One of the most popular breeds of chicken out there is the Orpington. You may have even heard of the Buff Orpington. What about the lavender variety, though? Beautiful to see in person, Lavender Orpington chickens are considered rare. Yet, if you can get your hands on one, you will have plenty of eggs and chicks to go around. Before you decide to add a Lavender Orpington chicken or several to your flock, check out this complete breed guide for more information.
By the end, you will know if this breed is right for you!
Lavender Orpington at a Glance
Before discussing this chicken, here is an overview of some facts:
|Purpose||Egg laying and hatching|
|Egg Production||3-4 eggs per week, averaging 200 a year|
|Egg Color||Light brown|
|Minimum Habitat Size||2-3 square feet minimum|
|Price Per Chick||$10-$45|
History of the Lavender Orpington Breed
In order to understand where the Lavender Orpington comes from, it is necessary to take a little trip back in time. In the late 1800s, there was something known as the Hen Fever going around. Hen Fever was used to describe the increased interest in new breeds of chickens, as well as breeds that were dual purposes and more practical. Many dual purpose American breeds were being introduced to England during this time, but they did not gain popularity, due to their yellow skin.
That was when William Cook, a coachman living in the town of Orpington, England, decided to try breeding something unique — and up to British standards. He began by breeding Black Plymouth hens with Minorca roosters. The offspring was then mixed with Langshan chickens with featherless legs. The goal was to design a breed that was fast-growing, hardy, and beautiful.
In 1886, William Cook introduced the Orpington chicken. It took only a decade for the breed to gain popularity and to be exported throughout the world. Cook, enjoying his success, decided to try making other colors. Originally, the Orpington was only black, but he soon released a White Orpington, then Buff, Jubilee, and Spangled. A.C. Gilbert, who was Cook’s son-in-law, developed the Cuckoo and Blue variations.
The Lavender variant is one of the most recent colors and has yet to be accepted by the American Poultry Association. During the mid-1990s, Priscilla Middleton, a famous UK breeder, started working on the color. Now, Lavender Orpingtons are widely owned throughout the UK, Europe, and even the US.
What Do Lavender Orpingtons Look Like?
Similar in body shape to the Buff Orpington, Lavender Orpingtons are beautiful to see in pictures and real life.
Since this is not an auto-sexing breed, Lavender Orpington chicks are difficult to pick out of the crowd. Most of them are born with yellow down that is occasionally streaked with gray or lavender. Their beaks are notably black. As the chicks get older, however, they start to look like miniature versions of the adults. Pullets begin to develop more lavender and small-sized combs.
Are these chickens truly purple? Well, no. When describing the lavender color, you may see more of a gray, particularly around the head and neck on both males and females. Roosters tend to have dark gray feathers on the tail. The lavender is more visible along the body and around the wings.
Lavender Orpington chickens are big, with females averaging around 8 pounds and roosters reaching 10 pounds easily. With their profusion of dense plumage, these birds look significantly larger than they really are. The feathering does provide a clean outline of the body, and their legs are featherless. The skin is a whitish-slate color that looks blue around the feet. If a Lavender Orpington has any feathering on its legs, it could be disqualified from shows.
Their beaks are dark, either black or bone-colored. The eyes are a reddish tone that almost matches the bright red of the comb, wattles, and earlobes. Both hens and roosters have a five point single comb that is fairly close to the head.
There is currently no breed standard for the Lavender Orpington. Yet, due to the increased popularity, it is anticipated that the APA will recognize the color as part of the breed standard soon. Therefore, if you use the general Orpington standard, your lavender lady should sit close to the ground and have a broad body. The back is short and curved. Both males and females have short tail feathers.
Lavender Orpington Temperament
Looking for a chicken with a loving personality? The Orpington breed is known for being friendly and docile — the Golden Retrievers of chickens, if you will. Because they are such an amicable breed, they make excellent pets for families with children. When raised from chicks, Lavender Orpingtons learn quickly to sit on your lap and ask for treats. Some will even be motivated enough to learn tricks.
If you see an adult Lavender Orpington, though, they will come off as reserved and submissive. Shy at first, these birds will take some time to get to know you before coming out of their shell. The hens tend to be more friendly than the roosters, but even the males are mild-mannered. Keep in mind that when Orpington roosters are kept in small enclosures, they tend to become territorial.
These chickens are also very quiet and won’t disturb the neighbors. Yes, they cluck and communicate with each other, but they do not get obnoxious.
Free-Ranging With Orpingtons
If you want to let your birds out to play, be mindful that Orpington chickens are not as savvy at free-ranging as some other breeds. While Lavender Orpingtons will love having the chance to forage for bugs in the piles of leaves, they become so absorbed in the hunt that they forget about their surroundings. Hens are susceptible to being attacked by predators, especially if you do not have a fenced-in yard.
