Backyard Breed Guide: Buff Orpington Chickens

With their friendly personalities, cute and fluffy appearance, and solid egg production, Buff Orpingtons are a popular choice for new and experienced keepers alike.

While not the most strictly practical birds, this is one of my personal favorite chicken breeds, because of its beauty and charm.

buff orpington chicken in field of clover
at a glance
buff orpington hen at sunset

what to know

Friendly, good with kids, will follow you around looking for treats and attention.

Lay large brown eggs but are not the most productive layers

Do well in cold but poorly in heat.

Popular for looks and personality, but not the most strictly practical breed

My personal favorite! 😊. I order some every year.

Pair with Cinnamon Queens and/ or White Leghorns to boost the productivity of your overall flock.

🐓 Temperament

One of the main reasons Buff Orpingtons make such excellent backyard chickens is their calm and friendly personality.

They are known to be extremely docile, gentle birds that are very easy to handle, making them a wonderful breed for children.

Novice chicken owners will also appreciate their tolerant attitudes and overall ease of care.

Buff Orpingtons enjoy human interaction and are likely to follow their keepers around the yard. Their relaxed and mellow temperament means they get along well with flock mates and are unlikely to get bullied.

They are often called the “Golden Retriever of Backyard Chickens”!

2 hens in fron tof chicken coop in s[ring

Egg Production

For a dual-purpose breed, Buff Orpingtons are extremely productive layers of large brown eggs. Each hen can consistently produce 4-5 eggs per week, resulting in over 200 eggs on average per year.

They tend to lay well all year round, with small dips in production during the winter months.

Their eggs are a creamy beige to tan color with slight brown speckles. Orpington eggs tend to be broader and plumper than the average chicken egg, with sturdy shells resistant to cracks and breaks.

While most chickens reduce egg production in the winter, Buff Orpingtons will continue to lay fairly consistently all year long, with approximately 4-5 eggs per week even during colder months.

Their reliable and bountiful supply of extra large eggs is certainly a huge perk of having Buff Orpingtons as backyard chickens.

However, if egg laying is of primary importance to you, this is not the breed to choose. Other breeds lay more eggs yearly and will lay daily in the spring and summer.

Size and Appearance

The Buff Orpington is a big, heavy breed – in fact, it’s one of the largest chicken breeds around. Hens typically weigh in at 8-10 pounds, with roosters being even larger at 10-12 pounds.

Their oversized appearance is enhanced by their fluffy buff-colored feathers, giving them a cuddly, teddy bear-like look and feel. Under all those feathers they have a broad, deep breast along with a short back and full, plump body.

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Their rounded shape and rich golden feathers make the Buff Orpington a very beautiful chicken breed.

Their large size means they eat more than other “thriftier” breeds. The feed-eating to egg-laying ratio is not ideal.

What owners are saying:

“I did have a rooster that was aggressive and had to re-home. He was a beautiful rooster and treated his hens well but was very aggressive.”

“Hasn’t laid an egg yet and is nine months old. Eats a ton but no production yet.”

“I have found that they are very friendly until you try and take eggs out from under a broody hen. They go broody a lot.”

“They are very energetic, love to be around us, and very curious.”

“Super sweet and so pretty.”

“Kid friendly and will follow you around the yard.”

caring for your buff orpingtons

Buff Orpington hens need adequate space and nutrition to thrive as a large breed. Provide each hen a minimum of 4 square feet of coop space and 8-10 square feet in the outdoor run. Furnish the coop with numerous roosts and nesting boxes to accommodate their size. Buff Orpingtons have hearty appetites and should be fed a complete layer feed formulated for large breeds. Provide at least 1/4 pound of feed per hen daily along with supplementary treats like scratch, vegetables, and fruits. Supply ample fresh water in sturdy containers they can’t tip over.

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These gentle giants do well when allowed to free range and forage, supplementing their diet with grasses and bugs.

Avoid obesity by preventing boredom and inactivity. Most hens thrive with an hour outdoors per day, but of course this depends on your comfort level.

With room to roam, proper layer feed, and fresh water, Buff Orpington hens will remain healthy and productive.

buff orpington roosters

Buff Orpington roosters are large, impressive birds that exhibit standard rooster traits…. both good and bad.

They are brightly feathered in red, orange, and yellow, with colors that stand out.

buff orpington rooster outsidde
an enormous bird that was very aggressive in our experience

Though they will crow loudly, Buff Orpington roosters have a reputation for being less aggressive and less likely to attack as compared to other breeds. (This has not been my personal experience, and all Buff roosters we have had have been exactly like other breeds.)

However, they can still become territorial and may need to be separated if they exhibit vicious behaviors. Buff Orpington roosters are attentive to their hens and will alert them to food sources.

Their large stature means Buff Orpington roosters eat quite a bit, so plan for 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of feed daily for each bird.

Like any rooster, be prepared to rehome or otherwise dispose of an Orpington rooster.

buff orpington hen at sunset

free-ranging

Buff Orpingtons can make decent free-range chickens, though they may need some supervision and precautions. Their large size and calm temperament allows them to cover ground well without being flighty. Their fluffy feathering also provides insulation if they roost outdoors.

However, their tendency to go broody can lead them to disappear and hide nests with eggs, making them difficult to account for.

Overall, Buff Orpingtons can be allowed to free range with proper fencing or supervision, but their size, placid personalities, and broodiness mean they likely won’t thrive as fully self-sufficient free rangers without some oversight and supplemental feeding.

I have always free-ranged all my chickens, and (sadly) I tend to lose the Buffs first.

heat and cold tolerance

With their fluffy plumage, Buff Orpingtons are well-equipped to tolerate cold conditions. Their dense, downy feathers provide ample insulation against winter weather and frost.

Hailing from England, the breed was developed to thrive in temperate northern climates. Their large bodies also retain heat well.

Buff Orpingtons do okay in the heat, except for extreme (above 100 degree) temperatures. They will need shade and extra water in very hot, humid climates.

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Being highly adaptable to both frigid and moderately hot temperatures, Buff Orpingtons are a great choice for backyard flocks in temperate climates with cold winters and warm summers. With proper care, they can remain productive all year round.

Their versatility makes them suitable for most regions, aside from very hot tropical zones

pros of buff orpingtons

  • Friendly, docile temperament – good for children & beginners
  • Cold hardy and heat tolerant
  • Excellent egg production – 4-5 large brown eggs per week
  • Good dual-purpose breed – provides eggs and meat (in theory…really, a meat variety is best.)
  • Beautiful appearance – soft, fluffy golden feathers
  • Large size – hens 8-10 lbs, roosters 10-12 lbs (This can also be a negative because of food requirements)
  • Calm and gentle on gardens/landscaping

drawbacks

  • Roosters may be aggressive towards humans (most roosters have the potential to be… but these roosters are exceptionally large and scary.)
  • Hens can be aggressive when broody
  • Frequently go broody
  • Slower to mature for meat production and egg laying

Buff Orpington Chicken History

The origins of the Buff Orpington chicken breed can be traced back to England in the 1880s.

William Cook, an avid poultry breeder living in the county of Kent, set out to create the ultimate dual-purpose fowl – one that would produce both lots of eggs and good meat.

Cook developed the Orpington breed through careful crossbreeding of heritage breeds like the Cochin, Dorking, and Minorca. The final touch was breeding them to have a soft buff color, resulting in the Buff Orpington chickens we know and love today.

more chicken varieties to consider:

Backyard Breed Guide: Buff Orpington Chickens

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