Dual Purpose bred for production, not show


10 Years
Mar 28, 2009
Northern Califonia
I have some hatchery buff orpingtons, whom I love. But their size and growth rate leave something to be desired and their laying is not that impressive. I would like to track down some dual purpose birds who have been bred with hardiness, good mothering instincts, meat and egg production, and good foraging skills; just like our great-grandmothers would have wanted. I could not care less about showing, and it seems like that is what breeders breed for.

Do you know of some great production strains for Buff Orpington, Delaware, or Austalorp for the practical homesteader?

Oh, does the white color of the Delaware make it more of a target for predators? My birds free range during daylight hours.

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My friend raises hatchery New Hampshire Reds for eggs, then slaughters them when they slow down their laying. He says theya re the best dual pupose bird there is. Me, I just keep them for eggs. Speaking of which, I havea snow white EE and it never has been a target for predators. The only predator attack I ever had targeted my silvery Barred Rock rooster. He survived the dog attack quite handily and went on to his own flock after he started crowing.
Breeder Orps make for much better dual purpose birds. My breeder quality orps are easily twice the size of the hatchery ones. My breeder orp hens are from 6 lbs (pullet really, 7 months old) to 7 1/2 lbs live. Hatchery ones - 4 lbs. That said, I like the looks of the Delaware much better for dual purpose. Orps are fantastic and I love mine, but they do put on the fat and I'm pretty sure that for feed to meat, Delaware or one of it's parent breeds such as New Hampshire would be better. So far as I've seen and heard, they all lay pretty much the same, pretty well. Like you, the white color would make me hesitate too if I had a predator problem. Evidently the hawks are put off by my chickens size.
My show/breeder quality Orps are huge, much larger than the hatchery Buffs that I have, but the buffs are great moms and are broody all summer. I butchered 2 15 week Lav. Orp roos last fall, and they dressed out close to 6#. I also butchered 4 SLW, and they were closer to 6.5# dressed out at 16 weeks.
Yes, we've been happy with them too, they are a great breed. I'm just looking for a BIG orp who still lays reliably, and has the mothering instincts needed for a self-sustaining flock.
My girls lay almost every day, they are still young, most of them were hatched last May or June, so none of them have gone broody yet. I almost hope they don't so they keep laying. I have plenty of broodys with the hatchery Buffs. I love my breeder/show Orps, they are so gentle and the Roos are great birds, huge and totally non agressive. I just hatched out a mixed bunch of eggs, and the Orps are almost twice the size of the other chicks.
"Oh, does the white color of the Delaware make it more of a target for predators? My birds free range during daylight hours."
I have more night predators than day. At night the color doesn't seem to effect one way or the other. The only time I have had hawk problems was this last fall. Had some white Cornish bantams in with several dark colored birds. The whites were the only ones the hawks would try to get (and on one occasion did). Coincidence????
I have a breeder Orp girl hatched in March that is broody right now. They very much are a good bird if you're looking for dual purpose and sustainability. Some have said they have Orps that rarely go broody but that appears to me to be the exception rather than the rule. Most here in the various Orpington threads remark often how broody they are, but they are talking about breeder birds, not hatchery ones. My girls are from 6 to 8 lbs and I am about to butcher a cockerel hatched in July that is almost 9 lbs live, again, a breeder bird, not hatchery. And the girls lay 5-6 eggs a week. After their first winter they will stop for a while subsequent winters but I don't run a commercial egg operation so I'm fine with that. Just means they'll lay for more years.

ETA: Just weighed the boy in my avatar and he's 11 lbs at 7 months.
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