Australorp Chicken Breed

Above: Black Australorp Hen

Australorps are beautiful, docile chickens that originated in Australia. They where bred out of Black Orpingtons, which is where their name originated. (Australian + Orpington = Austral-Orp).

History

After the Orpington breed’s creation (which you can read about here), the Orpingtons took off (not literally… they don’t fly well anyways…). Many chicken breeders recognized the universal properties of the Orpington and began further refining the breed. In England, Orpingtons where bred for their meat quality and thus, the English ended up with meatier strains. However, when the Orpingtons where imported to Australia (1890-1900), the Australian breeders quickly noted their potential as egg-layers. Thus, in Australia, Black Orpingtons where crossed with several other chicken breeds (including Minorcas, White Leghorns and Langshans)… The end result was a masterpiece that became known as the ‘Australian Laying Orpington’. The Australian Orpingtons where imported to England and America during the 1920s. They then became known as ‘Australorps’. Only a few years later, in 1929, the American Poultry Association recognized them as a breed. They have been popular ever since.

Above: Black Australorp hen

Australorp Breed Characteristics

Color

Australorps come in many colors (including Wheaton, Brown, White, Black, Buff, Blue and Lavender). However,  the American Poultry Association presently recognizes only one color variation (Black). Australorps have darkly colored, non-feathered shanks and toes. Their beaks are dark as well. Australorps also have moderately long backs, pointed single combs and very dark, lustrous brown eyes.

Size

The Australorp is a dual purpose breed. Australorp roosters weigh ~8.5 pounds and Australorp hens weigh ~6.5 pounds.

Above: Black Australorp Hen

Productivity

Although the Australorp is a dual purpose breed, their main popularity comes from their incredible ability to lay a large amounts of extra large brown eggs. A healthy Australorp hen will lay about 250-300 eggs per year. In fact, in Australia, a small group of six Australorp hens set a world record in 1922-23 by laying a grand total of 1,857 eggs in a single year. That’s a total of almost 310 eggs per hen! The record was broken later by another Australorp hen that laid 364 eggs in 365 days (yikes!). The fame of the Australian Australorps spread like wild-fire and they became popular in quite a few major countries. However, their popularity did not just come from their profitable qualities. The Australorp breed is well known for its friendly nature and quiet, docile temperament.

Above: Black Australorp Pullet

Australorp Temperament

       Australorps generally have very good temperaments. They tend to be mellow and somewhat shy (but usually skittish) chickens. They get along very well with one another and tolerate confinement well. However, although Australorps get along well together, they are often competitive and/or unfriendly toward other chicken breeds. Australorp roosters are very attentive to their hens. However, some Australorp roosters have been known to be aggressive/unfriendly towards people.

Hardiness

They are fairly hardy and do well in most areas. Australorps are rather heat-hardy but they are cold hardy as well. However, since Australorps usually have sizable single combs and wattles, they are somewhat susceptible to frostbite.

Above: Bailey, A Black Australorp rescue hen, plodding along in the sunshine

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