Friday, June 20, 2014

Broodiness in the Orloff

     "Broodiness" is the natural instinct of chicken hens and other female poultry to incubate and hatch their own eggs. Although this instinct is very pronounced in the wild species of Junglefowl (the original, undomesticated chickens) and also in many domesticated breeds, it has been occasionally selected against in certain breeds, such as many of the Mediterranean breeds like the Leghorn and Minorca, which, save in rare circumstances, never exhibit that God-given instinct of motherhood.

     Orloffs in America are known for a number of things, but one thing they don't seem to be known for is broodiness. I personally believe that this is a shame, and may reflect either pollution of bloodlines or unwise selection against this trait. Orloffs have in their pedigree at least one type of Malayoid chicken--whether an actual Malay chicken as we know them today, or an obscure local bird resembling Malayoid birds, or even possibly random crosses of fighting Malayoids from the cockfighting days. Orloffs have the Malayoid stance (i.e. upright body posture and lower tail angle in comparison with body) and even a "Malayoid" comb (the strawberry/walnut comb is often associated specifically with the Malay breed of chicken). With such pronounced Malayoid characteristics, it stands to reason that the Orloff should have one more characteristic so wonderfully pervasive among nearly all Malayoid chickens: broodiness.

     Malayoid chickens are known for being zealous broodies and wonderful mothers. Among the Malayoid breeds exhibiting this trait are the Aseel, the Shamo, the Thai, the Burmese, the Malay, and the Satsumadori. Since the Orloff obviously has some sort of Malayoid in its ancestry, it ought also to be bred for broodiness.

     Even if the Orloff did not have Malayoid blood, I believe it would still be wise to selectively breed for broodiness. It is generally more economical, reliable, and, of course, natural to have a broody hen incubate, hatch, and raise chicks instead of buying a costly, possibly unreliable incubator and then having to spend even more time personally raising the chicks yourself. Broodiness is a natural, practical trait that ought to be selectively bred for in most--if not all--homestead breeds like the Orloff.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Three Reasons to Alter the ABA Bantam Orloff Standard

     Although some may advocate forming a large-fowl Orloff standard that closely mirrors the bantam standard of the ABA, there are a number of reasons as to why this should not be done. My purpose in this post is to show three key flaws to the ABA Orloff Standard:

1) The ABA Orloff standard does not place enough emphasis on the erect posture required in the Orloff.
    ~ Both the German and British standards--the most reliable standards in existence--specifically call for a bird with an erect posture. For the ABA to ignore this vital part of the Orloff's type is to do a disservice to the breed.
2) The ABA Orloff standard calls for a more erect tail carriage than is proper for the Orloff.
    ~ The Orloff, being a bird with Malayoid ancestry, should ideally have a tail angle that is carried more horizontally and less vertically. The British standard attests to this. Although the German standard does call for a moderately upright tail, this uprightness is balanced by the erect posture of the Orloff, which causes the tail angle to appear less pronounced. I have also seen photos on the German Orloff Club's website that definitely show birds with a less drastically vertical tail angle than the ABA seems to promote. The ABA calls for a tail carriage that does not accurately reflect the Oriental gamefowl bloodlines so integral to the Orloff's genetic history.
3) The ABA Orloff standard seems to place far too much emphasis on color.
     ~ According to the British Orloff standard, type is of primary importance to the Orloff breed. The bird's erect posture, low tail carriage, prominent head, intimidating brows, medium weight, and the like are far more important to its preservation than color is. Focusing too much on color can be detrimental to any breed because it causes birds of hardiness, good type, and disease resistance to be culled unnecessarily in favor of weaker, poorly typed birds that follow the standard's color code. But even if a breeder were to cull good-type birds with "poor" color in favor of good-type birds with "good" color, it still yields an unnecessary waste of birds whose quality and vigor should not be discarded for mere appearance' sake.

     For these reasons, the ABA Orloff standard should not be the basis for an American large-fowl Orloff standard. In all honesty, the ABA standard should be edited, so as to prevent the further pollution of bantam Orloff type.

