Australorp: Egg Laying, Colors, Characteristics And More…

The Australorp is one of the most productive and enjoyable backyard chickens around.

They originated in Australia and are now their national bird.

She is a delightful chicken to have in your flock. Not only are they very productive but they are also friendly and well suited to a family style farm.

This is the ideal chicken for beginners as they are not demanding and will thrive in almost any climate.

Keep reading if you want to learn more about this beautiful chicken…

Black Australorp

Australorp Overview

The Australorp is Australia’s version of the English Orpington.

This is a beautiful chicken that is a superb layer.

In the sunlight you will notice a very striking black and green sheen to their feathers. Australorps come in other colors too but for most the black is the most eye catching.

She has a lovely and even disposition and is certainly gentle enough for children to hold and cuddle. With a bit of encouragement they can become family pets. Unlike English Orpingtons the Australorp is not overly broody but when they do sit they are diligent and make great mothers.

Their calm and composed personality makes them ideal candidates for exhibitions and show rings if you are so inclined. After a short period of adjustment they take the noise, lights and handling in their stride and show beautifully.

Overall their calm and steady temperament makes them one of the best breeds available for beginners.

Australorp Chicken
Beginner Friendly: Yes.
Lifespan: 8+ years.
Weight: 8-10lb.
Color: Black, white, blue and others.
Egg Production: 4-5 per week.
Egg Color: Light brown.
Known For Broodiness: No.
Good With Children: Yes.
Cost of Chicken: $5 per chick.

Why We Love This Breed

Pros:

  • They are record-breaking egg layers that can lay over 5 eggs each week.
  • Australorps have unique black feathers with a green iridescent.
  • This breed is great with children.
  • They are excellent at handling cold weather.
  • She has a fantastic calm and docile temperament and loves to be held.

Appearance

Australorp

Australorps are large and fluffy chickens.

The American Poultry Association classify them as a heavy and soft feathered English bird.

Their feathers are close fitting which is a genetic imprint from some of the breeds used to create them.

They have a very upright carriage and carry their tail high.

One of the most beautiful parts of their appearance is their black feathers which are iridescent and in the sunlight give off a beetle green sheen.

Hens and roosters will start to identify themselves subtly around 7-8 weeks of age. Roosters will stand much more upright, be bolder and more assertive while the girls will stay to the back, keep a lower profile and will not be quite as curious as the boys.

She has a deep and solid body that is round and full.

Legs are clean of feathers and should be slate blue or black in color. There are four toes to each foot and the soles of their feet should be white or pale in color.

Their wattles, comb and ear lobes are red.

And their beak is dark in color and the eyes are black.

Size and Weight

This breed is considered a large bird.

Hens weigh in at 6½lb-8lb and roosters 8½lb-10lb.

You can also find this breed in a bantam variety (1.7-2.2lb for hens and 2-2.7lb for boys).

Color Varieties

There are several different colors available however not all of them are approved by the American Poultry Association.

Here in the US the recognized color is black.

However in Australia they recognize the black, white and blue varieties. You can even find this breed in buff, splash, wheaten faced and golden.

Breeders are constantly working with their birds to improve color, vigor and recognition for their varieties. So it is very likely that more color varieties will be accepted in the near future.

What Is It Like To Own An Australorp?

Australorp Chicken

This is an active breed.

Australorps enjoy roaming and like nothing better than patrolling the yard looking for tasty snacks such as insects, seeds and grass.

All this activity helps to keep them trim and in good overall condition.

Even if you cannot let them free range all the time then they will still enjoy small breaks from being penned up.

When they are first getting to know you they can appear aloof – in reality they are just shy. Once they are comfortable with you they will come out of their shell.

Personality

The Australorp is well suited to the backyard life – they enjoy human company and are great with children.

They are curious by nature and always want to help you with chores and checking out anything that might possibly be a treat of some description.

If you watch them walking across the yard you will notice their regal way of walking (they inherited this from the Orpington).

However they can look a bit ungainly when they run!

This is not a hen prone to bullying and is fairly docile and mellow. In fact they are so docile that they are occasionally bullied by other breeds. Make sure to keep an eye on things when introducing them to other breeds.

Because of their calm and quiet personality they make a good choice for beginners. If you are interested in showing or exhibition they are a great choice as they can quickly become used to being handled.

Australorp Hens

Egg Production

They are known as egg laying machines and at their peak they have been recorded to lay 364 eggs in 365 days!

However in a backyard setting you can expect them to lay 4-5 eggs each week.

These eggs are light brown and medium sized.

They should start laying somewhere between 16-20 weeks and will average 200-250 per year.

Egg Production
Eggs Per Week: 4-5 Eggs.
Color: Light brown.
Size: Medium.

Noise Levels

Do not expect overly loud chickens.

Of course they celebrate laying an egg with their sisters but rarely do they make enough noise to be troublesome to the neighbors.

The only time you could really call them loud is when they spot a predator.

