Orpingtons and the Family That Created Them

| 8/27/2014 2:43:00 PM

The Historic FoodieThe four most prominent all-purpose breeds of poultry in America were the Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes and Orpingtons. The Orpingtons are quite lovely and have thick feathers making them appear even larger than they actually are.

In 1890-91, the first Orpingtons shown in America were presented in Boston under the guidance of the Massachusetts Poultry Association. The first variety was the single comb black. The Buff Orpington single comb followed in 1899 in Madison Square Garden. William Cook's son later noted that his father worked on developing the Black Orpington some 10 years before he achieved a bird he thought worthy of introduction.

Orpingtons were noted in the “Transactions of the Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland” in 1905, both black and buff. No date was found for their initial introduction into Scotland, but it was probably soon after they were first bred in Orpington, England.

In 1912, Thomas McGrew said, “The first Buff Orpington fowls were made by William Cook, of Orpington County, Kent, England (1886), who set out to produce the best all-purpose breed by crossing, Minorca cocks with Black Plymouth Rock hens, then clean-leg Langshan cocks were bred to the above hens.” Another account says Golden Spangled Hamburgs and Buff Cochins were crossed and then those offspring were bred to dark or colored Dorkings. Those offspring were then bred to Buff Cochins and thus was born the Buff Orpington.

William Cook 

“When Mr. Cook decided to give to the world the Orpington fowl he did a service to the poultry fraternity that never can be repaid. It consisted in furnishing us with one of the best and most popular varieties of fowls that has ever been dreamed of. They surely can be termed the sporting and utility variety as there is no better variety for family use, or one that gives the poultryman more genuine pleasure to produce and exhibit.” The article noted that Wm. Cook & Sons had taken more than 13,000 first place prizes, not counting any of the others for second or third place. “Suffice it to state that they have won at all the largest and most important shows in America from one end to the other.” – The Poultry Item. January and April 1914.

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