Would Orpington Breeders Weigh In, Please?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Pickled Plaid, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. Pickled Plaid

    Pickled Plaid Songster

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    I looked for a guide (might have missed it not using correct search terms), to help me (a newb) understand what to look for in Orpington chicks as far as which to grow out.

    I'm going to dip my toes into hatching next spring, specifically Orpingtons, as I've fallen head over heels with the breed. How do experienced breeders decide which chicks to grow out and which to cull?

    I'm aware the SOP is different for American vs English type...but I'm also curious how to employ SOP on rapidly growing chicks?

    Do you weigh temperament into the selection at all, since they are supposed to be a friendly breed?

    I know each breeder has their own nuanced ideal for their birds and their bloodlines - I have lots to learn before I would be comfortable trying to breed! But if I get 50% hatch rate on a couple sets of eggs, I'll be swimming in fluffy butts! I'd just like to know how to best identify which limited few to keep, and which to find homes for.

    (I'm secretly hoping our son will want to do 4H and/or FFA when he gets older, and if we've got a good foundation, that we could try very limited breeding once I know enough. He has a magical way with the birds, and an incredible friendship with our Buff pullet.)

    I'm aware of major flaws like the comb, and shank color...but I feel like this just barely scratches the surface! I adore our chickens as individuals, which is not a great perspective for breed quality or type.

    Any suggestions for parental red flags when looking at hatching eggs?

    Thank you in advance. I've learned so much here, I just wish my brain could absorb more info faster!
     
  2. PlainOrpingtons2018

    PlainOrpingtons2018 Chirping

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    Orpington eggs range from color, what I recommend is to NOT hatch pullet eggs. Wait until the pullet becomes a hen, and mainly just make sure once they are old enough to judge( about 18 months of age) that you cull properly. Cull doesn’t necessarily mean “kill”, just to remove birds from your breeding program.
    Definitely don’t want wonky combs, feathers on legs, pinched tails or crow breaks. As well as no leakage on black, blues, splash, lavender, etc.
     
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  3. Pickled Plaid

    Pickled Plaid Songster

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    Thank you for that information!

    I'm nowhere near ready to set up a breeding program yet. I'd just like to very slowly acquire a solid foundation of a few birds. (My current girls are lawn and heart candy, bless them)

    I know feathering (color and texture) is very, very much a wait and see characteristic. Especially with any sort of lacing (that guy with the Silver Laced Wyandottes in the Chicken People documentary made my head spin!).

    Are there flaws that no amount of time/growth could fix that would be evident fairly early on? Is leg color pretty much there at hatch? Or crow/cross beak? Or a crooked keel?

    Are there key points in growth and development that I should be assessing the chicks?

    Do you recommend leg bands, and if so, do you put them on before putting them in the brooder so weight and growth can be tracked?

    Are there minor conformational flaws that are straightforward to improve with a carefully chosen mate?

    Sorry for so many dumb questions. It's been my experience that dumb questions are less expensive than dumb mistakes, lol!
     
    slordaz and PlainOrpingtons2018 like this.
  4. PlainOrpingtons2018

    PlainOrpingtons2018 Chirping

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    There are no dumb questions!:) the only way to learn is to ask!
    Well when is comes to chicks what you don’t want are: combs that are not straight, yellow legs(sometimes not noticeable at hatch until the get older), crooked beaks, wry neck, leg feathering, wrong colored chicks(for example a blue chick hatching from a lavender pen), deformed toes, and I think that’s about it lol!

    Feather quality is important, in lavenders, too much lavXlav causes frayed feathers or even light barring.

    Never heard of crooked keel, but I guess if that happens then the chick would be a cull, you only want to keep/breed the best you have:) this helps the breed tremendously!

    I wouldn’t judge chicks too much unless they are obvious culls, wrong skin color, smutty lacing, etc. I usually begin to judge once they’re about 3 months, but don’t get rid of any birds that aren’t obvious culls until they’re about 15-18 months of age.

