Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Wondering “can chickens fly?” Well, like most things with chickens: it depends.

 

Some chicken breeds can fly and some can’t. And even within a specific breed, some individual chickens can fly, and some cannot.

 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the question “can chickens fly!”

 

What Is A Flightless Bird, Really?

Flightless birds are comparatively rare – there are only about 60 species of flightless birds on Earth. One of the most iconic of flightless birds, the ostrich, is the largest bird and can run at speeds upwards of 40 mph (64.37 kph). 

 

These massive runners live in Africa, and use their 2-inch diameter eyes to spy out threats like lions, leopards, and packs of hyenas. While it might not be clear when these incredible birds lost their ability to fly, there is evolutionary precedent for this: ostriches are ratite, which is “any bird whose sternum (breastbone) is smooth, or raftlike, because it lacks a keel to which flight muscles could be anchored. All species of ratites are thus unable to fly.” Other ratites are the emu, cassowary, rhea, and kiwi.

 

Right up there with the ostrich as the most iconic of flightless birds is the tuxedo-sporting critter: the penguin. Unlike ostriches, penguins are not ratites. They possess the keel on their sternum to which their wings attach. 

 

Whereas volant birds use their wings for flight, penguins have adapted to underwater explorations, and instead use their wings as fins that allow them to effectively navigate in the waters where their food lives. In a way, because of this adaptation, penguins might be considered volant birds that just happen to fly through a vastly different environment than most other volant birds. 

 

So where does this leave us with pet chickens?

 

Are Chickens Actually Flightless?

So, what does all this say about chickens? Your chickens have all of the right tools for flight. They (generally) have the feathers and the keel on their sternum which their wings attach to, and they certainly have the muscles for it. With all of these details, the question remains: Can chickens fly?

 

Yes, kind of. And it depends on the breed. 

 

All chickens have strong muscles, and flight is one of the few ways this species can keep safe from predators. Most breeds are capable of “burst flights”, which are quick and can carry chickens to safety within moments. At night, as you probably know, they like to fly up to their roosts, which gives them a good vantage point to see if any raccoons, dogs, etc are coming their way.

 

Since they’ve been domesticated, they’ve largely lost this ability. Why is that? 

 

Chickens are most commonly bred for two things: eggs and meat. White meat is muscle, and it’s white meat that our ancestors favored. Selective breeding for meat has maximized the size of our chickens’ chest muscles. In theory, this should make chickens fantastic fliers. In reality, however, this is counterproductive. In order to fly, birds need light bodies with muscles strong enough to carry their own weight. 

 

The ideal flier will have a lean – almost sinewy – body: one that is strong enough to propel itself off the ground and light enough to stay aloft. Sustained flight also requires endurance. Human-bred chickens seldom are bred for strength, leanness, and endurance. 

 

Unlike ostriches and penguins, modern flightless chickens are not tied to the Earth because they don’t have the muscles to fly, but because it’s been bred out of them. In other words: We have bred our birds to be too large to support much of a flying ability. The average chicken can fly for about 10 feet, and about as high off the ground.

 

Being similar in flight skills to game birds, chickens were never the greatest fliers, and lack the skills for sustained flight, but they have been known to fly for as long as 13 seconds and a distance of 301.5 feet. It might be a short flight, but it likely is plenty enough to do its job: to get the chickens away from danger. 


Which Chickens Can Fly?

Larger chicken breeds are far less likely to even hover, as the energy required for even minimal flight can be preventative, but there are a number of breeds that are more inclined to flight:

 

 

are the most commonly known fliers. 

 

They have leaner bodies, and this is better suited for the short flights attainable by chickens. Our own Leghorns love flying into trees. 

 

At night, Araucanas occasionally roost up in the trees. Originally from Switzerland, the Spitzhaubens are a flighty bird that sometimes takes that adjective literally. Thanks to their smaller size, some bantam hens can achieve high heights for roosting purposes or when spooked. 

 

Which Chickens Can’t Fly?

There are some breeds that, no matter what, simply won’t get liftoff. Either they lack the feathers, or are just too dang heavy.

 

Some breeds, such as Silkies, can’t fly at all – they simply don’t have flight feathers on their wings. To keep them safe, you have to give them a place to climb up to. Ours can get lift off of maybe 12 inches, and that’s pretty much a big jump for a silkie.

