Article provided by Hoover’s Hatchery
Thanks to a popular chicken breed, a small London suburb's name is well known around the world.
Only about 15,000 people live in Orpington, England, and few people outside England have ever heard of the town but millions know the Buff Orpington chicken.
Developed by William Cook in the 1890's, the English town gave the breed its name. Today it is common in small flocks scattered all over the globe. No other hen is as calm and content as a big fluffy Orpington. Enter their coop or outdoor run and Orpingtons often approach people with curiosity. Their calmness around people is unlike Leghorns and many white egg laying breeds that squawk, flap, and run when humans approach. Orpingtons just seem to like people.
The Orpington is one of the very best dual purpose chicken breeds for a small backyard flock. Because of they are tame and relatively quiet, the Orpingtons are ideal birds for suburban and urban back yards. The breed's feathers keep them toasty during chilly nights, and the relatively small single combs on Orpington hens are less likely to freeze than much larger combs on some other breeds. Hot summers don't seem to faze them either.
Orpingtons may be the very best breed for poultry newcomers too and are outstanding for children to care for. A small flock by these gentle hens tended by a child with parental supervision might stimulate a lifelong poultry hobby. Be sure that children, and anyone else handling chickens or items in the coop, thoroughly wash their hands when they are done.
Popular Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island, New Hampshire Reds, and Wyandottes were developed in the United States and have the bright yellow skin favored by American chicken eaters. Brits prefer white skin on their eating birds, so the Orpington was developed with pearly white skin and shanks to appeal to European tastes.
Orpingtons are big. Roosters sometimes tip the scale at ten pounds and mature hens eight. Because of their fluffy feathers, they look even bigger than they are. Hens aren't egg laying slackers. Although they might not lay quite as many as hybrids or Rhode Island Reds, Orpington hens each produce about 200 light brown to pinkish eggs a year. They sometimes go broody and are attentive mothers. Few sights are as endearing as a baby chicks peeking out from mom's golden feathers.
The most common Orpington, often sold by Tractor Supply Company, is the Buff variety. They are beautiful golden hens but the breed also comes in in black, white, and lavender. Chicks with feather colors other than buff may be hard to locate, but Orpingtons of all colors are big, fluffy, calm, white skinned birds. Any Orpington makes a wonderful addition to a backyard flock. Because they are easy to be around, beautiful, and productive, it's little wonder that this breed is common in small flocks everywhere.