Lavender Orpington Chickens: Owner’s Guide

Lavender Orpington Chickens: Owner’s Guide

We recently started raising Lavender Orpington Chickens this year, and WOW! They’re a wonderful, friendly breed, especially for children!

 

Every minute I’ve spent with mine, I’ve fallen more and more in love – and I’m sure you will, too!

 

5 Amazing Lavender Orpington Chicken Facts

Here is where we’ll reveal some very interesting facts about the beautiful breed that is the Lavender Orpington:

  • Although the Lavender Orpington is a relatively new variety, they have acquired the title of a “designer bird.”
  • The Lavender Orpington is described as a rare bird,however, you’d be surprised at how many breeders across the US sell it.
  • They are incredibly fluffy and cute!
  • They have a profusion of feathers that make them seem much larger than they actually are.
  • Their feather color is a dilution of the black gene – and Lavender Orpingtons “breed true!”

What are Lavender Orpington Chickens?

The Orpington is a chicken breed created in the 1880’s in Kent, England by William Cook. The goal of this breed was to create a chicken that could provide both major poultry food sources: meat and eggs. 

 

The resultant Orpington was a breed that was both large enough for the table and that provided a large quantity of eggs. Orpingtons are famous for averaging about 200 lovely brown eggs per year! 

 

The first Orpingtons were Black Orpingtons, and this breed was so popular that it quickly found itself on both sides of the Atlantic, filling coops and spreading flavor to dining tables in both the current UK and in the Americas. 

 

After his success with the Black, William Cook played around with other fowl colorings, Buff being the most commonly-known of his other successes. 

 

The groundwork of variety was set during Cook’s time. Since then, the dark coloring of the Blacks was diluted with the reds of the Buffs, and over time, this dilution created a splash plumage and another variant called “Blue”. This blue was taken one step further to create a more genetically-stable slate-blue coloring that has the more official moniker “self-blue.” 

 

What is the Color of a Lavender Orpington?

The color’s official title is “lavender”, but what you’ll get is a grey bird with a violet shimmer in the sunlight. 

 

To create the lavender coloring of the feathers, breeders reduce the pigmentation in black feathers. Over time, this dilution becomes more and more pronounced, until the resultant feathers look lavender. 

 

This is a truly beautiful color that can easily trick the eye regarding what it really is. 

 

Don’t worry though – Lavender Orpingtons breed true, so if you breed a rooster and a hen, you can be sure the resulting chicks will be Lavender too!

 

The Lavender gene is recessive, so both parents must be Lavender to get chicks of the same coloring – so don’t breed a Buff hen with a Lavender rooster and expect soft, grey colored chicks!

 

Some Lavender Orpingtons have a darker head and its color lightens towards the tail feathers, others have lighter heads and darker tail feathers, still others have light heads and necks and darker body coloring. 

 

Regardless of how prominent the Black coloring is, the purple shimmer is present across its whole downy body, making for truly remarkable-looking birds. 

 

Sometimes Lavender Orpingtons can have a bit of yellow in their coats. Sadly, these yellow-coaters should not be used for breeding, as the yellow will carry through future generations. Their combs, wattles, and earlobes are red. 

 

What Are Lavender Orpington Feathers Like?

Lavender Orpingtons are fluffy-looking birds whose thick feathers excel at dealing with cold weather. One of the characteristics of these fluffy feathers is that your birds may appear larger (and heavier) than they actually are. 

 

Their feathers stop at their legs, and these birds wear no feathers on their legs. 

 

How Large Do Lavender Orpingtons Get?

Lavender Orpingtons mature moderately early, and are considered heavy birds (they’re one of the more giant chicken breeds). Each one weighs in at 7 to 8.5 pounds (3.8 to 3.86 kilos). Some males can even reach 10 pounds (4.5 kg). This is a sizable chicken that can feed a family, much as William Cook intended when he created the Orpingtons 140 years ago. 

 

What are Lavender Orpington Roosters Like?

Like all other variations of Orpington chickens, Lavender Orpington roosters generally exhibit the standard docile and even temperament. We have several Orpington roosters (both Buff and Lavender), and each is friendly to humans, and very gentle with his hens. 

 

However, just remember that roosters CAN sometimes exhibit aggressive or possessive tendencies when their hens are threatened by a predator, but this is quite rare. You can learn how to deal with a naughty rooster here.

 

What are Lavender Orpington Hens Like?

Lavender Orpington chickens are quite docile, friendly, and calm. They love foraging and seeing the sights on your farm. 

