Orloff chicken breed is also referred to as Russians. They are extremely endangered thus, very rare according to the Livestock Conservancy. There are only a few birds from this breed left with a few dedicated chicken hobbyists and breeders.
This chicken breed is classified as rare making the baby chicks, mature birds and the eggs so pricy. They are famous of being extremely cold hardy and will do well in winter than most chickens.
In this article, I am going to cover the Orloff chicken in details. This will help you know whether this is the right breed to keep or not.
History of the Orloff Chicken
Many people will think that these chickens originate from Russia because they are referred as Russians but that is not the case.
These birds trace their origin in the Persian Gulf. They were widely scattered in Europe and Asia as early as 1700s where they were very popular for meat and eggs.
They are said to originate from the province of Ghilan in Persia where these chickens were very popular and widely domesticated.
The name Olorff comes from Count Orloff Techesmensky a popular chicken enthusiast at the time who spearheaded the popularization of this breed to the world.
The ancient Orloff chickens that were known, are said to be black in color but further breeding led to the development of different color variations.
In the mid to late 1800s, these chickens were recognized by the American Poultry Association of Standard Perfection.
However, after this breed was replaced by other heritage breeds and its popularity dropped. It was removed from the APA and it is no longer recognized.
The Russian orloff chicken was hard boned and well-muscled a quality that made it kept as a meat bird. Their appearance had a close resemblance to that of game birds.
There are several color varieties of the Orloff chicken breed such as mahogany, spangled, mottled, buff and black breasted Red.
Appearance and Disposition
Orloff chickens are very popular for being hardy and cold tolerant. This makes them able to survive where most breeds cannot.
They are calm and friendly chickens but will not allow you to sit them on your lap or hold them to cuddle. This behavior is common with the Gold laced wyandotte chicken.
Although some people say that these chickens are docile with a calm temperament, there are some different varieties that are aggressive. But this mainly depends on an individual bird.
These chickens have thick neck feathers and muffs. The upright standing neck feathers of these chickens make them scarely as they have a fierce appearance.
They are tall with yellow legs that are featherless and have four toes on each foot. The face is reddish and has reddish bay eyes that are slightly curved in the back.
Orloffs have a short strong beak that is curved. Their wattles are tiny with the comb being cushioned but it may vary slightly depending on the variety.
Beards and muffs are a common feature in these birds making them have the appearance of a game bird. Looking at them from the side may make one think they are a cross breed of an owl and some domestic fowls.
Orloff chicken roosters weigh 8.5lbs while the girls weigh 6.5lbs. This is an indicator that these chickens can offer a substantive amount of meat when butchered.
These birds are very active and will do well when confined or free ranged. Letting them out will give them a chance to supplement their diet with worms, insects and small plants. Additionally, it will help bring down the cost of feeding them.
The mottled variety of these chickens has a beautiful appearance and a calm nature making it a good option when reared as a pet.
Egg laying and uses of the Orloff chicken
These rare chickens were sometimes back very popular as they were considered as a dual purpose breed. Today, few people who have them prefer them for meat rather than eggs.
They are capable of laying even during winter a feature that is not common among many heritage chickens.
Orloff pullets are ready to lay at the age of 16 weeks. At this time, they are seen hanging around nesting boxes. These teenage hens are sexually mature and can mate to lay fertile eggs.
When you notice the first egg, it is good you start feeding them a calcium rich diet. The food they eat should not contain too much protein but instead more calcium to help in the formation of healthy and strong eggshells.
I would recommend high protein foods for molting chickens as well as baby chicks because these two age groups have more feathers to day develop that need more protein.
In a week female Orloff chickens can lay 2 eggs adding them up to 104 medium light brown eggs per year. This number however is enough for one to breed them and help raise their numbers. The inside egg is white with a single yellow yolk.
They lack good mothering abilities unlike other chickens like cochins and Silkies. This feature makes them awful mothers who are not willing to raise their young.
Orloff chicken Lifespan
These birds stem from the jungle fowl family a subspecies that originates from Southeast Asia. They have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years but this may shorten or lengthen depending on the kind of care you offer to them.
People have told stories of chicken living up to 20 years. Lack of major health related issues, right nutrition and proper living conditions will make your birds live longer.
Although some may die right after hatching, some may live and die as a result of old age. Birds meant for meat are harvested as soon as they attain market weight.
Orloff chickens are cold hardy birds that will do well in areas that are extremely cold where many breeds cannot thrive.
They can also easily adapt and do well in hot regions too. This makes them a good breed to keep as it has proven to be easily adaptable.
However, smearing Vaseline Jelly can help prevent chicken comb problems like frostbites during winter. You can also choose to keep them confined inside a heated chicken coop until winter is over.
A good and warm plastic chicken coop can be an ideal factor to consider when keeping these birds. Despite them being cold hardy does not mean that they do not require warmth.
Making sure the coop bedding is dry and dump free will keep these chickens free from some common respiratory issues. Straw is the best bedding for me.
Shaded areas and a well-ventilated chicken pen will offer some relief for these feathered friends as they will get a place to shelter from direct sun.
Orloff chicken breed is a critically endangered species and requires your effort and mine to make sure that their numbers are raised by breeding them.
Although currently the price of these birds has sky rocketed due to rarity, they is hope to bring it down by raising their numbers.
Russian Orloff chicken for sale is available at Strombergs hatchery. Here they will tell you the prices as well as their shipping arrangements.