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The Sweet And Gentle Buff Orpington

Buff Orpington – Just Hatched

The Buff Orpington is solid looking, or ‘buff’ looking, chicken that generally has a gentle disposition. We have found that if you speak softly to them, they are more than willing to ‘hang out’ with you as you go about your business outdoors. Excluding roosters, I would say that this breed of chicken would be an excellent choice for having around children.

In short, the Buff Orpington is a sweet mannered bird, capable of providing you with both eggs and meat, while have the additional bonus of easily going broody – meaning they make great mother hens.

With regards to any negative aspects of the breed’s personality/behavior…I couldn’t think of a single one. It’s really hard to knock on a chicken that has such a quiet disposition. If anything, it might be the bird’s reserved behavior that causes it to sometimes go unnoticed and, quite possibly, unappreciated.

Physical Attributes

2 Week Old Buff Orpington Chick

The plumage on a Buff Orpington is a kind of tan with little splotches of cream mixed in. Their feathers are full and slightly puffy – giving it a ‘buff’ or muscular kind of look. But it always surprises me as to how light they are when picking one up. They look heavier than they really are.

Their size is slightly over the average size for chickens with the roosters weighing around 8.5lbs and the hens around 7lbs. And with their fluffy feathers, they are more than capable of handling colder climates.

Their combs and wattles are the typical red and not overly dramatic in any way. The Buff Orpington will lay brown eggs that are classified as large, though the quantity of eggs they will produce may not be as numerous as other breeds.

Spinoff or Variants

There are at least 9 different versions of the Orpington Breed – Buff, Blue, Black, White, Chocolate, Lavender, Jubilee, Red and Golden Laced. There was also mention of a Spangled or English Mottled version of the Orpington, but I’m not sure if this breed is still available to purchase.

The smaller Bantam Orpington chickens are also available (think miniature pony) though these mainly come in the Buff color.

The Orpington is listed on the Livestock Conservancy as a heritage breed.

Intended Purpose

4 Week Old Buff Orpington Chick

When purchasing chicks to add to your flock, one always asks the question, ‘what do I want this bird to do for me?’

The Buff Orpington is considered a dual purpose chicken; meaning it is capable of providing it’s owner with eggs and meat for consumption. It should be noted, however, that the Orpington is not top in either eggs or meat production – though it does tend to provide a slightly higher than average amount of meat for the freezer.

Also, I have come to add what I call the ‘third’ purpose for chickens and that is of ‘mother hen’. This breed of chicken tends to go ‘broody’ more often than some of the other breeds. If you are looking for a chicken that will hatch some eggs for you, then I would recommend that you consider the Buff Orpington.

What Kind Of Eggs Does The Buff Orpington Lay?

As mentioned above, the Buff Orpington will lay a brown egg that is classified as large. Like most chickens, an Orpington hen will lay the most during the first two years of her life. Even so, the Buff Orpington’s productivity is notably lower than a lot of other breeds.

Depending on your needs, an older flock of 5 might leave you short during the winter months where daylight is in limited supply.

Demeanor

It’s been our experience that the ‘Buffs’ are a more reserved and gentle breed of chicken. I’ve rarely seen them fight, though I have seen them picked on by the more aggressive breeds in our flock.

As stated earlier, once you have established yourself as a friend, they are apt to shadow you around the yard – providing that you are not doing anything too exciting. Just think of them as that quiet friend who is happy to simply be with you.

### Important Note ###

Roosters should never be considered friendly, especially when toddlers are involved. A rooster’s spurs are quite dangerous and should always be treated with respect.

Free-range vs Caged

7 Week Old Buff Orpington Chick

The gentle demeanor of this breed makes them less flighty than other breeds and as such, the Buff Orpington should thrive well in a caged situation where space is limited. With that being said, our ‘Buffs’ seem to prefer free range – though I do worry about them more when it comes to predators.

If you intend to keep your flock contained in a chicken run, then please be sure to give them as much space as you possibly can as this will be their entire world. Also, even an hour of free-range time in your backyard will go a long ways towards a happier healthier flock.

Popularity

The Orpington breeds have an established lineage and as such, you should be able to expect a long and healthy life from this particular bird. To my knowledge, there are no major health issues that plague this breed of chicken.

However, with other breeds of chicken delivering more eggs and the tendency for the Orpington hens to go ‘broody’ more often, flock owners are likely to pick another breed over the Orpington.

Broody behavior, if not addressed, can be detrimental to your hen’s health. This means extra time and effort must be spent in order to ensure that your chicken will live a long and happy life.

The Buff Orpington and Cold/Hot Weather

With their fluffy plumage, Buff Orpington’s are considered cold hardy as they are able to endure prolonged exposure to colder temperatures. Their smaller combs and wattles are not overly prone to frost bite – though not immune either.

And despite their chunky shape, Buff Orpingtons do fairly weather in hotter climates as well. Their tan and cream coloring give them an advantage at staying cool over breeds that have very dark coloring.

Personal Observations

One thing I can say about our ‘Buffs’ is that they’ve never given me any real problems. They’ve never been confrontational with other members of the flock. Point of fact, they are more likely to go around a problem than to try and claim a spot.

I have seen our smaller Buff Orpington being picked on, but then it’s not unusual for the smaller members of a flock to be harassed.

With regards to interaction with people, the Buff Orpington is that sweet and shy friend who really seems to enjoy hanging out with you as you weed in the garden.

However, please take note that your gentle friend could go broody at some point. And even if you coax her out this behavior, she could turn right back around next month and do it again.

I give this breed of chicken 3 out of 5 stars.

Memorable Example

13 Week Old Buff Orpington

Whenever I think of Buff Orpingtons, I think of Two-Toes. Two-Toes suffered from a predator attack one night in the brooder. A weasel chewed off one front toe on each foot and the back toe on both legs – leaving her with only two toes on each foot.

This poor girl was in quite a bit of discomfort for a while and consequently, I spent a fair amount of time nurturing her back to health.

I’m happy to say, that today, she can chase down grasshoppers with the best of them. Her handicap has not slowed her down in any way. But the ‘side-effect’ of this extra handling on my part has given me a bird that is always the first to greet me.

I will find her following me more than any other of member of our current flock of 13. While she does seem to recognize her name, she doesn’t appear to be as smart as say our ‘Barred Rocks’ – though for the record, she certainly is sweeter.

If you want a flock that can bond with you and are prepared to work through the ‘broody’ times, then the sweet personality of a Buff Orpington could be exactly what you’re looking for.

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