The Black Australorp is a hard working chicken.
She is one of the best egg layers around and can lay more than 5 eggs every week.
Their egg laying ability and impeccable manners help to make them a wonderful chicken that is well suited to all backyard chicken keepers.
Although this is a fairly young breed they have quickly become one of the most loved breeds.
Do you want to learn more about the beautiful Black Australorp? Then keep on reading…
Contents and Quick Navigation
- About Black Australorps
- Appearance of a Black Australorp
- Black Australorp Coop Setup
- Black Australorp Diet and Feeding
- Keeping A Black Australorp
- Care Guide
- History Of Black Australorps
- Is The Black Australorp Right For Your Flock?
About Black Australorps
We can thank the Australians for the creation of the lovely Australorp!
Back in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s Orpingtons were shipped to Australia for the first time.
The Australians decided the Orpington was not quite right for their needs, so they bred the Orpingtons with other breeds they had on hand. Eventually the Black Australorp was born.
Australorps ended up being a better egg layer than the Orpington. In egg laying competitions the Australorp beat all comers with a record that has not been beaten to this day.
These chickens are well suited to small homesteads and backyards. They are a good family chicken choice and do very well with children. Black Australorps love to free range and you will often find them foraging for their food.
You can find this breed available from most hatcheries for around $5.
If they are well cared for you can expect them to live for 8 or more years.
Temperament and Characteristics
Black Australorps love spending time with their humans.
When they first meet you they can be quiet and shy, but as they become more used to you they will start to interact much more with you. If you are out in the yard this intelligent and curious bird will come to see what you are doing (and see if they can get a treat).
They do not mind being petted and held although they do not usually become lap chickens. Because they are so gentle they are perfect for kids.
As far as mixing with other breeds, they are very docile and rarely cause any problems in the flock.
In fact despite their size they can get picked on because they are so gentle.
Appearance of a Black Australorp
The Black Australorp is a beautiful sight when the sunlight hits their black feathers which become a breathtaking iridescent green.
They are standard sized chickens that look imposing with their black feathering and upright carriage.
You will notice they have an upright single comb that should have seven points. Their wattles and earlobes are red and their beak is dark colored.
They have a solid rectangular shaped body. Their back is slightly dipped then rises up to the tail which is held at about a 45 degree angle.
Females will weigh between 6.6–8lb and males will weigh 8.5–10lb.
You can also find a bantam variety – the females weigh 1.7–2.2lb and males weigh 2–2.7lb.
They have gray or black legs that should be clean and the soles of their feet should be white. If you notice closely you will see that some hatchery Australorps have willow colored legs. This coloring will mean that you cannot show them however they are otherwise unaffected.
Interestingly all varieties (except the black) were created in South Africa. Other Australorp varieties include: white, blue, splash, wheaten laced and gold.
When they are chicks there is no quick and easy way to tell the difference between roosters and hens.
A breeder familiar with the behaviors of their birds will be able to point out the boys from the girls early on, for the rest of us we have to observe and wait. Male behaviors (standing up straighter and being up front and more curious) will differ greatly from the female traits (keeping lower to the ground and being quieter and more timid).
At around 7 weeks old they will get their first true set of feathers.
The boys will start to grow out their hackle and sickle feathers, their combs will be larger and redder and they will start to crow.
Black Australorp Coop Setup
The Black Australorp is a big chicken so they will each need 4 square feet of coop space – however the more space you can give them the bigger.
As for roosts you should give each chicken 10-12 inches on the perch. If you are unsure read our guide to chicken roosts.
This should make sure they have enough space to shuffle around.
If you have a mixed flock just make sure you have enough perches for everyone. You can also provide an extra roost for those who might get picked on – as big as they are, Australorps are gentle birds that can be picked on by other breeds at times.
Lastly, nesting boxes.
A standard sized (12″x12″x12″) nesting box will fit the Black Australorp hen quite nicely.
You should allow one nesting box for every three ladies. Make sure each nest has a front lip to stop the eggs from rolling out.
Free Ranging and Roaming
Australorps just love to forage and they are actually very good at it.
If you watch them you will see they search the yard for bugs, seeds and tasty green snacks.
This exercise helps keep them in good shape and provides extra nutrients to their diet.
