The Buff Orpington is by far the best known of all the Orpington colours and is easily recognised by its beautiful even golden tones.
KeithsOrps is home to some of the top Buff large fowl blood lines in the country thanks to Paul and Tina Jones of Manor Poultry in Staffordshire who have swept the show world with their top quality strain of large Buffs. My breeding groups are directly hatched from their David Pownell purchased foundation stock that have produced countless winners for Paul and Tina.
The Buff Orpington was the third colour of Orpington to be introduced by William Cook. After the Black in 1886 and the White in 1893 the Buff made its debut in 1894 at the London Dairy Show.
During this period the Buff colour was very desirable throughout the poultry world and it was a logical business move of William Cook to produce his newly created Orpington in such a popular colour.
BREED STANDARD GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
Carriage: Bold, upright and graceful; that of an active fowl Type: Body deep, broad, cobby. Back nicely curved with a somewhat short concave outlining.Saddle: wide and slightly raising with full hackle. Breast: broad, deep and well rounded, not flat. Wings: small, nicely formed and carried close to the body, the ends almost hodden by the saddle hackle. Tail: rather short, compact, flowing and high, but no means squirrel tail. Head small and neat, fairly full over the eyes. Beak: strong and nicely curved. Eyes large and bold. Comb: single, small, firmly set on head, evenly serrated and free from side sprigs. Face smooth. Wattles of medium length, rather oblong and nicely rounded at the bottom. Ear lobes: small and elongated. Neck: of medium length, curved, compact and with full hackles.Legs and feet: Legs short and strong, the thigh almost hidden by the body feathers, well set apart. Toes, four, straight and well spread.Plumage: Fairly profuse but close, not soft loose and fluffy as in the Cochin or close and hard as in Game Fowl.
The general characteristics are similar to those of the male. Her cushion should be wide and almost flat and slightly raising to the tail, sufficient to give back a graceful appearance with an outline approaching concave.
Clear even Buff throughout to the skin.
In both sexes; beak white or horn, eyes red or orange, comb, face, earlobes and wattles bright red.
Legs, feet and toe nails white.
Mature cockerels 8 - 10 lb
Females 6 - 8 lb
Old birds sometimes a little heavier.
SCALE OF POINTS
Type and size - 40
Head - 15
Legs and feet - 10
Colour/ Plumage - 30
Condition - 5
TOTAL - 100
Side spikes on comb. White in earlobes.
Feather or fluff on shanks or legs. Long legs.
Yellow skin or yellow on feet or shanks.
Coarseness in head, legs or feathers.
Disqualification's: Trimming or faking.
BREEDING FOR BUFF COLOUR
The Buff colour in Orpingtons can vary hugely and the exact shade of Buff that is considered correct is a matter of opinion to the individual breeder. The Poultry Standards book states they should be an even shade of Buff throughout and this must be the basis for breeding good exhibition standard Buff Orpingtons.
All Buff birds will bleach out their colour in direct sunlight so exhibition birds should be kept either indoors or provided with complete shade during the summer months. If the birds get wet the rain on the feathers acts as a magnifier and then under the suns rays this will quicken the bleaching process.
The genes that make up the Buff colouring are a complex mixture, genetically a gold bird based on Wheaten with added restricting and diluting genes to lighten the colour and spread it evenly over the bird’s entire body. It is always said that like breeds like so breeding even Buff colouring must come from parents of exceptional quality.
The Buff Orpington must be an even shade of Buff throughout with a sound Buff under colour. Some birds may appear to have an even colour but under close inspection when the feathers are parted they often show too light a ground colour, tending towards white or grey or may show shafting in the quill of the feathers.
Any variation in colour should be avoided and these birds not bred from. When selecting breeding birds pay particular attention to select against any Black, Brown or White throughout the birds plumage. Peppering on the wing flights and tail feathers is a particular problem in some strains of Exhibition Buff Orpingtons.
There seems to be very little information on exactly what shade of buff the exhibition judges are looking for in Buff Orpingtons but a lot of information on what they are not looking for so that is a good start when choosing your breeding birds
E.Campbell states in The Orpington and its varieties ( 1922 )
Every buff feather loses depth of shade from the point where another overlaps it, towards its root the feather becomes fluff and then is lightest of all. The colour of that fluff and of the shaft of the feather is what should be understood by the term “ undercolour.” The less the change of tint between fluff and feather, and the more the shaft carries its buff into the skin, the stronger the undercolour.
The Buff Orpington was officially created by the crossing of the Buff Cochin, the Golden Spangled Hamburgh and the Silver Grey Dorking. This created a splendid all round utility fowl that layed well, fattened easily and fulfilled the desire for the fashionable Buff colour.
The modern exhibition strains of Buff Orpington are a far cry from the original birds created by William Cook but it is the progress of this breed and particularly the development of the Buff that has kept the buff Orpington at the forefront of the poultry world.
I find it amazing that out of all the hundreds of breeds and colours of poultry the Buff Orpington is the most widely known to the general public. I often receive enquiries from potential purchasers that are then shocked to realise that Orpington’s come in any other colour than Buff.