Buff Orpington vs Buff Rock

Battling Buffs: Buff Orpington vs Buff Rock Chicken Face-Off



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Today we’re diving deep into Buff Orpington vs Buff Rock chickens.

I’ve raised both breeds myself, so I’m bringing you my personal experiences plus some expert insight from my poultry science days in college.

These two golden buff beauties have a lot in common – they are both big, fluffy, cold-hardy chickens with a calm disposition.

But they also have some key differences when it comes to temperament, egg laying, broodiness, and more.

The Buff Orpington is the quintessential pet chicken – mellow, docile, and incredibly friendly.

The Buff Rock is a bit more active and independent – an excellent forager and steady egg producer.

The Orpington excels at motherhood while the Rock has little interest in going broody.

Let’s take a deeper dive into each breed’s unique qualities:

Origin & History

Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks were both created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but their origin stories differ quite a bit.

The Orpington was developed by William Cook in England in the 1880s.

Buff Orpington vs Buff Rock

Cook bred Black Minorcas, Black Plymouth Rocks, and Buff Cochins to create a dual purpose fowl with plentiful feathers. His goal was to create a hardy, docile breed that could withstand England’s wet climate and serve as both a meat and egg producer.

After months of selective breeding, Cook achieved his vision with the Orpington. Buff colored Orpingtons arrived a few years later and quickly became a backyard chicken favorite thanks to their mellow personality.

Fun fact: Orpingtons were nicknamed “Big O” chickens because of their large size and puffy plumage. People just loved their cuddly, teddy bear-like appearance.

The Buff Rock has a slightly more convoluted origin story. Back in the early 1900s, breeders started crossing Barred Rocks with Rhode Island Reds and White Plymouth Rocks.

A fellow named Joseph Spaulding Orr is credited with standardizing the Buff Rock breed around 1915.

Like Orpingtons, the goal was to create a dual purpose breed that laid lots of eggs and gained weight quickly. But the Rock was intended to be a bit more active and scrappy in temperament.

Bottom line – both breeds stemmed from the late 19th/early 20th century quest to develop the ultimate backyard chicken. But the Orpington leaned more toward a pet while the Rock was designed with utility in mind.


One of the biggest differences between Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks comes down to temperament.

Buff Orpington vs Buff Rock

The Orpington is famously mellow, friendly, and docile. Roosters can be a bit more protective and feisty, but hens are total sweethearts. They don’t mind being held and petted, making them an excellent choice for families with children.

In fact, the Orpington is considered one of the calmest, most personable chicken breeds out there. They form very sweet, affectionate bonds with their owners. If you’re looking for a lap chicken that enjoys cuddling and being with people, the Buff Orp can’t be beat.

Now the Buff Rock has a delightful personality too, but in a different way. Rocks are more independent, active foragers who cover every inch of the run in search of tasty treats. They aren’t aggressive, but they don’t enjoy excessive handling like the Orpingtons do either.

I like to think of Buff Rocks as the tomboys of the chicken world. They want adventure and freedom to explore. Buff Orps are the cuddlebugs who want your attention and affection.

Both make wonderful pets, just in different ways. So think about your needs. If you want a mellow companion, go Orpington. If you prefer a more self-sufficient breed, choose the energetic Rock.

Egg Production

Let’s talk eggs! Here’s a look at what to expect from each breed:

Rhode Island Red Egg Production

Buff Orpingtons:

  •  Lay 3-4 large light brown eggs per week
  •  Eggs weigh 60-70 grams on average
  •  Lay through winter fairly well due to thick feathering
  •  Go broody frequently which can reduce overall egg yield

Some folks report Buff Orps laying up to 200 eggs per year. The key is preventing them from going broody too often. I had one Orpington who went broody 4 times in one season – she only gave me about 150 eggs that year.

Overall the Orpington lays a very respectable number of large brown eggs. Don’t expect commercial layer performance, but they earn their keep nutrition-wise.

Buff Rocks:

  • Lay 4-5 medium light brown eggs per week
  •  Eggs weigh 50-60 grams on average
  •  Lay through winter very consistently
  •  Rarely go broody so egg production is steady

An average Buff Rock hen lays between 200-280 eggs per year in my experience. That puts them solidly in the moderate production category, but they’ll out produce most Orpingtons.

A flock of Buff Rocks starts cranking out eggs earlier in the season and slows down laying later in fall compared to many breeds. You can expect very consistent egg yields from this breed.