 

Our Mille Fleur bantams and Cochin bantams can’t fly either – although they have wing feathers, their wings are too small. 

 

Other chickens, such as Orpingtons or Brahmas, have been bred to be so large, they simply are too heavy to fly.  

 

How Can I Stop My Chickens from Flying?

 

A few times a week, a person in my Facebook group asks how they can stop their flock from pooping all over the neighbor’s yard. There’s some easy ways to keep your chickens from making unwanted visits.

Build a Fence

The easiest way to prevent your chickens from flying away is to build a sizable fence around your chicken coop. This will stop most birds from flying out of their homes. 

 

For the heaviest breeds, you will not need anything taller than a 4-foot fence. For the slightly less heavy – the Mediterranean breeds, for example – you might need to build a 12-foot fence. 

 

Clip Their Wings

If you want to stop a bird from flying, one more adage comes to mind: “clip their wings,” which really means to trim their feathers. 

 

When done correctly, trimming feathers is painless. Once clipped, your chicken’s feathers can’t provide the lift needed for flight.

 

Do you still wonder “can chickens fly?” How far have your own chickens flown? Leave a comment below!

 

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!

 

Frizzle Chickens: Buyer’s Guide & Care

Frizzle Chickens: Buyer’s Guide & Care

Looking back at the first time I ever learned about frizzle chickens, I remember I was REALLY excited to add these crazy looking creatures to my flock!

 

I finally added some this year, but learning about this particular breed has been a lesson in math.

 

You might ask: “what do math and chickens have in common?” On the surface, nothing really. (Unless we’re talking about chicken math, but I digress…..) 

 

If we follow the simplest equation of 2 or 3 hens in the same back yard, then you’ll likely get eggs. 

 

Put a rooster into the same coop, and then there will probably be chicks. 

 

Math and chickens really shouldn’t extend beyond that, but where Frizzle chickens are concerned, math becomes a far more important part of the equation than we might think! 

 

Today, we’re going to delve into just what makes a Frizzle so frizzley. 

 

We’re also going to be sure that we don’t let them Frazzle (because it is a thing!), and in the process, we’ll look at some other important details about this special chicken breed.

 

What Is A Frizzle Chicken?

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when discussing Frizzle chickens is the fact that the Frizzle isn’t one particular chicken breed. 

 

Instead, it is the result of careful or selective breeding and a whole lot of patience. Its defining feature is the curly feathers which makes these chickens reminiscent of a feather duster with a beak! 

 

They are very striking in appearance, but Frizzles take their genetic and shape cues from their originating breed (such as cochins or silkies). 

 

If, for example, you breed a Jersey Giant chicken with Frizzle genetics, it would big a big floofy critter with all the size and mass of the Jersey Giant (not that it is a very common occurrence.) 

 

Indeed, it appears to be a purely speculative breed. But this would hold true in theory! 

 

Just as with their baseline variety, Frizzle chickens can come in a wide variety of colors ranging from black, blue, buff, white Columbian like the Wyandotte, duckwing, black-red, brown-red, cuckoo, pyle, spangle as in the Old English Game and red as in Rhode Island Red.

 

Temperament is another area that Frizzle chickens are generally pretty consistent with. They are a friendly and lovable bird that are delightful to have in any backyard flock. 

 

So if you’re willing to add a Frizzle to your collection, here is everything you need to know about this curly chicken breed.

 

What Is Frizzling?

Frizzling is what happens when a chicken feather curls upwards and outwards from the body, and it’s a mutation resulting in imbalances in the genetic pool. 

 

Most chicken feathers lay flat against the body, but frizzling is special – it creates a very distinct-looking bird that some say resembles a muppet. 

 

It is the result of an “mf” gene which, if present, will result in your chick taking on either a normal-feathered chick or one that sports that “Frizzle look”.

 

Keeping track of which chicks have the gene is a very important task, as it is only through the mating of a Frizzle with normal-feathered fowl that results in the Frizzles that you are looking for. 

 

And herein lies the math that could potentially be so irritating (keeping really good records is a must!)

