Orpingtons are a large breed of chicken with dense body feathers, giving them a fluffy appearance.
Buff Orpingtons are the most common color seen on backyard farms, but the other standard colors include blue, black, white, and various patterns.
These fluffy birds are ideal for a backyard chicken flock because they are relatively quiet, have a docile temperament, and are prolific egg layers.
A nutritious diet is vital for keeping your birds healthy and happy.
So, what do you feed Orpington chickens?
Orpingtons will enjoy a balanced diet of egg or broiler feed, pellets, grains, and chicken mash. In addition to a commercial feed, you may also feed your Orpingtons chicken scratch as a treat. When fed in moderation, table scraps such as fruits and vegetables are also safe for Orpingtons.
Adding grit to the commercial chicken feed will aid in digestion.
Orpington chickens are also good foragers; they will eat insects like grubs, snails, and earthworms, as well as plants and seeds.
Read on for more information on the Orpington chicken’s diet and how to prevent obesity in these large birds.
Feeding Orpington Chicks and Laying Hens
Baby chicks and laying hens have slightly different dietary needs than adult Orpingtons and roosters.
Newborn chicks need a starter feed containing the essential nutrients and minerals for healthy growth.
Starter feeds have 20% to 22% protein, which is higher than regular chicken feed.
The additional protein in chick starter feed encourages growth and helps the molting process.
The chicks will eat this starter feed until they are just over six weeks old.
From 7-24 weeks of age, you will switch the chicks to a pullet feed.
Pullet feed has a 14-16% protein range and provides the chickens with the nutrients they need until they are old enough to start laying eggs.
Once the hens are six months old, they will begin laying eggs.
Egg-laying hens need a layer feed with at least 16% to 18% protein and additional calcium treats.
The high-protein diet provides the hens with the nutrients needed for egg production.
An oyster shell supplement, such as this one on Amazon, ensures the Orpington hens receive enough calcium to produce healthy eggs.
These dual-purpose birds will lay between 200-250 medium to large brown eggs annually.
Having lots of eggs requires extra energy from the hen, and proper nutrition is vital for yolk and shell development.
Most hens will even continue laying in the winter months.
Further Reading: Everything you need to know about Orpington chicken eggs
Keep baby chickens away from the layer feed because it contains too much calcium.
Treats such as chicken scratch are like healthy candy to chickens, providing them with extra calories in the winter to help them survive.
A commercial feed provides all the essential nutrients a chicken needs for good health.
If you run out of commercial feed, do not panic.
Alternative feeds for chickens include wheat, corn, flax, cooked rice, and cooked or uncooked oatmeal.
How Much to Feed Orpington Chickens
How much you feed your Orpingtons depends on their life stage and whether or not they are laying eggs.
How Much to Feed Baby Chicks
Baby Orpington chicks will eat 1-2 ounces of feed daily for the first eight weeks of life.
This amount equals around 3/4 of a pound of feed for each chick per week.
Chicks under one week old need to be fed every 2-3 hours.
Once their eyes are open, you may gradually reduce feeding to every 5 hours.
When the chicks start getting feathers, they will be fed 2-3 times daily or every 6 hours.
Over 95% of a chick’s diet should be comprised of nutritious feed and less than 5% for treats.
Healthy treats include fruits, vegetables, and mealworms.
How Much to Feed Adult Orpingtons
Adult Orpington hens and roosters need a minimum of 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of chicken feed daily.
Hens may eat a bit more when laying eggs, and they will likely stay close to the feeder.
If you have a flock of 10 Orpingtons, this equals at least 2 1/2 pounds of feed per day.
This table will help you get an amount of feed for your flock’s size.
|Number of Orpington Chickens||Amount of Feed Per Day|
|1||1/4 – 1/3 pounds|
|2||1/2 – 2/3 pounds|
|5||1 1/2 – 1 2/3 pounds|
|10||2 1/2 pounds|
|20||5 – 6 pounds|
Allow your Orpington chickens free choice feeding throughout the day so they can eat whenever necessary.
Letting your chickens free-range during the day will allow them to forage for tasty treats like bugs, plants, and seeds.
If you are home during the day, you may choose to offer fresh food to your Orpingtons throughout the day.
Otherwise, provide your chickens with plenty of food in the early morning and again in the evening when you get home.
It is crucial for laying hens to have a full crop before going to bed at night, so they can maintain the energy for egg production.
Provide Plenty of Fresh Water to Your Chickens
Chickens of all ages need an unlimited supply of fresh water to stay properly hydrated.
Always provide your flock with access to water, and clean the waterers when necessary.
If you live in a climate with cold winters, be aware of the potential for the water to freeze.
Heated waterers are available to prevent freezing and ensure your chickens always have clean water to drink.
Are Orpington Chickens Prone to Obesity?
As most backyard chicken keepers know, Orpingtons tend to be lazy birds and enjoy eating.
The eating habits of Orpingtons make them more prone to becoming obese.
A healthy weight for Orpington roosters is between 8-10 pounds, while adult hens average 6-8 pounds.
Bantam varieties of Orpingtons are much smaller, with most adults weighing just under three pounds.
While chubby hens may look cute, being overweight may cause health issues.
Obesity in hens leads to decreased egg production and increases the risk of egg-binding and prolapse.
Egg-binding and prolapse are serious issues for hens and could even be fatal without prompt treatment.
Some chickens will stay near the feeder so they do not have to use too much energy when they decide to eat again.
Letting your chickens free-range throughout the day allows them to get a little exercise while they forage for snails, worms, and other treats.
Chickens confined to the chicken run all day are likelier to hang out near the feeder and eat more.
What To Do If Your Orpingtons Are Overweight
It may be difficult to tell how large your Orpingtons are because of their fluffy plumage.
If you are worried your Orpingtons are gaining too much weight, you must consult your veterinarian for a restricted diet plan.
Any changes to your chicken’s diet must be done gradually.
A sudden reduction in food portions may cause a chicken to become malnourished, putting it at a higher risk for illness.
To prevent obesity, ensure your Orpingtons are given plenty of space to roam.
An Orpington needs at least 8′ square feet of space per chicken in the pen or yard to move around comfortably.
You do not have to increase the chicken coop size too much, but you will need to provide at least 4.5′ square feet per bird.
Use chicken wire with small holes to keep predators like raccoons and foxes away.
Avoid boredom and overeating by providing your flock with lots of enriching activities.
A cabbage tetherball, dust baths, and extra perches will help them occupy their time.
Orpington chickens are hardy birds and do well outside in winter because of their dense feathers.
These larger birds need adequate shade in the summer months to avoid overheating.