Did you know that the Russian Orloff chicken is named after the Russian Count who’s also responsible for the fast-trotting Orlov horses? Despite its Russian name, its origin actually points out to Persia.
Russian Orloff chickens possess a rare and dop-dread gorgeous feather pattern and offer good quality and flavorful meat. But, after establishing its popularity in Britain, it lost its flair and became an endangered breed and was near to extinction.
How did this beautiful breed not capture the hearts of hatchery masters and is it worth adding to your flock?
Today, we’ll share with you the not-so-colorful story of the Russian Orloff chicken breed and its:
- Personality and temperament
- Standard appearance and health issues
- Meat and egg-laying performance
So, let’s dig in and discover this chicken breed’s past and learn what you can do to keep it alive for the generations to come.
Russian Orloff Chicken’s Background and History
Russian Orloff chicken is sometimes called Russian or Orloff and has a hidden past and unique appearance.
Though this bird breed is named from the locality of Orlov in Russia, Russian Orloff Chicken originally came from Persia.
Then, it was distributed throughout Asia and Europe in the 17th century. It became famous after the Russian Count Orlov introduced it, so it is named after him.
That is why people thought this Russian Orloff Chicken was from Russia until its origin was discovered in the middle of time.
In the early 1900s, the breed was introduced in Germany and underwent refinement. Then, German breeders created the first miniaturized bantam breed of the Orloff.
The same year, the breed was also established in Britain and became part of the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection.
But over time, the chicken lost popularity, so the APA removed it from their standard, and it was no longer the breeder’s choice.
Since then, it has been listed as critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy.
Luckily, Russian Orloff Chicken was the first to gain popularity in America.
Then, it was included in the Standard of Perfection and would have been introduced from 1875 to 1894 before reaching the rest of Europe.
Russian Orloff Chicken’s Breed Standard and Appearance
You might see Russian Orloff the same as other breeds of bird or chicken. However, it’s unique in some aspects.
This breed is a tall and well-feathered type of chicken and a game-like appearance. Orloff’s feathers are mostly thick on the neck and head.
Orloff also has a walnut comb and small wattles and earlobes. That is why they are incredibly cold-hardy.
This is a large breed of bird that produces more poultry meat. The average weight of a Russian Orloff rooster is 8.5 pounds while females weigh around 6.5 pounds.
This Orloff Chicken has various colors like black, cuckoo, mahogany, black-tailed red, and white. You may also find a spangled Russian Orlodd chicken which is pure eye candy due to its striking appearance.
Russian Orloff Chicken’s Personality and Temperament
This breed is known for being calm and quiet, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a low-maintenance chicken.
They aren’t known for being particularly friendly, so they won’t want to cuddle with their owners.
However, some Orloff chicks are recognized as affectionate and loyal as pets, so it depends on the chicken.
These chickens are known for their non-aggressive personalities, ranging from easy-going to friendly.
Russian Orloff, while not aggressive and generally peaceful, are not easily bullied and will likely defend themselves if attacked by more aggressive chickens.
On the other hand, these chickens are unlikely to initiate a fight and would rather avoid more aggressive chicken varieties than fight with them.
This free-range chicken enjoys assisting farmers in the removal of pests such as fire ants and earwigs.
The Russian Orloff is quite docile and adapts well to confinement. However, it does well outside in the winter.
Many chicken breeders like them because of their overall amiable demeanor and cold-hardiness, hoping to give this kind bird a second chance it deserves.
Russian Orloff Chicken’s Egg Laying Capabilities
Although the Russian Orloff is better suited for meat production than egg-laying, many consider it a good egg producer.
The Russian Orloff will lay approximately two eggs per week, with a maximum egg production of about 104 eggs per year.
These birds have become endangered because they are only fair egg layers and usually lack dedicated breeders.
They do, however, lay enough eggs that those genuinely committed to their chickens will find it relatively simple to breed them.
A large quantity of Orloff eggs can be produced with adequate effort, assisting in the restoration of the Russian Orloff chicken population.