    I’m a small hobby breeder so I don’t use leg or wing bands, I use a toe puncher. Usually when I separated breeders in pairs, I toe punch chicks differently so I can see which birds are giving me more culls, or better babies. So far this has helped tremendously.

    I only keep and raise about 10-20 chicks, and from there I keep 1 or 2 of the best birds. I usually hatch more pullets than cockerels, which many people consider a blessing but it’s a curse for me lol! I want to have a back up splash cockerel, but no matter how many babies I keep and raise, they all turn out to be pullets!:(

    I’ve seen many breeders use wing bands, so if I were to use anything I think that’s what I’d go for.

    Not all birds are perfect, so there will always be flaws, but it’s better to breed birds that have less flaws:)
     
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  5. Pickled Plaid

    Pickled Plaid Songster

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    Thank you so, so much!

    I will look into toe punching - I'm not familiar with that method. Could I please trouble you for an example of how you utilize toe punching to differentiate different pens/broods?

    I spent my entire childhood working in horse barns - I can pick out balanced equine conformation in a heartbeat. Chickens...not so much.

    I know about the frayed feather problem with lavenders (I've got a feed store purchase who's tail looks like a teased wig belonging to a Vegas showgirl :sick, who's head is heavily barred, who's comb is just not right, and she's a little gypsy faced to boot, lol). She's kind of an English type - we joke that she's a feathered beach ball - but compared to pictures of breeders' English Orps...she's just not proportioned properly. I can't put my finger on it, but even I know she needs to never be bred!

    I have an American style Buff who has a lovely comb, not perfectly distributed golden color, but better than most, with a deep tone and peppery tail. I know the pepper tail is a show DQ, but desirable for keeping deep gold on breeding buffs. She is, however, either blind or visually impaired in her right eye - it seems almost like a lazy eye, but it definitely affects her depth perception and foraging. I just don't know if it was a hatching injury or heritable. She has an exquisite Orpington personality, and if she goes broody, I think I'd like to see if she'd hatch for me. She was much slower to mature than the Lavender, but worth the wait!

    These were my very first chicks. My husband decided we needed chickens - and he was absolutely correct! I've learned a lot since bringing that little peeping box home this spring. As I've compared my girls to pictures, I've definitely noticed aberrations (especially with the Lavender!). But I can't remember how much was apparent when they were fluff balls.

    I doubt my husband will be supportive of multiple grow out pens, or any numerically significant efforts to find A Keeper, as he's a little put out by how much I'm enjoying the birds and how much they adore our son :idunno. So I guess I'm trying to learn as much as I can about early selection, to keep him from accusing me of Crazy Chicken Lady status :).

    This is the BYC topic that brought my attention to crooked keels in Orpingtons (with a warning that it was noticed on birds used for meat).

    In a small population, with me learning to hatch (so nervous and excited about that!), I'd like to also cull unsavory temperament. I'm thinking that will be a case by case, individual judgement call. (My husband just interrupted me to vote for only selecting for temperament - but that's not completely responsible or doing right by the breed.) We're both disabled vets on a fixed income, so buying top shelf, exhibition quality breeder birds isn't something we can afford. I just want to make the most educated decisions I can about the birds we can get, so down the road a few years we have a handful of birds we could viably use as a starting point, while still enjoying them as pets along the way.
     
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  6. PlainOrpingtons2018

    PlainOrpingtons2018 Chirping

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    I know quite a few breeders with stunning birds!! If you’re interested you can pm me on what varieties you’re looking for and I can send you their way!:) Good breeders don’t sell birds to make money, they sell birds to people who WANT to continue working on perfecting the breed:)

    I raise a few varieties of Orpingtons, mainly Uk type, but this year I decided to put American black orpington hens with my Uk type splash cock.

    These are the following birds I raise: BBS, lavender, gold laced, silver laced, bbs jubilee, and mauve. I have a palomino buff Columbian hen, just don’t have a cock for her:(.

    About the crooked keel, I suppose that can be felt on birds when they’re alive, I’ve never had any with that problem, but I guess it’s bound to pop up at some point! Lol

    Btw, there are 3 “types” of Orpington: Uk, American(show quality) and utility(hatchery birds). the difference between these birds are quite significant.
    Uk birds are known as “English”, the Orpington breed is considered English, even hatchery birds are “English”.
    Aside from that, Uk birds follow the British standard, they basically look like cochins without feathered legs.

