Orloff Chicken – Breed Profile & Facts
The Orloff chicken breed is a huge, well-feathered breed with a distinct gamey-like appearance. This endangered breed is also known as the Russian Orloff. Although most people keep this breed primarily for meat, it is a fairly good layer.
Orloff chickens are cold-hardy, and they thrive in extremely cold habitats. They are also disease-resistant and easygoing birds with limited care requirements.
History of Orloff Chicken
This chicken breed’s first appearance was in Persia in the 17th century. Since then, the breed has been spreading throughout the European and Asian continents. Interestingly, the breed gained widespread popularity two centuries later when a Russian breeder, Count Orloff-Techesmensky, started introducing it to the West.
Orloff chickens began gaining popularity in the UK around the 1920s. Its popularity spread to Germany before spreading to the Americas.
Orloff Chicken Characteristics
The Orloff chickens come in wide varieties. These varieties include Mahogany, Cuckoo, White, Black-tailed red, and Spangled Orloff chicken varieties. Orloff chickens are some of the tallest breeds on the planet. They have thick feathers on their heads and necks, a trait that gives this bird a well-rounded appearance.
Orloff chickens have tiny wattles, walnut combs, and small earlobes. These chickens are cord-hardy because of their thick plumage. They have yellow beaks and reddish bay eyes. These rare chickens also have yellow skin and yellow toes and shanks.
Size & Weight
Orloff chickens are large and tall chickens. Adult hens can grow up to 43 cm (17 inches) tall and weigh around 6.5 pounds on average. Orloff cockerels can weigh approximately 9.7 pounds and grow over 50 cm (20 inches) tall. Some Orloff chicken varieties, especially those in the European continent, can weigh over 10 pounds.
Orloff chickens are overly calm and quiet birds. They are the perfect chickens for chicken raisers seeking low-maintenance chickens. Nonetheless, these chickens aren’t that friendly and less likely to tolerate handling by their owners.
However, some Orloff varieties are pretty loyal and cuddly as household pets. Orloff chickens are famous for exhibiting unaggressive personalities. Although they are non-aggressive and peace-loving birds, it’s rather difficult for other breeds to bully these chickens.
They will defend themselves when other aggressive chickens try to bully them. Orloff chickens love free-ranging, and they are some of the best chickens to help farm owners get rid of ants and pests from their farms.
They are extremely docile, and they handle confinement pretty well. Their hardiness and non-aggressive personalities make these birds a favorite choice of chickens to keep for anyone keen on rearing a rare breed.
Orloff chickens are extremely hardy. These chickens usually live for between eight and ten years. They can also live beyond a decade if their raisers give them specialized care. Like other breeds, though, some factors can shorten their lifespan.
Predators, for instance, can claim these chickens in their early years and even days. Other factors likely to significantly shorten their lifespan include harsh living conditions and diseases.
Orloff chickens are particularly perfect for egg production. However, most poultry enthusiasts consider these chickens as decent egg producers. Orloff hens lay about two eggs a week, bringing their maximum egg production to approximately 104 eggs annually. Hens lay medium-sized light brown and tasty eggs.
Most people keep Orloff chickens for meat production. These tall and heavy birds are some of the terrific meat producers. Only a couple of heavy chicken breeds can match Orloff chickens’ meat production capabilities.
Roosters are the best meat producers since they are large, and thus they produce large and high-quality chicken meat. Hens are also large, and therefore they make wonderful dual-purpose birds. Orloff chickens are awesome meat producers known for producing good-tasting and tender meat.
They have a fast growth rate since these chickens are ready for consumption as early as six months old. However, some Orloff varieties have a slow growth rate, although they still make prolific meat producers upon maturing.
Orloff Chicken Care
Like all breeds, Orloff chickens need good care to help these chickens become dependable egg and meat producers. While these chickens are avid foragers and hardy birds, they need the best possible care to help owners get the best of these chickens.
Overall, these birds are low-maintenance chickens with the ability to thrive in almost all conditions.
Orloff Chicken Feeding & Nutrition
Orloff chickens require proper feeding and nutrition right from their early days. Newly hatched Orloff chicks need a quality chick starter to promote the quality of their life in earnest. The chick starter needs at least 20% protein, which will help your chicks grow feathers and muscle.
Your Orloff chicks need to consume the chick starter for about eight weeks. Switch to a quality grower feed once your chicks grow beyond eight weeks. A high-quality grower feed will enable your chicks to maintain steady growth as they reach their prime.
Young Orloff hens need a high-quality layer feed when they hit sixteen weeks old. The quality layer feed will help the young hens start laying early and become dependable layers in adulthood. Your hens won’t lay quality eggs if they experience a protein deficiency along the way.
The best layer feed for Orloff hens should have at least 16% protein. Like other hens, calcium is vital for Orloff egg-laying hens because a lack of sufficient calcium in their diet will make them vulnerable to a calcium deficiency, which will make them produce soft eggs or eggs with very soft shells.
Unfortunately, most layer feeds don’t provide Orloff hens with the adequate amounts of calcium they require. Oyster shells can provide your hens with supplemental calcium. Crushed eggshells will also provide the birds with a calcium boost if they aren’t getting adequate amounts of this essential mineral from the food items they consume daily.
Cockerels also need sufficient protein in their diet, although not as much protein as baby chicks and hens need.
All Orloff chickens, whether cockerels, hens, or baby chicks, need to consume vitamin-rich foods. Without enough vitamins in their diets, your chickens will have weak immune systems and be unable to withstand illnesses.
