If you are trying to figure out which breed of chicken you want to get for starting your own flock, it can be intimidating. It seems like there are as many breeds as there are stars in the sky!
Considering that each of them have their own unique advantages and disadvantages for keepers, you’ll want to choose carefully in order to have the best experience and the best results.
Today we will be looking at the Black Australorp, a chicken of Australian origin that is a renowned egg layer.
Although a relatively recent development, it was a world record-setter back in the time of its introduction.
Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about the black Australorp.
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Black Australorp Quick Facts
Purpose: Multipurpose, focus on egg laying.
Plumage: Black, slightly iridescent (APA standards). International standards include white, blue, buff, golden, and splash.
Eggs Laid Year on Average: 220-250 medium to large eggs per year. Some exceptional chickens may lay in excess of 300.
Egg Color: Light brown to medium brown.
Average Weight: 6-10 pounds, roosters are significantly heavier than hens. Bantam breeds avg. 1½-2½ pounds.
Average Height: 16″
Lifespan: Australorps will typically live 7 to 10 years, a fairly long life for a chicken.
Temperament: Docile, calm, almost shy. Most Australorps are noted for being quiet, reserved birds and that makes them a great choice for neighborhood settings.
What Color and Pattern are Australorp Chickens?
The standard color of the Australorp in the United States, according to the American Poultry Association, is black.
This is what has led to the Australorp breed being colloquially labeled the Black Australorp in the US.
However, other breed standards internationally allow for Australorps with plumage that is white, blue, buff, golden or splash.
How Big are Black Australorps?
Black Australorps are definitely large chickens, standing with a regal height of nearly a foot and a half tall and weighing up to 10 pounds, these are big birds for sure.
As expected, hands are a little shorter and a little lighter than roosters. They typically lay equally large eggs, more on that in a minute.
Australorps also come in a bantam variety that is considerably smaller than the larger standard breed.
These tiny Australorps will only tip the scales at nearly 3 pounds for a rooster of considerable size, while the petite hens usually only weigh 1½ to 2 pounds.
This is good news for people who might want the better breed characteristics of the Australorp without their great size.
Black Australorp Essential Characteristics
The Black Australorp is a breed that was originally developed in Australia, if you didn’t spot the clue in the name.
Originally developed as a utility breed with an emphasis on egg production, it was derived by breeding Orpingtons with Menorca, Leghorn, Langshan, and Rhode Island Red breeds.
Eventually, the result was an oversized Orpington that had outgrown its qualities as a bird to be reared for meat and eggs and was now a prolifically productive egg-laying bird.
The name is a portmanteau of Australia and Orpington: Australorp.
Developed around the turn of the 20th century, back in the day the Australorp set the world on fire with its phenomenal egg-laying abilities, setting a new world record at the time with one hen laying 364 eggs in a year.
That is nearly one egg every single day! After this, there was no going back for many keepers and Australorps were first imported back to Britain from whence their original Orpington sires came. From there, they spread out across the world.
The Australorps we have today are a distinguished, large, and fast-growing breed, instantly recognizable from their proud and upright posture, quiet demeanor, and of course that gorgeous iridescent black plumage.
If you want super producers for egg-laying or just chickens that will keep their nerve and not make a ton of noise, the Black Australorp is an excellent heritage choice.
What are Black Australorp Chickens Raised For?
Australorps were originally developed as dual-purpose or utility chickens, but ones with an emphasis on high egg production.
Today, though some keepers raise them for both meat and eggs, they are predominantly kept for egg production alone.
In any case, Australorps grow and mature very quickly compared to other breeds, and can reach a suitable weight for slaughter and as little as 5 months and egg-laying hens rarely take to laying as late as 6 months of age.
Although this is no longer considered an acceptable intersection of metrics to make them a viable breed for mass-production commercial farming, this can be ideal for smaller-scale keepers who want to get their operation up and running as quickly as possible.
Even better, you won’t have to sacrifice when it comes to temperament and other characteristics, including overall health and lifespan!
Are Black Australorp Chickens Good Layers?
Yes, dependably very good layers.
Your average modern Australorp will lay anywhere from 220 to 250 eggs a year for several years, and they can get started laying as early as 4 months of age although 5 to 5½ months of age, akin to other breeds, is more common.
However, exceptional hens are not out of the question in accordance with their world record-setting ancestors.
Some lines and individual hands are capable of producing more than 300 eggs a year, for several years.
Although almost none today still match the astounding production from decades gone by, you will never go wrong adding Australorps to your flock if it is eggs that you want!
Australorps also tend not to be very broody, meaning you won’t have to worry about dealing with grumpy hens when all you want is eggs.
On the other hand, if you want to expand the size of your flock in the way that nature intended, Australorps might not be the best choice.
What Color Eggs Do Black Australorps Typically Lay?
Australorps lay medium to large eggs that are light brown to mid-brown in color.
When Do Black Australorps Start Laying?
Despite their size, Australorps are quick-growing birds, and many will begin laying eggs at 5 to 6 months of age.
However, it is not completely uncommon for some individuals to begin laying as early as 4 months old.
This variability is due to eccentricities of various lines, as expected, but also environmental conditions, stress level, diet, and more.
An Australorp hen that is well taken care of, properly fed, and comes from a good line will probably start laying in about 4 months or a little longer.
