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Russian Orloff


Pros: Great foragers, Alert, Active, Rare, Will go broody, Good mothers, Some strains excellent layers, Hardy in all temperature ranges

Cons: Hard to source good stock, most strains are not up to the old SOP, some strains are very inbreed, A bit small for dual purpose birds

Russian Orloff chickens are one of those breeds that captivates those of us who raise them. They are very alert and active, the hens are friendly and calm natured, the roosters are non human aggressive and look after the hens to a degree you seldom see in other breeds. 

Although most think they are from Russia, they most likely originated in the mid-east. I have seen news footage from Afghanistan and Turkey that showed some excellent stock running wild in the background. They were perfected, like many birds, by breeders in Germany and introduced in the 1800's to America by a Count Orloff, from whom they take their name. They were dropped from the Standard Of Perfection in the early 1900's due to lack of interest, but a few dedicated breeders have kept the breed alive over the years, and they now seem to be on the upswing again, although still considered rare and endangered. 

There are a few good breeders of Orloffs in the USA and if you are considering raising these delightful breeds, I'd highly suggest buying from a breeder. Most hatchery Orloffs have been crossed at some point with speckled Sussex, so you will get some throwback traits such as straight combs, white legs and skin and white eggs from most hatchery birds. A good specimen is impressive, with even spangling on hens  and yellow feet, muffs, beards, a ruffed neck and deep-set eyes on both hens and roosters. Roosters should have a very upright stance, and have the most amazing mahogany color of any chicken. 

Besides the spangled birds which are more common although still fairly rare, Orloffs are also available in other super rare colors I have seen such as black, white, mahogany and cuckoo. Breeders are also working on adding additional colors.

Laying ability seems to vary by strain. One of our strains is excellent, laying all year and seldom missing an egg a day although most eggs are too light in color. Another strain we work with are poor layers and have fertility problems and smaller, weaker chicks but are larger at maturity and somewhat better in coloration and lay a darker egg. 

In my opinion, the perfect specimen is yet to be breed, but with several serious breeders working with them now, that goal comes closer every year.

All in all, I highly recommend Orloffs to anyone with at least a little room to free range.


Pros: Hardy, active, larger size, capable defender, good winter layer, gamey looks

Cons: many strains aren't very broody, laying ability varies with lines, some American bloodlines have been doped with Sussex blood

Russian Orloffs are a great breed to keep. Their history dates back to the 1700s when they originated as a farm fowl in Persia. Since then, they have been bred with Malays and muffed fowl from Europe to produce the beautiful bird they are today.


Russian Orloffs are quite rare in the United States due to breeding Sussex blood into the Spangled strains, thereby producing a mutt offspring instead of the real deal. The main sign of Sussex breeding in Orloff strains is white-colored legs. Purebred Orloffs have yellow legs. Orloffs are in need of preservation due to their rarity, and there has been a rising interest in this breed over the past few years.


Orloffs are extremely cold hardy and are known to lay straight through the winter. They are disease-resistant, gamey-looking fowl with a stance similar to many Oriental gamefowl. Males are good defenders of their flocks. The Orloff's unique appearance and simple beauty make them a must-have for your backyard flock.


Pros: Sweet, Gentile, Loves Cuddles and Attention, Good Foragers

Cons: Hard to find, Can be abused by other more agressive birds.



I have 4 hens.  These have to be the sweetest chickens I have had so far.  If I am stationary for more than 60 secods, they run up my back and perch on my shoulder or head.  If I am sitting down, it is a competition between them to see who can crawl into my lap first and get pet/cuddled.  They have a great little happy chirp.  They are very inquisative and easy to get along with.  They don't start fights with other birds and are just nice.  They don't grow as fast as some of the more common breeds.  I would recommend these to anyone.  Mine are not old enough to lay yet, so I can't speak to that.






Pros: Excellent foragers, great personalities, easy to handle, beautiful, consistent layers, good flavor

Cons: Their feed to weight ratio is not as good as some meat and dual purpose birds

I love there birds. They are resilient, healthy and intelligent. Even at night they are alert and hard to sneak up on. Their coloring allows them to hide easily from predators, and they are great foragers. My birds tear apart fire ant hills and eat the eggs and love to snatch up any muscadine that happens to fall to the ground.


They are easy to train, easy to handle, and down right stunning birds. 


Of all the breeds I have had, these are by far my favorite!


Pros: Unique-looking, very hardy, lay well

Cons: Short production span, rare/shallow gene pool

There is a need to help these gorgeous & rare chickens. Some people are breeding mottleds and calling them spangled...others are working on different colors, too....but you have to build the barn before it's painted! Find a reputable breeder and breed towards the standard! Yes, I know there is no current APA Standard for these guys but there is an ABA Standard to work towards.



Pros: Alert, intelligent, great foragers, stunningly smooth and attractive plumage, great with other gentle breeds

Cons: Really want to free-range every day & will give you dirty looks if you don't let them

We got a pair of Orloff hens to add to our flock because we heard they would cheerfully eat fire ant colonies. Well, add centipedes and earwigs to the list, among others. They love to free-range, and can be picked up and carried back to the coop, but are also easily trained to return for a treat. They are gentle and friendly. They get along with our mixed flock of gentle breeds (Ameraucana, Orpington, Silkie, Polish, Australorp, Welsummer), many of whom are quite small; they don't pick on anyone. They will fly up to eat from your hand on your lap or to ride on your forearm like a falcon. They have very pretty voices and are unafraid of cats. Their eggs are somewhat small but they taste good! I am a big fan, and hope to get an unrelated rooster to breed them to soon.


