If you are interested in keeping a breed that is full of history then look no further than the Russian Orloffe. The birds take their name from Count Orloffe.
He was a Prussian and laid claim to having created them and also a breed of horse. Historians were sceptical believing that the birds were in existence many centuries before the count was born. Quite probably the count was instrumental in organising the breeding of the birds using several different breeds.
Firstly a Russian breed called the Ushanki and the result being a very striking bird full of character. The breed is actually classified as being Soft Feathered but the birds have a definite game bird stance about them. This probably being obtained from the Bruge, which is a large upstanding beak fighter from Belgium.
One of the striking features of the Orloffe is their beard and very full muffling around their throat. The dense feathering extends well into their neck hackles. This feature was almost certainly due to the introduction of blood from the Thuringian. These birds are credited as being of German origin; they exist in a range of colours. One of which is the Mahogany Spangled. This is the colour that I consider to be the most successful in the Orloffe and again suggests their relationship.
Whatever the combination of breeds involved in the development of the Orloffe the result is a magnificent bird. They warrant a larger number of breeders than it has at the present time.
There are currently 6 colours that are recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. Black, Black Mottled, Cuckoo, Spangled, Mahagony and White.
The first miniature Orloffes were brought into this country by Rex Woods, who was a good friend of my father. They were Mahogany Spangled and looked magnificent with their rich yellow legs contrasting with their body colouring.
The bantams are hardy and good layers with a docile temperament. When they are running on a grass lawn, they look a picture of health and beauty. They were one of the breeds chosen to be in the pack of cigarette cards produced by Players. The images of those cards illustrate the breed to perfection.