- Breed Purpose:
- Dual Purpose
- Climate Tolerance:
- All Climates
- Egg Productivity:
- Egg Size:
- Egg Color:
- 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 Size:
- Large Fowl
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 its 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.
Russian Orloff chicks
Russian Orloff juvenile
Russian Orloff hen
Russian Orloff rooster
For more information on this breed and their owners' and breeders' experiences with them, see our breed discussion here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/chicken-breed-focus-russian-orloff.1070895/
- Average User Rating:
Chicken Breed Info:
Breed Purpose: Dual Purpose
Climate Tolerance: All Climates
General Egg Info:
Egg Productivity: Medium
Egg Size: Medium
Egg Color: White
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.
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.
Recent User Reviews
"Favorite Breed of All"
Pros - Docile, friendly, robust, hardy, affectionate, playful, beautiful, intelligent (most of them, at least), great in mixed flocks, weather-proof, kid-friendly
Cons - Big bird = big appetite, currently a cull-heavy breed
From now on whenever I see someone asking for breed recommendations I jump up and shout "ORLOFFS!" I have a lot of friendly breeds (silkies, cochins, OEGB, d'Anvers, modern game, etc) but none are as all-around, overall friendly as my Russian Orloffs. The one I hatched from an egg is the most affectionate bird in the world, she's more cuddly than my cats, and follows at my heel more loyally than the dogs. If I crouch she launches into my lap and burrows her head against me. Those I didn't raise as early on follow me around and beg for attention like puppies. My roosters jump onto my shoulders and preen my hair. Even the hen I just recently added comes running to me and runs around under my feet. I cannot say enough good about them. They're so easy-going and gentle. My big 6 pound cockerel is as gentle as can be with newly hatched chicks, and all my boys love to find special treats and safe nest spots for the hens. Not to mention they are stunning with their intense eyes, bodacious beards, massive size, and eagle beak. They're a favorite of any visitors. Mine live very peacefully in a mixed flock including teeny tiny d'Anvers and massive Langshans. They're not pushovers at all, but they're far from bullies.
The hens are infrequent layers of medium, light-brown eggs but production increases gradually with age. Right now I'm getting three eggs a week from each pullet. They are slow-growers. My 6 months old range in weight from 4 to 6 pounds and my biggest boy, 24" tall, is far from done growing. Very muscular, impressive birds that carry themselves proudly. They're also very playful and goofy. Most roosters are probably going to challenge me if they coming running up behind me, but not the Orloffs. If I hear the distinct thud thud thud of my Orloffs coming up behind me I can expect to hear some very insistent "honking" shortly demanding that I scratch under their beards.
I really cannot say enough good about Russian Orloffs.
I will be honest with my cons:
-They are big birds so they eat a lot. Not as much as production hens, but obviously more than the bantams.
-This is a cull-heavy breed with an active breed group working hard on getting them APA accepted, don't expect a warm welcome if you're purposefully breeding birds without paying any attention to the proposed standard.
-Right now crooked toes and cross-beak is somewhat common, most good breeders have weeded these defects out of their lines, but it still crops up and these birds need to be culled (meaning kept from breeding) for the breed to progress.
-You will fall in love with them and become desperate for more.
"Spangled Russian Orloffs"
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.
"Sweet, beautiful birds"
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.