Pros: Gentle, funny, unusual looking

Cons: Too gentle to mix with other breeds.

Love my Orloffs. I have had several go broody without any hatches. I have bought birds from Ideal and Welp hatcheries with good luck.


Pros: Like the large fowl, winter hardy, good layers all year, non aggressive

Cons: Hard to find good balance on Spangled, or bantams period!

These curious birds are generally non-aggressive towards other breeds including the human variety!   As chicks they will mother or protect smaller or larger chicks of other breeds if incubated and brooded.  They will go broody and are good mothers as well as foragers and winter producers of brown eggs.  The males can be protective but typically not aggressive with just one in the flock.

Other than size, a difference between the LF and bantam is the ability to be shown as their own breed.  They are in the ABA Standard, not in the APA Standard.

My own flock consists of four white females and a crele male along with spangled.  There are several varieties that can be shown.    

As starts, when handled frquently, they learn, like most breeds, being held can be an enjoyable, "warm fuzzy", experience and will often seek you out by standing in wait to be held or rushing to the front of the pen in an attempt to grab your attention.

The bantams are rarer and even harder to locate, than the LF.   Make sure your breeder has a fresh line and gets good hatch results. 

These fine, rare ornamental and friendly specimens, should be given an opportunity in your chickening future.   


Pros: Good in winter

Cons: Flighty

My dad likes how this breed looks. I think it is interesting.  It does well in our colder climate. The small comb and the beard help minimize frostbite. I plan to get more of this breed. Mine is more red with the speckles on it. It does talk alot, so it is not the best choice for urban coops. The hen has done well free ranging.


Pros: Beautiful, calm, sweet natured, friendly, lays well, extremely cold hardy, great foragers

Cons: may be picked on by more aggressive birds, hard to find good stock

I ended up with three Spangled Russian Orloff hens after ordering a chick assortment from Sand Hill Preservation center. I love my three girls so much I am now embarking on starting a breeding program. These are amazing birds. They are so calm and gentle they may be picked on in a mixed breed flock, but give them room and they will find a way to avoid the more aggressive birds. They love to forage even in the middle of winter. When the other birds are drinking from a heated water dish these guys would be outside eating snow. If you live in a cold climate you need these birds. These birds need more people passionate about preserving their breed and I promise you if you give these birds a chance they will win you over. I've had a lot of breeds over the past few years and these, by far, are my favorite. 

Russian Orloff

The Russian Orloff is again becoming a popular duel purpose breed after becoming nearly extinct in the last century. The “Orloff” is a bearded, muffed, walnut combed breed. There is mention of this breed in literature that is thought to have been published in 1774. The description was obviously that of the Orloff, but at the time the breed was called “Chlianskaia” and later as “Russians”, which was probably a corruption of or based on Ghilan, the Persian province where the breed was most common and of it’s probable origin. Its present name is taken from Count Orloff-Techesmensky who was quite an Orloff enthusiast and brought them to the eye European and American public. Early importations were principally black. Early APA standards refer to the Orloff as having a “rose comb”. It's true the APA did call the comb rose, but when you read the description it was clearly what today would be called a walnut or strawberry comb and not a true rose comb. When first imported from Russia, Orloffs were heavy boned, hard muscled, meat fowl that look similar to many popular game types. In the early part of the century a hatchery in Pennsylvania is said to have hatched Orloffs in seven colors and nothing else. It is believed to have operated for more than twenty years and closed around the time of World War II. The ABA currently recognizes three varieties. The British Standard lists four varieties--Black, Mahogany, Spangled, and White. There are at least three others--Black Breasted Red (with a Cinnamon hen), Mottled, and Buff. Today this is a very rare fowl in the United States and Canada but gaining in popularity due to its calm nature and often winter production of eggs.

Breed PurposeDual Purpose
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Egg ProductivityMedium
Egg SizeMedium
Egg ColorBrown
Breed TemperamentFriendly,Easily handled,Calm,Bears confinement well,Quiet
Breed Colors/VarietiesThe Russian Orloff comes in Spangled (which is the only color found in the USA) but can be found also in white and black.
Breed SizeLarge Fowl
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC

Chicken Breed Info:

Breed Purpose: Dual Purpose
Comb: Walnut
Broodiness: Average
Climate Tolerance: All Climates

General Egg Info:

Egg Productivity: Medium
Egg Size: Medium
Egg Color: White

Breed Temperament:

Friendly,Easily handled,Calm,Bears confinement well,Quiet

Breed Colors / Varieties:

The Russian Orloff comes in Spangled (which is the only color found in the USA) but can be found also in white and black.

Breed Details:

The Russian Orloff is a rare Historical breed having been developed in Russia/Siberia and in a cold hostile climate. It is becoming more popular in the USA as a all purpose breed. They do well in a mixed flock and have been known to stand in cool water on hot days.


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