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The Orpington Chicken
What is an Orpington Chicken?
The Orpington Chicken is a hybrid chicken that was created by crossing other chickens with great qualities to produce a bird that lays more eggs and produces more meat. A guy named William Cook originally created Orpingtons by crossing Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rock chickens in 1886. He chose the dark-colored birds to hide the dirty soot that often covered the birds in London. The darker colored bird hid the dirtiness and made the chickens more presentable. These ducks were first shown in Madison Square Gardens in 1895. They have only become more popular since.
There are numerous breeds of Orpington available today, the Buff Orpington is probably the most common and popular. However, the American Standard only recognizes the original colors of black, white, and buff. Over the years culling became based on looks instead of production. It is said that because of this breeding practice the Orpingtons egg production dropped from averaging 340 eggs per year down to about 180 eggs per year.
Each type of Orpington was created with different breeds of chickens. In other words, each type of Orpington was created with a different "set" of breeds and not much in common. Because this practice is still unusual even today, technically "Orpington" qualifies more of as a brand than breed.
Mr. Cook introduced the Black, and then went on to create the White Orpington, the Buff, the Jubilee [Speckled], and the Spangled [Mottled] in that order.
The Blue and the Cuckoo Orpingtons were championed by his son-in-law, A.C. Gilbert.— The Livestock Conservancy
Recognized Orpington ChickensClick thumbnail to view full-size
Basic Orpington Data
- Country of origin: United Kingdom
- Standard: The Orpington Club (UK)
- Primary use: dual-purpose meat/eggs
- Egg production (annual): 190
- Egg size: Large
- Temperament: Calm
- Recognized variety: Blue, Buff, Black, White
- Egg color: Light brown
- APA: English
- PCGB: soft feather: heavy
About Mr. William Cook
Mr. Cook built his success on his amazing ability to breed chickens for the desired results. Not necessarily his "brand" or "breed" but for his focus on the dual purpose breed of chicken. That focus led to some amazing qualities in his chickens such as superior body structure, more eggs, and a super fast growth rate. All of which farmers and backyard chicken owners envy in their bird's.
Mr. Cook imported a large number of Orpingtons to America in 1903, but the chicken was already in the U.S. as early as 1891. With an average market weight of 7 - 8 pounds, the consistent ability to lay large and extra large eggs it is easy to see why the Orpington chicken became such a popular bird so quickly. Farmers also preferred this breed because of its unique colors over the common stock breeds that were available at the time.
© 2017 James Kenny