 

The outcome of the matings can result in three distinct varieties of chicken: 

  • Two of which are wonderful and a delight, but the last of which… well, that’s something that is best avoided. 
  • If you mate one Frizzle with another Frizzle, there is a 25% chance that the result will be something called a Frazzle

 

Frazzles are almost too delicate for their own good, and indeed, their feathers are almost brittle to the touch; Frazzles often suffer bald spots where the feathers have broken away. 

 

Not good because feathers play an important part in maintaining body temperature!

 

For these and other reasons, including heart and other physical issues that often prevent Frazzles from living to maturity, Frazzles are best avoided. 

 

When I first started researching Frizzle chickens, I spoke with various breeders who have experience breeding these creatures.

 

My friend Katie at Itty Bitty Chicken Farm in South Carolina told me it’s very critical to only mate a normal feathered chicken with a Frizzle (and to avoid a Frizzle/Frizzle mating at all costs.)

 

If you decide you want to hatch Frizzle chicks, here’s what you need to know:

 

Normal x frizzle = 50% frizzle, 50% normal
Frizzle x frizzle = 50% frizzle, 25% normal, 25% frazzle

 

While the science isn’t overly complex, good note-taking and controlled breeding is important to ensure all your chicks get the chance to live healthy lives. 

 

Luckily, the genetic chance of getting a Frazzle isn’t too hard to remember. 

 

What is most important is exercising care and caution with your birds, so that the Frizzles you’re looking for are the best quality bird that you can develop. 

cochin frizzle chicken on white

What chicken breeds have Frizzles? 

Common Frizzle bantam breeds:

  • Cochins
  • Silkies
  • Orpingtons (Buff, Lavender, etc)
  • Plymouth Rocks
  • Japanese Bantams
  • Polish Bantams

 

Cochin

Cochin chickens are one of the most popular breeds among beginners because they’re hardy, lay brown eggs consistently, and enjoy human company. 

 

Both the full-sized cochin and the bantam variety have been known to produce Frizzle variations. The standard sized cochins have big and beautiful bodies that can weigh in at about 5 pounds and have an abundance of fancy soft feathers. 

 

They are gentle giants that are easy to handle, and this temperament makes them great pets for families while also making them great foster moms for hatching and brooding. The bantam variety weighs about 2 pounds, and is exceptionally friendly. 

 

They are common in black, white, and red varieties. You can read more about cochins here.

 

Plymouth Rock

A dual-purpose bird that is one of America’s oldest chicken breeds, the Plymouth Rock is an excellent egg layer. 

 

This breed also has a distinct black and white bar plumage, which is a beautiful addition to any Frizzle flock. Both roosters and hens are generally calm, and these birds get along well with everyone. 

 

The roosters are good protectors for their flocks, and aren’t aggressive towards people. They’re curious and generally will prefer to free range and find morsels in the yard, although they do tolerate confinement well.

 

They come in the standard colors: Barred, Blue, Buff, Colombian, Partridge, Silver Penciled, and White. You can read more about Plymouth Rock chickens here.

 

Silkies

Silkies are a special, fully-bantam variety of chicken that are almost perfect for a Frizzle. Their legs are completely covered in feathers, so if you get one of these Frizzled up, you’ll have a feathery friend whose unique curvy feathers stretch from toe to top! 

 

A Frizzle silkie chicken is an adorable sight to behold!

 

With their super-soft plumage and easy-going temperaments, these beauties make for wonderful pets. Other details that make these birds such oddities (as far as other chickens are concerned) are their black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and feet covered in five toes each. 

 

If you don’t want to have your Silkies lounge about as pets, they can average at about 150 eggs a year, which makes for a sizeable contribution to the pantry.

 

They come in black, blue, buff, white, partridge, splash and gray varieties. You can read more about silkie chickens here.

 

Japanese Bantam

Japanese bantams are known in some parts of the world by another name: Chabo. Whatever their name, they got their start in the Land of the Rising Sun, and are a true bantam breed. 

 

These birds are distinctive for their upright tails that often stick up higher than the peaks of their combs! These beautiful birds are mostly decorative, as their small stature isn’t ideal for meals, and they only produce about 75 eggs per year. 

 

These fuzzy babies are born to strut the catwalk! 

 

Japanese Bantam Frizzles come in all the standard colors: black-tailed white, black, mottled, black-tailed buff, and gray. You can read more about bantams here.

