Breed Spotlight: The Orpington
Orpingtons have always been a family favorite because of their friendly nature and cuddly appearance. Created in the 1800s to be the ideal dual-purpose breed, the Orpington continues to delight flock owners with their charming personalities. All varieties of this breed will lay between 4-6 large brown eggs each week and can weigh up to 8-10 pounds at maturity, making them a perfect choice for homesteaders.
The Orpington is a British breed that originated in a town of the same name. The first variety of Orpington was black but was soon followed by white, buff, blue, and splash. Only these original colorings are recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) though there are other colors of feathering available. For example, the Black split to Lavender, Lavender, and Jubilee Orpingtons are all English colorings that are not recognized by the APA. The Chocolate Orpington is one of the newer color varieties that Meyer Hatchery breeds. Chocolates are not yet APA-approved.
Underneath their fluffy feathers, the Orpington has white skin. With clean, white legs and a single, small comb, the Orpington is exceptionally cold hardy but can also thrive in the heat. Orpingtons do very well in backyard flocks without access to free-range because they are not great foragers. Their docile and calm personalities keep them close to their coop and their keepers.
These brown egg layers begin producing at 20-24 weeks, but their eggs are worth the wait! When this breed was first created, they laid an egg nearly every day. Over time, the focus was put into creating the fluffy, dense plumage that we are familiar with today and the hens lost some of their high production traits. Traditional English Orpingtons have extra, longer feathering on their undercarriage. Orpingtons are prone to broodiness, which is just one reason they’re ideal for dual-purpose flocks.
For homesteaders, the Orpington can create a sustainable flock that can raise their own young, reliably produce both eggs and meat for the table. It’s hard not to love these happy, family-friendly birds!
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