The Orpington chicken is a British breed of chicken. This breed gets its name from Willaim Cook of Orpington, who was the first to produce this breed back in the nineteenth century.
Much like a lot of chicken breeds at the time, the Orpington was first bred to be a hardy dual-purpose breed. It soon became a popular show bird, however, due to its thick, fluffy plumage and striking colors.
I always saw them as one of the most friendly and cuddly looking chickens. And, indeed they are. They have a lovely temperament, and one of the best breeds of backyard chickens.
If you’re considering getting some Orpingtons and need further convincing of why they’re an awesome backyard breed - here’s 5 of the top reasons they’re so popular:
1. They’re Personable, Kind, and Friendly Temperament
There is often a misconception from people who have never owned backyard chickens they’re not friendly and personable like cats or dogs.
Ok, admittedly some breeds can be a bit standoff-ish and feisty. But not the Orpington. Orpingtons and large, fluffy, cuddly birds.
Want a lap pet but can’t have a cat? These chickens are more than happy to curl up and have some fussing.
Want a curious pet that will follow you around and chatter with you - Orpingtons will also do that.
They’re great if you have kids of busy households. Kids can get up close and feed them, give them a stroke, and get some love back in return.
2. They're Great Egg Layers
One of the main reasons - and the main benefit - of owning chickens is the constant supply of delicious, fresh eggs.
Legend has it that Orpingtons once laid as many as 340 medium to large brown eggs a year. I can see that being the case, they were first bred to satisfy the demand for eggs and meat.
However, over the years the focus has been to selectively breed them for their looks, not their egg production.
As a result, they lay fewer eggs nowadays. Still, on average, it’s estimated that an Orpington will produce around 180-200 eggs a year. That’s still a lot of eggs!
If you’re looking specifically for a breed that’ll produce great eggs, combined with all the other pros the Orpington should be high on your list.
3. They're Great Looking Birds
Looks aren’t everything, but let’s be real here, it’s one of the main reasons people buy Orpingtons. So, it has to be included on the list of the top reasons why people love them so much.
According to TheOrpingtonClub Breed Standards, the general appearance and characteristics of Orpingtons (at least at show standard) are; an upright and graceful carriage. Well-rounded, soft and loose plumage, small head, single comb, strong, short legs, and a firm body.
The colors or varieties recognized by the American Standard and the UK are; black, blue, white, and buff. There are some other colors of course. If I had to pick the most popular, I’d say it’s the buff, which is the golden color I’m sure you’ve also seen.
4. They’re Hardy Birds
For those of you living in colder climates, there are a few breeds of backyard chickens that you probably can’t keep.
Orpingtons, however, are not one of those breeds. I mean, you wouldn’t expect anything less from a British bird, would you?
That thick fluffy coat Orpingtons are famous for comes with the added benefit of keeping them warm in the winter. They also have a small single comb, which means they’re much less susceptible to frostbite than chickens with large combs.
If you live in a hot climate, don’t worry, with plenty of shade and fresh water your Orpingtons are going to do just fine too.
5. They're Great Mother Hens
If you want to hatch chicks, which I must add is one of the most magical experiences, Orpingtons are excellent mother hens that make the process easy.
They are maternal by nature. This comes with both pros and cons; if you allow a clutch of eggs to form, you’re going to have a broody hen on your hands.
Not everyone wants a broody hen in their flock. They can become territorial, stop laying, and they find it hard to resist sitting on eggs. A broody hen’s hormones can be incredibly powerful.
On the other hand, if you want to hatch chicks then an Orpington hen is a great choice. They’ll incubate and protect a clutch of eggs until they hatch. Then you’ll see their mothering instincts kick in as they protect and raise their young.
Wrapping Up - Are Orpingtons Right for You?
I’ve raised Orpingtons, so maybe I’m a little biased. Or, maybe it’s just simply that anyone who raises Orpingtons falls in love with this wonderful breed.
Either way, if you’re looking for a fun, friendly, hardy, easy to raise, great laying breed of backyard chicken - Orpingtons check all of those boxes!