So if steady egg production is a priority, I would give the Buff Rock the advantage. Buff Orpingtons will give you a bit less but larger eggs. Both lay pretty well through cold months if properly cared for.

Size and Appearance

Let’s talk dimensions! Here are the key size stats:

Buff Orpington vs Buff Rock

Buff Orpingtons:

– Hens weigh 8-10 pounds
– Roosters weigh 10-12 pounds
– Tall, broad body structure
– Heavily feathered, giving a plump, rounded appearance

When standing side by side with a Buff Rock, the Orpington looks like the jock football player next to the lean swimmer. They carry more weight, especially through the breast. All those feathers add to their overall mass too.

Buff Rocks:

– Hens weigh 7-8.5 pounds
– Roosters weigh 8.5-10 pounds
– Slightly more slender frame than the Orpington
– Less heavily feathered, so their body shape is more defined

To give you a visual, think leggy supermodel vs. fluffy teddy bear. The Orpington just looks more cuddly and substantial.

Now for plumage specifics:

– Both have lustrous golden buff feathering on their body, neck, wings and tail. It’s gorgeous against green grass.
– Orpingtons have black tails while Rocks have buff colored tails. The black tail is very striking.
– Orpingtons have more feathers on thighs and abdomen. Rocks have sleeker thigh and hip feathers.
– Orps have a fluffier beard and cheeks. Gives them a cute chipmunk face!

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So in summary, the Orpington runs bigger, fluffier and more generously plumaged. But both breeds have that beautiful buff coloring and plenty of feathers to keep them cozy.

Broodiness and Mothering Ability

Here’s an interesting behavioral difference between the breeds:

Buff Orpingtons are known to go broody frequently and make fabulous mamas.

Buff Rocks rarely have a strong broody instinct and won’t sit on eggs reliably.

I’ve found this to be true from personal experience. Last spring 3 of my 5 Orpington hens went broody at least twice each. They would fill up the nest boxes with their fluffy butts and growl if you tried to remove them. And they hatched out over a dozen chicks successfully.

Meanwhile my Buff Rocks laid their eggs and moved on like clockwork. Never once tried to go broody.

So if you want a reliable broody hen and mama, go with the Buff Orpington. They seem to love nurturing babies, whether their own or other species. I often put duck eggs under my Orpington hens too.

But if you want steady egg production without interruption, the Buff Rock is a safer bet. They just don’t have that strong maternal drive common in the Orpington.

And as a brief side note, the Orpington makes a better foster mom if you have chicks or poults that need raising. They gladly adopt orphan babies as their own. The Buff Rock wouldn’t have interest in that role.

Cold Hardiness

Both the Buff Orpington and Buff Rock handle cold weather exceptionally well thanks to their fluffy feathering. The rose comb style seen in both breeds is less prone to frost damage too.

However, the Orpington may be slightly more cold tolerant overall for a couple reasons:

1) Their larger body mass helps retain heat. The same principle applies to big dog breeds tolerating cold better than tiny dogs. More body = more warmth retained.

2) Orpingtons have denser feather coverage on their body, thighs, and abdomen. This gives them better insulation against winter predators like frost and snow.

That’s not to say Buff Rocks struggle in winter. Their feather density is still excellent. But those super fluffy Orpingtons have an advantage when temperatures really plummet.

If you live in a northern climate with subzero winters, I’d give the Orpington the edge. But both breeds can handle cold and damp conditions relatively well compared to other backyard chicken breeds.

As a cold weather care tip, make sure to give them ample bedding and insulation in the coop. Close up any drafts or ventilation gaps. Increase corn and high fat treats in winter to provide extra energy. And supply additional lighting if egg production lags. With a little extra TLC, they’ll thrive through the frosty months.

Health Issues

Happily, both Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks are pretty robust overall in terms of health. They weren’t bred to be super athletic or lean, so they don’t suffer from the reproductive issues sometimes seen in ultra-productive breeds.

A couple health conditions to keep an eye out for include:

Obesity: Their hearty appetites combined with naturally slower metabolisms can lead to weight gain. Make sure not to overfeed (as tempting as it is with their eager faces!).

Lowered fertility rates: Overweight roosters may have trouble successfully breeding hens. Combat this by maintaining a healthy diet and physique.

Pendulous crops: Prolonged overeating can sometimes cause the crop to stretch and sag. Don’t allow young birds to pig out constantly.

Broodiness: Orpingtons can exhibit excessive broodiness if the conditions are right. Let them raise a batch or two of chicks, then break the broody habit for rest of season.

Aside from these potential issues, they are generally quite hearty and resilient when properly cared for. External parasites like mites and lice can be a nuisance too, but regular prevention and dust bath access alleviates those problems.

I always say prevention is the best medicine for chickens. Maintain a balanced diet, clean living space, and access to fresh air and exercise. Do this, and your birds should have minimal health issues.


In my experience, both Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks are not finicky eaters. They aren’t as prone to foraging obsession as some breeds either.

That being said, here are some dietary guidelines:

– Feed a complete layer ration appropriate for medium weight birds. 16% protein and calcium levels around 3.5% are ideal.

– Supplement with insoluble grit and oyster shell. The grit helps grind feed, while the shell provides extra calcium for egg production.

– Provide fresh water at all times. Hydration is crucial for health.

– Toss in leafy greens, vegetable scraps and fruit as treats. Some favorites are kale, zucchini and melon.

– In winter, increase corn and black oil sunflower seeds in the diet. Boosts energy levels in cold weather.

– Free choice feeding works well if space allows. They won’t typically overeat with this method.

– Transition any diet changes slowly to avoid an upset digestive system.

Monitor your birds’ body condition and egg production levels. Adjust the feeding program as needed. Supply ample feeder space too so even bottom ranked birds get their share.

With a balanced diet tailored to their life stage, your Buffs will be healthy, energetic and highly productive.

Coop Size

Since both breeds are so large, they need ample indoor coop space:

– Minimum of 8-10 square feet per bird
– 10-12 square feet per bird is ideal

Overcrowding leads to stress, injuries, and argumentative chickens. Plus they need room to move around comfortably.

Other coop considerations:

– Nest boxes: Provide 1 box for every 4 hens. Box size should be minimum 12×12 inches.

– Perches: Allow 8-12 inches of perch space per hen. Round or slightly oval shaped perches are better for their feet.

– Ventilation: Good airflow keeps coop fresh but avoid drafts directly on birds.

– Bedding: Deep litter options like wood shavings or shredded straw allow dust bathing.

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– Roosts: Low roosts for young pullets, higher for mature birds. Make large enough for birds to wrap toes around.

– Cleaning: Remove soiled litter frequently and replace. Clean waterers and feeders regularly too.

Basically, just size everything in the coop for a large fowl and you’ll be set! Provide daily fresh air and sunlight too. This promotes health and natural behavior.

Run Size

When it comes to outdoor runs, bigger is always better with chickens. But realistically most backyard runs are limited in space.

Here are my recommendations based on average backyard conditions:

– Minimum of 8-10 square feet per bird
– More space is ideal if you can provide it

The more room they have to roam and forage, the happier your flock will be. Remember to rotate runs periodically to give them fresh vegetation and reduce parasite loads.

If you are able to allow them to free range supervised, even better! Just make sure there are no hazards or predators in the area. Give them at least an hour of free ranging time daily if possible.

Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks aren’t quite as active as prolific foragers like Welsummers or Blue Andalusians. But they still appreciate ample room to scratch, dust bathe and nibble on succulent greens and bugs.

Bottom line: their large size demands an appropriately sized run. More space equals less boredom and problematic behaviors like feather plucking. Work with the outdoor area you have available to create a safe, engaging space.

Feeding Chicks and Pullets

Raising healthy chicks and pullets starts with proper nutrition. Here are some tips for feeding Buff Orpington and Buff Rock youngsters:

For the first week, baby chicks need a complete chick starter feed. This provides the 20-24% protein content they require for proper growth. The feed should also contain extra vitamins and electrolytes to support immunity. Avoid plain scratch grains at this stage.

Supply feed in shallow chick feeders that limit waste. Fill feeders a couple times per day and check to ensure chicks are eating well. Scatter some feed on paper towels to teach them to peck.

Provide fresh water in chick founts or waterers. Dip chicks’ beaks in water when they arrive to show them the water source. Clean water daily to prevent disease.

Offer finely chopped greens and soft fruits in small amounts. Grass clippings, kale, spinach, melon, grapes and sprouts are excellent options. Boosts nutrition and gut health.

Grit should be available by 2-3 weeks old. Either offer chick-sized grit in a separate dish, or sprinkle some in the feed. The grit helps chicks digest food properly.

By 4-6 weeks old, transition chicks to a 20% protein grower feed. This provides sufficient protein for growth, without excess. Reduce protein to 16% at 12-16 weeks once pullets near point of lay.

Continue expanding their diet with greens, sprouted grains, vegetables and fruits. Variety provides a breadth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for immunity and development.

Make sure feed and water stations are set at optimal height as chicks grow. Raise or lower access points so birds don’t strain. Monitor for signs of diarrhea, dehydration, etc.

Provide ample space for exercise and natural foraging behavior. Scatter some of their feed in clean litter to encourage foraging. Add roosts and ramps once feathered to help build leg strength.

Transition pullets to layer feed just before first egg is expected at 18-24 weeks old. Layer feed contains 16% protein, extra calcium and nutrients for egg production. Scatter feed to encourage natural foraging.

Easy access to clean water is essential at all ages. Monitor daily intake and increase availability if needed. Proper hydration supports growth and health.

Follow these nutrition best practices, and your chicks and pullets will grow into healthy, thriving hens ready to join the adult flock!

Ideal Climates

When it comes to climate, Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks are quite flexible thanks to their lush plumage. However, a few climate factors should be considered when choosing between the two breeds.

Buff Orpingtons tend to handle very cold climates better than Buff Rocks. Their heavier feathering and larger body mass gives them an advantage in below freezing temperatures. Areas with winter lows below 10°F would suit them well.

Buff Rocks tolerate cold reasonably well too, but may slow egg production more when it gets Arctic cold. Their slightly sleeker build loses heat a bit faster. Rocks are still a good choice for cold areas, just supplement lighting and nutrition during winter.

In terms of heat tolerance, both breeds handle warmth pretty well if given shade access. Their large bodies tend to dissipate heat efficiently as long as they aren’t overly confined. Just watch for signs of heat stress.

However, Buff Rocks might handle sweltering summers a tad better than Orpingtons. The Orps have so much fluff which can cause them to overheat more quickly. Provide extra shade and ventilation for all birds in extreme heat.

When it comes to wet conditions, the Orpington may have a slight edge. Their dense, fluffy plumage repels moisture well. But Rocks have no problem with moderate rainfall either. Just keep coops dry and well ventilated.

In summary, the Buff Orpington is the ultimate cold weather fowl, tolerating frigid temps with grace. The Buff Rock is a bit more flexible in terms of heat tolerance. Both handle typical seasonal changes well.

No matter your climate, just focus on providing what the birds need to thrive. Protection from wind, rain and drafts along with good ventilation is key. Give them space to naturally regulate body temperatures. With simple provisions, your buff flock will flourish.

Common Behavior and Noises

Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks have delightful personalities you’ll get to know. Here are some of their most common behaviors and vocalizations:

Orpingtons are known for being very docile and mellow. You can expect to see them happily clucking and cooing as they wander about. The hens tend to follow you around looking for treats and attention. Roosters exhibit typical protective behaviors but aren’t usually aggressive.

Buff Rocks are more active foragers always on the hunt for tasty morsels. Lots of purposeful scratching and ground pecking. Roosters will alert call when needed but are not overly noisy or pushy. Hens periodically warble and “buck” excitedly when laying an egg.

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Both breeds are quite vocal with an extensive repertoire of sounds. Calm clucking and cooing are most common. Roosters crow in the mornings as expected. Hens make a loud “buck-buck-buck” when laying.

When separated from the flock, all chickens tend to make distress calls. Buff Orps sound almost mournful with loud, repetitive low-pitched clucks. Buff Rocks have a slightly higher pitched, staccato call when worried.

Broody hens growl and ruffle their feathers if you reach under them. Occasional sneezing and beak wiping is normal. Aggressive birds may charge with feet lowered when protecting territory.

Overall, Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks have calm, friendly dispositions you’ll come to know and love. Their cute chatter brightens up the backyard. Get to know your birds’ unique voices and what they mean!

Common Health Problems

Buff Orpingtons and Buff Rocks are generally healthy and robust. But like any breed, they can encounter certain health issues:

Respiratory illnesses are one potential problem in flocks kept in dusty conditions. Ammonia from damp litter is very irritating. Ensure good ventilation and dry bedding.

Parasites like mites and lice can be an nuisance in summer. Check birds regularly and dust or spray with poultry-safe products when needed. Provide dust baths.

Marek’s disease is a viral infection most common in young birds. Vaccinate day old chicks to prevent losses. Isolate any sick birds immediately.

Impacted crops can occur if birds eat long dry grass or bedding. Massage crop gently and provide hydrating, laxative feeds.

Egg bound hens may need help passing abnormally large eggs. Try lubricating the vent and gently massaging the egg downward if she strains excessively.

Roosters can suffer from bumblefoot and injuries if perches are too narrow or rough. Use smooth, rounded perches of proper size.

Predators are also a risk. Secure housing and runs from dogs, coyotes, hawks, raccoons, etc. Free range only when you can monitor them.

Catch illness early and isolate sick birds. Maintain clean, dry housing and provide good nutrition. With good care, your big Buffs should stay healthy and thriving.

Fun Facts

I wanted to end this Buff breed bonanza with a few fun facts about Orpingtons and Rocks:

  1. – The Orpington was nicknamed “Big O” due to their massive size and puffy plumage. People just loved their teddy bear shape!
  2. – William Cook created the Orpington breed in England to be the “perfect” utility fowl for small farms.
  3. – Buff color was introduced to Orpingtons in 1894 and quickly became a backyard favorite.
  4. – Orpingtons were first imported to North America in the early 1890s.
  5. – Joseph Spaulding Orr of New York is credited with originating the Buff Rock breed around 1915.
  6. – Unlike Orpingtons, Buff Rocks were intended to be more active foragers from the start.
  7. – Buff Rocks were first admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1935.
  8. – Both breeds make wonderful mothers and can raise ducklings and goslings too!
  9. – The recessive wheaten gene sometimes causes Buff Rock chicks to have darker down.
  10. – Buff hens sometimes lay pinkish eggs when they first start producing.

I hope you enjoyed these juicy tidbits about our glamorous Buff breeds! Let me know if you have a fun fact to share too.

In the Buff: The Delicate Balance of Buff Orpington and Buff Rock Chickens

Buff Orpington Buff Rock
Temperament Very docile and friendly, loves affection Curious, active, avoids handling
Egg Production 3-4 large light brown eggs/week 4-5 medium light brown eggs/week
Egg Color Light brown Light brown
Egg Size Large Medium
Broodiness Frequently goes broody Rarely goes broody
Cold Hardiness Excellent Very good
Heat Tolerance Moderate Good
Feeding Voracious appetite Good appetite
Coop Size Needed 10+ square feet per bird 8+ square feet per bird
Run Size Needed 10+ square feet per bird 10+ square feet per bird
Weight: Hen 8-10 lbs 7-8.5 lbs
Weight: Rooster 10-12 lbs 8.5-10 lbs
Comb Style Rose comb Rose comb
Plumage Amount Heavily feathered Moderately feathered
Plumage Color Golden buff with black tail Golden buff
Personality Calm, friendly, sweet Busy, active, independent
Noise Level Moderate Moderate
Foraging Style Moderately active Very active
Origin England, 1800s United States, 1900s
Conservation Status Watch Thriving
Beginner Friendly Yes Yes
Predator Avoidance Poor Fair

Which Breed is Right For You?

Let’s summarize the key differences between these two fabulous breeds:


Orpingtons – Extremely docile, mellow and friendly. Excellent child-friendly pet.

Rocks – Active, independent and curious. Less interested in handling.

Egg production:

Orpingtons – 3-4 large light brown eggs per week. Prone to brooding which reduces overall yield.

Rocks – 4-5 medium light brown eggs per week. Very consistent, rarely go broody.


Orpingtons – 8-12 lbs. Big, broad shape. Heavily feathered and fluffy overall.

Rocks – 7-10 lbs. Slightly more slender and streamlined. Less fluffy.


Orpingtons – Frequently go broody and make fabulous mothers.

Rocks – Rarely exhibit broody instinct. Not reliable sitters.

Cold tolerance:

Orpingtons – Excellent cold hardiness thanks to plush plumage and large size.

Rocks – Also quite cold hardy but smaller size and less feathering is slightly less efficient in extreme cold.


Orpingtons – Laidback, mellow, lovable teddy bear chickens. True lap chickens.

Rocks – Curious, busy, active foragers. Independent and social.

So which of these buff beauties is right for you? Think about your goals…

If you want a pet chicken for the kids, go with a Buff Orpington. Docile, friendly and enjoy human interaction.

If you want a self-sufficient egg layer, choose active and industrious Buff Rocks. Steady producers who require minimal intervention.

And if you adore fluffy golden feathers and sweet faces, well…you can’t go wrong with either breed!

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