It goes without saying that Australorp roosters do make noise, and lots of it! If you live in town it is likely that you are not allowed to keep roosters.

Facts About This Breed

  1. Australorp is short for Australian Black Orpington.
  2. Males will reach about 9 pounds and females around 7 pounds.
  3. As their name implies they are related to the Orpington chicken.
  4. You can find them in black, white and blue colors.
  5. They are also called Black Australorp, Australian Orpington and Australs.
  6. Whilst they are known as Australian this breed is considered English.

Australorp Chicken Care Guide

Australorp Close Up

Health Issues

Overall this is a very healthy breed.

Australorps have great genetic diversity so rarely suffer from any significant issues.

The usual parasites (lice, mites and worms) are to be expected but they can be kept under control with regular checks and treatment.

Roosters have large combs and wattles so if you live in an area that sees snow and frost you will need to grease those beautiful appendages with some petroleum jelly to prevent frostbite.

Feeding

Feeding this breed is very straight forward.

A standard 16% layer pellet will do them just fine through the laying season. You can start them on this feed as soon as they reach 18 weeks old.

During their molt you can switch their feed up to 18-20% protein – this will help them regrow their feathers quickly without depleting their protein stores.

Extra calcium should also be offered separately from their feed so that those hens who need it can help themselves. Never never mix calcium in with regular feed as too much calcium can be as bad as too little.

If your girls are confined to a run then you may also want to give them insoluble grit.

Coop Setup

Australorps are large ladies so they will need at least 4 square feet each inside the coop.

Remember though the more space the better (especially if they are confined). They are not aggressive girls but they still like their own personal space so give them plenty of room to move around in.

The standard 8 inches of perching space will be a bit tight, so give them 10 inches of perching space each if you can.

Also try to provide several perches of differing height so they have a choice of roosting spots.
Finally you will need to provide standard sized nesting boxes (12×12 inches).

This size will mean they cannot share nesting boxes but gives them enough room to comfortably sit for a while. While sharing nesting box may seem cute it can lead to dirty or broken eggs – so really should not be encouraged!

Run and Roaming

As mentioned before this breed just loves to free range.

They enjoy the group activity of patrolling the yard for tasty grubs and bugs.

Australorp hens in particular are good foragers and will gobble up pests like ticks, caterpillars and even slugs.

Of course they are non-selective so make sure to keep your veggies and plants well protected as they will sample these too!

They do tolerate confinement well but will always benefit from free range time. If you do have to keep them penned then make sure they have enough room – 8 square feet of pen space per chicken.

Also give the run some variety: perches of differing heights, quiet spots and dust bathing areas. It is important to keep them busy and active for both their physical and mental wellbeing.

Australorp Breed History

Australorp Chicken Roaming

The ancestor of the Australorp chicken is the Orpington – a quintessential English breed.

As you may already know Mr William Cook of Orpington, Kent set out to produce a chicken that laid well and was an excellent table bird.

He succeeded with the Orpington in the late 1800s.

This chicken was a huge success both in England and Australia. The ever practical Australians loved the bird but wanted a bird that was a prolific egg layer with meat being a secondary consideration.

So they began the process of modifying the breed to suit their particular set of needs.

The Orpington was crossed with Rhode Island Reds, Minorcas, White Leghorns and Langshans. It is unclear whether or not Plymouth Rocks were added to the mix as well.

In poultry circles at this time it was common to have egg laying contests to see which breeds laid the most eggs. Australia was no exception to the practice and this new breed (Australorps) was added to the competition pens.

One year after the addition of the breed one chicken laid 347 eggs in 365 days. The current record is 364 eggs in 365 days – unlikely to be beaten I think.

After such an eggs-plosive start the Australian poultry industry became highly interested in the Australorp.

This breed could lay eggs year round without much help from humans.

They lost their place as the industry darling in the late 1930s when the breed was crossed with the white Leghorn to produce the Austra white – an even more productive breed.

Summary

This chicken was born out of necessity as the Australians wanted a chicken that was a prolific egg layer.

They succeeded in creating the best egg layer of the time and the Australorp has held its place well over the years. Even despite the egg laying abilities of the more recent hybrid hens, she can still hold her own in the egg laying department.

Overall she is a sweet hen that enjoys human company and can even become a lap chicken.

You will not find an aggressive, pushy or mean Australorp.

They are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and environments and do not requiring any special treatments or housing.

Over the last few decades this breed has gone into a decline but thankfully conservation efforts have seen this trend reversed.

Will you be one of the many people that have discovered the benefits of this beautiful hen?

Let us know in the comments section below…

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and are interested in backyard chicken health and care. Her work has been shared on HuffPost, Mother Nature Network, Community Chickens, Mother Earth News and many more outlets. Today Chris keeps 11 chickens including 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Silkies. She is our backyard chicken expert at Chickens And More, and shares her knowledge on raising healthy, happy chickens with our readers. You can contact Chris at chris@chickensandmore.com

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