Monday, September 23, 2013

IMPORTANT NEWS: Orloff May Never Have Been in the Standard of Perfection

After reading a post on the USOC Forum, I was quite surprised to learn that the Russian Orloff may never have been included in the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection, and that the bird in the 1800s SOP was actually a bird called "Black Russian" instead of Russian Orloff.

This information was gathered from a fellow USOC Forum member who uploaded the following email from APA President Sam Brush:

Mr. Rivera -
Your inquiry of July 8 about Orloffs was received, but I actually
responded to a similar question through Facebook, and therefore thought
I had taken care of this. I apologize for that miscue, and I will
attempt to provide a response similar to what I posted to the gentleman
on Facebook.

The Russian Orloff, contrary to a lot of posts out on the Internet, was
never a recognized breed in the American Standard of Perfection. In the
1905 American Standard of Perfection there was a breed listed as "Black
Russians" and I assume that is the source of confusion about whether or
not the Orloffs were once in the ASOP. The description of the Black
Russians was quite a bit different from the more recent Russian Orloff
descriptions (mostly for Mahogany and Spangled). The American Bantam
Association does recognize several varieties of Orloff Bantams, and
their standard descriptions are more in line with what I think the
Orloffs are intended to be.


Regarding recognition of the Orloffs, there is a process for admission
of new breeds and varieties into the Standard of Perfection, and details
regarding that process and the requirements are outlined in the APA
bylaws, which are in any APA yearbook. The process beings with an
application for acceptance, and the APA Secretary can provide you or
your club representative with that starting packet. The admission
process is overseen by the APA Standard Committee, and Walt Leonard is
the Chairman. I am copying him on this response so that he is aware of
the interest in Orloffs. His email is

I am also copying our APA secretary, Pat Horstman, and asking that she
mail the APA Admission Packet to you at the address you have in this email.


The Orloffs have been out there on the poultry landscape for a long
time, and there just has not been a focused effort by Orloff enthusiasts
to go through the process and get them admitted. The APA Standard
Committee would certainly be open to working with your group to initiate
efforts to get them recognized. Please be aware that the APA would like
to coordinate with the American Bantam Association on the description
since they already have one available for the bantams.


If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me
or Walt Leonard. The Orloffs are a unique and interesting breed and it
is good to see this spark of enthusiasm for them.


Sam Brush

If this is correct, then I have believed a fallacy for quite some time.

German Orloff Club...

This is probably one of the most valuable links I could upload because Germany is assumed to be the land where the real, present-day Orloff was first really developed and standardized. Therefore, the German standard is probably the best standard.

The website is in German, but the pictures are probably the most valuable parts of the site: German Orloff Club

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Utility Orloffs

Recently, I opened a discussion on the Orloff Club Forum about either creating or promoting utility strains of the Russian Orloff.

To summarize what I said, I really feel that, in order to truly be preserved, the Orloff should not be bred too strictly according to outward appearance, but instead be bred to a standardized outward appearance AND a standardized cold hardiness, disease resistance, and utility (i.e. meat and eggs) value.

For the full post, see the following link: USOC Forum, Utility Orloffs Post

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pros and Cons about the Orloff

     The Orloff chicken, like all chicken breeds, has its pros and cons. The original Orloff, as I have heard from one or two sources, was intended to be a meat bird, but further development of the breed has made it closer to a dual-purpose bird (i.e. bred for meat and eggs) than it used to be.

Pros: Very cold hardy, supposedly very capable of defending itself, good free-ranger, good winter layer (compared to some other breeds), ideally should be hardy and resistant to disease

Cons: due to larger size, probably not a very good flier; said to be a poor layer after the first year; some strains may suffer from lack of hardiness due to inbreeding

Monday, June 24, 2013

Joining the USOC

     I recently joined the United States Orloff Club and am proud to be a part of the effort to save and propagate this magnificent breed. As time goes on, I hope to acquire stock from a fellow Orloff breeder here in NC, and also other reliable sources.