Our last article on the Buff Orpington was loved by our readers and made them ask for a Lavender Orpington chickens article. It seems this is the coolest color right now. Orpingtons come in a wide variety of patterns and colors, these last few years have witnessed a continuous rise in interest for not only Lavender but Blues too. The Lavender Orpington is a lovely docile breed that can lay up to 200 eggs each year. In today’s article we will discuss everything you need to know about Lavender Orpingtons, egg laying capabilities, disposition, broodiness and crucially, is it right for your flock? Let’s begin by checking the history of the Orpington breed to give to you some background information. READ MORE: Buff Orpington Chickens Lavender Orpington Chickens white Leghorn hen and rooster How to Keep hawks away from chickens
Lavender Orpington Chickens BackgroundIn the 1880s, England witnessed the first birth of the original Orpington by a man named William Cook who lived in Orpington village in Kent, England. His plan was to build a bird that was good for the table and is a decent layer too. Up until this time the average English chicken was kind of thin and unappetizing affair. He succeeded in his plan of starting the Black Orpington which guaranteed him the level of success he needed on both sides of the Atlantic. From the Black Orpington, he went on to design many other Orpington colors- Buff being the most popular and loved till this day. Mr Cook really created a “brand” rather than a breed initially. When he designed the Buff Orpington, he used various breeds of fowl from the Black Orpington. The Black was made up of Langshan, Minorcas and Barred Rock while the Buff was made up of Cochin, spangled Hamburgs, and Dorking. This was kind of controversial in its day but is majorly accepted practice now. The Orpington was on the endangered list of the American Livestock Breed Conservancy until fairly recently. Recent years have witnessed a big surge in folks keeping poultry and the Orpington has benefitted greatly. Violet Orpington chickens are a relatively new variety of the Orpington family, in fact- you can really say it is a “designer bird”. The UK began with the famous and respected breeder Priscilla Middleton in the mid-1990s’. It has taken her lots of years of cross- breeding to get the correct size and type she wanted, but she has a very successful and impressive line of Lavender Orpington chickens now. The bird is now majorly bred throughout the Europe and the UK having different breed clubs in various European countries as well as the USA and the UK. The USA began with Lavender chicken breeds a bit later than the UK and the Lavender is still a difficult to discover lots of areas. Often said to be “rare”, while looking through the internet I was surprised at how lots of people are selling and breeding Lavender Orpington chickens! I suspect the “rare” refers to good quality stock that compiles with the standards set for the Orpington hen around the world.
Temperament and Appearance of Lavender OrpingtonsThey are a big fluffy, friendly hen- they have abundance feathers which makes them appear larger than they actually are. Backyard lavender keepers are said to be cuddly, docile, curious and docile plus smart too. This makes them look adorable and cute. As they are so quiet and calm they are generally lower in the pecking order than the more assertive ladies of your flock. They are often get picked on by other hens, so be aware of this and deal with it as needed. They are said to forage on the range well although they are most likely to hang out near the feeders- being a bit on the lazy side.
Breed StandardThe Lavender Orpington chickens are not officially recognized color variety in the UK or the US currently. Like all Orpington, the Lavender should appear as a heavy, broad bodied bird standing low to the ground. The back should be curvy and short. The tail is a bit short and fine too. Although they are a large bird is quite compact in its physique. A rooster that is matured will weigh in around 10lb with a mature hen weighing 8lb or so. Orpingtons should be well feathered with smooth feathers that are broad too. The feathers should be “cllse” but not “fluffy” or “tight”. “Tight” feathers follow the body contour- best seen in game birds and “fluffy” would be loose such a a Cochin hen. Shanks and Feet are clean, blue/slate in color. Occasionally a bird will have little feathers on the shanks, this is not acceptable in show circles, but rigorous breeding can eliminate this. The beak is horn/dark colored, eyes a reddish bay color. Wattles, comb, and earlobes are red. They are a single comb variety sporting five points.
Lavender Orpington Egg Laying and Health IssuesLike most Orpingtons, they are kind of a fairly steady layer. They can produce around 170-200 medium sized eggs that are brown in color. Since Orpingtons are known to be broody, they can be broody about once a year. They make wonderful mothers, so if you want to hatch eggs, slip them under your Lavender Orpington chickens! They are heavy birds, so you should make perches a bit lower in order to avoid any injuries to their legs. Because they are a ‘feather duster on legs’, they are most likely to be drawn to mites and lice. They love to dust bath themselves with dust but keep watch over possible infestations especially under the wings and around the vent area. Winter is the toughest period for them to stay clean unless you have indoor dust bath for them.
Lavender Orpington Hen Vs RoosterOne of the hardest part of poultry is their babies. At chick age, they all look the same. This is why chicken sexers (real job) are really rare and the job is damn hard. Chickens do not begin to exhibit gender-identifying traits until they begin getting their feathers…and even then, it can be almost impossible to tell the difference. Here is how to know a Lavender Orpington hen vs rooster:
- Size: This is the most important hint in my experience. Roosters are often big chicks; they grow larger and faster than other babies on/around the same day.
- Strut: This is another pointer you might see. It might not be proven scientifically (I know) but it’s a real thing.
- Feet: The roosters often have bigger feet. Rooster feets are huge, and when you compare them with the chicks born around/on the same day.
- Combs: This one is very tricky as I have seen pretty hens with larger comb. Roosters however develop their combs quicker. If you have a rose-comb breed, like Easter Eggers or Wyandottes, a rooster generally has a 3-rose comb). Single combs (one line right down the center) are difficult to really peg as hen or rooster.
- Saddle Feathers: This is the area of a chicken’s back, right before the end tail and a little behind the wings, is where a saddle would sit.
- Tail feathers: Beautiful looking green feather-like that fall downward pointing to the ground. A hen can have long tail feathers, too, but they often do not arc away from her body in a dramatic manner.
- Crow: This is the only Fool-proff 100% accuate method of knowing if you’ve got a roo. All other pointers shared above are just…… clues. At times, hens will have feathers that look pointy. Other times roosters are smaller as babies. You will not fully know for sure if you got a M or F until you step back and look at the complete bird.