Despite being currently in short supply, their eggs are in high demand.
And while this is beneficial to potential breeders wishing to sell eggs, it can be a significant barrier to entry for those looking to breed the Russian Orloff on a big scale.
However, the more Orloff chickens that are raised, the lower their egg prices become and the more Orloff chickens that are produced.
Russian Orloff chicken egg color is usually light brown, medium in size, and it’s tasty and flavorful.
RECOMMENDED: Tips to Keep Your Hens Laying Eggs
Russian Orloff Chicken Meat Production
Because of their larger full-grown size, the Russian Orloff is mostly used for meat production. One of the most significant disadvantages of rearing this breed for meat is its poor growth rate.
Like other breeds that aren’t designed and produced exclusively for meat production, this breed is a slowly maturing bird.
There are two things to remember concerning Orloff chicken meat: first, it’s supposed to be flavorful but tough; second, it takes longer to harvest, comparable to their Orpington counterparts.
However, some keepers argue that the wait is worthwhile.
Even though Orloffs are dual-purpose, they shine as bird meat since they are large and contain more meat.
Russian Orloff Chicken’s Common Health Issues
Additional calcium starts are likely required to assist your Russian Orloff chickens in laying.
Potential breeders will not want to take any chances with their egg production because this breed is already endangered.
It’s also worth remembering that, while Russian Orloffs are winter resistant, they struggle in the heat. As a result, their coop should include lots of places for them to get some shade and cool off in the summer.
Aside from that, the Russian Orloff is not highly susceptible to any disease. Orloff, like many other chickens, is vulnerable to internal and external parasites such as mites and lice.
To prevent the spread of these pests, owners should keep their coups in good shape by spraying for these parasites and examining their hens’ feathers on a regular basis.
Apart from the lack of any specific health concerns, owners of this chicken should pay special attention to breeding them to aid the breed’s spread.
This remarkable all-around chicken deserves a comeback because it is exceptionally amiable, as well as fair egg layers and meat producers.
Where to Find Russian Orloff Chickens For Sale
Since the American Poultry Association (APA) removed the breed from its registry, the population of Russian Orloff Chickens has declined.
The Livestock Conservancy deems them endangered due to their low numbers.
In the western part of the USA, there were three reputable breeders for Russian Orloff that you can trust on.
If you’ve already determined that this unusual breed is right for you, contact Rare Feather Farms. They are one of Washington’s most well-known Russian Orloff breeders.
But for those living in North America, the Stormberg provides the largest selection of different kinds of poultry supplies.
They also sell good breeds of birds and fertilized eggs including the equipment for managing and raising them.
Then, for those who are living in Texas, the Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms can be a good choice for buying a pure breed of Russian Orloff Chicken since 1937.
Caring Tips for Russian Orloff Chickens
When raising Russian Orloff Chicken, these are the things you should bear in mind in terms of feeding, housing, and breeding.
Feeding and Nutrition
One crucial thing to consider when raising chickens is their food and nutrition since it’s vital for their growth and egg-laying performance. So, let’s discuss what to feed, how much to feed and what should you avoid to ensure they get the best nutrition.
What to Feed?
The Russian Orloff chicks, like many other chicks, benefit from being given chick starters early in their lives. This will assist in keeping the endangered chicken on the road to adulthood.
Then, after that, within six weeks, you can give them grower mash with 19% of protein and refined to easily ingest.
When they reach 18 weeks and help them produce eggs, you should feed them with mash or pellets with 16% of protein. And of course, water is always important with complete nutrition for them to grow.
The Russian Orloff is well on its way to laying robust eggs after it is no longer a chick. Additional calcium sources, such as oyster shells in a tiny dish, can assist your Russian Orloffs in starting to lay eggs.
How much to feed?
Orloff Chickens are energetic and hungry birds. However, you can’t force-feed them to grow faster while they’re young. You have to construct the frame first, then add weight with high-quality feed.
