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.
Lavender Orpington Chickens Background
In 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 Orpingtons
They 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.
The 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 Issues
Like 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 Rooster
One 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.
Now, this doesn’t always work (especially when you have a mixed flock). For example, Buff Orpingtons are almost larger than Wyandotte; even Easter Egger chicks are huge as compared to Wyandottes and Rocks.
- Strut: This is another pointer you might see. It might not be proven scientifically (I know) but it’s a real thing.
You might notice a chick holding himself above the other chicks from the moment he is introduced to the flock. His neck was always high, his chest out. Every day, he will look proud 24/7.
- 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.
Roosters develop saddle feathers that waterfall down and end in points rather than curves. Hens have sadldle feathers too but they don’t do that cascade- thing and they are curved on the edges.
- 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.
If 4/5 out of 6 clues point to rooster, then you most likely have a roo…. But there’s always a chance you’d end up with a hen… Once it crows, you know the sex you have.
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Lavender Orpington Laying Age
Lavender Orpington laying age is around 10-11 month. From that period she can begin laying almost every day till they get old.
Although fancier or show bred Orpington can take a while longer to begin, this is why some people hatchery birds. Orpingtons are slow to mature so they should have been on higher protein for longer.
You can put them on a 16% ration and I like keeping them on a bit more at least until they are full grown and mature, and Orpingtons take at least a year and can take longer to reach full size.
It takes that long to begin laying eggs because the bigger the bird, the longer it takes. Breeds like leghorns mature fastly and lay younger for it, but in my opinion doesn’t have the looks and the staying power of bigger breeds which can begin later but lay longer in their lifetime.
Blue Orpington Vs Lavender Orpington
Lavender is a recess gene, and blue is a Dalton of clack. We will discuss the difference between them.
Lavender is a different color altogether. Blue is part of the andalusion color “family”- black, splash and blue. The 3 colors are bred together to get more black, splash and blue. With lav- you need a lav gene from each parent to get more of that color offspring.
Lavender breeds true. This is the major difference, along with the coloring which should be consistent throughout the body.
lav X lav = 100% lav
Bl X Bl = 25% black, 50% blue, 25% splash
Plus, andalusian blue, also known as blue, aside being drak blue grey in color, doesn’t always breed true 100% of cases either. Lavender, generally called self blue does breed true, and is a pale powdery blue.
The two colors can be used to replace black on birds, however, the lavender will also lighten most of other colors too. Plus, any bird bred to a blue, will most lilely produce black, blue, and a splash/sport pattern in the color bred to. The common ratio is 50% blue’ and 25% each for black and sport.
How to Breed the Lavender Color
In the past we talked about the lavender gene quickly in the Blue Laced Red Wyandottes article quite recently.
In other words – lavender (self-blue in US) and (pearl grey UK), is a recessive, diluting gene.
Diluting simply means that it makes partial changes to the base color. As an example – black is diluted to lavender and red is diluted to straw color. This is very simple explanation that gives you an idea of what the lavender gene does.
To breed the lavender offspring, each of the parent stock needs a copy of the lavender gene.
Although time consuming, the process of creating your own line of Lavenders is pretty straightforward.
You will need to buy from at least two or three unrelated bloodlines to make some measure of success in your project. If you would like to know more about this, read this.
Caution: The lavender gene is similar aligned to a gene that causes retarded feather growth (also known as the “tail shredder” gene) and this occasionally comes to play in the breeding process..
Is The Lavender Orpington Right For Your Flock?
The Lavender Orpington chicken might take a while to get to know you, they can be shy at first, but they will soon love walking with you for lap cuddles, or treats!
They are calm and docile- even the roosters, so they are ideal for small children to be around, although I would never advice you leave a rooster with small children alone (you or any adult should be there with them).
Their tolerance to cold seems fair. They are very cold hardy however they do not do well if they get wet, they can chill and die out pretty quickly. A blow dry after a rub-down is very much enjoyed by the hens!
Heat and high temperatures can be a problem for Orpingtons because of their dense feathering. They need cool water, shade, and dust bath areas readily available to help cool them down.
Another possible problem with too much sunlight is that it will make the Lavender color fade a little into yellow/tan overtones in mature birds.
Officially, the Lavender color is not accepted by the American Poultry Association yet, it does not prevent you from exhibiting/showing off if you so wish.
Orpingtons are cool as show birds – they have a docile almost calm almost bomb-proof demeanor and tolerate a great deal of handling and fussing.
This also puts them at the forefront as a great project bird for the 4H club too, something that many young adults enjoy.
Summary on Lavender Orpington Chickens
The Orpington in whatever color it comes as is a steady, dependable hen. They are friendly, non-aggressive in the slightest of ways and will provide you with a decent amount of eggs.
The only bad side is their broodiness. So, if you do not want broody hens, the Orpington is not for you.
On the other hand, if you like a hen that will sit on any or just about all eggs, the Orpington may be the best hen for you to buy.
They are not costly birds – the average price of a chick sold in the US is around $21.00 or $45.00 for a dozen hatching eggs. So, shop around, you get what you pay for!
They are the most certainly stately and calm birds I have ever seen, so feel free to add them to your flock. They will reward you with love, eggs, and chick.
Do you keep Lavender Orpington chickens? Let us know your experience with them in the comments section below…