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Black Australorp Chickens in the Heritage Breed Spotlight

Black Australorp Hens pecking about in a yard

Black Australorp chickens were developed in Australia by crossing black Orpingtons from England with other breeds that are good egg layers. The idea was to develop farmstead chickens that excel in egg production. The breed name comes from combining the words Australia and Orpington.

Physical Attributes

The United States favors Australorps that are black, although more colors are available in other countries. During early stages of development, black Australorps often have a few white feathers. By maturity, though, all the feathers are solid black.

Even the beak is black. The legs, which lack feathers, are either dark gray or black. The medium-size upright single comb is bright red — a striking contrast against the black feathers.

Australorp feathering is fairly tight. That, combined with the shiny black color, make these chickens susceptible to overheating unless they have shady areas to loll in during the warm summer months.

Black Australorp chickens were first imported to the United States in the early 1920s. They entered the American Standard of Perfection in 1929.

Breed Qualities

Australorps are adaptable chickens, although they do somewhat better in a cold climate than in a warm climate. The hens are prolific layers that often continue producing throughout the winter.

Australorp hens lay some 200 to 280 large eggs per year with light brown shells. They are good setters, and their quiet disposition makes them attentive as broodies.

Australorps love to forage, and free ranging keeps them active. When allowed to forage, they are less likely to become overweight and thus less productive.

Australorps are sometimes raised for meat, although their black feathers make them a bit difficult to pluck. They have an advantage, though, of being fast growing. Roosters mature to about 8½ pounds, hens to 6½ pounds.

This breed is gentle in temperament. Both hens and roosters have a friendly disposition that makes them especially easy to train. Black Australorp chickens are an excellent choice for first-time chicken keepers, especially children, and are popular for 4-H and FFA projects.

Helpful Links

Orpington Chickens in the Heritage Breed Spotlight

Australorp or Black Jersey Giant — What’s the Difference?

At What Age Do Hens Start Laying Eggs?

Black Australorp Chickens & Hatching Eggs Offered by Cackle Hatchery®

Should I Start with Chicks or Hatching Eggs?

And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop.

Gail Damerow has written numerous books about poultry, including The Chicken Encyclopedia.

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