While there are many Orpington varieties available, perhaps none generates more excitement and admiration than the Jubilee. Rich, bright mahogany tones, emerald green tints and bright white spangling combine to create a visually stunning bird that just gets better with age. Jubilee Orpingtons are relatively slow to mature, often taking upwards of 6-7 months to finally grace their keepers (who have usually been rendered breathless by anticipation and impatience) with the fruits of their labor. Birds generally undergo a few molts before achieving optimum visual punch to their mille fleur patterns, with spangling and vibrancy truly kicking in around 18 months. Our birds are young and have not yet molted. There is some discussion over the distinction between "Jubilee" Orpingtons and "Diamond Jubilee" Orpingtons. The Jubilees are a darker shade, and the lighter, more ginger-toned birds the Diamond Jubilees. We have hens of all shades, but we personally prefer the darker birds. Our primary breeding rooster exhibits the deeper coloration, and we will be selectively breeding this shade to prominence within our flock.
Like other Orpingtons, Jubilees are large-sized (7-10 lbs), loosely feathered birds which model the exaggerated rumps that we like to refer to as the "old lady in an apron" look. They are friendly, gentle and enjoy the distinction of having been favorites of Real Joes and royalty alike. They were named for and presented to Queen Victoria in honor of her Diamond Jubilee year, and she was understandably quite taken with the lovely creatures. Surging popularity and support for both the birds and the Queen rendered the Jubilee Orpington such a virtual symbol of British spirit and culture that Hitler ordered the eradication of the breed during World War II.
After the War, surviving numbers of Jubilees faced a different type of opponent in the form of the Speckled Sussex. Similar in size and type, the Sussex eventually won the struggle for breed prominence and popularity amongst commercial flocks. The extremely high prices that Jubilee Orpingtons command in North America renders it difficult for fanciers in the United States to consider them as dual purpose birds (used for both meat and eggs), but they are.
Jubilee Orpingtons are an old and established breed in the UK (circa 1897 but not publicly introduced until 7 years later). Exhibition records of The United Orpington Club show 17 of the Diamond Jubilee variety having been shown in New York during the time period of 1909-1910. They all but disappeared in the US after this brief stint of popularity, but were reintroduced with great fanfare to North America in 2011 by Greenfire Farms and are certainly here to stay. Our birds hail from Greenfire Farms and Marc Sacre (Heirloom Orpington) lines.