It’s always been a goal of mine to take one of our chickens to a show to be judged. I love the idea of raising the perfect, gorgeous bird and bringing home the blue ribbon. Over the years, that goal has lingered in the back of my head while we dabbled with other venues of farming.
When I first got into chickens I understood very little about showing chickens. I raised Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, and Lavender Orpingtons thinking these rare breeds would be an especially popular show bird.
But I was wrong. Both of these breeds, like many others that we raised aren’t even recognized by the APA (American Poultry Association) and would only be allowed to be entered in a specific sub category meant for newer specialty breeds.
However, I loved our BLRW and our Lavenders. I thought they were beautiful examples of chickens. So I raised them for pleasure and my idea of showing a bird was set aside.
Over the years, I’ve had experience with many breeds of chicken. And when I decided to get back into the idea of showing a bird, I kept going back to one breed that I’ve always loved, that being the Buff Orpington.
They are like the golden retriever of chickens. Large, super gentle, lovable babies and that warm golden- buff color is such a soothing shade, like butter or honey or the sunset on a field of wheat. They’re simple, but beautiful. I also love that they are a traditional “chicken”. Meaning there’s nothing really fancy about them. I like that in a breed. I like that you have to focus on the subtleties of the feathering, the body type. It doesn’t rely on show-y plumage or patterns to make it a gorgeous bird.
We’ve been doing some evaluating of our flock and trying to decide which area we’d like to focus. Right now we have a menagerie of different chickens, great egg layers and beautiful birds, but I want a goal. I’ve never raised chickens for meat and eggs alone, I must admit that my favorite part about raising chickens is seeing what they develop into. Breeding the most attractive pairs and raising up the offspring.
However, to do this seriously, I have to pick a breed and stick with it. It’s too hard to try and do this with several breeds. We don’t have enough separation pens, and we don’t need that many different chicken breeds.
I also would like to keep room for our other species of poultry like our guineas, geese, turkeys and ducks which I enjoy very much.
I’d like to keep a small variety of colored egg layers. We have some old French Black Copper Marans that are still producing some nice dark eggs, and some Easter Eggers and Oliver Eggers to mix up the egg basket.
But our focus right now as far as breeding is concerned, is with the Buffs.
The Buff Orpingtons we have now, while beautiful birds, have some genetic aspects that don’t fit the breed standard for Buff Orpingtons. For example, one of our roosters has a few white feathers in his tail, his tail is also too long for a Buff Orpington rooster. The standard likes a shorter, blunt tail, similar to a hen. Most of the remaining flock has a bit of dark feathering in their tails as well. Which as I’ve read, isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have in your breeding stock.
While these particular birds wouldn’t show well, it’s not a bad thing to have their genetics mixed into the flock. Some say the peppering of the tail helps keep the buff color true from generation to generation.
Our females also have a bit of inconsistency of texture to the saddle feathers which is common in Lavender Orpingtons as well. When I raised Lavenders, feather quality was always something I tried to focus on.
My plan is to work with the genetic lines we have now. We have the Buffs separated to keep the lines clean from other breeds of rooster we keep. This also allows me to easily compare one bird to the next. I can also “baby” this breed. Right now we are feeding a special show formula feed that is supposed to produce attractive plumage and nice body type. This is now do-able and cost effective because there’s only the 4 chickens on this more expensive feed.
Take the video tour of our new Buff Coop!
I am happy with the body type that these birds posses. The rooster is not leggy and has a nice square back. The hens are also well proportioned according to the standard.
I plan on hatching out buffs from this flock come springtime and seeing what the offspring become over the summer. I also have my “finders” on, in search of even better quality Buffs to add to our flock.
I will keep you updated as our Buff experiment continues.
Have you raised Buffs? I’d love your advice, what do you love about this breed, and what suggestions do you have for people like us who’d like to begin showing? Leave a comment below, or visit the Community Chickens Facebook Page.