In terms of chicken breeds, Australorp chickens are a relative newcomer. Despite its short existence, it has left a profound mark on chicken keepers and the poultry industry all over the world.
Originating from “Australian black Orpington,” the name is a shortened version of the full phrase. Before settling on Australorp as the definitive moniker, the breed went by a number of other names.
This breed was primarily developed by Australians, so it is fitting that they serve as the de facto national bird of Australia.
In addition to discussing proper care and common health issues, this article examines their personality, egg-laying capacity, and breed standard.
You may also want to read about the best chicken feed.
The Orpington was being honed in England to ensure high-quality meat production. The ever-practical Australian poultry breeders of the 1920s, however, were still interested in developing a high-quality utility bird with an emphasis on egg production and supplemental meat.
This was accomplished by breeding Cook’s Orpingtons with Rhode Island Reds, Minorcas, White Leghorn, Langshan, and perhaps even some Plymouth Rocks.
The resulting bird was an exceptional layer, likely due to the incorporation of laying-oriented genes from the Orpington, Leghorn, and Rhode Island Red breeds.
For the calendar year 1922–1923, six Australorp chickens produced 1,857 eggs, or an average of 309.5 eggs per hen.
Farmers all over Australia held annual egg-laying competitions, and the winner that year had a hen that laid 347 eggs in a calendar year. The current record is 364 eggs in a year, which is an incredible feat in and of itself, but when you consider that this was accomplished without providing any additional lighting for the hens, it becomes even more impressive.
The egg-laying ability of this breed quickly piqued the interest of the poultry industry, as this was a breed that didn’t need to be forced to lay eggs.
As the Australorp chickens where crossed with the white Leghorn to create the Austra White, a more productive hen, interest in the breed waned in the 1930s and 1940s.
Fortunately, recent years have seen a reversal in the Australorp’s decline. It is classified as a breed that is on the mend. They continue to be a primary layer today, especially in the more contained setting of a backyard.
People who keep chickens as pets in their backyards adore them for this and other reasons.
You may also hear these chickens referred to as Australian Orpington, Australs, or Black Australorp chickens (although white and blue varieties exist as well).
Despite its reserved demeanor, the Australorp is widely recognized as one of the most sociable of all large-breed chickens. They make the perfect children’s chicken and are great for those who are interested in fair chickens.
However, the black, blue, and white varieties are officially recognized by the Australian Poultry Society.
South Africa also has a range of lighter shades, including buff, splash, wheaten laced, and golden.
The feathers on Australorp chickens are close fitting and soft, but the bird itself is quite large and heavy. This bird belongs to the category of large English birds with fluffy, heavy feathers.
The rooster stands tall, with its tail held high. Having a deep, solid body, the breast is full and rounded. The wattles, lobes, and comb of a healthy bird should be a vibrant shade of red. The comb must stand straight and have no more than seven points.
The legs should be black or slate blue and free of any feathers. Every foot has four digits, and its skin, like the rest of the body’s, should be a pure white. The beak and the eyes are both dark, and the eyes are particularly shiny.
One male can weigh up to 10 pounds, and a female can weigh anywhere from 6.1 to 8 pounds. Chickens of the bantam variety range in size from 1.7 to 2.2 lb.
As was mentioned up top, the Australorp is essentially a walking incubator. The current variety will give you about 250 eggs annually on average, but they are not as productive as their ancestors. Depending on the hen, there can be a wide range in the number of eggs she lays.
Since the lighting and diet in an industrial setting are both carefully managed, egg production increases.
It is generally accepted that Australorps, depending on the strain, are decent to excellent nest sitters and caring parents. While some media outlets have claimed they aren’t suitable babysitters, others have defended their abilities. The “yes” votes appear to be more numerous than the “names” votes.
Unlike their Orpington ancestors, they are only moderately broody.
Are Australorp chickens right for you?
The Australorp could be the perfect hen for you if you’re searching for a hen that’s low maintenance, lays a lot of eggs, and gets along with the rest of your flock.
They may be reserved at first, but once they get to know you, they make wonderful barnyard pets. Not even the roosters can be called aggressive; they all have a soft and sweet personality.
They tend to be reserved and unobtrusive. Most likely, they will be in the middle of the food chain. Keep an eye on the more “pushy” birds in your flock, as they may get bullied by more aggressive breeds.
Because of their docile nature, they are often used in farm programs like the 4H in the United States.
They make excellent exhibition birds once acclimated to the commotion, routinely bringing home trophies for their proud owners.
They can thrive in a wide variety of climates, from the extreme heat of Australia to the chilly conditions of the American Midwest. When it comes to the elements, this bird can do it all.
The Australorp is a breed that likes to explore, but it can be wary of danger. Even though their black plumage is effective camouflage in some settings, it can be a hindrance in others.