If you cannot let them out to roam all the time then periods of supervised ranging will be much appreciated by your hens. While they will tolerate being kept in a pen they do like to get out and about. Straw bales, old logs, lots of perches, dust baths, scattered snacks and seeds will all help to keep them busy.
Black Australorp Diet and Feeding
If you are starting with Black Australorp Chicks then you should feed them 20% protein crumble for the first sixteen weeks or so. This will give them enough nutrition to thrive and grow. You should use crumbles or mash for chicks because it is easier for them to eat.
Once they reach sixteen weeks you can begin to transition them to a 16% protein layer feed. At sixteen weeks they will be able to handle pellet feed if you want to change them over from crumble.
Some chickens require extra calcium so you can give them oyster shell. Too much calcium can cause problems so make sure you give it to them in a separate dish and not mixed in with their feed.
Grit should be provided to your chickens if they cannot free range.
Finally, you will need to provide clean fresh water to your chickens at all times.
Keeping A Black Australorp
So what is it like to have Black Australorps in your flock?
This breed prefers to be active.
They love nothing better than poking around in the yard looking for tasty little morsels. Just like Orpingtons, they tend to glide across the backyard and are rarely in a hurry. As a heavy breed they really do not fly as their wings will only give them enough lift to get a couple of inches off the ground.
Australorps are not known to be a noisy breed. If you listen closely you will hear them chatter and talk but not loudly enough to disturb most neighbors.
Predator alerts and egg arrival announcements are as loud as they get!
They are suitable for a small backyard as long as zoning permits you to do so.
If you are thinking of having chicks you will be happy to learn that Black Australorp hens make good mothers and are very attentive to their chicks.
Egg Laying and Productivity
The Australorp breed holds the world record for egg production.
364 eggs in 365 days!
This record was set way back in the 20th century and this record still stands today. Sadly the Australorps of today do not produce nearly as many eggs as those pioneer chickens.
You can expect your Black Australorp to give you 4-5 light brown eggs each week.
They reach their point of lay somewhere between 16-20 weeks – usually more towards the 20 week mark.
Overall the Black Australorp is a robust and healthy chicken.
One of the few problems you may come across is obesity.
These chickens have can get obese if they do not get enough exercise. So if you have to keep them in a run then make sure they have plenty to keep them busy.
Apart from that you will just need to pay attention to the usual pests (lice, mites and worms).
Lice and mites can be dealt with by either using regular treatment with poultry dust or you can choose to spot treat as and when necessary.
If you have a small flock that you tend to daily then spot treating will be effective. If on the other hand you have a large flock that you simply cannot treat individually then regular treatments will work best for you.
Using herbal deterrents such as peppermint helps to keep the vermin carrying lice from the coop as well.
History Of Black Australorps
The Australians created the Black Australorp by crossing the English Orpington.
Back in the 1800s the Orpington was exported to Australia to expand upon the flocks already being raised there.
Although the Orpington did well enough the Australians decided they could improve upon the bird and make it more suited to their needs.
The Australians were interested in increasing egg laying.
After a lot of cross breeding the Aussies prevailed and they had the Australorp.
The Australorp went on to surpass the Orpington in many ways but especially egg laying. Unfortunately the Australorp was exploited by the egg industry because of their egg laying ability.
She was the main production hen until the 1930s.
At that time the Black Australorp was crossed with the White Leghorn and the Austra White was created. Austra Whites were much better suited to being a factory bird and the Australorp saw a bit of a decline in its numbers because of this.
However they have always been a well loved and useful chicken.
They are becoming more popular again and make an excellent addition to any homesteading or backyard flock.
Is The Black Australorp Right For Your Flock?
The Black Australorp has been a huge success throughout her life.
Although they are not favored by the poultry industry anymore, they continue to be popular and useful members of small backyard flocks.
There are several reasons you should keep this breed: good egg layer, peaceful and low maintenance.
If they are allowed to free range they will happily supplement their feed with extra tidbits that they find, and this will also help to reduce your feed bill.
She is not a fussy chicken to look after and is very low maintenance.
Children tend to love this breed too because they will tolerate being held.
Do you keep Black Australorps in your flock? Tell us about your experience with them below…