buff, splash, and white. The black Orpingtons are the first and original versions, but the buff Orpingtons are the most famous among them. There are other color varieties available, but the APA has not recognized them yet. The black Orpington breed was a big hit after it was publicly introduced in 1896 by its creator, William Cook, a breeding coach from Kentish town, in Orpington, England. At that time, he created a new breed that can do great in laying eggs and in meat production by crossbreeding Minorca roosters with Black Plymouth Rock hens. Although he was successful in his project and was well-accepted for 10 years, it was also packed with some controversies. In 1891, his fellow breeder and friend Joseph Partington introduced his version of the Black Orpington which was also well-received by the public. Apparently, the breed was somehow similar to that of the Cook version. Later, Cook’s version was exported to Australia and was bred to their local breed. This resulted in the creation of the Australorp breed, which is widely known for breaking various world records in laying the most number of eggs in a year, including 364 eggs in 365 days! On the other hand, Partington’s version had fewer utility qualities and was only good in poultry shows. Almost in the same years, Cook developed two more color varieties of the Orpington breed – the White Orpington and the Buff Orpington. However, both of them allegedly had no traces of the original Black Orpington breed. But despite the controversy, the Buff Orpington he brought to the US in 1903 received tons of favorable reviews for having a very unique color, and more importantly, for having superior qualities of a meat bird. According to Cook, the Buff Orpington was the result of his crossbreeding of Golden Spangled Hamburgs and Buff Cochins. However, claims were saying that Lincolnshire Buff was used instead. Nonetheless, he denied the allegations. You should also understand that Lincolnshire Buff has five toes on each foot, instead of four. Over the years, the Buff Orpington became one of the most favorite breeds in America. But for some reason, production declined gradually and was listed by the American Breed Livestock Conservancy as “endangered.” But because of its high-quality meat and being a good layer, it was removed from the said list in 2016. Hurray!!!
What does Buff Orpington Chickens Look Like?
To start with, Buff Orpington chickens have thick, light yellow feathers around their entire body. Their profile feathering would make you think that they look like they have feathers on their legs, but actually, they don’t. Nevertheless, what’s quite interesting is that the color somehow fades when they are exposed to the sun or when it is raining. Just like most roosters, the Buff Orpington chicken breed also has a U shape back on its round, broad body. Their roosters have red earlobes, huge wattles, as well as huge single combs. However, their hens have medium-sized wattles and combs which may lead to frostbite during winter. Some of them may have rose combs, though. Buff Orpington baby chicks have softer, lighter buff colors. At their age, you cannot distinguish males from females. But in most cases, male chicks have pale, whitish streaks at their upper wing joints while female chicks have a brownish spot on their heads and their backs may have pale brown lines. Again, this is now always the case. Buff Orpingtons are usually about 12-15 inches tall and hens are only a bit smaller than roosters. Hens also have sturdy legs and are set wide apart enough for them to balance themselves while they are walking. On the other hand, British-bred Buff Orpingtons have deeper bodies with shorter tails as compared to their American counterparts. Just like other breeds, Buff Orpington chickens also pass through a molting period every year to renew their feathers. At this stage, they will lose their features and will be replaced with new ones. What’s amazing is that their new feathers have a deeper buff shade. Therefore, they will look more fabulous as the years go by. Isn’t it a wonderful sight?
How Heavy are Buff Orpington Chickens?
Buff Orpington chickens may look heavy because of their thick feathers. However, roosters are only about 8-10 pounds heavy while hens weigh about 6-8 pounds. On the other hand, their bantam males weigh about 38 ounces while females weigh about 34 ounces only. Nevertheless, Orpington Bantams are one of the best bantams available.
How do Buff Orpington Chickens Behave?
Buff Orpingtons are notably better than the color varieties in terms of temperament. They are calm, steady, and don’t seem in a hurry especially when free-range. But more importantly, they are one of the friendliest chicken breeds you will ever have. They enjoy the company of humans and, you don’t have to worry if you have small children. Note, however, that chickens have feelings, too. Therefore, if young children will hold them too tight or will accidentally harm them, it’s nothing but normal if Buff Orpingtons will peck their hands. Nevertheless, it does mean they are aggressive. It is only their way of telling their keeper that they are hurt or feeling uncomfortable. In general, Buff Orpington chickens are docile and will follow you whenever you have treats for them. They will even follow you inside your house. They love attention so much and are great as family pets, just like your dogs. In most cases, you don’t need to carry them because they love sitting on laps. Yes, they are also like cats only with feathers! Also dubbed as Golden Beauties, these fluffy chickens are naturally quiet, and hens are quieter than the roosters. They rarely chat with each other, and probably the only time you will hear them loud is when they are laying eggs, or when they feel they are in danger. Nevertheless, this behavior is common to most hens in other breeds. Likewise, Buff Orpingtons are also friendly with other chicken breeds and they don’t have problems eating with them. In fact, they tend to be on the lower rank in the pecking order. However, this might also be a problem because they can easily become targets of bullying by aggressive breeds. Therefore, you better join them with the friendlier breeds. When it comes to broodiness, earlier batches of Buff Orpington hens are very broody. However, for whatever reason, some strains of the recent batches tend to be less broody or not that good sitters. In short, they are average broody hens. Nevertheless, they are known to be excellent mothers and love to take care of their baby chicks.
