Have you heard of Australorps? Probably not. Despite the fact that this breed is an excellent all-around chicken, it’s not as common as you would think. It’s actually considered a fairly rare bird! Read more to find out why they would be a great addition to your home or farm.
The Australorp is considered a large breed chicken, with hens weighing an average of seven pounds and roosters averaging eight to nine pounds. They have black feathers; it is rare to see any white plumage on them anywhere.
They are very pretty, and in the sunlight the black can take on a green shimmer. They are often mistaken for Black Jersey Giants. The Australorp, however, is smaller. The best way to tell the difference between the two breeds is to check the bottoms of the feet on the adults. Jersey Giants will have yellow, while the Australorps will have a pink/white color.
Its name comes from its breeding background. It is an Australian breed derived from English Orpington stock. It was deliberately bred as a utility chicken with a dual purpose of providing meat and eggs. It became recognized officially as a breed in the late 1920s.
The Australorp has become legendary for its egg-laying capabilities. One record claims that a single hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days! While there is some dispute about the truth of this claim, it is well documented that hens that are happy and well taken care of will typically lay between 250-300 eggs each year.
So if you are wanting eggs in the winter, this is a great breed for you. The eggs will be medium to large in size, and a light brown color.
Being a dual-purpose bird also means it’s good for meat. Because the hens are outstanding brooding hens (brooding hens sit on eggs and take good care of the chicks), the fact that they can be used for meat is good news. You can make use of excess roosters or laying hens to put dinner on the table.
Besides being great meat and egg providers, this breed has a truly wonderful temperament. They are very friendly, a little shy, and so completely docile that they are often kept as pets! If you think they might be too heavy for your kids to pick up, look for the bantam version of the breed.
This really is a great all-around breed! They tolerate confinement extremely well, are winter-hardy, good layers, and good brooding hens. In addition to being calm, they are generally quiet at well.
Like their English Orpington cousins, they are also not prone to flying too high, making it easy to keep them in a fenced area.
So where can you get some of these wonderful birds? Check the Internet for reliable hatcheries. Typically a hatchery will send day-old chickens via mail (as a perishable item).
Check to be sure that if you order fewer than ten chicks that they are shipped with heat packs. They will not need food and water for the first few days because they will have all their nourishment from their time inside the egg.
Make sure that you will be available to pick them up as soon as they arrive! Follow the instructions from the hatchery and you will be able to enjoy this amazing breed of chicken for years to come!