The Orpington is a cold-hardy breed and thrives well with both confined spaces and as free-range birds. Hens
mature at a young age, go broody easily, and are attentive mothers. These birds average from 8 to 10 pounds
with cocks weighing more than hens. Bantams average 34 to 38 ounces. The comb, wattles, and earlobes are all
bright red. The comb is of medium size and has five distinct points that stand erect.
The beak, eyes, and shank colors will vary depending upon the plumage color. The Black Orpington will have a
black beak, dark brown eyes, and the shanks and toes are dark slate when adults (young birds will have black
shanks and toes). Blue Orpingtons have dark brown eyes, horn beak, and shanks and toes that are leaden blue.
The bottoms of the feet have a pink tone. The Buff and White Orpingtons have a pinkish-white beak, bay-red eyes,
and the shanks and toes are also pinkish-white.
The American Poultry Association (APA) first recognized the Orpington breed in 1902. The only recognized colors
by the APA are black, blue, buff, and white. The plumage on the body is broad which gives this breed a stocky
appearance. Considered a multi-purpose bird, the Orpington is still bred and raised for meat and egg production
and for show purposes. This amazing breed is on the "Recovering" list of the conservation status. This chicken
breed is known for its docile temperament and is quite popular by both breeders and backyard hobbyists.
There is no controversy about who created the Orpington breed of chicken. All sources state that it was William Cook, an
Englishman who named the Orpington after his home town in Kent. The Black Orpington was the original bird and this was
developed in 1886. Crossings between Black Minorcas and Black Plymouth Rocks were then bred to a Clean-legged
Langshan resulting in the new breed.
The original Orpingtons looked very much like black Langshans and were not as profusely feathered as today's Orpingtons.
The Black Orpington was first shown in 1886 at the Crystal Palace, London. Show enthusiasts crossed the Orpington with the
Cochin to create a more impressive bird for exhibition. The Orpington was bred as a dual purpose bird, one which would lay
well through winter and produce white meat for the table. Its large size, curved shape and soft plumage attracted the
attention of poultry fanciers who breed for exhibition purposes more than utility factors.
After Cook had established his Black Orpingtons, he set out to create White, Buff and Blue Orpingtons. In 1889 the White
Orpington made its appearance. These were not as popular as the Black Orpington. Later crosses with white Wyandottes
and white Sussex saw a revival of interest in the White Orpington. The White Orpington should be white apart from a red face
and comb. They lay 160 to 180 brown or tinted eggs per annum.
The Buff Orpington has the Lincolnshire Buff in its ancestry which was Cook's attempt to remove the Cochin influence. As a
result, the Buff Orpington tends to be more closely feathered than the other colours. The Buff Orpington should be a rich,
golden colour with no suggestion of red. The legs are white and clean. The cock bird weighs between 7 and 10 pounds. HM
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was once the Patron of the Buff Orpington Club which was formed in 1898 and had her
own stud of top quality Buff Orpingtons. The Buff Orpington is the most popular of the varieties and became the symbol of
the Orpington Rugby Football Club.
In 1890, Cook exported Black Orpingtons to Australia. From these birds, Australian breeders established what was first
known as the Austral Orpington but then as the Australorp. It is a good show bird and an excellent layer. By 1905 Cook had
also bred a Blue Orpington. As this bird was developed just before World War I, it had little chance of becoming popular. At
the time, the breed was famed for its egg production.
The docile Orpington is a large, heavy bird weighing from seven to ten pounds. The soft, abundant plumage almost hides the
legs. The head is small with a single, erect comb having five distinct points. The darker colours have dark eyes and legs,
while the paler colours have red eyes and white legs. The chickens are not particularly fast to feather up.
From the side, the impression is of a U shape underbody and a short back which appears somewhat concave. The tail is
compact and short, the feathers rising high and sweeping over to the rear. The gentle curves and soft feathering make for a
very attractive bird. They are friendly and with such fluffy plumage continue to thrive and produce well in cold weather.
The Orpington continues to lay through winter. The average output per annum is between 110 and 160 tinted white to light
brown eggs. Broodiness is a trait with the Orpington and they are good mothers. They cope well when confined.
Today the Orpington comes in a number of varieties including jubilee, red, gold- and silver-laced and mottled. They are quite
intelligent for chickens and can even learn simple tricks. If handled while young, they remain very quiet and friendly. Their
docile nature makes them popular for families with small children. There is a bantam variety.
Orpingtons were recognised by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1902. The only colours recognised are black,
white, buff and blue. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists the Orpington as 'recovering'. The Rare Breeds
Survival Trust of the United Kingdom lists the Orpington as 'endangered' and the Buff Orpington as 'at risk'.
All pictures are of our own English
Orpingtons and are the sole property of
Information on Blue Genetic Breeding:
Blue (Bb) X Blue (Bb) = 50% Blue (Bb), 25% Black (BB), 25% Splash (bb)
Blue (Bb) X Splash (bb) = 50% Blue (Bb), 50% Splash (bb)
Blue (Bb) X Black (BB) = 50% Blue (Bb), 50% Black (BB)
Splash (bb) X Black (BB) = 100% Blue (Bb)
Black (BB) X Black (BB) = 100% Black (BB)
Splash (bb) X Splash (bb) = 100% Splash (bb)