Orpington chicken

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Orpington chicken 2.jpg
A Black Orpington hen
Country of origin United Kingdom
Standard The Orpington Club (UK)
Weight Male: 3.60–4.55 kg[1]
  Female: 2.70–3.60 kg
Skin color White
Egg color Light brown
Comb type Medium Single
APA English
PCGB Soft Feather: Heavy[2]
Gallus gallus domesticus

The Orpington is a breed of chicken named after the town of Orpington, Kent, in south-east England,[3] which was made famous in part by this breed. It was bred to be an excellent layer with good meat quality.[3] Its large size and soft appearance together with its rich colour and gentle contours make it very attractive, and as such its popularity has grown as a show bird rather than a utility breed. Hens often become broody and are good mothers. Although rather heavy, they are able to fly small distances but rarely do so.[4]


A Buff Orpington

The original Black Orpington was bred by William Cook in 1886 by crossing Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks to create a new hybrid bird. Cook selected a black bird that would exhibit well by hiding the dirt and soot of London.[4] When the breed was shown in Madison Square Gardens in 1895, its popularity soared.[3] Cook also bred the Orpington Duck.[5]a

The original colours are black, white, buff, blue and splash.[citation needed] Although there are many additional varieties recognised throughout the world, only the original colours are recognised by the American Standard, the Buff being the most common colour.[6] In the beginning of the twentieth century, Herman Kuhn of Germany developed a Bantam variety.[7] The Bantam retains the appearance of the full-size bird, but in a smaller size. There is a large variety of colours in the Bantam version, including black, blue laced, white, buff, red, buff black laced, barred, buff Columbian, and birchen.[7] The Bantam retains the friendly personality of the Standard breed, and seldom or never flies.[7]


Lavender Orpington hen

There are two similar but different standards for Orpingtons. The first is published by the Poultry Club of Great Britain and asks for a weight from 3.60 to 4.55 kg for cocks and 2.70 to 3.60 kg for hens.[1] They also ask for a heavy, broad body with a low stance, with fluffed-out feathers which make it look large; the down from the body covers most of the legs. Other characteristics of their Orpingtons are a curvy shape with a short back and U-shaped underline, and a small head with a medium single comb.


Orpingtons lay about 175 to 200[4] medium to large[3] light-brown eggs a year.

It was said that at one time Orpingtons were capable of laying as many as 340[3] eggs per year. This decline in production was due to breeders selecting for looks over utility.[6]


In the UK club dedicated to the breed is the Orpington Club, which merged with the Orpington Bantam Club in 1975.[citation needed] The United Orpington Club is the American breeder's club, and the Orpington Club of Australia is the Australian club for the breed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Orpington Breed Standards. The Orpington Club. Accessed August 2014.
  2. ^ Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Accessed August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Percy 2006, p. 115.
  4. ^ a b c Verhoff 2003, p. 158.
  5. ^ Dave Holderread (2011). Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, 2nd edition. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. ISBN 9781603427456. p. 74.
  6. ^ a b Ekarius 2007, p. 98.
  7. ^ a b c Verhoff 2003, p. 254.