Australorp chickens are one of our favorite breeds for the homestead. Learn all about one of the best dual purpose breeds for any homestead or backyard chicken flock.
The Australorp chicken breed has a great feed-to-meat and feed-to-egg ratio. They are great foragers and the roosters are one of the most alert to predators.
We also love the fact that the hens are great mothers. She will hatch out a large number of chicks when you let them sit on a clutch of eggs.
We had a Speckled Sussex die from a snake bite while she was setting a nest at the same time as our Black Australorp was setting. They each had 12 eggs.
We gave the Australorp hen the Sussex hen’s eggs and she hatched them all. 24 chicks! She was amazing!
They have great personalities which makes them fun to raise especially if you have children.
As a heritage breed, they’re hardy and easily work for most climates. They’re easy to raise in a confinement with just a chicken run or yard and excel when free-ranging around the farm.
History of Australorp Chickens
|Size||Medium (six to eight pounds dressed weight)|
|Purpose||Meat and Eggs (Dual Purpose)|
|Recognized Varieties||Black is the only variety recognized by the ALBC in the U.S. In other countries, Black, Buff, and Golden are recognized as well.|
The name is a combination of Australian Black Orpington. Prior to settling on Australorp, the breed was given many different names.
Due to the great progress of the breed in Australia, they are the national bird of Australia. How cool is that to have a chicken breed as your national bird!
In the early 20th century, William Cook’s Orpington chicken breed was imported into Australia. The goal was to produce a dual-purpose bird that was compatible with Australia’s climate.
People crossed the Orpington with Rhode Island Reds to improve their ability to generate massive amounts of eggs.
In England, Orpingtons were already bred to create a good meat bird.
The Australians wanted to try and breed a bird that not only has great meat but was also a prolific layer.
The English Orpington was crossed with some great layers like the Rhode Island Reds, Minorcas, White Leghorn, Langshan, and Plymouth Rocks.
The result was a wonderful dual purpose bird for the homestead known to us as the Australorp breed.
Here in the U.S., only the Black Australorp is recognized by the ALBC. Other countries recognize several other colors including buff and golden.
Farmers regularly organized egg-laying contests in Australia. In the 1920s Australorp chickens won with a whopping 347 eggs in 365 days!
The Australorp went on to set a record of 364 eggs laid in 365 days. This was done without modern setups like timed lighting to help encourage chickens to lay more during the winter.
The Australorp is a great egg-laying bird. My best hens average 5 eggs a week throughout the year. If healthy, you can expect these girls to continue laying right through the cold and darker days of winter.
The Australorp chicken’s egg color is brown and they are large in size once the hen is mature. They will lay a medium-large egg for about the first 6 months of laying.
My line of Black Australorps came from McMurray Hatchery. They have been great setters and only get real broody when their nest gets to around 10 eggs.
They are excellent mothers being very attentive to their brood and tend not to trample any young chicks. They are excellent teachers while raising them and are extremely protective until the chicks can fend for themselves.
Features of the Black Australorp
Black Australorps have black feathers with a beautiful iridescent green sheen that flashes in the sunlight.
The Australian Poultry Society recognizes the black, blue, and white Australorp.
The American Poultry Association only recognizes the Australorp in its original color – black.
|Comb Type||Single, roosters have large comb and wattles|
|Number of Toes||4 on each foot|
Australorp Breed Standards of ALBC
- It should have a very upright stance, carrying the tail high.
- The breast is full and well-rounded with a deep, solid body.
- Wattles, earlobes, and comb should all be red in color.
- The comb should be upright and have no more than seven points.
- The legs should be clean of feathers, black or slate blue in color.
- There are four toes to each foot, and the skin on the bottom of the foot should be white, as is the body’s skin.
- Eyes are shiny jet black, and the beak is dark in color.
Australorp Breed Characteristics
This is a hardy and healthy heritage breed. The average life expectancy is between 8-10 years.
Australorps have great genetic diversity, which helps them be the well-rounded hardy breed that we love.
Roosters do have large combs and wattles so if you live in an area that gets below freezing you can coat them with some petroleum jelly to prevent frostbite.
The hens are large so they will need at least 4 square feet each inside the coop.
It is better to have too much space than not enough especially if they are confined.
The standard perch area of 8 inches may be too tight for these large birds.
You will need to provide standard-sized nesting boxes that are at least 12×12 inches.
You want your nesting boxes to have room for only one. If there’s too much space, they will try and double up in the same box which will result in damaged eggs and extra stress on hens. They may try no matter what the box size is.
|Bears Confinement||Yes but prefers free range|
|Especially Docile||Yes but the rooster is protective|
|Personality||Quiet and gentle but do not like being held|
If you are interested in a dual purpose bird that lays a large number of eggs year-round, has a great disposition, and has a nice feed-to-meat ratio, this could be the chicken breed you’re looking for.
Hardy, easy to care for, great foragers, and even take confinement better than some breeds. What can you say about this black chicken breed that pulls its own weight on the homestead? It’s one of our top two favorites!
As always, we’re here to help.