 

They can make excellent pets that are a genuine treat to have around. Females occasionally can go broody, which can be a great benefit when you are trying to create a next generation of Lavender Orpingtons. 

 

How Many Lavender Orpington Eggs are Laid Each Year?

Lavender Orpingtons are excellent egg layers. A single hen can lay as many as 280 brown eggs in a year. The best part about these eggs is their size: very large. 

 

Do Lavender Orpington Chickens Come In Bantam Size?

As a matter of fact, they do. Many major hatcheries will carry a bantam variation of the Lavender Orpington chicken. Bantams make great pets, although their eggs tend to be smaller. You can learn more about raising bantams here.

 

Are Lavender Orpington Chickens Rare?

Yes. Because it’s recessive, and both parents must have the genes, Lavender Orpington chickens are rare. However, they’re becoming more popular because of their excellent personalities, and more and more breeders are offering them for sale.

 

Even more rare are Frizzled Lavender Orpington chickens! These beauties have frizzled feathers, and are not just friendly, they’re absolutely adorable! You can learn more about frizzles here. They’re a great pet for adults AND children!

 

What is the Difference Between Blue Orpington and Lavender Orpington Chickens?

One of the biggest differences between Blue and Lavender Orpingtons is the predictability. Blue Orpingtons do NOT breed true; Lavender Orpingtons WILL breed true. 

 

If you mate a Lavender Orpington with another Lavender Orpington, you’ve have a new clutch of Lavender Orpingtons. If you are breeding Blue Orpingtons, a look at this chart could be helpful in navigating the complexities of their genetics

 

Another excellent explanation between the two different colors is here

 

What is a “Pure English Lavender Orpington”?

A Pure English Lavender Orpington is just another name for a Lavender Orpington chick that’s the result of two parents of the same soft-grey coloring.

 

Can I Buy Lavender Orpington Chicks? Where are Lavender Orpington Chicks for Sale?

 

  • Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, MO, generally offers Lavender Orpington chicks, but their availability depends on the year and the season.  
  • Purely Poultry in Fremont, WI offers day-olds that are female, male, or unsexed. 
  • Hoover’s Hatchery, in Rudd, IA, offers a variety of Lavender Orpingtons. They even provide a handy chart that you can use to anticipate your orders. 

 

Can I Buy Lavender Orpington Hatching Eggs?

 

  • Chicken Scratch Poultry, based in McLeansboro, IL, offers Hatching Eggs. Be sure to follow the instructions on their web page to ensure that you are getting the product you are after. 
  • Meyer Hatchery in Polk, OH, also offers hatching eggs.  
  • Itty Bitty Chicken Farm in South Carolina also sells Lavender Orpinton eggs (which is where I get mine from)

 

If you are looking for a lovely chicken that walks just this side of rare, is famous both for its abundance of dinner meat and an extra-large annual delivery of extra-large eggs, a Lavender Orpington chicken could well be for you!

 

Wondering Why Chickens Can’t Fly?

Wondering Why Chickens Can’t Fly?

On Facebook, I see people asking why chickens can’t fly, so I thought it would be a good topic for an article.

 

Can chickens fly? While it seems like chickens can’t fly, our feathered friends DO have the CAPABILITY to get some airlift – they’re just not that good at it. In fact, the longest recorded flight lasted 13 seconds, while the furthest distance recorded was 301.5 ft.

 

So, it’s not that chickens can’t fly…..they just suck at it. Here’s a deeper explanation.

 

Wondering why chickens can't fly? Here's what you need to know!

 

Why Chickens Can’t Fly Very Well

Can chickens fly? While some chickens fly better than others, as a whole, chickens are not good at flying because of ancestry and selective breeding by humans.

 

Modern chickens are the noble descendants of the grey or red jungle fowl found in the wild in around Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos. Their ancestors did a pretty good job of flying, particularly if there was a predator involved.

 

However, since modern chickens have become a companion to humans, the need to fly for survival has been largely bred out – mostly for food purposes – and their wings have become vestigial.

 

The reasons why chickens can’t fly is because chickens adapted to spend time on the ground since their food is located on the ground (doesn’t do them much good to stick to the air if they’ll never catch a meal, right?). Their feet too are adapted for walking as opposed to perching.

 

Certain species also have been bred to be poor fliers (think Silkies or Frizzles) largely because they’re ornamental breeds – so things like wingspan or other factors that allow a bird to fly were less important breed features than, say, unique feathering.

 

Silkies have fluffy feathers similar to down, for example, which makes it nearly impossible for them to fly. Read more about the best types of chickens that make great pets.

