The Buff Orpington was one of three colours of Orpington fowl that were created by William Cook and were named after the village of Orpington in Kent, England.
He introduced the Buff variety in 1894. The Orpington breed soon established itself as a much-loved show bird with their rich even coloured buff feathers, large size and clean white legs, and whose appearance attracts much attention at poultry shows.
Will Burdett, who sadly passed away a few years ago, did an excellent job keeping and promoting the exhibition standard of Buff Orpingtons.
A great read is his book The Orpington Fowl, second edition. I would recommend the book to anyone with an interest in Orpingtons.
In the book Will talks about the breed and shows how he prepared birds for showing in his set-up – cockerel pens, show pens, etc.
An interesting fact is that the Royals have a great connection with the Orpington fowl and on the centenary of The Poultry Club of Great Britain a trio of Buffs from Arthur Hammond Browne was presented to the Queen Mother.
Will Burdett showed the Buff Orpingtons owned by the Queen Mother, whose name appears on various cups throughout the years.
Closer to home we (M & R Neill) fell in love with the Buff Orpingtons and bought our first Buff Orpingtons from well-known breeder David Pownall.
These where kindly brought home as a Santa Claus present by Father Christmas himself (Desmond Horner).
Since then, we have been breeding Buff Orpingtons and have had various successes in the show scene. These include winning two first places at the English National, a first at the Scottish National and also a few show champions in the local showing scene.
Other notable local breeders are Ryan McLaren, Andrew Kerr and just recently Matthew Edwards has started keeping Buff Orpingtons.
It is great to see a recent surge of young people getting into the Buff Orpington breed, as a few years ago there were very few Buffs in Northern Ireland. Hopefully, when things get back to normal, there will be great entries at the local shows.
Getting a Buff Orpington ready for a show starts in the breeding pen. It is important to select the right birds for each breeding pen and give them good quality food and supplements to ensure a healthy chicken.
Most show exhibitors breed from hens as they lay a larger egg and, in theory, this should give you a larger chick to work with.
Once the chick has hatched the real work begins. This includes feeding the right supplements to ensure good growth of the bird and feather condition, selecting the birds with the correct type and correct points on comb, and either dispatching or selling off chicks that do not make the grade.
Finally, after much selection, you are down to the birds that you want to show. A whole new process of show prep starts; washing, drying and grooming the birds so that they are looking their best on show day.
On show day, last minute checks are done on the bird, such as fluffing them up and getting them ready to be judged. Hopefully, after a year’s work, you get some reward. If not, as they say in America, there is no such thing as failure, it is a learning experience.
You can chat to fellow poultry fanciers and breeders and ask for advice. This will provide you with an insight into what they may be doing differently to you.
This may mean trying and adopting techniques and strategies other breeders in the fancy use and through trial and error you will find a method that bests suits you and your set up. Most importantly, however, showing is about the enjoyment and meeting people who share the same interest as you.
If anyone would like to join the Buff Orpington Club, please contact the secretary Matt Watson on Facebook UK Buff Orpington Club 1898.
I would like to wish all the Buff Orpington owners a great year breeding and we look forward to seeing you all at the local shows, hopefully at Balmoral or in the winter at Armagh, Ballymena or Dromore poultry shows.