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Jubilee Orpington Chicken

Nicole Cosgrove

The Jubilee Orpington is a British chicken breed developed in the late 19th century, with the intent of developing a hardy dual-purpose breed that could lay well in colder climates. While the breed is still used for both meat and eggs, it has become primarily a show bird due to its beautiful plumage and docile nature. Orpingtons are the quintessential backyard hens and make great additions to any backyard coop.

In this article, we go over everything you need to know about this quintessentially British fowl. Let’s get started!

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Quick Facts About Jubilee Orpington

Species Name: Gallus Gallus Domesticus
Family: Phasianidae
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Calm, docile, friendly, tolerant
Color Form: Black, white, buff, blue, and splash
Lifespan: 8+ years
Size: 7-8 pounds
Diet: Foraging, pellets, grains, mash
Minimum Enclosure Size: 5 square feet in a coop, 20 square feet in a run
Enclosure Set-Up: A weatherproof coop with large run
Compatibility: Calm, friendly, gets along well with other breeds

Jubilee Orpington Overview

Although the Jubilee Orpington has been around in the United Kingdom since the late 1800s, it has only recently been imported to the United States. It is therefore a rare Orpington variety in the U.S. and extremely difficult to find. They are one of the largest chicken breeds, reaching up to 8 pounds in weight, and they are also one of the friendliest, prized for their calm, docile, and dependable personalities.

The Jubilee Orpington was named in honor of the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Victoria’s reign, during which she received a flock of Jubilee Orpingtons as a gift.

How Much Do Jubilee Orpingtons Cost?

Even with the breed’s rarity, they are not hugely expensive birds. You can typically pick up a Jubilee Orpington chick for around $15-$20, or around $6 an egg. That’s if you can find one, of course! Due to the breed only being imported to the U.S. in the last decade or so, breeders are rare and chicks are difficult to find.

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Typical Behavior & Temperament

Orpingtons — and Jubilee Orpingtons, in particular — are known as one of the friendliest chicken breeds available. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more docile and calm chicken. Combined with their hardiness and large size, they are an excellent choice for backyard breeders, experts and novices alike. In fact, these birds are known to enjoy handling and human attention and actively seek it out!

Their thick feathering makes them hardy and extremely tolerant of cold climates, and they are known to make excellent mothers, even readily hatching eggs that are placed under them. They are also highly adaptable animals that tolerate confinement well, and this, combined with their ease of being handled, makes them ideal show birds. They are not great foragers, however, and prefer to eat from feeders, even when left to range freely.

Jubilee Orpingtons are prolific layers, reliably producing 200-280 eggs per year, and if you are raising them for meat, they are ready at around 22 weeks.

Appearance & Varieties

These beautiful, fluffy fowl are among the largest of all chicken breeds and have a complex feather pattern that can take up to 18 months to fully mature. They typically have a dark mahogany background color that is sprinkled with flecks of black and white, topped by a bright crimson or emerald sheen in the sunlight. They typically have white beaks, legs, and feet, with red earlobes, faces, and eyes.

The Jubilee Orpington is one color variation of the Standard Orpington, which is also found in Blue, Buff, Cuckoo, Spangled, and Black, the first Orpington variety created.

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How to Take Care of the Jubilee Orpington

Since Jubilee Orpingtons are such large fowls, they need a fair amount of space. That said, their housing requirements are not much different from other chicken breeds.

Coop

Jubilee Orpingtons need a minimum of 4 square feet of coop space per bird, but the more, the better. This is especially true if you have a mixed flock, and we recommend a minimum of 6 square feet just to be safe. This extra space will help relieve any tension and prevent your hens from pecking each other, which they are prone to do in stressful situations. Chickens love to stretch out their wings and rest on perches, so make sure that they have around 10 inches of perch space each inside their coop too.

Nesting boxes

Being such prolific layers, Jubilee Orpingtons will need a comfortable nesting box to lay all their delicious eggs. Although they are larger than most other chicken breeds, this extra size is made up mostly of their fluffy feathers, so a standard 12×12-inch nesting box should be adequate. Their nesting box should be placed in a warm but well-ventilated coop where they feel safe and comfortable, with plenty of privacy too.

Run

Although all chickens do best when left to free-range, this is simply not possible for many chicken keepers. If this is the case, you’ll need to build a safe run for your chickens to stretch their wings, forage, scratch, and get exercise. We recommend at least 10 square feet of run space per bird, but again, more is better. Fortunately, your run can be made from a simple fence that doesn’t need to be too high, as these heavy birds cannot fly more than an inch or two off the ground.

Do Jubilee Orpingtons Get Along With Other Pets?

Jubilee Orpington chickens get along famously with other Orpingtons, as well other chicken breeds. Being such friendly, hardy, and adaptable birds, they rarely fight unless they are kept in confined spaces for long periods. If your Orpingtons are given plenty of space in their coop and plenty of space to free-range, they’ll get along well with most other chickens.

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What to Feed Your Jubilee Orpington

Orpington chicks need to be fed on a high-quality feed consisting of no less than 20% protein. Once they reach around 16 weeks old, they can switch to standard layer feed. Since these chickens are not great foragers, they’ll need to be given daily leafy greens too. They are also known to be fairly lazy birds and will sit near their feeder all day, and this makes them prone to obesity. You may need to carefully monitor their feeding to prevent this.

Backyard Orpingtons will benefit greatly from added leafy greens, cooked beans, cereals and grains, fruits like berries and apples, and vegetables in moderation. They’ll love your organic kitchen scraps too!

Keeping Your Jubilee Orpington Healthy

The Jubilee Orpington is a robust, hardy, and healthy chicken, and as any veteran Orpington owner will tell you, they rarely get sick. This is, of course, provided that they are fed a healthy diet and get plenty of space to free roam and exercise. The biggest problem with these birds tends to be their weight, which can create numerous health issues, from their feet to their egg-laying ability. Be careful not to overfeed them.

Breeding

Like all Orpington varieties, the Jubilee is a great breeder. You will get the most success by having a natural environment for your chickens, with plenty of space and comfort. A separate breeding pen for breeding stock is ideal, with their own coop and run separate from the rest of your flock.  Also, the ratio of roosters to hens is vital: A general rule of thumb is one mature rooster to around 10 hens. It’s a good idea to collect your hen’s eggs daily, even if you intend on having her hatch them, as this way, you can select the most healthy-looking eggs. Plus, storing fertilized eggs for 24 hours before incubation helps ensure successful hatching.

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Are Jubilee Orpingtons Suitable for You?

For small backyard breeders or a thriving egg business, the Jubilee Orpington is a great choice. They are friendly, docile, and easy to care for, making them great for beginners and families with children, and their prolific laying capabilities make them ideal for eggs too. Orpingtons are hardy, tough birds that can easily manage cold weather, and they are highly adaptable and can easily adjust to confined living. That said, they are not the greatest foragers, so you may need to feed them more than you would some other breeds.

All in all, the Jubilee Orpington is a great choice of chicken breed for backyard breeders, as evidenced by their ever-growing popularity.


Featured Image Credit: Erni, 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.