Complete Buff Orpington Care Guide: Egg Laying, Personality…

The Buff Orpingtons is one of the most popular and loved hens in the chicken world.

Watching them patrol the yard in their leisurely way is very relaxing.

Interestingly this bird is literally royalty as several well known English Royals have kept flocks of Orpingtons in the past.

She is a very useful chicken to add to your flock and will lay lots of eggs for you.

Keeping reading if you want to learn more about this gracious hen…

Buff Orpington Hen

Buff Orpington Overview

The Buff Orpington is a color variety of the Orpington chicken.

This fluffy and docile hen is very popular and since their creation in late 1800s they found their way into people’s hearts.

Whilst she appears quite large most of her mass is just feathers.

This fabulous mass of soft feathers help to keep her warm in the colder months of the year. In the hotter months of the year she will likely stay shaded in the heat of the day, venturing out early morning and late afternoon to go bug hunting.

Although they are not known for their foraging abilities, if they are allowed to free range she will eat a modest amount of greens and insects.

Buff Orpingtons are a medium sized chicken that lay around 250 eggs each year.

Overall you can expect a friendly and happy hen that makes a perfect dual purpose breed.

Buff Orpington Chicken
Beginner Friendly: Yes (very docile and suited to urban life).
Lifespan: 8 years.
Weight: Hens (6-8lb) Roosters (8-10lb).
Color: Buff.
Egg Production: 3-5 per week.
Egg Color: Light brown.
Known For Broodiness: They do have a tendency towards broodiness.
Good With Children: Gentle breed that is ideal for kids.
Cost of Chicken: $3-4 per chick.

Why We Love This Breed

Pros:

  • Buff Orpingtons are known to love cuddles and attention.
  • They are a very common breed so they are easy to find.
  • Well known for their motherly instincts and behaviors.
  • Buffs are tolerant to the cold so can be kept in the colder northern states.
  • Well regarded as the perfect for the family bird.
  • They are gentle and friendly.
  • Excellent eggs laying up to 280 eggs each year.

Appearance

Buff Orpington Close Up

At first glance the Orpington appears well rounded and even plump.

The overall shape of a mature Buff Orpington hen should look something like a U shape back on a rounded body.

She is a curvy bird with a short back and a heavy full body.

To keep balance her legs are set wide apart and are sturdy. All Orpingtons have clean legs however their body feathering somewhat hide their legs.

As previously mentioned they are generously feathered.

The feathers are loose but slightly tighter than a Cochin for example.

Hens will have a single medium sized comb. Whereas roosters have a much larger comb and wattles that will require some extra care over the bitter winter months.

Size and Weight

They are designated as a large heavy breed.

Although the feathers make her look huge she will only weigh in around 6-8lb, with roosters weighing 8-10lb. Since Buff Orpingtons are fairly heavy care should be taken when placing perches in the coop (more on this later).

You can even find bantam varieties however they are difficult to find.

Color Varieties

The Buff color was the first Orpington recognized by the American Poultry Association.

Of all of the colors of Orpington available the Buff is the clear favorite. Other colors are available and include:

  • Black and white
  • Blue
  • Cuckoo
  • Spangled
  • Red and Diamond
  • Jubilee
  • Black mottled
  • Silver partridge
  • Chocolate

What Is It Like To Own A Buff Orpington?

Buff Orpington Chicken

The Buff Orpington is a calm and steady breed.

They never seem to be in a hurry for much of anything.

You are most likely to see them strolling around the barnyard in an unhurried and leisurely manner.

When allowed to free range they will unhurriedly comb the lawns for tidbits. They do get a good amount of exercise with free ranging which helps to keep them reasonably trim.

You will never see this hen in an undignified gallop – they much prefer a steady walk.

Although not necessarily unique to Orpingtons, they do enjoy the company of their owners and will actively seek out human company.

Many love to be petted and held and they will become family in no time.

Personality

The Buff Orpington is well known as a docile and friendly hen.

They rarely get cranky or bad tempered and are placid and calm by nature.

The occasional squabble might erupt in the flock and it is usually because one of the lesser hens has overstepped her boundaries – the commotion will be over very quickly once the hen has been put in her place.

They do enjoy the company of humans and are very tolerant of children. Buff hens love to be picked up and pampered and will sit in your lap quite happily.

She can easily become a family pet and will follow you through the yard hoping for treats.

Their docile temperament makes them a target for more assertive chickens and they often will be pushed away from the feeder or pecked at.

If you are planning on getting this breed then they need to share their coop with other similar type birds such as Cochins. It is unwise to mix them with breeds such as Rhode Island Reds or other pushy breeds.

Egg Production

Buff Orpington

It is important to know that there are two strains of Buff Orpingtons: utility and show.

The utility strains are very good layers.

They will bless you with between 200-280 light brown medium sized eggs each year.

Show or exhibition strains will lay significantly less because of the breeding lines.

All Orpingtons (regardless of their plumage color) will lay light brown medium sized eggs.

They tend to start laying a bit later than many hens. Whilst most hens start at around 20 weeks old it can take them up to 28 weeks before they decide to sit.

She is also prone to broodiness so if you want to raise some chicks they are a good choice.

They sit well and make great mothers.

Egg Production
Eggs Per Week: 3-5 Eggs.
Color: Light brown.
Size: Medium.

Noise Levels

They are one of the quietest breeds around.

Hens are much more muted than roosters.

