Rethinking Buff Orpingtons For My Prepsteading Chicken Flock

There have been some events which have caused me rethink the Buff Orpingtons for my prepsteading chicken flock.  Buff Orpingtons have been part of my chicken flock for around four years, and during that four years I have noticed a common trend.

When new chicks are bought from the local feed store, they are brought home and put in a six feet X eight feet brooder house.  The house has perches, plywood walls, screened in floor, heat lamp… everything the chicks need to be safe.

Buff Orpington Chick

The chicks are usually kept in the brooder house for around six weeks, and then put in the main chicken house.  A lot of it depends on outside temperatures, and how feathered out the chicks are.

Buff Orpingtons

What I have noticed over the years, if any chicks die after being moved, it is the Buff Orpington.  Rarely does any other chicken breed have issues after being moved.

Some of the chicken breeds introduced to the brooder house, then moved:

  • Australorp
  • Barred Rock
  • Dominicker
  • Golden Laced Wyandotte
  • Jersey Giant
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Silver Laced Wyandotte

Buff Orpington hen in garden

None of the other breeds have issues like the Buff Orpington.  Rarely, if ever do the older breeds such as the Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red have any issues after being moved from the brooder house to the main chicken house.

The Australorp is a fairly new chicken breed with it being a little over 100 years old.  It dos not have any issues being moved.

The Buff Orpingtons do well for a few days, maybe even a couple of weeks, then they get weak.  This leads me to believe the Buff Orpington is not as hardly as I once thought it was.


Once the Buff Orpingtons get a couple of months old, they seem to do well.  It is just that transition from the brooder house to the main chicken house.

In February of 2018 I bought 14 new chicks.  These were a combination of:

  • Australorp rooster
  • Buff Orpngton rooster
  • Rhode Island Red pullets
  • Barred Rock pullets
  • Buff Orpington pullets

Out of all five chicken breeds, the Buff chicks are having the most issues.  A couple of them seem weak and may not make it.

With all of this in mind, I doubt I will be buying or recommending Buff Orpingtons anymore.  They make a good dual purpose chicken, and as adults they seem to be hardy.  Rarely, if ever, do I have an adult Buff Orpington die.

As a prepsteader, I should be concerned about the overall health of the chicken flock.  Rather than buying chicks who seem to have problems, maybe I should focus on the best chicken breeds.

Excluding the Buff Orpington, the best breeds I have found so far are:

  • Australorp
  • Barred Rock
  • Dominicker
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Jersey Giant

Final Thoughts

In the late 1980s I had a chicken flock of Barred Rocks and never had any issues with them.  When my dad was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, granny had Rhode Island Reds and Dominickers.

There are too many good chicken breeds out there which are more hardy.  So from now on I will no longer recommend Buff Orpingtons for a farm, nor will I buy Buff Orpingtons.

They may do fine for a backyard chicken flock.  However, for some reason here on the farm they do not do too well.