They will eat anywhere from 3.5 oz (99g) to 6 oz (170g) each day, but breeders often feed their chickens 5 oz (140g) per day.
Begin by giving them this, and then adjust the feed weight to match their consumption. You may either keep the feed in a feeder for them to eat as much as they want or set meal times for them.
Orloff Chickens enjoy foraging for grubs, green shoots, seeds, and insects outside.
What to avoid?
The two main items that hens should avoid are chocolate and beans. Bean phytohemagglutinin can cause death, while theobromine in chocolate can induce heart difficulties.
Moldy food containing harmful bacteria should not be served to hens because it can make them sick. As a result, feeding leftovers to your hens is prohibited in the United Kingdom.
Housing and Fencing
To feel comfortable and secure, Orloffs prefer a perch height of 2 to 4 feet off the ground.
It is critical that Orloff hens have adequate ‘uncrowded’ room to perch comfortably, as an unpleasant and anxious chicken will lay fewer eggs and be more likely to fight with other flock members.
Grit is also required by your chickens for egg production, so keep some on hand at all times.
Make sure your chickens have ample room in the coop, with around 4 square feet of nesting space and 12 inches of roosting space for each chicken.
A coop, which should ideally be 5 m2 or 5 square feet per chicken, is the most important item you’ll need to keep hens.
Each chicken requires 25 square feet in their run. They should have a place to sleep in the coop, as well as a wooden laying box or baskets for their eggs.
To keep them safe at night, you should invest in a buried fence that goes over and around the coop. Find a water bowl that they can’t stand in or tip over, and put it in the shade to keep the water cool.
Feed and water for Orloff Chickens should be kept off the ground, around the bird’s ‘back’ height. It’s simple to find raised feed and a bowl of water holders.
Breeding Russian Orloff chicken is also the same as the breeding of other birds. But, if you want a pure breed, you should raise Russain Orloff hen and roaster.
Is Russian Orloff Chicken Breed For You?
Russian Orloff Chicken is surely an ideal breed for you because they are cold-tardy, not so friendly but calm.
They don’t require any expensive maintenance as long as they receive enough nutrients for them to grow healthy to produce more eggs and meat.
And another thing is that you don’t have to worry about their health because they are constant foragers unless they will be infected by parasites from other animals.
FAQ About Russian Orloff Chicken
Are Russian Orloff chickens friendly?
Orloff chickens from Russia are not friendly. Although these hens are peaceful and quiet, they can become agitated when held in your arms.
This chicken breed is also reserved, so don’t expect them to get along with your other chickens. Read our guide to introducing new hens to your flock before introducing Orloff’s.
What color eggs do Russian Orloff chickens lay?
Russian Orloff chicken eggs are often light brown. They’re considered non-broody and have a calm demeanor with a delightful taste when eaten.
How big do Russian Orloff chickens get?
Russian Orloff chickens are a larger breed of birds. That is why they are mostly produced for meat. Their excess body fat also makes them cold and resilient.
A fully grown Russian Orloff hen weighs about 6.5-7 pounds while the roaster can weigh up to 8-9 pounds.
How long do Russian Orloff chickens live?
A healthy Russian Orloff chicken can live up to 8 to 10 years. They can only live that long if they are properly cared for and given enough nutrients that they need.
Russian Orloff Chicken: Final Thoughts
Russian Orloff chicken is far from perfect and it’s understandable why some breeders lost passion for it.
This breed takes time to mature and it’s not a prolific layer. So, it’s not ideal for commercial egg and meat production. It’s also not the friendliest and most cuddly with their owners.
But this breed is calm and composed. They can provide flavorful meat. Not to mention the colorful plumage that makes a great addition to your ornamental breed collection.
Orloff chickens can tolerate confinement too! So, if you want a hassle-free and healthy breed that can add a pop of color to your beautiful collection, then they’re worth raising.
By keeping a Russian Orloff, you can help preserve this beautiful breed for future generations to behold.