Last Saturday was our big day: we could fetch my early birthday present from my kids: our Orpington chicken! We got 7 large, fluffy hens and a magnificent rooster we called Lancelot, they are top-notch reliable chicken. Of course we want to keep them for eggs, but they are known as wonderful pets too (and many see them as excellent meat providers or fair table fowl). Yep, fallen in love!
We bought them from a local farmer and went for 6 hens and a rooster, but got a little brown hen as a freebie on top (so 7 now), hence we called her “Gizzit”.
Originally a crossing of Minorca roosters with Black Plymouth Rock hens, and then the offspring crossed to clean-legged Langshan chickens, the Orpington breed, created in 1886 by William Cook in the village of Orpington in Kent, is known to be a pet breed. Meet the tamest of chicken breeds, friendly/ extremely docile to kids (lap / shoulder chicken!) and they get along well with their flock-mates. They are often at the bottom of the pecking order, so be careful not to add them to a mixed flock. These sweethearts tend to connect to their owners and might follow you around the whole day, being curious and great foragers at the same time.
The stunning colours (the pictures honestly don’t do them justice!) of their soft, profuse feathering, are just magnificent: the Buff Orpingtons have golden, sun coloured feathers, the black ones have a beautiful green sheen when the sun sets on them.
Their fluffy feathers make them look larger than they are! They do molt, but gain their feathers back ever so quickly. They are available in several colours: Blue, Black, Buff, White (Standardised UK) Birchen, Chocolate, Cuckoo, Gold Laced, Jubilee, Lavender, Lemon Cuckoo, Partridge, Red, Spangled.
They look a bit ugly when young, as you can see when looking at Gizzit our smallest one, but turn out to become price winning animals, only fully grown (3,5kg – 5kg for a hen / 5kg – 10 kg for a rooster) at the age of 2-3 years old, but starting to show their potential once 10 months old.
Bulky as they are they do have large appetites. Because of their short wingspan they have no tendency to fly away, also seen their weight as a full size Orpington, so you can keep them in a coop with low fences and no need to clip their wings.
Cold-hardy, due to their fluffy feathers, they lay well through winter, but they are also heat tolerant. Compared to other breeds they are the most reliable egg layers (a lot longer than other hens), laying creamy, light brown, average size and tasty eggs, as early as 5 months of age and well all through winter. So we’re looking forward to our 250 eggs per year per chicken! But do know they are “mums” and go broody about 9 months out of the year (May and June and early autumn).
Here they have a spacious run to enjoy their freedom, high quality food, with clean dry bedding in our homemade chicken coop. We locked them in for more than 24 hours so they know their safe haven and then opened the door and guess what, within 5 minutes they all came out to discover the surroundings!
Fun fact: A rooster has an elephant’s memory, it will never forget if anybody ever treated him badly and will take revenge, might not be immediately! Ours still has to develop its magnificent tail, don’t forget he’s only a youngster now.
Loving this pretty, popular, dual-purpose, utility breed, ever so proud of our new pets,
The local farmer’s site: “Vente d’animaux et produits de la ferme dans l’Aude”, here I have one of her beautiful hens in my hands, just adore her feathers: