Buff Orpington vs Jersey Giant

Clash of the Titans: Buff Orpington vs Jersey Giant Chicken Showdown



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Now I know what you’re thinking – comparing chickens is like comparing apples and oranges.

But when it comes to Buff Orpingtons and Jersey Giants, these big birds have more in common than you’d think!

Let me tell you a little story.

Last year I finally convinced my wife to let me get chickens.

I’d been dreaming about fresh eggs every morning for years and was so excited to go pick out my first little flock.

But then I walked into the farm store and was overwhelmed by all the choices! Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Ameraucanas – how’s a guy supposed to choose?

That’s when the store owner pointed me towards the Buff Orpington and Jersey Giant breeds.

He said they were both gentle, quiet birds that would give me nice big brown eggs.

I ended up getting three of each and I’ve gotta say – best decision ever!

The bottom line is both Buff Orpingtons and Jersey Giants make great backyard chickens for egg production.

They have calm personalities, are cold hardy, and lay large brown eggs consistently.

But they do have some key differences you’ll want to consider.

Keep reading to see which of these heavyweights might be the right fit for your coop:


Let’s start with how these ladies look. Buff Orpingtons are medium to large chickens with big, broad bodies covered in fluffy golden-buff colored feathers.

Buff Orpington vs Jersey Giant

They look like feathery footballs walking around the yard! The hens weigh between 7-9 pounds, and the roosters between 10-12 pounds. They have broad rounded bodies with a short back and U-shaped undercarriage.

Their large wings are held close to the body. The single comb has five medium sized points that stand up straight on the head. They have bright reddish bay eyes and reddish pink wattles and earlobes.

Jersey Giants, on the other hand, are more slender and really live up to their name – they’re the largest purebred chicken breed around! Jersey Giants have sleek black feathers with a green sheen that make them look almost iridescent in the sun.

The roosters can weigh up to 13 pounds, and hens up to 11 pounds. They have long, broad bodies with a long sloping back and long tail feathers.

The single comb is medium sized with five points flopping over a bit to one side. They have reddish bay eyes and substantial wattles and earlobes that are red colored. Jersey Giants have yellow legs and skin color under all those dark feathers.


When it comes to disposition, you really can’t go wrong with either breed. Buff Orpingtons and Jersey Giants both have super calm, friendly personalities.

Buff Orpington vs Jersey Giant

Buff Orps are known for being one of the most docile chicken breeds. They are extremely laid back and make great pets. In fact, Buff Orpingtons love human interaction and will follow you around the yard like puppies hoping for a treat! They are very people oriented chickens.

The hens love to sit on your lap for a cuddle session. And they are extremely gentle – even the roosters rarely show aggressiveness. You can even teach Buff Orps simple tricks if you are patient with them.

Jersey Giants can be slightly more skittish at first compared to the super friendly Buff Orps. But once they get to know you and their surroundings, Jersey Giants really warm up and love human attention.

They will come running to you when you enter the coop looking for treats or pets. The roosters can sometimes be a bit more assertive about defending their territory, but are gentle with their keepers.

Both breeds do exceptionally well in cold winter weather thanks to their plush feathers. Their fluffy plumage keeps them nice and toasty all season long. And they’ll get along well with other fowl in your flock since they are not aggressive birds by nature.

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Egg Production

Now let’s get into what really matters – the EGGS! Egg color, size and production numbers can help determine which breed is right for your egg basket.

Buff Orpington vs Jersey Giant

Buff Orpingtons lay a medium amount of large light brown eggs, around 150-180 per year. The eggs weigh about 2.5-3 ounces on average.

Egg laying starts around 20 weeks old. The hens lay very consistently and are great winter layers too. You can expect 4-5 light brown eggs a week from each Buff Orpington.

Jersey Giants lay even bigger extra large brown eggs, but not quite as frequently – around 120-150 per year.

Their eggs are absolutely massive though, averaging 4-5 ounces each! That’s jumbo sized up to 36 ounces each. But they don’t lay quite as reliably as the Buff Orps – expect 3-4 very large brown eggs from your Jersey Giants each week.

So if you’re looking for a steady egg supply, Buff Orpingtons are the better producers. But if you want giant size eggs for baking or restaurant sales, Jersey Giants can’t be beat!

Health Issues

All chickens have potential health problems, but these breeds are overall pretty hardy thanks to their large size and dense feathering.

Buff Orpingtons can become overweight and have issues with body fat if they are fed too much. This can lead to reproductive issues and reduced egg laying over time. Monitor their feed closely and keep them active.

Jersey Giants’ ultra-large size makes them prone to leg joint problems and leg injuries if they become overweight.

Their long legs need strong joints to support all that weight! Make sure to give young Jersey Giants enough protein in their starter feed for proper bone development. And have ramps available so they don’t injure themselves jumping off perches.

Buff Orpingtons and Jersey Giants are both susceptible to common chicken parasites like mites and lice since they cannot preen through all those thick feathers. Check them regularly for pests and treat when necessary. And provide dust baths to help them keep those feathers fluffy!

With proper nutrition and care though, both breeds typically enjoy long healthy lives of 4-8 years or longer. Not bad for such large chicken breeds!


When it comes to reproductive tendencies, Buff Orpingtons and Jersey Giants have some noticeable differences. Buff Orpingtons are known for being very broody hens. This means they have a strong natural urge to sit on a nest of eggs and hatch chicks.

Once a Buff Orp goes broody, she will staunchly sit in the nest for up to 3 weeks straight! You’ll have to physically remove her daily just to get her to eat and drink.

Buff Orps make excellent natural mothers and can hatch and raise chicks very well. But if you don’t want more chickens, their broodiness can be frustrating when you just want eggs.

Jersey Giants on the other hand are not known for being broody at all. They have had this tendency selectively bred out of them over the years. Jersey Giants very rarely exhibit broody behavior.

While this means they won’t go off the lay for long periods, it also means natural reproduction is difficult. Jersey Giant hens make poor setters and mothers. If you want more chicks from your Jersey Giants, you’ll need to incubate the eggs artificially.

So weigh your preferences here – Buff Orps if you want broody hens to expand your flock naturally, or Jersey Giants if you just want consistent egg production.

You can also try to discourage broodiness in Buff Orps by immediately removing any eggs from their nests.

Feather Care

Caring for feathers is an important part of keeping Orpingtons and Giants healthy. Both breeds have abundant plumage that needs regular care and maintenance. Here are some tips for keeping your birds looking their best:

  • Provide access to dust baths – dust bathing helps clean feathers and remove excess oil. Offer a dry, shady spot filled with ashes, sand or diatomaceous earth where birds can roll around.
  • Check for parasites like mites and lice – these pests love to hide in thick feathers. Inspect regularly under wings and around vents. Treat with avian insecticide if found.
  • Practice gentle handling – the feathers of both breeds can be fragile if handled roughly. Restrain carefully to avoid broken feathers or torn skin.
  • Supplement with omega fatty acids – a diet rich in omega-3s promotes shiny, healthy plumage. Offer foods like chia seeds, flax and fish oils.
  • Control rodents and predators – rats and mice can damage feathers by chewing through them. Make sure housing is secure from predators that may pull out feathers as well.
  • Provide proper nutrition – protein for growing new feathers, and vitamins/minerals for feather integrity. Calcium is especially important for large breeds.
  • Groom regularly – use your fingers or a soft brush to smooth feathers back into alignment. Be gentle not to pull healthy feathers.
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Paying attention to feather care will keep your birds looking fabulous and also alert you early to any potential health issues.

Housing Considerations

Due to their large size, Buff Orpingtons and Jersey Giants have some specific housing needs:

  • – More space per bird – allow a minimum of 8-10 square feet per bird inside the coop.
  • – Higher roosts – low roosts can damage the long tails and wing feathers. Opt for 2-3 feet high perches.
  • – Larger doors – doors should be wide and tall enough to fit these big birds comfortably.
  • – Sturdy ramps – gently sloped ramps reduce leg strain and prevent injuries.
  • – Thick bedding – 3-5 inches of bedding cushions falls and supports big bodies.
  • – Nest box size – provide oversized nest boxes at least 14″ wide and 12″ high for their large frames.
  • – Secure latches – any doors and openings should have latches that the chickens cannot open themselves.
  • – Extra ventilation – their abundant feathers mean they tolerate heat poorly. Good airflow prevents overheating.
  • – No small wire – avoid any 1/2″ x 1″ wire fencing that could trap or break large feathers.
  • – Heavy feeders/waters – light plastic feeders may get knocked over easily. Go for galvanized steel or heavy ceramic.

Giving your Buff Orpingtons or Jersey Giants room to move comfortably in their housing ensures healthy, happy hens!

Chick Care

Caring for Buff Orpington and Jersey Giant chicks requires special attention. Here are some tips for raising healthy chicks to adulthood:

  1. – Start with quality stock from reputable breeders. Avoid chicks from hatcheries that ship.
  2. – Provide supplemental heat until fully feathered around 6-8 weeks old. They cannot regulate body temperature well when young.
  3. – Allow more floor space per chick right from the start. Overcrowding stunts growth in heavy fowl.
  4. – Use extra chick grit – their rapid growth requires more minerals to develop proper bones and muscles.
  5. – Monitor for pasty vent – the large down feathers of chicks are prone to sticking with feces. Gently clean vent area if needed.
  6. – Discourage fast growth with lower protein feed – 20% protein or less prevents overweight chicks.
  7. – Give calcium supplements 2-3 times a week – crucial for proper structural development in big breeds.
  8. – Ensure adequate roosting space – not enough perches can cause spraddle leg as they grow.
  9. – Watch for leg issues – splay leg and slipped tendon are concerns with fast growing chicks. Address immediately if seen.
  10. – Upgrade feeders/waters regularly – purchase larger sizes as chicks grow to reduce competition.

With attentive care in their early days, your chicks will mature into robust, healthy adults!

Origin & History

Learning the origins and history of breeds gives insight into their traits and temperaments:

– Buff Orpingtons were bred in England in the late 1800s by William Cook. Cook aimed to create a dual purpose English chicken ideal for both meat and eggs.

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– The Buff Orpington was bred from Black Orpingtons, which were derived from Minorcas, Plymouth Rocks and Langshan breeds. The buff color was introduced from Red Dorkings and Brahmas.

– Cook’s Orpingtons gained fame after winning egg laying contests and poultry shows. They became popular across Europe and North America in the early 1900s.

– Jersey Giants originated somewhat later in New Jersey in the early 1900s. They were bred by John and Thomas Black to produce even larger birds than existing breeds.

– Jersey Giants were created by crossing Javas, Dark Brahmas and Black Langshans. The Black Jersey Giant became the most popular color variety.

– Jersey Giants were immediately popular as an excellent dual purpose fowl. However, their extreme size resulted in declining popularity over time as industrial farming took over.

– Both breeds nearly went extinct by the mid 1900s. However, renewed interest in heritage breeds has secured their place among backyard chicken keepers today.

– Buff Orpingtons are known as a quintessential British breed, prized for their rich color and pleasant disposition.

– Jersey Giants represent an impressive American creation – the largest purebred chicken ever to exist!

A Comprehensive Look at Buff Orpington & Jersey Giant

Buff Orpington Jersey Giant
Size Medium to Large. Hens 7-9 lbs. Roosters 10-12 lbs. Very Large. Hens up to 11 lbs. Roosters up to 13 lbs.
Temperament Very docile and calm. Enjoy human interaction. Can be skittish at first but warm up to people.
Plumage Color Golden buff feathers. Black with green sheen.
Egg Production 150-180 light brown eggs per year. 120-150 extra large brown eggs per year.
Egg Size Large. Around 2.5-3 oz. each. Extra large. Around 4-5 oz. each.
Broodiness Frequently Broody. Rarely Broody.
Climate Tolerance Cold Hardy. Cold Hardy.
Coop Space Needed 8-10 sq ft per bird. 8-10 sq ft per bird.
Roost Height 24-36 inches. 24-36 inches.
Health Issues Obesity, reproductive issues. Leg joint problems.
Lifespan 4-8 years. 4-8 years.
Origin England, 1800s. New Jersey, U.S., 1900s.
Breed Purpose Dual Purpose: eggs and meat. Dual Purpose: eggs and meat.
Recognized Varieties Buff is most popular. Black is most popular.


Choosing Your Champion: Buff Orpington vs Jersey Giant Chicken

For me, I’ve been really happy keeping both Buff Orpingtons and Jersey Giants in my backyard flock. The Buff Orps lay brown eggs very consistently to keep me supplied with a few fresh eggs every single day.

While the Jersey Giant’s enormous brown eggs are perfect for weekend breakfasts and holiday meals when we need extra large eggs.

I also love the temperaments of both breeds. The Buff Orpingtons are like feathery puppy dogs, always coming up for pets and cuddles. And the Jersey Giants are more aloof but will eat out of your hand once they get to know you.

So in the end, you really can’t go wrong with either of these calm, friendly chicken breeds as pets and egg producers.

Think about your specific needs in terms of egg quantity versus size. And consider the temperaments too – Buff Orps if you want a super friendly lap chicken, or Jersey Giants if you want a more independent pet. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and get some of both in your flock!

Let me know if you have any other questions about Buff Orps or Jersey Giants. And stay tuned for more backyard chicken posts coming your way soon!

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