A hen that is stressed out and has less than ideal nutrition will probably lay somewhere into her fifth month or perhaps even her sixth.
Once again, if you want lots of eggs and you want them quickly, starting with Australorps is not a bad idea.
What Do Black Australorp Chickens Eat?
Black Australorps eat what all other chickens eat, and if you are going to keep them you’ll do well to feed the main nutritionally complete diet composed mostly of chicken feed.
However, this should also be supplemented with various whole foods in the form of produce and also animal protein, be it insect or otherwise.
Something else to note is that Australorps are actually quite proficient foragers and enjoy being active and hunting for food.
This might seem someone at odds with their calm and generally cautious demeanor, but most owners will quickly report that their birds are entirely content to pace the lawn looking for a choice bug, seed, bit of grass, or other food.
As always, consider supplementing their diet with a grit and vitamin or mineral supplements as necessary, and particularly in the case of laying hens make sure they get lots of extra protein, plenty of calcium, and other nutrients that they need.
High egg production can quickly lead to nutrient deficiencies, particularly mineral depletion.
But so long as you can take care of these basic requirements you’ll find that they have simple dietary needs.
How Long Do Black Australorp Chickens Typically Live?
Black Australorps are pretty long-lived birds by chicken standards, typically living anywhere from 7 to 10 years.
This is especially noteworthy considering their large size and also their tremendous egg-laying ability.
If you take care to keep your flock healthy and alive, they can accompany you and provide eggs and lots of entertainment for a significant portion of your own life!
Are Black Australorps Prone to Particular Health Issues?
No. One of the very best attributes of Australorps is that they tend to be quite healthy, and are not prone to genetic defects or particularly vulnerable to any disease or other malady.
If you take care of them, they should stay healthy.
Are Black Australorp Chickens Friendly?
Yes, they generally do well with people. However, these birds are often described as calm, stately, or even shy.
They might not reciprocate your warm and happy feelings with enthusiasm, though they will rarely protest or fight back if you try to handle them or get close to them so long as they are used to your presence.
On the other hand, many keepers report that their Australorps make excellent, genuine pets: highly responsive to affection, running out when you come to see them, and responding readily to the presence of a treat and a kind word!
In any case, except for a bird that is exceptionally belligerent or churlish, you don’t need to worry about Australorps if you have kids or if you are skittish about dealing with unruly chickens.
For the keeper that wants a truly sedate and serene breed, the Australorp might well be a top pick.
Do Black Australorps Get Along with Other Chickens?
Yes, generally. It turns out that Australorps really are dependably calm birds, even around other chickens. They tend not to fight with other chickens, or at least they don’t fight very much.
Squabbles may of course occur to establish dominance, pecking order, and so forth, and mating, as always, looks pretty ugly to the uninitiated.
That being said, Australorps are a good choice for mixed breed flocks, and they are large enough that they can put up with the occasional advances of other unruly birds without too much fear of genuine harm.
Rarely will they be the instigators of fights, and their fights are rarely truly vicious.
What Kind of Chicken Owner are Black Australorps Right For?
The Australorp has so much going for it that it is hard to believe that it is less common around the world than it is.
Nonetheless, modern-day keepers are quickly coming around to the plethora of advantages that these birds have.
First and foremost, if you desire chickens that are usually quiet, calm, and not prone to fighting or overall bad attitudes, you should put the black Australorp at or near the very top of your list.
These birds are famous for being friendly toward people, and getting along with pretty much all other chicken breeds.
Rarely will they ever be the trouble starter in a mixed flock, and if you want to get up close and personal with your chickens without fear, they are among the very best.
Additionally, Australorps remain a superb breed for egg-laying, though your typical example today does not quite live up to the lofty standard set by their predecessors.
You can still expect at least 220 eggs per hen per year, and many Australorps will exceed that figure significantly.
As a business, or just to cut down on your own grocery bill, Australorps area stupendous choice if you just want eggs.
Lastly, Australorps can make a very inspired and highly efficient choice for a suburban or urban backyard chicken keeper.
They are calm and so are unlikely to get on the nerves of neighbors and visitors, and the fact that they produce so many eggs means you need less chickens overall.
Additionally, the bantam breed keeps all of their ideal personality characteristics and all the other advantages besides, though you should expect a slight reduction in the number and size of eggs that you get from them.
Concerning the standard or the bantam, both tolerate being cooped up reasonably well, though they prefer to get out and roam when they can.
This makes them an even better option if the time ever arises that you need to stick them inside the coop for a spell, under a covered run, in a tractor, and so forth.
Some breeds seem to throw a fit when confined for any length of time during the daytime, but not the stoic and dignified Australorp.
The Australorp is a heritage breed that changed the world when it was introduced over a century ago, and today it is undergoing a renaissance that might well change the way you look at your own flock.
Definitely uncommon in the United States. They are quite common in Australia, where they hail from, and generally scarce across much of Europe though they are recovering.
You’ll probably need to find a more specialized hatchery or retailer to locate them.
Not truly. Males cannot be distinguished from females upon hatching, though they will dependably start showing differences in coloration, feathers, and combs around 5 weeks of age.
Some familiarity with the breed might allow you to tell a little earlier, however.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.