These chickens need vitamin C-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Besides food, Orloff chickens also love drinking fresh water to keep cool in summer and enable their digestive system to run smoothly.
Housing Orloff Chickens
The best and most secure place to keep your Orloff chickens is in a coop. Because these chickens are larger than the average breeds, they require large coops to accommodate them comfortably without overcrowding. Ideally, the best coop for Orloff chickens should provide around 5 x5 square feet for each chicken.
It should also have a run providing every bird with at least 25 square feet. A good coop for Orloff chickens should have perches for the chickens to roost. Orloff chickens enjoy their sleep while sleeping on perches rather than sleeping on the ground because they feel pretty secure spending the night on perches.
Have some nest boxes for the Orloff hens to lay their eggs in the boxes instead of laying on the floor, hence making the eggs dirty and subjecting them to the risk of breaking. The nest boxes should be bigger than the average boxes because Orloff hens are larger than the average ones; therefore, these hens need bigger boxes that can fit comfortably while laying.
Apart from nest boxes, you should also ensure there is comfy bedding for your Orloff hens. You can make nice bedding for your bird with hay, straw, or sawdust. However, keep changing the bedding constantly because Orloff chickens like scratching on the bedding like other chickens.
Change the bedding at least once a month or when the bedding starts to show signs of wearing off.
A good coop for your Orloff chickens should also have good ventilation. It should have windows to allow air in and out of the coop. Ventilation will protect your chickens against overheating, particularly during hot weather.
Furthermore, have a sturdy fence around the chicken coop to keep the bird safe from roaming predators, especially at night. Most importantly, ensure there are enough feeding bowls and waterers in the coop for your Orloff chickens. Moreover, have a shade near the coop where your free-range chickens can shelter from the sun and rain before returning to the coop at night.
Orloff Chicken Health Problems
While Orloff chickens are cold-hardy and low-maintenance chickens, these birds aren’t safe from many health concerns that affect other chicken breeds. For instance, Orloff chickens are susceptible to internal and external parasites. Some of the common external parasites that affect these chickens include lice and mites.
The problem with such parasites is that they suck your chickens’ blood, exposing them to anemia and other diseases. They also make chickens uncomfortable and restless because of the irritation they cause while sucking on the chickens’ blood. Internal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms are also a common health concern for Orloff chickens.
These worms can make your chickens weak because they consume the finest nutrients from the food items you give to your Orloff chickens. Furthermore, they can harbor contagious poultry diseases. You can stop parasitic infestations by keeping the coop clean and spraying it with pesticides.
Keep inspecting your Orloff chickens, paying attention to their feathers, to see whether some mites and lice are hiding in the feathers. Orloff chickens have a thick plumage; therefore, they suffer more from parasitic infestations than other chickens with a lighter plumage.
Although Orloff chickens are disease-resistant, these chickens are equally vulnerable to poultry diseases as other breeds.
For example, Orloff chickens are vulnerable to Fowl Cholera, a disease that affects these chickens’ sinuses and combs. Common signs of this disease include swollen combs, purple wattles, lameness, nasal discharge, and swollen joints. Orloff chickens are also not entirely safe from coccidiosis. Coccidiosis ruins a chicken’s gut, making it lose appetite and grow ruffled feathers.
Orloff chickens living in extremely cold habitats are susceptible to Avian influenza. Symptoms of this infectious viral disease include nasal discharge and diarrhea. Chickens with this condition also have edema in their combs and wattles.
Fowl Pox is also a common condition in Orloff chickens. Birds with Fowl Pox have bumps on their combs and wattles. Young Orloff chickens with Fowl Pox are at high risk of experiencing stunted growth. Hens suffering from this condition also experience a significant reduction in their egg production.
Apart from diseases, Orloff chickens can also suffer from nutritional deficiencies if they lack specific nutrients and minerals in their diets. For instance, Orloff chickens can experience a calcium deficiency because of lacking calcium in their diets.
Heat stress is also a serious health concern for Orloff chickens. These chickens don’t thrive in hot conditions and are susceptible to overheating.
How Much Do Orloff Chickens Cost?
Orloff baby chicks cost between $5 and $ 12 on average. Adult Orloff chickens can cost between $15 and $35, depending on the size of the Orloff chicken.
Are Orloff Chickens Good for Beginners?
Yes, these chickens are great birds for beginner chicken keepers. Although they are large and tall, these low-maintenance chickens have few care requirements. They are also great foragers and can handle confinement pretty well. Their unique and colorful appearance makes the birds a wonderful addition to any small backyard flock.
Are Orloff Chickens Hardy?
Orloff chickens are quite hardy and some of the finest breeds for cold habitats. Besides withstanding cold pretty well, these chickens are also disease-resistant.
Tips on Keeping Orloff Chicken
Kindly check these valuable tips for rearing Orloff chickens
- Ensure your chickens have a diet with complete nutrition to help them grow healthy and fast
- Keep your Orloff chickens separately from aggressive breeds
- Ensure your Orloff chickens are entirely safe from roaming predators
- Vaccinate your birds against common poultry diseases
- Ensure your chickens live in the best possible living conditions
- Give your birds adequate housing and ensure they don’t live in an overcrowded coop to discourage negative behaviors such as fighting, bullying, and egg-eating.
Orloff chickens may be some of the rarest chicken breeds in the world. Nonetheless, Orloff chickens are wonderful to raise for eggs and meat. These hardy birds are attractive and will make an awesome addition to any chicken flock. Most importantly, they are easygoing and easy to maintain compared to most exotic breeds.