With their beautiful mille fleur feather color pattern and regal bearing, jubilee Orpingtons are appropriately associated with British royalty. Introduced in 1897 some seven years after the breed was created by William Cook, jubilee Orpingtons were named in honor of the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Victoria’s reign. Her Royal Highness received a flock of these spectacular birds as part of the celebration, and this group was maintained by expert poultry keepers for the royal family for many years. Their sublime beauty distracts from their positive traits as a utility bird. They are known to be both a fine table bird and excellent layers of large beige eggs. For a while they enjoyed a commercial status in England but ultimately were supplanted in the larger market by speckled Sussex.
Some experts draw a distinction between a ‘jubilee’ and a ‘diamond jubilee’ Orpington. The former is said to have a darker mahogany base color while the latter has a lighter, more ginger color. We have hens at Greenfire Farms with each shade of color. The distinctive color patterns of the birds is so closely associated with the essence of British culture that Hitler ordered all jubilee Orpingtons slaughtered in Germany during World War II. They were later reestablished in that country.
Greenfire Farms was the first to import into America this variety of Orpington. Our birds are large fowl drawn from two of Britain’s best bloodlines. They were very expensive to acquire and import given the rarity and popularity of this variety and the rigid and complex export restrictions from England. They are also very gentle birds; never aggressive towards people and rarely, even among roosters, toward each other. It takes a few molts and about 18 months for the final color patterns to emerge in the feathers, so patience is warranted when cultivating this variety.