William Cook, a successful poultryman in England, developed the black Orpington in the 1880s. Mr. Cook introduced the breed in 1886 at a poultry show, and won the grand prize cup. The American Poultry Association first admitted the Buff Orpington in 1902, the Black Orpington and White Orpington in 1905, and later the Blue Orpington in 1923. The first Orpington, a Black, first came to America in 1890, and was exhibited in 1895. The original Orpington was created using a cross of Black Minorca, Black Plymouth Rock, and Black Langshan. Other crosses were used to create the Buff and White varieties, and the Black and White were crossed to create the Blue.
QUALITIES and ATTRIBUTES
Orpington chickens come in a variety of colors, the most common being Buff. The other varieties, not recognized by the American Poultry Association are Jubilee, Spangled (Mottled), Chocolate, Lavender, Splash, Gold Laced, Silver Laced, Lemon, Cuckoo, Partridge, Red and more.
The Orpingtons’ leg colors will vary depending on the variety, however, the Black should have black legs while young, fading to a slate color in adults and the Buff should be a pinkish white. The single comb should be medium in size, and set firmly on head, perfectly straight and upright, with five well-defined points.
This breed is available in both standard and bantam sizes. Mature standard sized roosters should weigh 10 pounds, and hens 8 pounds. Bantam roosters should weigh 38 ounces and hens 34 ounces. The Orpington is a dual purpose breed, being a large breed and laying around 200 large brown eggs, per year. The Orpington chicken is like the Labrador Retriever of dogs, very friendly, docile and affectionate and make excellent pets. Orpingtons tolerate confinement, as well as easily free range. Their heavy size makes them safer from aerial predators. Their feathers are quite broad and full, giving them a substantial stature, and also tolerate cold temperatures well. Hens often go broody and make excellent mothers.
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Special thanks to the American Standard of Perfection by the American Poultry Association, The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gail Damerow, Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds by Carol Ekarius, Hobby Farms Guide to Chicken Breeds, for helpful information, as well as contributions from J. David Matthews, of Barnesville, Georgia in preparation of this article. Photo credits to Wikipedia.