Orpington chickens were first bred in England in the latter part of the 1800's by William Cook. The first Orpingtons were a cross between Minorcas, Langshans, and black Plymouth Rocks. It said that Cook wanted a black bird that would not show the dirty and sooty conditions of London.
They are a heavy breed with hens averaging between 7 to 10 pounds. They make very good dual purpose birds. Productive hens are capable of laying about 150 eggs per year. Eggs range in size from medium to large and have a yellowish brown color.
The breed is known for their heavy feathering and do well in confinement.Their feathering can enable them to do exceptionally well in colder climates. They are also excellent foragers, but are not a flighty bird. This could in some cases be a detriment if the birds are allowed to be free ranging.
Orpington chickens are a rather docile breed and have an excellent temperament. They are a good choice for a backyard flock and even as pets. Hens make excellent mothers and are quite broody in the spring and summer months.
The majority of Orpingtons bred today are a solid color. The American Poultry Association recognizes black, white, buff and blue varieties. Other colors do exist such as blue lacced, lemon cuckoo, white spangle black, barred, red, buff-laced black, partridge, and white-laced buff.
Newcomers to raising their own chickens would be wise to consider these birds for a new flock. Hardy and non-aggressive combined with excellent egg and meat production, they should definitely be on the list of breeds to consider.
An excellent way for novices to start a flock of these great birds would be from Orpington hatching eggs . This breed is easy to keep and can reward new growers for years to come.