Guide to Orpington Breeds

By Amy Nash on 15 July 2021

Orpingtons are our favourite breed of chicken.

As well as being good egg layers (around 200 light brown eggs per year), we love to see these big fluffy attractive birds waddling across the lawn when we look outside the window. They also have the added bonus of being far less disruptive than most breeds of chicken, they tend to forage less and therefore won’t destroy the lawn.

When we first started keeping chickens we had 5 hybrids which absolutely destroyed everything in the first year, we had managed to salvage our gardens in the spring and fenced off after that.

Due to their size and their small wings they are much less flighty than your average chicken. I remember seeing a chicken on the roof of the pub a few years back, who knows how it got up there! But this gives them the added bonus of not having to build 8ft fences to keep them in your garden, 3ft and you will be fine!

Their mass of feathers enables them to be very hardy birds and they can withstand cold temperatures, but if they get too wet they can get cold and die so a shelter from the rain is a must have, as well as shade and water for hotter days.


The Orpingtons have laid back, friendly attitudes, and this means that these chickens are great if you have kids or are a first time chicken keeper. However due to their passive and docile nature they don’t do well in mixed breed flocks that have more aggressive breeds.

They are excellent mother hens as they often go broody and will even hatch out and rear chicks from other less maternal breeds of chicken.

The first Orpington was bred by William Cook, who was a coachman from Kent. He was trying to create a dual purpose bird, which would be good for meat but not have to jeopardize egg production. He came up with the black orpington, which was met with huge success and quickly became popular around the world, and was therefore followed by buff, then white, blue and splash.

The Buff Orpington

The buff Orpington is the most popular Orpington and from our experience the most laid back. Males usually reach about 10lb and females 8lb. The breed standards describe a clear and even plumage right through to the skin, white or horn beak, red or orange eyes, red wattle, face and comb and white legs.

The Black Orpington

The black Orpington is the oldest colour of the Orpington breed, and is generally one of the larger birds. The breed standards state they should be black with a green sheen, have a black beak and eyes, with black or blue legs and feet, the soles of feet should be white.

If you’re looking to breed from your birds, the black is a great choice as it can be bred with so many other colors.

  • Black x Blue = 50% Black:50% Blue
  • Black x Splash = 100% Blue
  • Black x Black = 100% Black
  • Black x Lavender = 100% Split
  • Black x Split = 50% Split:50% Black

The Blue Orpington

The blue Orpington is a very attractive bird and is one of the larger Orpingtons. The breed standards are for the male, a dark slate blue back with the rest of the bird being medium slate blue. Each feather should show lacing of darker shade on its back.

The females head and neck should be dark slate blue, with the rest of the bird medium slate blue with laced darker shade all through. Both should have black beak and eyes, black or blue legs with white toenails. Bright red comb, face and wattle.

If you are wanting to breed from your birds the blue Orpington is a great choice as by breeding two blue orpingtons you have the possibility of getting blue, black or splash offspring. Could bring something new to your flock. See the following explanation.

  • Blue x Blue = 50% Blue:25% Splash: 25% Black
  • Blue x Black = 50% Blue: 50% Black
  • Blue x Splash = 50% Blue:50% Splash
  • Black x Splash = 100% Blue
  • Black x Black = 100% Black
  • Splash x Splash = 100% Splash

The Splash Orpington

The splash Orpington should be nearly white with only the blue/black splashes showing though depending on if it has blue/black genealogy. The splash Orpington is similar to the blue and black in being very interesting to breed with, as you can get an assortment of splash and blue offspring depending upon what you mate it with.

  • Blue x Splash = 50% Blue:50% Splash
  • Black x Splash = 100% Blue
  • Splash x Splash = 100% Splash

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