One of the most beautiful English breeds is without any doubt the Orpington, of which the Buff colored is the best known and spread around the world. The original variety was the Black, however, which was developed between 1875 and 1885 from Minorca cocks, Black Plymouth Rock hens, and later on, Langshan cocks. William Cook who named the breed after the village Orpington in Kent where he lived created the breed. His aim was to create a breed with a good egg production that was also suitable for exhibition. Cook also created the White Orpington as well as the Buff colored for which he used Buff Cochins, Dark Dorkings and Gold Spangled Dutch fowl. It is claimed that he also used Lincolnshire Buffs, which are closely related to the Cochin. They were first shown at the Orpington Club Show in 1894 after which they quickly spread round the world.
Their main qualities are good egg production, reasonable meat production, a pale meat color, fast maturing and a quiet character. Other color varieties were bred from crossings that are not identical to crossings of the original Orpington. That is why they still vary in type.
The Orpington is a large, bold bird with a deep, broad and cobby shape. The length, width and depth of the body are almost equal. The cock has a U-shape back line when viewed from the side, whereas the back of the hen is slightly rising to the tail. The profuse, fluffy, soft plumage and round shape, as in the Wyandottes and Cochins, only accentuate the type. The head is of medium length and fairly broad above the eyes, the face is bright red. The moderate small, single, red comb with five points is firmly set on the head and upright. The bold, round eyes range from orange red to very dark depending on the variety. The well rounded, red wattles are slightly oblong, as are the earlobes.
The short neck has full neck hackles that reach to the shoulders. The cobby body is broad and deep. The broad back is of medium length, flat and broad between the shoulders. The wings are small, compact and carried closely to the body. The small size of the wings makes it impossible for them to fly. The medium long tail is well spread in the cocks, rich in feathers and carried medium high. In hens, the tail is slightly open, whilst the main tail feathers are short. The breast is well rounded. The legs are almost hidden by the body feathers, but should be well visible. The toes are medium long and well spread. The color of the legs are black in Blacks; white-flesh colored in Whites, Speckled, Reds, Buffs and Mottleds and slate blue in the Blues, in other words the leg color follows the color variety.
A friendly, affectionate, dual purposes breed. They produce a good 150
brown eggs per year and do not stop laying in the winter. Their meat
quality is excellent. Orpingtons embody utility and exhibition qualities.
Depending on variety, age and sex, they weigh between 3000 and 4000 grams.
The world-wide-recognized colors are: Black, Buff, White, Speckled, Mottled, Blue, Cuckoo, Red, Partridge, Birchen and White Laced Buff. A few other color varieties exist but are fairly rare.