 

So, how high can chickens fly? Well, with enough determination, some chickens can fly over an 8 foot fence, although not all will be successful.


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Can Any Chickens Fly? Here’s the Chicken Breeds That Can Fly

Now, there are certain chicken breeds that can fly better than others, such as Wyandottes and Orpingtons. They’re good for at least one foot off the ground for a short while, particularly if the neighbor’s dog has decided to visit. Read more about raising chickens with neighbors.

 

However, because they’re heavy and not really built to fly, they’ll get some lift off, but their wings cannot give them the lift power needed for them to fly for very long.

 

Heavier breeds survive a dog attack because they’re fast runners (chickens can run faster than people – about 14 miles per hour. That’s why when we want to catch them, we don’t have a prayer in hell until nightfall). If you’re a beginner at chicken raising, check out this post for the best chicken breeds for beginners.

 

Lighter breeds such as Leghorns, Ancona, and Araucanas to some extent, are better fliers – you might notice that they’ll roost up in the trees during the night, while heavier breeds struggle to roost even a few feet up.

 

If they’re safe from predators, you might wonder why chickens fly at all – it’s not needed for survival, and they’ll find all the treats they need on the ground. Read more about how to keep your chickens safe from predators.

 

Well, as you know, chickens are full of curiosity, and they’ll fly largely to explore their surroundings and to interact with their flock mates. Who doesn’t have a hen loves to discover new things, especially if it’s food related? Ours go nuts when their chicken tractor is moved to new grass!

 

Can Roosters Fly?

Like hens, it’s not that these chickens can’t fly – in fact, roosters are marginally better at it than hens. However, the need has been largely bred out of them, and roosters no longer need the ability to fly in order to stay safe from predators.

 

I hope this answered your questions about why chickens can’t fly!

So can chickens fly? Yes and no. I hope this information helped explain why most chickens can’t fly. Feel free to ask me more questions about why chickens can’t fly or any other information you need about raising chickens!

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5 Heritage Chicken Breeds Our Grandparents Kept

5 Heritage Chicken Breeds Our Grandparents Kept

Heritage chicken breeds play an important part on our homestead.

 

Did you know humans have raised poultry for meat and eggs for almost 10,000 years?

 

While I’m a big fan of industrial breeds such as production reds, who lay an egg every day like clockwork, I’m turning more towards keeping pure blooded heritage chicken breeds on our homestead, in part to preserve a piece of American history that might otherwise be lost.

 

We also use them in our breeding program, to improve the chicken breeds we’re developing, and so we can start hatching sex links to bring some income to our farm.

 

This year, we added several heritage chicken breeds to our flock – both hens and roosters so we can continue the terrific bloodlines of these breeds.

 

Now, according to the Livestock Conservancy:

A heritage chicken “can only be produced by a Standard-bred Chicken admitted by the American Poultry Association. A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a Heritage Egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard-bred Chicken, whose breed was established prior to the mid-20th century, is slow growing, naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.

 

Why bother with heritage chicken breeds?

 

One advantage to heritage breeds is, when it comes to hatching them, you know what you’re going to get.

 

After all, the purpose to breeding pure bloods is the genetic traits are predictable. Generation after generation of heritage chicken breeds show the same traits, whether it’s a certain color egg, a specific size, or plumage.

 

Centuries ago, when heritage chicken breeds were first developed in America or otherwise introduced to our country, for the most part they were developed as dual purpose breeds.

 

Buff orpingtons, for example, were specifically bred so they would consistently produce eggs but were also white skinned, making butchering easier, and were a hefty weight.

 

So, which heritage chicken breeds are good for a homestead?

 

I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look.

 

In this article, we’ll look at 5 heritage chicken breeds and why they’re great for any homestead.

 

Orpingtons

 

The first of the heritage chicken breeds we’ll look at are Orpingtons. We personally keep several Buff Orpingtons on our homestead, and they lay wonderful brown eggs regularly.

 

They’re a great dual purpose chicken, bred for both meat and eggs. If you’re off grid, they’re particularly advantageous because the hens like to sit on eggs, making them ideal for a sustainable flock of heritage chicken breeds.

 

Orpingtons come in several colors, including black, white, buff, blue and splash, and the buff color is the most commonly seen.

 

Orpingtons have a wonderful history, and were developed in 1886 by an English man named William Cook, who was a professional coach man.

 

To meet the need for a dark chicken that could be exhibited in London at shows without soot showing (London was a dirty place in those days!) and to meet market demand for a chicken that was large, white skinned, and good for the table, he developed Black Orpingtons.

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken
These heritage chickens are named after the town they were developed in, Orpington, and were produced by crossing Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks heritage breeds.

 

Later, the buff color was developed, and only the original colors are accepted by the American Poultry Association. 

 

As a heritage chicken, Orpingtons are perfect for any homestead because they grow to good harvestable weight, lay large brown eggs regularly, and are attractively colored birds.

 

Rhode Island Reds

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

Photo by Livestock Conservancy

 

Rhode Island Reds (RIR) is one of the oldest heritage chicken breeds in America. When it comes to RIR, there’s industrial strains, bred for egg production as well as the heritage strains.

 

For this article, we’re talking about the heritage breeds, which look different from an industrial chicken strain.

 

According to the Livestock Conservancy, heritage Rhode Island Reds are listed as “recovering”, thanks to efforts by breeders and homesteaders who want to preserve this piece of Americana.

 

Directly descended from the heritage chicken breeds our ancestors developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Rhode Island Reds originated in Adamsville, which is a village in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

 

They are larger than industrial strains, and perfect for either the table or for their eggs. They’re also the foundation for more modern “breeds”, such as Production Reds and Sex Links.

 

If you want to raise heritage Rhode Island Reds, do your homework to make sure the bloodlines are indeed true to this heritage chicken breed.

 

These heritage chickens are hearty birds that weather winter well, and are great with children. 

 

the better egg ad final

 

Delawares

 

Delawares are next on our list of heritage chicken breeds. They’re beautiful, striking birds that make a gorgeous addition to any backyard flock.

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

This heritage chicken originated in Delaware in the 1940s by crossing  Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. They’ve been important in creating modern broiler breeds, and for a while were the most popular meat chickens in the Mid-Atlantic area largely because of their color.

 

Delawares are critically endangered according to the Livestock Conservancy because their usefulness as broilers has been surpassed by Cornish Crosses, but they still make a wonderful dual purpose bird for any homestead.

 

We have a couple Delaware roosters on our farm and they’re friendly, hearty birds that grow well.

 

Plymouth Rocks (Barred Rocks)

 

The fourth on our list of heritage chicken breeds are Plymouth Rocks, also popularly known as Barred Rocks.

 

I talk in depth on this heritage chicken breed in one of my podcast episodes, so I’ll just briefly recap here.

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

The Plymouth Rock originated in America in the middle of the 19th century, and is one of the most popular heritage breeds in part because the barred birds are very showy and beautiful.

 

They’re also excellent egg producers. This type of heritage chicken was first exhibited in Boston, Massachusetts as a breed in 1849 and were developed from hybrid chickens with Spanish, White Cochin, Dominique, Buff Cochin, Black Java, and Brahma bloodlines.

 

And the original Plymouth Rocks were of the barred variety.

 

According to the Livestock Conservancy, the Plymouth Rock seems to have disappeared for 20 or so years until 1869 when this heritage breed appeared at a poultry show in Worchester, Massachusetts.

 

The Plymouth Rocks we know today are heritage offspring of the second set of Plymouth Rocks.

 

This heritage breed was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Excellence in 1874.

 

The Plymouth Rocks we have on our farm are friendly birds that we’re raising to breed both purebloods and black sex links. 

 

I like them because they lay nice brown eggs consistently and they’re a popular meat birds among our neighbors.

Sultans

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

I’ve never kept Sultans one of the heritage chicken breeds we raise on the homestead, but after learning about them, I would like to!

 

Sultans are one of several heritage chicken breeds that are critically endangered,according to the Livestock Conservancy.

 

They’re natives of Turkey, where they were likely developed as ornamental birds for the gardens of the Sultan.

 

They have been rare since they arrived in England in 1854 when Mrs. Elizabeth Watts of Hampstead, England, the editor of the Poultry Chronicle (a British publication) received heritage chickens from a friend living in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

 

Their actual name is Serai Taook, which in Turkish means Sultan’s Fowl, which is where their name derived.

 

They’re very pretty ornamental birds, possibly the most among the heritage chicken breeds.

 

They don’t lay very well, but if you are not looking for a high efficiency bird and just enjoy having friendly companions, then preserving these heritage chickens might be for you!

 

Helping to save heritage chicken breeds is a wonderful pursuit for any homesteader. These breeds are a piece of American history, and we’re happy to continue preserving them!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Which heritage chicken breeds most interest you? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!


Sultan photo by “A White Sultan (chicken)” by Eunice. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.