Vorwerks at a glance

Origin: Germany
Type: Traditional utility
Classification: Rare breed
Size: Bantam and large fowl
Weight: 2 – 3kg for large fowl, 680-910g for bantams
Eggs: Tinted
Colour: Buff belted black

The Vorwerk is a light utility breed originating from Germany. It is recognised by its striking deep buff and velvety black plumage. The breed was developed by Oskar Vorwerk around 1900. They were created using Lakenvelders, utility type buff Orpingtons, buff Sussex and Andulasians. The breed was first shown in Hanover in 1912 and standardised in 1913. The aim was to provide a middle-weight, economical utility fowl, good-natured, lively, but not timid. The bantam followed around 1920 using undersized large Vorwerks, buff Orpington bantams, Gold Duckwing German bantams and Barnevelder bantams. It is worth noting that a separate Vorwerk bantam has been developed in the USA which, although has the same colouration, is of very different type, having Rosecomb in its makeup.

Although often stated that males live happily with each other, this is not necessarily the case.


“They are a lively, intelligent, friendly breed, and good layers of good-sized cream eggs.”

The ideal cock. Photo courtesy of https://www.erhaltungszucht-gefluegel.de

For the exhibitor, the challenge is getting the combination of the correct type (body like a rounded rectangle, with low carriage) with good clean colour of the plumage and a grey undercolour. Very often birds appear with black ticking in the buff body and buff in the black hackles. The type carries 25% of the points and the colour another 25%. They should have slate coloured legs, white ear lobes and a bright orange eye. Easy to say, not so easy to breed! Care also needs to be taken to limit the exposure to the sun as it will bleach the rich buff colour. Pullets often develop black ticking on their bodies after their moult, so it’s always best to wait until their second year before picking birds for the breeding pen. There are also so called ‘half-pinters’ around, where the large fowl has been crossed with the bantams to produce birds are neither large nor bantam.

They are a lively, intelligent, friendly breed, and good layers of good-sized cream eggs. They do best when allowed to free range and prove to be economical in their food intake. As such, they are particularly suitable for smallholdings and farmyards and they are excellent foragers and quick to mature.

Recently a blue version has been developed where the black is replaced with a blue, though this colour is non-standard at the moment.

We have developed a third colour: the palomino. It replaces the black with white. This is not to be confused with splash, which is a double dose of blue. Palominos can be crossed with the standard Vorwerks and will, theoretically, produce 50% of each colour. Our Palominos are not currently in circulation.

Breed Standards

General Characteristics: male

Carriage: Very powerful, compact utility shape, carriage low rather than high, not too much bone, markings the same in both sexes, lively but not timid.

Type: Body of considerable size, as broad and deep as possible, like a rounded rectangle. Back broad, slightly sloping with a full saddle. Breast broad, deep and well-rounded. Wings closely carried. Tail moderately tight, held at a lowish angle with well-rounded sickles of a moderate length.

Head: Medium-sized and moderately broad. Face covered with small feathers. Comb single, of medium size at the most, with four to six serrations. Wattles of medium length, well-rounded. Lobes of barely average size. Eyes alert.

Neck: Of moderate length with full hackle and carried fairly upright, proudly.

Legs and feet: Moderate length with fine bone. Toes: four with small, close-fitting scales. Thighs: fleshy and tightly feathered.

Plumage: Close-fitting, glossy, velvety hackle.

Handling: Firm, as befits an active forager.

General characteristics: female

General characteristics are similar to those of the male allowing for the natural sexual differences. Back to be broad with almost no cushion. The latter part of the small comb may bend slightly to one side.


Male plumage: Head, hackle and tail should be velvety black. Body deep buff, undercolour grey. Wing secondaries buff; primaries dark grey to black. Saddle buff with light striping.

Female plumage: Hackle black with slight buff lacing permitted at the back of the head. Body and secondary wing flights buff; primaries greyish-black and buff mixed. Visible parts of the main tail black with the tail furnishings partly laced with buff. Undercolour grey.

In both sexes: Beak greyish-blue to horn. Eyes orange or orange-red. Comb, face and wattles red. Legs and feet slate.

Serious defects

Body too narrow or too light. Carriage too high. Coarse bone. High tail. Lobes red. Pale legs.
In males: hackle unduly buff or grey, saddle nearly black.
In females: lack of black in neck or tail and undue spangling in body feathers.

Van Gink's representation of the ideal Vorwerks
Van Gink's representation of the ideal Vorwerks


Male: 2.5 – 3.2kg (5 1/2 – 7lb)
Female: 2 – 2.5kg (4 1/2 – 5 1/2lb)


Scale of Points

Type/Utility Values 25
Head 10
Colour 25
Legs and feet 10
Size 15
Condition 15


The same standard as in large fowl applies to bantams.


Male: 910g (32oz)
Female: 680g (24oz)

Help Support our Endeavours

Make a Donation

If you like what we do and would like to show your support and contribute through a one-off PayPal donation, please click here.

Become a Patron

Click on the button to be taken to our Patreon page, where you can select the type of membership with rewards that you'd like.

ORIONTREE is run as a not-for-profit.

Every penny is put straight back into the farm, starting with the day-to-day care of the animals; whether that be feed, routine treatments, health supplements or vet visits.
We also have the on-going maintenance of dilapidated outbuildings that we are restoring and converting to practical space for the animals. A couple of such projects have been the conversion of an old metal lean-to into a spacious, airy poultry house for our retired, infirm and pet flock; and the conversion of ancient (1946!) turkey pens into an airy barn enclosure serving both as winter housing for the male alpacas and summer shelter for the females, when they are home for giving birth.
Finally, if there is anything left over, we are constantly striving to expand and develop new experiences to bring our world of alpacas, chickens, emus and ethical ways to more people. Some examples include care home visits and we have developed a fantastic educational workshop, with STEM activities and tied into the curriculum, but we want to improve it further, bringing more of the world of alpacas to children across the country.

Every penny you donate goes straight to these projects. There are no staff, no wages, no web-developers. Everything is done in-house and with the help of some fabulous volunteers. Help us create something special for everyone.

Birds for Sale



Price: £25

Currently available.

Please contact us with your requirements.


Price: £20

Currently unavailable.

We do not sell hatching eggs nor chicks. Photos of actual birds for sale.

© ORIONTREE | Design by Dani