Buff Orpington Roosters Vs Hens

Written by Peralee Knight
Published: May 9, 2022
© Racheal Carpenter/Shutterstock.com
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Buff Orpington roosters are larger and louder than the hens

When it comes to chickens, telling a rooster from a hen is typically easy to do. However, some species like Buff Orpingtons make telling male from female a bit more challenging than others! Of course, the biggest difference between the two is that hens lay eggs and roosters do not. Other than laying, the most noticeable difference between Buff Orpington roosters vs hens is that roosters are significantly larger and much louder than hens. However, this is far from the only way to tell them apart.

The Buff Orpington rooster looks a lot more like the hen than most chicken species. The rooster’s markings are less distinctive than those seen in other roosters. But if you know what to look for, you can easily learn how to spot the differences!

Buff Orpington Roosters Vs Hens: Physical Differences

Buff Orpington roosters and hens look a lot alike, but males are bigger and have pointed cape feathers and longer tailfeathers.

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Both male and female Buff Orpingtons have the same buff-colored feathers from the day they hatch to adulthood. Physically, both sexes look remarkably similar and can be hard to tell apart at first. Male Orpingtons do not have the long, showy tail feathers or pronounced crown of other roosters.

The differences between males and females are much more subtle in this breed. However, a bit of a closer look will reveal key physical identifiers for roosters and hens!

Buff Orpington Roosters: What To Look For

Buff Orpington Rooster
Buff Orpington males have sickle-shaped tail feathers


The easiest way to tell adult Buff Orpington roosters from hens is their size. Roosters are significantly larger than hens, and far louder and more vocal! Adult males also develop pointed cape feathers on the neck, back, and shoulders. Instead of highly arched feathers, males have sickle-shaped tail feathers that spill down the back and rump.

Roosters also have slightly larger combs and wattles that are a bright red color. The most accurate way to identify a rooster is by looking at the vent, or genitals. The vent is used for both elimination and to house the genitals and is exceedingly small in roosters. Roosters also have thicker legs and spurs on the ankle of each foot.

Buff Orpington Hens: What To Look For

Hens are smaller than roosters and tend to be quieter. They do not develop cape feathers and tail feathers are shorter and closer to the rump. Buff Orpington hens have smaller combs and wattles that are dull red. Females can be accurately identified by a vent with a significantly larger opening. Also, a laying hen will have a wider spread between the pubic bones.

Buff Orpington Rooster VS Hen: Temperament And Behavior

Buff Orpington chickens hens roosters
Buff Orpington roosters can be aggressive and territorial! Females are more docile and calm but are protective over chicks.

©Racheal Carpenter/Shutterstock.com

While roosters and hens are physically remarkably similar, they have many clear differences in temperament and behavior. Like most chicken species roosters and hens both have their own way of doing things, which helps to tell them apart!

Roosters Are More Aggressive

Buff Orpington roosters, and roosters in general, tend to be much more aggressive than hens. As the rooster’s key role in the flock is to guard and protect, they are intensely territorial. Roosters will attack anything they perceive as a threat, and their frequent crowing is a warning to all that he is on the job!

Males are also more observant than females and are often constantly on the move. Roosters are also known for their puffed-out chest and strutting behavior. This serves as a warning to threats and other roosters that he is ready to fight if he must. Two roosters will fight to the death over territory and should never be kept together!

Hens Are Calmer, But Very Protective

By contrast, hens are much calmer than roosters, and a lot quieter! Females are friendlier and more easygoing, though this is not always the case. Hens with young chicks may show aggression to protect their young and the chicks of other hens. Females can also produce a vocal call that will alert the rooster that a threat is present.

Brooding hens, or hens incubating eggs, like to nest together and can become irritated if you try to move them. While hens are not as loud as roosters, they are vocal, and they do “talk” to each other with gentle clucks and chirps!

Buff Orpingtons: From Chick To Adult

Buff Orpington chicks are born with markings in their buff feathers that disappear as adults. Different markings can help tell if a chick is male or female.

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According to an article in the Traansval Agricultural Journal, the eggs of Buff Orpington hens hatch out better than those of any other species. Telling male and female Buff Orpingtons apart is also possible when they are chicks but doing so is best left to a professional. Newly hatched chicks do not have developed reproductive organs and sexing them involves physical examination. Newborn chicks are fragile and can be seriously harmed by this exam if it is done incorrectly.

However, there are ways to get an idea of whether they are male or female. Though Orpingtons have the same buff coloring their entire lives, newly hatched chicks are slightly different. In fact, Buff Orpingtons can begin showing differences from day one!

Chicks: Buff Orpington Roosters vs Hens

Newly hatched hens often have faint brown lines on their backs and may also have a brown spot on the head. Roosters tend to have pale white streaks at the upper wing joint. Chicks begin showing differences early, and roosters quickly develop thicker legs.

Buff Orpington Cockerels VS Pullets

Cockerels are teenage roosters, and pullets are teenage hens! Cockerels start to stretch their necks and attempt to crow as early as 4 weeks. They also begin to puff out their chests and strut and begin to develop cape feathers. Pullets begin to approach maturity when they start to squat down in submission near a rooster. Hens are considered mature around a year old when they begin to lay.

To learn more about Buff Orpingtons and other chickens, check out these articles on The 25 Best Chicken Breeds and The Ten Largest Chickens In The World, both of which feature the Buff Orpington!

The Featured Image

Buff Orpington chickens hens roosters
Show Buff Orpingtons are kept for breeding and are popular at livestock shows.
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