Are Buff Orpington Chickens Heat Tolerant or Cold Hardy?
Unfortunately, Buff Orpington chickens don’t go too well in any kind of extreme weather conditions. Because of their thick and dense feathers, they find it hard to deal with during hotter months. As you all already know, chickens don’t sweat. Although they can regulate their body temperature, they can hardly tolerate a temperature of 85°F and above.
Likewise, there are two potential problems during the winter season. First, Buff Orpington chickens have huge combs and therefore are prone to frostbite. Second, if they get wet during the rainy season, they can no longer use their feathers to keep them warm. These challenges may be common to all chicken breeds but Orpingtons are more prone to them.
What and How Should You Feed Buff Orpington Chickens?
Buff Orpington chickens are not picky when it comes to food. They are not so great foragers but they eat anything that touches their beaks. But just like other breeds, baby chicks should be fed with starters. Once they reach about 6-20 weeks of age, you should switch them to growers, which have 16-18% protein that they need every day.
Once they reach 5-7 months old or start to lay eggs, Orpington hens should be eating layer feed. It has added calcium to help produce stronger eggshells. You may also give them some oyster shells. Nonetheless, you should give some fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. But more importantly, they need lots of clean, fresh water every day.
Are Buff Orpington Chickens Great Egg Layers?
On average, Buff Orpington hens lay 200-250 large to extra-large, light brown eggs a year or 4-5 eggs a week. They may start laying eggs when they reach about 6 months of age. They also tend to continue laying eggs during winter and therefore can be considered good layers. However, expect them to lay fewer eggs as they grow older.
Are Buff Orpington Chickens Good for Meat Production?
Buff Orpington chickens have been excellent meat birds since the beginning and they still are. In fact, they will always be. They have huge legs and thighs, and their dark meat is very delicious. You just have to wait for 5-6 months before they reach their marketable weight of about 8 pounds. Once they reach 8 months old, the meat might get tough.
Do Buff Orpington Chickens Have Health Issues?
Buff Orpington chickens don’t have immediate health issues and generic orders. But as mentioned earlier, they don’t do well during the summer and winter seasons. Just like other thick-feathered birds, they are prone to frostbite and heatstroke. Not to mention, parasites such as mites and lice are also their enemies and can hide under the feathers.
How to Take Care of Buff Orpington Chickens?
Buff Orpington chickens have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years. If you want to reach their optimum age, you should monitor them closely during extreme weather conditions. To help them feel comfortable, make sure they have at least 4 square feet of space per chicken inside the coop and at least 8 inches apart for their roosting bars but lower. Judging their body size and weight, you can immediately conclude that Buff Orpington chickens cannot fly high and long distances. Therefore, they cannot easily get away from aggressive chickens. Aside from providing them with extra space and a regular-sized pop door in their coops, it would be better if they will be joined by friendlier breeds. And just like taking care of other breeds, they also need a properly balanced diet, shade on their dust bath, adequate space for nesting boxes, properly-ventilated coops, some food supplements, enough time to rest and sleep, sufficient sunlight, clean and dry surroundings, and most of all, constant replenish of clean, drinking water.
Buff Orpington Chickens Pros and Cons
Judging from what you have read, it’s easy for you to say that raising Buff Orpington chickens has more pros than cons. Nevertheless, it is still better to summarize them so you can weigh them properly.
Advantages of Raising Buff Orpingtons
- Calm, gentle, and docile
- Very friendly, lap chickens
- Ideal for families with small children
- Reasonably quiet
- Good at laying eggs
- Good for meat production
- Excellent mothers
- Adaptable in confinement and free-range
- Good foragers
- Friendly to other chicken breeds
- Most famous among color varieties
- Ideal for beginners
Disadvantages of Raising Buff Orpingtons
- Prone to bullying; needs extra space
- Can’t fly high, hard to escape from aggressive breeds
- Inconsistent broodiness
- Extra care is needed during summer and winter
Buff Orpingtons are ideal to breed for many great reasons. They are not only super friendly, great pets, and easy to manage; they are also for dual purposes. Therefore, you can enjoy both worlds! Well, they have also a few drawbacks but they can be easily solved even if you are only a beginner. You just need to be patient and resourceful.