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If you are looking for a large, gentle good egg layer to add to your flock you don’t need to look any further. The Australorp fits that bill perfectly.
Australorp Chickens, sometimes called Black Australorps, originated in the early 1900’s in Australia. They are a cross of Black Orpingtons and other breeds such as Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. They are an friendly breed and excellent egg layer averaging 250 eggs per year.
Before adding this chicken breed to your backyard flock, you will want to know their history, characteristics, temperament, purpose, and care so that you can make an informed decision as to whether this is the right breed for you.
|Size||Male 7 – 9lbs; Hen 5 – 7lbs|
|Color||Black with Green Sheen|
History & Origin
The Australorp breeds orginated in Australia in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. Chicken breeders in Australia imported Black Orpingtons from William Cook’s lines. These breeders wanted to keep some of the good qualities of the Orpingtons and improve on them.
To do this, various breeders began breeds the Orpingtons with a few other breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns and Minorcas. By adding in these stellar egg layers in compounded the already good egg laying ability of the Orpingtons.
Some of the resulting offspring set pretty high egg laying stats by averaging over 300 eggs per year.
In the early 1920’s these new crosses with stellar egg laying ability started to create some fans in countries other than Australia. And they were first imported to US and England. It is at this point that they got their own breed name, Australorp. Although, sometimes known as Australian Black Orpington and Black Australorp.
What Do They Look Like
This breed is a heavy breed ranging from 5 – 9lbs. Roosters tend to be on the heavier end and Hens on the lighter end of this weight range.
According to the APA breed standard, black is the only accepted color (though standards from other countries do allow additional colorings). Their dark black feathers have a green sheen to them.
They are a deep and broad chested breed. Wings and tail should be compact and tight. They are soft and tight feathered and carry themselves erect.
Their comb is a single comb, red in color. Their wattles are also red in color.
In the APA breed standard, the only accepted color is black. However, there are a few other Poultry associations such as the Australian Poultry Standards, British Poultry Standards and even The Poultry Club of South Africa all of which do recognize additional colors.
Some of the additional colors recognized outside the APA are: blue, white, buff and wheaten.
Australorps tend to be active, but calm. They are a friendly breed that makes does well as a pet as they are fine with human attention and interaction.
These gentle birds can handle being kept in a chicken run or free-ranging. They adapt well to whatever environment you provide – just keep in mind that they are a larger breed so if they will be in a run, give them ample room.
The Australorps in our flock are some of our favorites. They tend to be gentle and easy going. You don’t typically see them as one of the breeds running around trying to establish their spot in the pecking order. But, due to their large size, most of the flock doesn’t tend to pick on them either.
They tend to be particularly calm and are very tolerant to handling and other touching unlike some other breeds which can be a little flighty.
What is Their Purpose
They are considered to be a dual purpose chicken breed. They are heavy enough that they are useful as a meat bird. They also are fantastic egg layers and are very useful for egg production.
This breed was developed to be an excellent egg layer. And, that they are. They average 250 Large brown eggs per year. Additionally, they are cold hardy which is a chicken term meaning that they will lay through the winter when some other breeds may stop producing as well.
Due to their calm and gentle temperament, they also are well suited for use as a pet or a show bird.
They are easy to handle and happy to be held or pet. So, they are definitely good candidates to be used as pets.
They also are good for use as a show bird in poultry exhibitions and 4h due to their calm attitude and ease of handling.
Care & Health
Overall, Australorps are a hearty and easy to care for breed. They are not particularly fragile in any way. They handle cold temperatures well. They don’t love super hot weather, but as long as you provide some shade to get out of the direct sun they should be fine.
Of course, make sure to provide them a clean and secure chicken coop, fresh food and water. And be sure to use the proper chicken feeder and chicken waterer. Since they are a heavier breed, they will tend to eat more than the typical chicken feeding guide suggests, but not by an extreme amount.
They are not more at risk for any of the typical chicken health issues compared to any, other breeds. Just be sure to keep an eye for everyday issues like lice and mites. You can use this chicken care checklist to help keep an eye on your birds and keep them in tip top health.
What color eggs do Australorps lay?
They lay a large light brown egg.
How old are Australorps when they start laying?
They are usually ready to lay anytime between 4 and 6 months of age. The exact age will vary a bit dependent on the specific bird.
How long do australorp chickens live?
Australorps typically have the same average lifespan of other chickens which is about 8 years. However, a variety of different factors can affect this such as environmental conditions and predators.
Are Australorps friendly?
Yes, they tend to be a calm and friendly breed. This makes them an excellent choice if you like your chickens to also be pets.
Are black Australorps broody?
They were bred to be production layers and not broody. However, some people report their Australorps to be excellent brooders. The hens we have had in our flock do not tend to get broody.
What color egg does a black chicken lay?
Black colored chickens can lay different colored eggs depending on their breed. For example, Australorps lay brown eggs and Ayam Cemani lay cream colored eggs.
How long do black Australorps lay eggs?
Like most other chickens, they can lay for several years. However, also, like most other breeds, they typically peak egg production around two years of age and then will taper off as they get older.
How big do black Australorps get?
Their size can range from 5 – 9lbs. Males/roosters are typically heavier at 7 – 9lbs. While Females/hens are typically lighter at 5 – 7lbs.
Can Black Australorp chickens fly?
Unlike smaller bantam chicken breeds, Australorps cannot fly too well due to their heavy size.
How do you tell if a black australorp is a rooster?
The main ways to tell a rooster vs a hen for this breed are similar to any other breed. Roosters will be larger when they are full grown. They will have larger combs and thicker legs than hens. Additionally, roosters will have more prominent (longer and more colorful – green sheen) saddle and hackle feathers.