 

Polish Bantams

Another show bird is the Polish Bantam. These sweet birds were originally developed as egg-raisers who can produce a solid 200 eggs each year! However, their primary function soon went to the wayside because of their telltale crest of curly feathers that engulf their heads. 

 

These crests have made them distinctive enough for chicken lovers around the world to covet them for their visual appeal. They are sweet – and oftentimes quirky or flighty owing to poor vision resulting from their crests – chickens whose unique qualities make them ideally-suited for a Frizzley offspring. 

 

The colors for the Polish Bantam Frizzle run the whole list, and as it is a show bird, the list is vast: white crested black, golden, silver, white, buff laced, white-crested blue. And then there are also the bearded and non-bearded varieties as well as the unrecognized varieties, too! 

 

You can read more about Polish bantams here.

 

Orpingtons

Originating in the UK, the Orpington is the quintessential chicken breed whose round body and distinctive buff coloring is often envisioned when one thinks of chickens. 

 

These chickens are hardy and rugged, and are ideal for confinement or small yards (like are most common on the small islands of Great Britain). These birds are consistent egg-layers, grow rapidly, and make for a tasty 2- to 3- pound bird. 

 

Although there have been sightings of all varieties of Orpington Frizzles (including black, blue, white, and the unrecognized splash and lavender), the buff variety is by far the most common.

 

You can read more about Orpington chickens here.

 

Is it a Frizzle rooster or hen?

So, how do you tell the males and females apart? Just like other chickens, there’s some easy and not so easy ways to tell frizzle hens from roosters:

  • Roosters will have redder combs/wattles earlier (about 4 – 8 weeks old)
  • Roosters will have longer tail feathers
  • Roosters will crow! (starting anywhere from 3 days old to 16 weeks)

You can read more about how to sex a baby chick here.

 

frizzle rooster and hen

 

Additional Frizzle Facts

Do Frizzles lay eggs?

Yes, frizzle chicken breeds do lay eggs, however, some breeds produce more than others. The amount of eggs laid will depend on the breed – for example, Cochin frizzles will produce about 200 eggs a year, while Japanense bantam frizzles will only lay about 75. 

 

What color eggs do Frizzles lay?

The color is dependent upon the root breed of the Frizzle. Cochins and Buff Orpingtons lay brown eggs, while Silkies lay white eggs. If you have a frizzle Easter Egger, than who knows what color eggs she’ll lay!

 

Are Frizzle Chickens good egg layers?

Across the board, the Frizzle chicken breeds are gentle and good layers, though some breeds produce a sizable quantity more than others. 

 

Can you breed Frizzle to Frizzle? Can you breed two Frizzle chickens?

Technically, you can, but with a one in four chance that it will produce a Frazzle, the practice is discouraged. Frazzles have feathers that are so brittle that they often break off the birds’ bodies and leave unsightly bald spots, making them more susceptible to cold in winter. These Frazzles also suffer a number of other health risks like organ problems. If you’re looking for your Frizzles to enjoy a long healthy life, it is best to breed them to non-Frizzles. 

 

Are Frizzle Chickens cold hardy?

While some breeds of the Frizzles are more cold-hardy than others, all Frizzles suffer one drawback. Because their feathers turn upwards, they cannot seal the heat the way their feathers are supposed to. As a result of this, they have a hard time creating an air buffer between their bodies and the outside air. In colder months and wet weather, pay special attention to their comfort, just in case they can’t keep as warm as the other non-Frizzles in your coops. 

 

Do fancy chickens lay eggs?

Yes. All of the Frizzle Chicken breeds lay eggs, and if you’ve decided to add these birds to your flock for eggs, you’re in luck! Keep in mind, however, that some breeds, like the Cochin and the Orpington, are better at producing a strong supply than, say, the Japanese bantam. The Japanese bantam do not particularly excel at laying eggs, and a yearly yield maxes out at about 75.

 

Where do frizzle chickens come from?

Records of the birds go back as far as the 1600s! Charles Darwin, the famed British evolutionary, made mention of them as being predominantly from India. He called them “Caffie Fowl.” Officially, there is no record (in English, at least) of where these birds came from, however, all details point to Asia, maybe China or the East Indies. 

