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Buff Orpington Chicken

Nicole Cosgrove

April 13, 2021

The Buff Orpington chicken is an iconic backyard chicken breed. They are a modern breed, produced to be a dual-purpose chicken with maximal potential, meaning larger and a more productive egg layer.

Since their creation, Buff Orpingtons have become favorite backyard birds for many chicken farmers and urban chicken keepers. There are multiple versions of Orpingtons, but the Buff is the focus because they are the most popular of the Orpington breed.

In this article, we talk about their history, their benefits, and how to care for them.

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Quick Facts about Buff Orpington Chicken

Species Name: Gallus gallus domesticus
Family: Phasianidae
Care Level: Low
Temperament: Placid, friendly, docile
Color Form: Buff
Lifespan: ~8 years
Size: 6 to 10 lbs.
Diet: Greens, grain, insects
Minimum Coop Size: 10 square feet per chicken
Coop Set-Up: Wooden coop with free-ranging yard
Compatibility: High

Buff Orpington Overview

Buff Orpington chicken
Image Credit: Fyn Kynd, Flickr

William Cook first raised the Orpington chicken. He was a coachman in Kent, England, who developed an interest in chickens at later stages of life. He became fascinated with their breeding potential and wanted to breed a chicken that could inspire people to raise chickens again, since the 1880s saw a distinct downturn in the popularity of raising chickens. Cook’s chickens received their name from their place of development — he lived in Orpington in the country of Kent.

To accomplish his goals, Cook combined large dinner birds and those that were excellent layers. Three breeds made up his flock’s primary lineage, including the Minorca, Langshan, and Plymouth Rock chickens.

Initially, the Black Orpington was the favorite because their plumage hid the dirt and ash that filled old English cities. After their popularity exploded, he also created the Buff, Splash, White, and Blue colorations.

Nowadays, the Buff Orpington is the most popular, although they did experience a dive for about a hundred years between their development until 2016. Since then, they have seen a resurgence. They were even a favorite breed of Queen Elizabeth.

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How Much Do Buff Orpington Cost?

You can buy day-old pullets and cockerels of the Buff Orpington for around $4.50 to $5 for small orders. It is common to bulk-order chickens to make a small flock. Bulk orders will get progressively less expensive per unit the more of them you order.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

One of the reasons that Buff Orpington chickens are so popular is their incredible temperaments. They are docile chickens and have even been called “lap chickens” because they are so affectionate with their keepers. Orpingtons are also quieter chickens, making them appealing for those who live in suburban communities with picky neighbors.

Buff Orpingtons respond well to attention. They like to be fussed over and held, making them easy for handling and an excellent option for families with children.

Appearance & Varieties

Buff Orpington chicks
Image Credit: Melissa MB Wilkins, Flickr

Even though the Black Orpington was the most popular version of the chicken originally, the Buff color was the first to be recognized by the American Breed Livestock Conservancy. After that, they moved on to accepting the black, white, and finally, the blue varieties.

The Orpington is a large breed chicken. They should have a broad, heavyset body that is set low to the ground. Their feathers remain fluffed out along the entirety of their curved, short back.

Buff Orpingtons are known for having feathers of pale yellow or gold. They are well-feathered with shanks, feet, and beaks of pinkish white. Their eyes, earlobes, combs, and wattles are red.

There is a rose comb variety of the Buff Orpington. However, the single comb Buff is the most popular.

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How to Take Care of Buff Orpington Chickens

Buff Orpingtons are hardy chickens. They were bred in a relatively harsh climate, where they were often in wet and cool weather. This breeding has made them quite cold tolerant, and they actually prefer to be where they will get colder winters and mild summers.

Habitat & Setup

Coop

All chickens need a coop in which they can bed down for the night and go into for safety, laying, or a rest. It is best if their coop is at the back or side of a lot where they can forage a bit and move around for exercise. Since they are larger birds, they are not as targeted for predators. However, it is still essential to put up chicken wire around their perimeter.

Some chicken keepers raise Orpingtons in chicken tractors because it encourages them to feed on fresh pasture and get exercise rather than overeat fattening feed.

Bedding

There are several common bedding types, and each chicken farmer will have their favorite. It is up to you and your chickens what you get and what keeps them the healthiest based on their breed tendencies.

You can use sand for bedding because it encourages low levels of dust. You can also use fresh straw and pine wood chips. Put enough in each of the roosts that it allows the hens to create a comfortable place to lie where they feel safe to lay their eggs.

Shelter

Shelter is vital for these birds if you have hotter summers. During hot and humid weather, ensure that most of their lot or small pastureland is covered in the shade. Since they are more cold-hardy, they mustn’t overheat.

If there are not many trees on your property, consider putting umbrellas or a large tarp over their foraging space.

They should also always have access to fresh water so they can stay hydrated in the heat.

Do Buff Orpingtons Get Along With Other Pets?

Buff Orpingtons are passive birds — lovers, not fighters, so to speak. They enjoy being around other animals and like to be a part of a larger flock where they can make plenty of friends. Their problem isn’t aggressiveness, but rather the lack of it.

Orpingtons should not be kept in mixed flocks with aggressive breeds. Pair them with other chickens that are also relatively passive and calm. Aggressive breeds like Rhode Island Reds will bully them and inevitably make them less productive and skinnier due to stress and a lesser ability to gather food.

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What to Feed Your Buff Orpington

Buff Orpingtons tend toward obesity. You have to carefully monitor them because they are quite heavy feeders and won’t watch their food intake as well as many other chicken breeds.

Buff Orpington chickens are not known for their foraging ability. They much prefer to have a feed that they can pick on all day. Limit this for their continued health. You want them to be plump, but not too much, as it can cause early-onset health problems.

These chickens can be allowed to free-range forage. They will be able to find a moderate amount of insects and greens if they try.

Buff Orpington Chicken
Image Credit: Pete Cooper, Wikimedia Commons

Keeping Your Buff Orpington Healthy

These chickens’ greatest proclivity is toward obesity if they are allowed to overeat. Limit their food intake or keep them on fresh pasture to make sure they produce healthier, leaner meat than fatty substance.

Other common health issues for these chickens are bumblefoot, impacted crops, and spraddle leg. Keep an eye out for these illnesses as you work in and around their area. Have a vet check out your flock at least once a year to ensure their continued health and longevity.

Breeding and Laying

Buff Orpingtons are easy to breed and are fantastic egg layers. Typically, chicken farmers keep a rooster with their hens all year round, unlike other animal species that have to be separated throughout most of the year.

It is best to keep only one rooster with your hens because more than one can create competition and unusually aggressive behavior. If the roosters were raised together, they might be able to stay together.

There are certain times when your rooster will be ready to mate, and you can keep an eye out for sure signs of those times.

Typically, the most significant sign is further aggression toward the hens, since the mating process is aggressive. Just make sure that your hens aren’t bloody afterward, losing feathers, or seem stressed out, or you might have an overeager rooster that needs to be replaced.

Once you have introduced a rooster into a flock, it will take at least 2 weeks for fertile eggs to begin appearing. Fertilized eggs will have a small red and white splotch that looks like a bullseye outside of the yolk. You will have to crack them to check for this, but you’ll know that the hen is fertilized going forward.

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Are Buff Orpingtons Suitable for You?

The Buff Orpington is an excellent choice of chicken for almost anyone interested in chicken keeping. They make great chickens for beginners and those with already developed flocks of docile chicken breeds. If you have kids, these chickens are also a winner because they are patient and enjoy getting handled.


Featured Image Credit: Racheal Carpenter, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.