Thursday, March 9, 2017


Chickens wearing feathery scarves around their necks stand tall in their yard. A small comb sits on top of the head, above feathery eyebrows. Their ear lobes and wattles are completely covered by feathers. They look fierce, but aren’t alarmed by a visitor. They are Russian Orloffs.
Michelle Conrad's rooster shows off his walnut comb

Their walnut combs, which may have a few hair-like feathers springing from them, don’t freeze in cold weather. Their wattles and ear lobes are small and wouldn’t be affected, even if they weren’t insulated under those feathers. As befits a bird adapted to the Russian climate, these birds are hardy. Their expression is often described as “gloomy” and “vindictive.” 

They originated in northern Iran’s Gilan province. They share that Asian game appearance, with their long, strong Malay legs of the local chickens of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

In Iran, the breed was called the Chilianskaia. In the late 19th century, Russian nobleman Count Orloff Techesmensky brought some to Moscow, where they became known by his name. In the 1920s, another Prince Orloff, living in exile from the Revolution in England, acquired some Orloff chickens and won some poultry show prizes with them, keeping up the family name and tradition.
He's king of all he surveys. Or, perhaps, tsar.

They were included in the APA Standard from 1876 through 1888, but were dropped from later Standards. Bantams are still included in the ABA Standard, but they are not often seen.

The Spangled variety is most likely to be seen in the U.S., but breeders in Germany and England raise other colors, which American backyarders might keep: white, Mahogany, Black Breasted Red and others. The feathery face and short, hooked beak distinguish this breed’s appearance from any other.

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