All About Chickens – The Australorps
Even many chicken fans haven’t heard of Australorps. This is somewhat surprising and embarrassing, because it is a wonderful breed of chicken with many great qualities. Here’s a bit about him, and why he’d make a welcome addition to any home or farm.
This large breed is black, with black legs and black eyes. They are known for their beautiful, shiny feathers, which can look green in bright sunlight. Often people confuse them with the Jersey Black Giant, but there are two notable differences. For one, the Australorp is smaller, weighing between 6 and 9 pounds, depending on whether it is a hen or a rooster. They also differ from the Black Jersey Giants in the color of the soles of their feet. Jerseys have yellow on their feet, while Australorps have a pinkish-white color.
Its name comes from its breeding origin. It is an Australian breed derived from the English Orpington stock. It was deliberately bred as a utility chicken for the dual purpose of providing meat and eggs. It was officially recognized as a breed in the late 1920s.
This breed is famous for its prolific egg laying. It is rumored that a hen set a record by laying 364 eggs in 365 days. The record is in dispute, but one thing is not: happy hens of this breed typically lay 250-300 eggs per year, which means they continue to lay in winter. The eggs are a nice light brown color and will be medium to large in size.
As a dual-purpose bird, they are also good for meat. This is great if you plan to keep chickens as part of a subsistence farm. These birds are also good brooders, which means they will sit on the eggs and diligently care for them until they hatch. Being broilers, you can put any old laying hens or extra roosters to good use.
In addition to being excellent providers of meat and eggs, this breed has a truly wonderful temperament. They are very friendly, a bit shy, and so completely docile that they are often kept as pets. If you think they may be too heavy for your children to lift, look into the bantam version of the breed.
This really is a great breed to choose no matter what your needs are. They are exceptionally winter hardy, great layers, breeders, and good meat birds. Another plus is that they generally don’t like to fly too high, so you can keep them in a fenced-in area without worrying about escaping them.
If you want to get some Australorps there are many hatcheries online that will be able to send you day old chicks. They are mailed as a perishable item (chicks do not need food or water for the first few days as they get their nutrition from the egg). Make sure you can get them home as soon as they arrive, then follow any instructions the hatchery sends you with the chicks. Enjoy these truly wonderful chickens!