 

Are all Frizzles Bantams?

No. At least one breed, Cochins, have varieties that are standard-sized. Generally speaking, though, most Frizzles are bantams. 

 

Is the frizzle gene dominant?

Yes, the frizzle gene is dominant and 50% of the offspring will at least have one frizzle gene and one normal gene, though the mixture of the flock does not always produce 50% Frizzle feathered chickens and 50% non-Frizzles. 

 

Are Frizzle roosters and hens friendly to raise?

Yes! While your experience will depend on the individual chicken, most Frizzles are extremely friendly, especially if you give them lots of treats!

 

Coops for Frizzles

 

What size coops do Frizzle Chickens Need?

Because most Frizzle Chickens are bantams, most advice relating to their homes overlap with rules for bantams. Providing them with perches for them to hang out will help keep them happy and content. As far as their coop space is concerned, about 1 to 2 square feet per bird is ideal. This is a little more than half as much as a full-sized chicken requires. 

 

Common Health Issues

As with any other chicken, Frizzles are not immune to their environments, and are susceptible to lice, mites, worms, and other parasites. To help boost their immune systems and beat the bugs, feed apple cider vinegar and crushed garlic daily. You can learn more about my favorite herbs for deterring mites here.

 

Where can you buy Frizzle Chickens?

One of the biggest problems with ordering your Frizzles is getting them to actually be Frizzles. If you buy day-old chicks in advance, there is no guarantee that they will be, and a dozen purchased might result in only six being Frizzles, or you could luck out and find the whole dozen frilled and foofy! Keep such in mind as you plan to acquire your chickens: buying mature, or at least semi-mature birds are more likely to actually be Frizzles. 

 

As far as where to order your chickens:

  • My Pet Chicken has a variety of Frizzles including day-olds. 
  • Meyer Hatchery, based in Ohio, might not immediately have stock, but they have a handy breeding schedule that you can use to help arrange to get the latest additions to your family. 
  • Strombergs’ Chicks and Game Birds, based in Pine River, MN, offers some Red Frizzle Cochin bantams.
  • Purely Poultry, based in Fremont, WI, offers Frizzle Cochin Bantams. 

 

The most important thing is to choose a high-quality hatchery that’s also close to you, so your new pets don’t spend forever in the mail.

 

You might have difficulty finding the colors of Frizzles that match your vision, so it might be best to contact a qualified breeder and discuss color possibilities with them. 

 

Most Frizzle chickens should cost just a little over $5.00, which is a small amount more than some other breeds. The increase price is a result of the need for handlers to plan them carefully.

Buff Orpington Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

Buff Orpington Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

Buff Orpington chickens are one of the most popular breeds out there – and it’s because they’re nearly the perfect chicken!

 

Originating in the United Kingdom, Orpingtons are a heritage breed that’s well loved because of its calm nature, beautiful feathers, and functional purposes.

 

If you’re thinking of adding one to your flock, then read on – you’ll probably fall in love with these golden beauties, too!

 

What Are Buff Orpington Chickens Used For?

Traditionally, this type of chicken was kept as a dual purpose bird for both meat and eggs. Many people today keep them because they’re great egg producers, the roosters protect their hens very well against predators, and because they’re beautiful to look at.

 

Buff Orpington Chicken Personalities

 

Are Buff Orpingtons Friendly?

The Buff Orpington is a calm and friendly chicken breed that will tolerate being cuddled, as long as they’re raised as pets. They’re ideal for families (especially if you want lots of eggs) because they’re docile around children and tolerate being cooped well, as long as they have enough space. They’re great foragers, and will gobble any treats you offer!

 

Are Buff Orpington Roosters Aggressive?

Not usually. Most Buff Orpington roosters enjoy human company, and with their calm personalities, they won’t attack unless provoked (and probably not even then). If you add an Orpington rooster to your flock, you can expect him to keep his hens in line, be gentle with you and the rest of your chickens, and possibly even follow you around for treats!

 

If you’re not sure what to feed your rooster, then you can discover what chickens eat here.

 

You can also learn how to stop a rooster attack here.

 

Caring for Buff Orpingtons

What Do Buff Orpingtons Eat?