The best way to promote safer free-ranging for your Lavender chickens is to have a rooster. Orpington males will be protective of the flock and can help alert the oblivious hens to when danger is near.
How to Care For This Breed
Your Lavender Orpington may be considered rare, but they are low maintenance. Beginner-friendly, this breed does not need much space to thrive. Here are some things to keep in mind when caring for Lavender Orpington chickens:
The one thing that Orpington chickens need is space — but not much. As long as you can provide about 2-3 square feet per bird, you should be fine. However, the recommended allotment is around 8-10 square feet, particularly if you have a mixed flock. Orpington chickens are large, but they are also bullied by more aggressive breeds when there is less space available.
The chicken run should be designed to protect Orpington chickens from harmful sunlight. The Lavender Orpington should not spend too much time in the sun, as they can overheat. Sometimes their feathers also start to yellow.
Orpington chickens can fly but not far or high, so a 3-foot tall fence is more than enough to keep them contained.
In the coop, the perches should be lowered to accommodate their large size. If they are forced to jump down from too high a perch, they could injure their legs. Ensure the coop is not drafty or humid, as these birds can become sick when cold and damp.
Being that Lavender Orpingtons are big, they are going to need quite a bit of protein as chicks — around 20% protein — to ensure they develop properly. As adults, Orpingtons are not picky and will eat just about anything you give them. You can let your Lavender Orpington ladies free-range, since they enjoy seeking out seeds, grass, and insects.
The main health concern with Orpington chickens is their size. Leg injuries are common in this breed. Due to their weight, Lavender Orpington chickens can be lazy and refuse to get exercise. You may have to tempt them with treats, such as cabbage hanging from a rope above them. Free-ranging can also help your chickens shed some unhealthy weight.
Additionally, the thickness of their feathers makes Lavender Orpington hens walking feather dusters. Lice, mites, and worms can be easily picked up by their plumage. Their feathers also put them at risk of overheating in the summer. Should their feathers get wet, they may be unable to warm up and could die. Monitor the health of your chickens regularly. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is best to act immediately and get them to a veterinarian.
That said, the breed is hardy and has no breed-linked diseases or conditions to discuss.
In this video, you can see how chickens of this breed walk in the enclosure around the feeder:
Egg-Laying and Broodiness
One of the reasons people seek out Orpington chickens is for their ability to lay a decent amount of eggs. The Lavender Orpington is a continuous layer that averages around 200 medium-sized eggs annually. The eggs are light brown in color.
This may sound ideal, but you cannot forget that this breed gets broody. Once or twice a year, Lavender Orpington hens will want to hatch their eggs and mother them. During this time, you can use your hens as incubators for other nests that were left unattended. Slip the eggs under your Orpington. She will happily mother any chick that hatches from underneath her.
Breeding The Lavender Color
The lavender color is a recessive gene that dilutes. In other words, when a chicken has a diluting gene, the base color becomes modified. So, for the Lavender Orpington, the lavender color is created by cutting pigment out of the black feathers. Another example would be red feathers getting diluted to light straw.
Therefore, if you want to breed more Lavender Orpington chickens on your own, you are going to need parents that each have a copy of the lavender gene. This is simple in theory, but the practice can be time consuming. You want to buy two unrelated chickens to mate. Both can be lavender in color, though, to make your life easier.
There is one downside to experimenting with breeding the lavender variation on your own. The gene that makes lavender possible is also associated with the “tail shredder” gene, which causes delayed feather growth.
Is The Lavender Orpington Right For You?
Some breeds of chicken are far more friendly and docile than others. If you are looking for a loving bird that is perfect for children to tend to, then this is the breed for you. Lavender Orpington hens are known to be calm and cuddly. Even the roosters are well-behaved, though they should be supervised if you let a child spend time with them. Also, keep in mind the broodiness of the hens!
Furthermore, Lavender Orpington chickens are hardy. Tolerant to the cold, these birds are ideal for cooler climates. However, they should never be wet, as that can cause health problems or even death. The same applies to the heat. These chickens are large and have dense plumage that could cause overheating. As long as you provide plenty of shade and cold water, your Lavender Orpingtons will be able to withstand summer.
Orpingtons, even Lavender Orpingtons, are excellent to take to shows. Although the APA has not yet recognized the lavender color, you are not excluded from exhibitions.
In short, these are excellent birds to keep as pets as well as for eggs. They are stately, beautiful, and fun to raise.
Final Thoughts on the Lavender Orpington
Having gone through this complete breed guide on the Lavender Orpington, you should now have a clear picture about whether this breed is going to mesh with your flock or not. Lavender Orpingtons deserve the recognition they have received, as they can provide love, eggs, and even chicks. While there are some cons, such as broodiness, the advantages to bringing home an Orpington are many.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.