If you are in an urban setting and do not want to disturb your neighbors an Orpington is a great option. Every chicken gets a bit loud when announcing the arrival of the daily egg but other than that they will do the chicken thing quietly.

The volume will only be turned up if they see danger where they will call to alert the rest of the flock.

Facts About This Breed

  1. The Buff Orpington is from England.
  2. People often confused this breed with Australorp. However the Orpington was used as a breeder bird to create the Australorp.
  3. You might have heard their nicknames: Big Buffs or Golden Beauties.
  4. Hens are about eight pounds and roosters can reach up to 10 pounds.
  5. This breed tolerates confinement well but loves to free range.
  6. In addition to buff Opingtons also come in black, white and blue.
  7. They can tolerate the heat but should be provided shade.

Buff Orpington Chicken Care Guide

Buff Orpington With Plymouth Rocks

Overall this is a health breed that should thrive in most environments.

Just like most other breeds they do not require much care and just need the basics of feed, shelter and water.

One thing to watch for with Orpingtons is their feathers.

As with many fluffy varieties of chicken their feathers sometimes need trimming as poop can accumulate on the feathers.

In summertime especially this can occasionally lead to fly strike.

Health Issues

Buff Orpingtons are usually a robust and no nonsense type of hen.

They are a larger bird so perches nearer the ground are better.

If they jump from high perches they can injure their legs and feet.

One thing to note is that they have lots of feathers. This keeps them warm in winter but in summer months they can suffer badly from heat stroke. Make sure they have cool water available and plenty of shade.

They can also suffer with the usual array of external and internal parasites. Since their feathers are quite dense make sure to do regular checks and dustings for lice and other biting pests.

Feeding

If you have every kept any Orpingtons you will know they have a tendency to be lazy.

Buff Orpingtons enjoy their food and some will sit near the feeder all day so they do not have far to go to eat. Hens that are allowed to free range tend to go explore and find tasty treats in the yard while hens that are confined to a run may be more inclined to graze at the feeder more often.

While it is preferable to allow hens to free choice for their feeding if they are becoming obese you may need to put them on a food restriction.

The sight of chubby hens may be endearing to us but obesity causes problems including less eggs and increased chance of prolapse or egg binding.

Buff Orpington Chicks

Coop Setup

The standard rule for all chickens is 4 square feet of coop space for each bird.

While this is acceptable for Orpingtons if you can give them a bit more space then do it – after all they are big fluffy girls! In winter they do not mind crowding together but in summer they like a bit of personal space.

As for perch space each chicken will need a minimum of 8 inches of space.

Just remember to place perches no higher than 18-24 inches from the ground to avoid leg injuries.

Nesting boxes can be standard size (12×12 inches). Too much room encourages them to share a box which leads to squabbles between hens and broken eggs.

You should provide one box for every 2-3 Buff Orpingtons.

There will be a favorite nesting box that everyone wants to use but having plenty of boxes available will help to keep grumbling to a minimum.

Run and Roaming

Your Buff Orpingtons will love you if you let them free range.

Free ranging encourages them to find their own tasty little snacks such as ticks, grubs and bugs. It also provides them with a lot of exercise which will help to keep them trim and healthy.

If you are keeping them in a pen then they will a minimum of 8 square feet. Just remember more is always better.

To avoid boredom and bad behavior whilst they are in a pen give them plenty of space and things to fill their time. Items such as cabbage tetherball, dust baths and plenty of perches will help them to stay occupied

Also do not forget to provide shade in the summer months.

Buff Orpington Breed History

A Buff Orpington

Orpingtons were initially bred by William Cooks and his wife Jane.

Little did they know at the time but the creation of this breed changed the poultry world forever.

In the late 1800s England was tiring of the chicken mania that had swept the land and people started looking for practical chickens.

Mr. Cook was among these people.

By 1886 he had created his first Orpington and revealed them to his peers in local shows. He took the birds across the Atlantic and showed them at Madison Square Gardens in 1895. Despite being English they won a large and dedicated American following rapidly.

Black Orpingtons were created using Minorcas, black Langshan and Plymouth Rocks.

Nothing unusual there you may think but then his next Orpington was a Buff.

This was created using gold spangled Hamburgs, Dorkings and Cochins.

This was a drastic departure from accepted practice in that the name Orpington was more of a brand label than a breed. Mr. Cook was an excellent salesman and within a very short period of time he transformed the poultry world and became famous within the poultry scene.

There was a period when they did become endangered but various agencies were able to get people interested in this lovely hen.

The recent upsurge in keeping backyard chickens has been a tremendous benefit to this breed.

Fortunately now they are no longer endangered.

Summary

The Buff Orpington chicken is a very popular breed and it is easy to see why.

They lay a decent amount of eggs each year and with their broody tendency they make great mothers.

She will make a great productive pet and loves to be cosseted and treated like nobility. Also since they are remarkably docile they are a firm favorite with families that have children.

Whilst watching them around your garden you will notice their dignified posture and graceful glide.

All in all the Buff Orpington is a great chicken to have whether you are a novice or an old timer they are a timeless breed.

In the comments section below let us know how many Buffs you keep in your flock…

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and are interested in backyard chicken health and care. Her work has been shared on HuffPost, Mother Nature Network, Community Chickens, Mother Earth News and many more outlets. Today Chris keeps 11 chickens including 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Silkies. She is our backyard chicken expert at Chickens And More, and shares her knowledge on raising healthy, happy chickens with our readers. You can contact Chris at chris@chickensandmore.com

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