The basis of raising healthy chickens is their diet. Orpington chickens should have:

  • A 16% protein feed
  • 24 hour access to fresh water
  • Oyster shells or a high calcium treat for strong eggshells

 

If you want your chickens to forage for their diet (not recommended – read why here) or want to grow food for them to reduce feed costs, you can read about alternative feeds here and what chickens can eat from the garden here.

 

Many people do grow food for their chickens – corn, wheat, and millet are good options, although you will need to supplement with something like black soldier fly larvae or eggs for additional protein.

 

If you want to make your own feed, you can use my recipe here, or if you want to buy a commercial layer feed, here’s my recommendation.

 

You will also need a feeder. While a big dog bowl is one option, you can also use an automatic feeder, which will make life easier for you (especially important if you work late). You can read about the chicken feeders I recommend here.

 

As for waterers, an automatic waterer is always a good idea because you can be sure your flock has constant access to water. I have a tutorial to build a $12 DIY waterer here. You can also see the commercial waterers I recommend here.

 

Do Buff Orpingtons Go Broody?

While broodiness (when a hen “goes broody” to means she wants to hatch eggs) depends on the individual chicken, Buff Orpington hens are well-known for their desire to hatch eggs. Like Silkie chickens, you might notice that every spring, she wants to sit on eggs.

 

During this time, you might notice your otherwise calm hen turn into a dinosaur when you try touching her or the eggs – this is normal, and expected. She’s protecting her nest like a good mother!

 

If you don’t want your Orpington hens to go broody, then just remove the eggs 2-3 times a day from her nest.

 

To care for a broody hen, make sure you keep food and water dishes close by, and make sure she doesn’t get too warm in the summer. If you live in a very hot area where summers are brutal, it might be better to not allow her to hatch eggs. She’ll be sitting nearly 24 hours a day for 21 days – that’s a long time to be so hot, and she might get heat stroke.

 

How Much Space Do Buff Orpingtons Need?

Because of their size (they are one of the largest chicken breeds out there), Orpingtons need 10 square feet of space per chicken in their coop. So, if you have 6 chickens, your coop should be at least 60 square feet. This reduces bad behaviors like fighting and feather picking, and keeps the coop from getting smelly.

 

You can learn how to build a chicken coop here that’ll work well for Buff Orpingtons. Because, like all birds, Orpingtons can be eaten by predators like raccoons, be sure to use the right chicken wire to keep them safe.

 

Another option is an automatic chicken coop door – they make life easier and keep predators and rodents out of your coop.

 

Buff Orpington Breed Standard and Appearance

Buff Orpingtons have changed little from the time they were first introduced to the public back in the 19th century. They were developed in the town of Orpington, and quickly became popular because of their beautiful appearances, tendency to produce lots of eggs, and friendly personalities. They were admitted into the American Poultry Standard of Perfection in the 19th century.

 

While the buff variety is the most popular, many people raise other colors of Orpingtons. The breed has white legs, and a single comb that’s red and very large.

 

How Big Is A Buff Orpington?

Orpington chickens can weigh up to 10 pounds, with the hens weighing around 7 pounds. The bantam varieties are much smaller, weighing around 4 pounds. Their size, however, is determined by genetics and diet – so be sure to feed your chickens a high protein diet of at least 16% layer feed.

 

What Color Is A Buff Orpington?

The Buff Orpington is a orange gold color, which is very striking, especially in the sun. Buffs are only one color option – Orpington chickens come in many more colors.

 

Orpington chicken colors include:

  • Buff
  • Black
  • White
  • Blue
  • Chocolate Cuckoo (unrecognized)
  • Jubilee (unrecognized)
  • Lavender Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Lavender (unrecognized)
  • Chocolate (unrecognized)
  • Splash (unrecognized)

 

While the buff color is most popular and easy to find, more and more breeders are raising Lavender, Chocolate Cuckoo, and Jubilee Orpingtons because of their calm natures and striking feather combinations. Lavender Orpingtons also have a frizzle variety, which gives them the look of a Muppet (you can read more about frizzle chickens here and lavender orpingtons here). Blue Orpington chickens are relatively rare in the United States.

 

What Color Legs Do Buff Orpingtons Have?

Buff Orpingtons have whitish colored shanks and feet. If your Orpington doesn’t, then it’s likely a hybrid.

