A couple weeks ago I posted the first of a four-part chicken breed review starting with the Blue Orpington. Today, I’m going to review the Buff Orpington. While Blue and Buff Orpington’s share an entwined history that you can read more about in my first post, the Buff is by far more popular here in the states. And for good reason.
I originally had ordered two Buff’s for our little home flock. Unfortunately, one arrived in ill health. Who knows why, but it suffered from “failure to thrive” and shortly after it arrived, it left us. This is one reason why I encourage to NOT include young children when you are first unpacking and tending your new chicks.
Now, there’s something to be said about picking chicks up vs. shipping them. At first I was hesitant about having chicks shipped. When I shared my concern with a more experienced chicken owning friend, they gave me a quizzical look and asked where did I think chicks came from at the hardware or pet stores? Their shipped there silly! So I relented. The chicks arrived while I was at work. Since my husband gets off work earlier than me, he picked them up. The Post Office did a good job of notifying us and keeping them on the counter. I had called a couple days ahead of the chick’s arrival to warn the post master that there would be a package of chirping chicks coming. I was surprised that my urban post office sees quite a few of these, along with full sized pullets, roosters and other critters like bees and worms. They appreciated the notification – another tip for any of you expecting chicks in the post.
When my husband arrived home, he carefully opened the package and lifted out the first chick and set it in our prepared brooder. The poor thing kind of swayed back and forth and didn’t look too good. This was the little Buff that didn’t make it. For a moment, my husband was concerned that all of the chicks were not well. But after he lifted the rest out, he was relieved to find them all running around just fine. He removed the sick chick and tried warming it up under a heat lamp and giving it some water. But by the time I got home, the little chick had passed. I would have named her Tansy.
Luckily, all the others were doing great. Our remaining Buff, named Buttercup by my husband’s mother, was the sweetest looking little yellow puff ball you could imagine. I can see why poor parents are tempted around Easter to take a couple of these chicks home for their kids, not realizing what they’ve got themselves into!
Buttercup is a very lovely Buff. Her feathers are very golden colored. We tease that she’s a “red head” and has the attitude to go with it (I’m allowed to tease – I have full-on red head parent!). Buttercup can be a bit of a brat. But can also be very sweet. She is probably our second smallest gal in the flock and tends to be a loner. In most photos you’ll find the gals all hanging out together – except Buttercup. She’s independent, adventurist and not afraid of anything. At one point when they were around three month old, my mother in law looked outside to find Buttercup climbing the little rhododendron. She only tried a couple of times, before deciding it was uncomfortable. But none of the other girls even made an attempt to climb too. She loves to forage and will try to force her way out of the run whenever I bring treats or come to clean it out. When I can, I relent. But if it’s raining or I don’t have time to stay out with them I have to gently shove her back in.
Buttercup also lays the biggest eggs of all the gals. I was quite surprised, given her size. She is an egg laying machine. Her eggs also tend to be on the darker brown side for her breed – a nice caramel color with a slight olive tint. I can depend on Buttercup to produce 4-5 jumbo eggs every week. In comparison to Bluebells tiny, deformed eggs it’s quite comical.
My husband and I have already decided when we move we’ll get more Buff Orpingtons. The Blue and the Lavender Orps are beautiful, but less utilitarian. They can’t compete in egg laying and don’t seem to demonstrate the street smarts Buttercup exhibits. If a fox were to find its way in our yard, I would expect Buttercup to be smart enough to run while the other Orps would just stand there and look pretty for him. But maybe I’m being too harsh. Either way, if you are looking for an overall good backyard chicken breed, look no further than the Buff Orpington for egg laying, hardiness, friendliness and charm.