Uses: Dual purpose utility meat and eggs. Eggs: 200 – 250 tinted / brown.
Weight: Cock: 3.85 – 4.55Kg, Hen: 2.95 – 3.6Kg.
Bantam: Cock: 1.02Kg Max, Hen: 2.95-3.6Kg
Colours: Black, Blue, White
Useful to Know: Docile and a good choice to have around with children.
The Australorp is frequently overlooked by many poultry keepers yet, it has so many good things going for it! It is a hardy bird that is happy free ranging, is docile and good with children (even if a little heavy to lift up, but does exist in a bantam version) and is a good egg-layer as well as being a reasonable size white skinned meat bird. Being fast growers, they reach point of lay at about 24 to 26 weeks of age. The Australorp like the Orpington will generally not fly very high, making fencing easier.
Australorps get their name from their origin as ‘Australian Orpingtons’ which had been called ‘Utility Type Orpingtons’ before that. They were essentially early Black Orpingtons were imported into Australia around the late 1880’s and refined for Utility purposes and later after the Orpington had been modified in Britain, exported back as Australorps in the early 1920’s.
They are a large, soft-feathered bird and have either glossy black feathers with a lustrous green sheen, or slate blue with dark lacing. The white is very seldom seen. They have a single comb that is moderately large and upright, with five points and a very dark beady eye. Bantam varieties also exist in this breed. They have 4 toes and feather free legs. Look after these girls and they will lay around 200 to 250 eggs in a year for you (depending on the strain) without artificial lighting. Fortunately the breed has not been altered much, unlike the Black Orpington amongst others that has over the years changed from a utility bird into a show bird. Their eggs are medium-sized and light brown in colour.
Black Australorps are large, heavy, soft-feathered fowl with an upright stance and close-fitting feathers. They have deep bodies and well-rounded breasts, and they are broad across the shoulders and saddles. Both genders hold their compact tails high. Their black plumage with a beetle-green sheen makes for a striking contrast with their bright red faces, wattles and single combs. Ideally the birds’ combs will have no more than seven serrations and should always be upright. Their faces should be smooth and feather free. Their beaks and eyes are dark, the eyes preferably black, and their legs are slate-blue grey or black. The only part of Australorps that isn’t black or red is the underside of their feet. In good examples of the breed they are white.
Australorps make good family birds as they are calm and friendly and happy to be handled. They do well free-range but will tolerate confinement, providing they are not overcrowded. The large birds are not usually strong fliers — the bantams can be flightier — so keeping them penned in securely is not difficult.
Australorps are dual-purpose birds. They are well-fleshed with white skin and a good taste. They also lay an abundance of eggs, although not at the levels black Australorps reportedly laid when records were being set in Australia in the 1920s. Back then, one hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days, and a pen of six Australorps produced 1857 eggs in 365 days, both setting world records. However, they are still great layers, and healthy birds in their first couple of years are capable of laying 200+ medium-size light brown eggs in a season.
Health and Well-Being
Black Australorps are extremely hardy fowl. They are long-lived, with a good resistance to most of the common poultry diseases; well-bred birds are rarely troubled by physical deformities like twisted beaks or bent toes. They also cope well with low temperatures. A simple diet of layers pellets or mash and a mixed corn scratch feed later in the day suits Australorps. There is one thing to watch for. The female birds, if kept in confinement, can run to fat, especially in their second year, so it is important they are not overfed.