When we raised meat chickens in our backyard flock, Orpingtons were one of our favorite breeds.
Known as “gentle giants” for their even temperaments, Orpingtons have a broad body and chest with almost as much white breast meat as a small turkey.
Orpington chickens are great for eating. As dual-purpose chickens bred for egg production and meat, Orpingtons are cooked and eaten like any other chicken but do better when cooked slowly. They are also known for being long-lived birds with few health issues.
The traditional idea is to raise cockerels for meat and keep hens for egg production until they no longer lay, then eat them.
To find out more about raising and butchering Orpington chickens, keep reading!
When to Butcher Buff Orpington Chickens?
Buff Orpingtons are by far the most popular breed of Orpington.
Due to their size, Buff Orpingtons take more than twice the time to finish as regular broiler chickens, coming out between 4 to 5 months at the earliest.
Orpington chickens gain about a pound of meat during each month of age, so it is entirely up to you when to butcher.
|Age in Months||Weight of Hen||Weight of Cockerel|
|4||3.31 lb (1.50 Kg)||3.67 lb (1.66 Kg)|
|5||3.78 lb (1.71 Kg)||4.44 lb (2.01 Kg)|
|6||5 lb (2.2 Kg)||6 lb (2.7 Kg)|
|7||6 lb (2.7 Kg)||7 lb (3.1Kg)|
|8||7 lb (3.1 Kg)||8 lb (3.62 Kg)|
|9||8 lb (3.62 Kg)||9 lb (4.0 Kg)|
Wait until the bird grows past the light and bony stage and ensure the skin is thin and the flesh firm.
Finished cockerels weigh an average of 10 pounds, and hens weigh around 8 pounds.
The longer they grow out, the fuller the flavor, giving you a heavier bird with firmer textured meat.
It feels like they will eat you out of house and home while raising them, but it is worth it.
Are Buff Orpingtons Better for Meat or Egg production?
As a dual-purpose breed, Buff Orpingtons can weigh up to 14 pounds for butchering, making them a terrific meat producer.
Buff Orpingtons are fine egg layers, producing 200-280 large brown eggs a year, so they are good for both meat and egg production.
A stately, beautiful bird, Buffs have become very popular show birds to decrease their egg production in favor of show qualities.
Buff Orps are also very friendly chickens, making them an excellent choice for backyard chicken keepers.
Raising Orpington Chickens
This heritage chicken has several color varieties, including:
All share a docile temperament and friendly nature.
This makes them great birds for beginners, established poultry owners, families, children, and 4-H projects.
The rarest variety of Orpington is the Blue coloration.
One of the most common variations of Orpingtons is the Buff, with its pale yellow or golden feathers.
Unlike some breeds of chickens, Orpingtons are hardy enough to handle most weather conditions.
They can survive bitter winter months just fine with insulation from their fluffy feathers.
They have a little bit more trouble in the summer months and can easily overheat if not given access to plenty of shade.
Orpingtons were bred from Minorca, Lanshan, and Plymouth Rock chickens by William Cook in 1866 in the UK and thrived in similar climates.
They were originally black chickens but soon developed other color variants.
These large, densely-feathered egg-and-meat birds need plenty of shade, ventilation, and freshwater to stay comfortable.
As a large breed, Orpingtons need about 5-10′ square feet per bird but handle confinement well.
Orpingtons do well in a tractor on grass or pasture.
But a regular coop will do as well, particularly in more extreme temperatures when they need extra protection.
Feeding chickens on pasture will give them leaner meat.
When you are almost ready to process your birds, keep them in a run and feed them a broiler finishing feed, so they reach their target weight quickly.
Do not feed them for 24 hours before slaughter to make it a cleaner process.
Further Reading: Feeding Orpington Chickens Guide
Are Lavender Orpingtons Good Meat Birds?
The Lavender Orpington is a color variation of Orpington with silvery-blue feathers, introduced in the 1990s.
The legs of a Lavender Orpington should be a slate blue color.
Its coloration is a diluted black, bred from the Black Orpington, the original Orpington breed from the 1880s.
True to the nature of this breed, Lavendar Orps are large birds bred for meat production and laying lots of eggs.
The Lavender Orp will average 3-4 light brown eggs per week.
As with other varieties of Orpingtons, Lavender Orps make terrific meat birds, weighing in at about 8 pounds for a hen and 10 pounds for a rooster.
Lavender Orpingtons have a friendly disposition and temperament.
What Is the Best Chicken to Raise for Meat?
The Cornish Cross is the most popular meat breed of chicken among commercial chicken meat producers.
This is a hybrid chicken of the Cornish and White Plymouth Rocks breeds.
Chicken purchased in the grocery store is usually from Cornish Crosses.
Also dubbed “Frankenchickens,” Cornish Cross is a very heavy breed bred specifically for meat production.
They have disproportionately large breast meat, which makes them perfect for commercial breeding.
They grow faster than dual-purpose breeds, and some consumers feel they taste better.
Cornish Cross chickens have an average mature weight of 9-12 pounds at 8 to 10 weeks.
They should be harvested quickly due to health problems caused by their unusual size and growth rate.
Cornish Cross chickens cannot tolerate much heat because their metabolism runs so fast.
They also cannot take much cold due to their sparse feathering.
Cornish ross chickens have trouble with congestive heart failure.
These chickens often grow so quickly that their muscles outpace their internal organs and die early.