    American Orpingtons follow the APA standard, this is how the Orpington breed originally was meant to look like. American orps are commonly mistaken for utility type birds(hatchery birds) because they don’t look like “beach balls”.

    Finally, Utility birds are as I said above, hatchery birds. They basically look nothing like American orpingtons, usually they’re smaller, grow faster, have NO good qualities, basically look like leghorns when compared to British standard Orpingtons. They were bred that way by hatcheries, since American and Uk type Orpingtons grow slower and don’t lay as often. Hatcheries bred them to other breeds to get birds that grow faster, and lay sooner. In doing so they lost basically all of the qualities that made them “Orpingtons”.
    Just some info that I though may be useful to you:)
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
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  7. Pickled Plaid

    Pickled Plaid Songster

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    I had no idea! That is incredibly useful. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the types! Are all three varieties considered "dual purpose"? And would the American type be considered "heritage" since it's closer to original type? I don't mean to ask so many dumb questions. I'm utterly fascinated with this breed.

    I have never even heard of a palomino buff Columbian color! I've got to go look that up, lol. Oh my lord, is it ever gorgeous!! I can see why you'd want to hold out for just the right guy for your special girl!

    I feel extremely underqualified to attempt any sort of breeding with any variety of lacing. I think they are absolutely stunning birds, but I need to educate myself in tremendous detail before I'd be comfortable. Lacing seems very persnickety.

    I am thinking about starting and dipping a toe with maybe Buffs - as they're a solid, established color with a good range of bloodlines. Maybe slowly add a breeding pair of another color once I know how to not put a bunch of cringeworthy birds out there. I'm not in a rush, and I'd rather hatch a handful of great birds than hundreds of crappy ones.

    I watched a video on YouTube about toe punching. It seems like a simple, permanent marking system. Do you use toe punching with temporary bands to track individual development, or am I overthinking it?
     
  8. Gray Farms

    Gray Farms Conserve Heritage Breed Livestock

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    Study the Orpington standard thoroughly. The hatchery type Orpingtons are not what the standard is based on. Its based on the English Standard. Orpingtons have to be grown out for a long time to pick birds that will be good candidates for breeder and especially for show birds. They are a very slow maturing breed, my roosters aren't even full size until they are nearly 2 years old.

    I grow out all of mine to 4 months. Then I cull for crocked toes, wry tails, slipped wings, crow skulls, and to many comb points. Then at about 8 months I cull for coloring defects.
     
  9. PlainOrpingtons2018

    PlainOrpingtons2018 Chirping

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    Yes, American orps are considered heritage All 3 “types” are considered dual purpose, they’re meant to be meat birds and egg layers.
    My silver laced orps actually lay quite well, almost daily! Working with laced birds is difficult, MANY culls will have to be sorted through to try and pick the best out of them. I’m having a hard time growing out nice babies from my new sl cock. He’s got great type but his babies aren’t great as far as lacing goes. I’m going to replace him with my original boy who gives me babies with amazing lacing, I’ll be working on type more with them:).
    Some one I highly recommend for buffs is Daniel Velazquez, he’s got amazing birds that are closer to the British standard. Or Jerry Craig Couch for American orps:)

    I don’t keep everything I hatch, so the babies I raise I toe punch.

    When it came to my bbs I was breeding 2 separate pairs, so I would toe punch the chicks the male from pair 1 on their right toe, and the chicks from pair 2 on their left toe. I only raised about 10 chicks from each pair, I raised them together. Maybe I should use wing bands lol, it would probably be more helpful.
     
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  10. Pickled Plaid

    Pickled Plaid Songster

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    Thank you for this information! I definitely want to steer clear of the hatchery type. I feel like its healthier for the birds to mature more slowly. I can be patient if it means healthier birds!

    I need to make a photo folder of examples of faults and DQ's. I think that will help me learn them faster...
     

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