Like other light breeds, is a hardy and active breed which produces a good sized table bird and is a good egg layer, so birds which do not conform to the standard need not be wasted.
Although as has been said above, there are frustrations with this breed, it has traditionally been popular on the show scene. Recently, the numbers seem to have diminished considerably and it would seem to be one of the breeds at most serious risk.
- The Orpington Ducks were developed by William Cook of Kent, who also bred Orpington chickens in the late nineteenth century.
- The Buff and Blue versions are likely to have emerged sometime after 1894, and were being advertised for sale in 1898.
- These ducks were believed to be the result of cross-breeding Indian Runners to Aylesburys, Rouens and Cayugas.
- The Buffs were standardized in 1910, followed by the Blue variety in 1926.
- Black, White and Chocolate Orpingtons were also developed but these were not standardized.
- The drakes weigh 2.2-3.4kg (5-7.5 lb) with the ducks weighing 2.2-3.2kg (5-7 lb). This puts them at the upper end of the size range for a light duck.
- The Buff Orpington duck should be a rich even shade of buff all over, free from blue, brown or white feathers and any pencilling, with the drake having a seal brown head with no sign of beetle green.
- The seal brown terminates in a sharply defined line all the way round the neck the drakes body should be the same buff shade as the duck, the only other coloured area on the drake is his rump, which should be the same shade as his head.
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The principal difficulty with breeding exhibition quality Buff Orpingtons is that birds which conform to the show standard are heterozygous for the blue dilution gene and thus will not breed true. Breeding show standard birds will, on average, only produce 50% offspring conforming to the standard. 25% will be pale and, in the drake, have a light grey-brown head rather than the seal brown required, and 25% will be dark, with a dark brown head in the drake and pencilling on the duck.
There is also a blue form of the breed. Again, however, as in all blue ducks, blue colour in ducks is a result of a heterozygous combination of the blue dilution gene and cannot be stabilised.
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