Breeding more functionality and utility into the Orpington?

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the SOP' started by katefollot, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. katefollot

    katefollot Chillin' With My Peeps

    Not that they aren't lovely as they are.

    I'm just wondering if there is anyone with breeding programs focused on out crossing to increase egg production while still preserving the specific Orpington traits? Or one that only breeds hens that don't have to be AI due to so much fluff?

    I'm not new to chickens, but I'm new to breeds so I apologize if the UOC has an official position on this that I am unaware of. Regardless of the official position, I would really interested to hear what people are doing!
  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    You should converse
    With BYCer : Dragonlady. She bred poultry for over 50 yrs. Stunning
    Buff Orpingtions . And I remember her saying they were good layers.
  3. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina
    The "Standard Bred" strains that I know of are reasonably good layers as they are. I am not familiar with them all, of course.

    Concerning the feathering and fluff, that does take away from utility. There is no way around that. The American strains are not as excessively feathered as the English strains, or crosses thereof. That is something that has to be considered.
  4. jenniferlamar70

    jenniferlamar70 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2016
    Northern California
    I'm trying out silkies with buff orpingtons. Hoping to retain broodiness and good mothering quality but improve egg laying capabilities as well as hardiness. Just started so we will see.
  5. katefollot

    katefollot Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm making my way through the Breeding for Production thread and have really learned a lot from DragonLady's posts, as well as everyone elses. And I don't mention everyone elses posts as an afterthought, but DragonLady's posts really stuck with me because of how ruthlessly she culls (and how successful it is).

    jenniferlamar70- That's a really intriguing cross, let me know how it goes!
  6. GaryDean26

    GaryDean26 Chicken Czar

    Dec 22, 2011
    McAlester, OK
    My Coop
    When you say "Orpington traits" what are you refering too? The APA standard or perfection? The imported English Orpinton type birds? Other?

    I ask because the performance of the bird has a strong relationship with the type of the bird (health, feed, flock management, etc being other key factors). Breed standard are developed that specify the type/build that the bird should have to meet the intent of the breed. Laying breeds are light weight birds with long back, wide hips and lean breast. I like to think of them as a triangle with the head and breast being point opening up to a wide hips. The thin breast means that energy is is not being diverted in building an maintaning muscel and can all go into egg production. The wide hips mean that they organs are not cramped and eggs can be produced with out restriction. I like to think of a meat bird as a Reverese triangle. The point being the tail and the wide side of the triangle being the breast. Wide breast mean more breast meat and also made a bird that can be fattered and finished more efficently. I think of dual purpose breeds and a rectangle. Wide and carrying that width all the way through the hips.

    For high production in the Orpington breed you will want a dual purpose type bird. That would mean a wide breat and good width all the way back through the hips. If you trap nest and select strictly for production you will move to lighter weight birds. If that is what you wan't, go for it but that is not what I think most would allow as an "Orpington trait". You want big birds. That is what makes the Orpington impressive. We should discuss the difference between and English Orpington and an APA orpington. The APA Orpington calls for a long back. Long bodies creat more room for internal organs and birds that don't have cramped internal organs lay more eggs. The English Orpingtons have very short backs and look like Cochins with out feathers on their legs. The short back birds are not good layers. My bother breeds Orps and him wife has said over and over again that they are the most worthless layers they have seen. The English Orpingtons that I have seem are huge birds with a wide breast and like the meat birds with narrow hips and wide breast done have the laying capacity and birds with wide hips. So If you want an English Standard (i.e. large birds, wide breast, short backs) then you may struggle with getting really productive hens. If you go the APA standard with wide hips and long backs you will be more productive birds.

    Another thing to check on dual purpose birds that you want to be productive are the pelvic bones. In the dual purpose breeds I have worked with I occaccionally will come across a hen with pelvic bones that are really think. One Black Copper Maran had bone that were a full inch in thickness. She was the biggest fullest hen in the flock but we culled her because I knew she would NOT be a productive layer. The thinner the pelvic bone the more eggs the hens will lay. We didn't want too light of a frame because we wanted a sturdy bird so we sold hens with less than a 1/4" think pelvic bone as layers and kept those with the 1/4 pelvic bones for to work with. You also need to make sure the Pelvic nones ahd straight. move hens have them dent/curving inward. That makes it more difficult for the hen to lay eggs. So select for straight pelvic bones. I like to keep the feather quality in top shape on my hens, but those that molt quickly will produce more eggs because they take less time off to regrow fethers. laying.production flocks are bread for quick molting. In the fall you will see birds that look very ratty will all bold spots on their neck, back, etc. I don't know how you would define feather quality durring a molt in terms of "orpington traits". need to start by defining what are the "Orpington traits" that you want in you line and which you can do to improve production that doesn't take away from that. You do NOT have to outcross to increase production. If you went out and evaluated the average Orpington flick right now you would find 3 or more types/builds of birds from the same breeding. By working away from thoes with do not have good laying type you can make improvements through selective breeding. If you are concered about the "Orpington type" selective breeding from within the breed is what you should do. It also helps to understand what the capacity is of different laying types. Meat birds with the wide breads and tails that come to a point may only lay 100 eggs a year. Well breed dual purpos hens will lay 180 eggs in their first year of production. Light weight laying breeds can produce 275 eggs in the first year of laying. If wouldn't be a reasonable goal to get 300 eggs a year for 3-5 years out of a wide breasted 12 lbs Orpington hen with a short back.

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