 

How Much Does A Buff Orpington Weigh?

Buff Orpingtons weigh up to 10 pounds, while the hens weigh about 7 or 8 pounds. Their weight will depend on their diet, which should include lots of protein and fresh water.

 

How Long Do Buff Orpington Chickens Live?

Like most chickens, Orpingtons can live 5-10 years, although some readers have reported their chickens living to 13 years. You can increase the lifespan of your chickens with a good diet and quality shelter. When they’re chicks, making sure they stay warm and have enough food and water will also help increase their chances of a long, happy life. You can read more about how long chickens live here.

 

Are Buff Orpington Chickens Cold Hardy?

Yes, with their fluffy feathers, Orpington chickens are very cold hardy, and can endure temperatures down to -10 F without supplemental heat. It’s very important to feed them well and provide fresh water if it gets cold in your area – without enough calories, they will not last the winter. You can learn how to keep their water from freezing here. To prevent frostbite, cover their combs with petroleum jelly or lanolin, and make sure they stay out of moisture.

 

Are Buff Orpingtons Loud?

The roosters can be loud when they crow. However, they don’t crow excessively. The hens are very quiet – you probably wouldn’t even notice they’re around!

 

Are Buff Orpingtons Quiet?

Yes, the hens are very quiet. The roosters will crow, however, especially if there’s lot of other roosters. You’ll also notice the roosters making soft clucking sounds at the hens. This is called “tidbitting” and it’s how the rooster rounds up his hens whenever he’s found a tasty treat.

 

Do Lavender Orpingtons Breed True?

Yes, Lavender Orpington chickens breed true.

 

Buff Orpington Eggs

What Age Do Buff Orpingtons Start Laying?

Buff Orpington egg production starts at about 6 months, although it largely depends on the individual bird and her diet. It’s important to feed your hens a 16% protein diet, and to supplement with calcium. If your chickens aren’t laying eggs, you can troubleshoot it here.

 

How Many Years Do Buff Orpington Chickens Lay Eggs?

Most chickens are very productive between 9 months and 3 years of age. After their third year, you will likely see a reduction in their egg production. However, not all chickens will stop laying – some will be productive until they’re 6 years old, although it’s likely they will only lay the occasional egg.

 

How Many Eggs Do Buff Orpingtons Lay Per Year?

You can expect about 280 per year, although this will vary depending on the diet and health of the hen. To keep them laying, provide a high protein diet and lots of fresh water and calcium.

 

What Color Eggs Do Buff Orpingtons Lay?

Buff Orpingtons are a reliable egg layer that produces brown eggs.

 

How Big Are Buff Orpington Eggs?

The Buff Orpington produces large brown eggs.

 

Do Buff Orpingtons Lay In The Winter?

Yes, if provided with supplemental lighting. Most chickens need about 12-14 hours a day to lay eggs – the light sparks hormones production, which then prompts the hen to start laying. If you add 2-3 daylight bulbs (75 watt or LED lights are fine) to their coop, then you can increase the amount of light they’re exposed to. Be sure the lamps don’t get hot, otherwise, they can spark a fire. It’s also a perfectly fine decision to let them take the winter off from laying.

 

What Color Are Lavender Orpington Eggs?

Like other Orpingtons, Lavender Orpingtons lay brown eggs.

 

How Long Do Buff Orpington Eggs Take To Hatch?

Like all chickens, Orpington chicks take approximately 21 days to hatch. You can learn more about how to hatch eggs here and the best incubators we recommend here.

 

Where Can I Buy Buff Orpingtons?

You can find Buff Orpington chickens for sale at your local farm store such as Tractor Supply, and also online at Meyer Hatchery, Cackle Hatchery, and Murray McMurray Hatchery. You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.

 

What To Look For When Buying A Buff Orpington

Look for chicks that appear healthy, and are free of pasty butt. They should have white legs with no feathers on them. Their beaks should be well formed, and come together neatly (no scissor beak). The eyes should be bright, and the chick should be interested in its surroundings. It’s always best to buy your chicks from a local, knowledgeable breeder, or a major hatchery.

 

Do you raise Buff Orpington chickens? What’s your favorite part of the breed? Leave a comment below!

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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