Australorp Chickens: Everything You Need To Know

Australorp Chickens A Comprehensive Care Guide Blog Cover

The Australorp is a fairly recent arrival on the chicken scene, but in it’s relatively short history it has made a huge impression on chicken keepers and the poultry industry the world over.

The name is a contraction of Australian black Orpington. The breed was called by several different names before Australorp was settled upon.

Since the major development of this breed was done in Australia, they are the honorary National bird of Australia.

In this article we will look at their temperament, egg laying ability and breed standard, before addressing how to properly care for them and common health issues.

History of Australorps

In the early 1900s, William Cook’s Orpingtons were imported to Australia with the intention of creating a good dual purpose bird suitable for the Australian climate. They were crossed with
Rhode Island Reds to improve the egg laying ability.

Australorp

In England, the Orpington was being refined to produce good quality meat, but the ever practical Australian poultry breeders of the 1920s wanted a good utility bird with the emphasis on lots of eggs and secondary, meat production.

To this end Cook’s Orpingtons were crossed with Rhode Island Reds, Minorcas, white Leghorn, Langshan and possibly some Plymouth Rocks.

The result was a bird that was a phenomenal layer – probably the combination of Orpington, Leghorn and Rhode Island Red genes made this bird a laying superstar!

In 1922-23 six Australorp hens laid 1,857 eggs, averaging 309.5 eggs per bird over a 365 day period.

Regular egg laying contests were held all over Australia and the following year a hen laid 347 eggs in 365 days. The current record stands as 364 eggs in 365 days – an amazing achievement, especially when you consider this was done without extra lighting for the hens.

The poultry industry soon became interested in them because of their prolific egg laying ability – it was a breed they didn’t have to coerce into laying.

The interest waned in the 1930-1940s as the Australorp was crossed with the white Leghorn creating the Austra White, an even more productive hen.

The Australorp went into a decline which has been reversed over the last few years. It is listed as a recovering breed. They remain a top layer to this day and are well suited for the smaller backyard environment.

Backyard chicken folk love them for the same reason – and a few more besides.

They also go by the names Black Australorp (there are white and blue also), Australian Orpington or Australs.

 

Australorp Purchase Australorp Chickens

Breed Standard

The American Poultry Association recognizes the Australorp in its’ original color only – black.

However, The Australian Poultry Society recognizes the black, blue and white varieties.
South Africa has also buff, splash, wheaten laced and golden in addition to the other colors.

The Australorp is a large, heavy bird with close fitting, soft feathers. It is classified as a heavy, soft feathered English bird.

Australorp Rooster

It should have a very upright stance, carrying the tail high. The breast is full and well-rounded with a deep, solid body. Wattles, earlobes and comb should all be red in color. The comb should be upright and have no more than seven points.

The legs should be clean of feathers, black or slate blue in color. There are four toes to each foot and the skin on the bottom of the foot should be white as is the skin of the body. Eyes are a shiny jet black and the beak is dark in color.

The standard sized birds are heavy, with a male weighing between 8½-10lb and a hen between 6½-8lb.

Bantams weigh in at 2-2.7lb for males and 1.7-2.2lb for hens.

Australorp Temperament and Appearance

The feathers of the black Australorp have a beetle-green sheen in the sunlight giving a stunning iridescence to the feathers.

It is somewhat ‘stately’ in walking – a trait it got from the Orpington which sort of glides across the barnyard much like a Duchess at a tea party.

They will tolerate confinement well, but like most of the heavier, larger breeds will also enjoy free ranging and searching for bugs and morsels in the yard as they really do like to be active.

The exercise aspect of free ranging is good for them since they can be slightly prone to obesity if kept solely in confinement.

They are a fast growing breed with a slightly shy demeanor initially, but once they settle in, they are likely to follow you around the yard in case you have any treats in your pockets!

Flock of Australorps

Egg Laying

As we have noted above, the Australorp is an egg laying machine. Although not as prolific as their forebears, the current variety will give you an average of 250 eggs/year. Individuals may lay more or less, depending on the hen.

This equates to around five light brown, medium sized eggs/ week – not too shabby!
In an industrial setting they do produce more eggs since their lighting and feed is strictly controlled for maximum output.

Depending on the line of Australorps you have, they are generally known to be average to good nest sitters and good mothers to their chicks. Some articles say they aren’t good sitters, but other folks have said they are good sitters and mothers, the ‘yeas’ seem to outnumber the ‘naes’.

They are average in broodiness, unlike their parent bird the Orpington.

Health Issues and Special Needs

This is a robust and healthy heritage breed. There are no special considerations for this easy going hen. The average life expectancy is between 6-10 years.

The usual attention to parasites and other minor issues of chickens is all you need to be diligent about.

Is The Australorp Right For You?

Australorp Close Up

If you are looking for a hen that’s easy to care for, will lay an abundance of eggs and fit in well with your current flock, the Australorp may be your hen.

Although they can initially be a bit on the shy side, they will warm up to you and will be a friendly and loveable barnyard companion. They have a gentle and sweet disposition, not a mean bone in their little bodies, including the roosters.

They are a calm and quiet breed, not pushy. They will likely be in the middle of the pecking order. They can get bullied by more aggressive breeds so keep an eye on the more ‘pushy’ birds in your flock.

They are a breed that is very easy to handle and this makes them a perfect candidate for farm programs such as the 4H here in the US.

Once they get used to the noise and fuss they also make good exhibition birds, frequently winning ribbons for their owners.

They are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and types of weather – from hot climates such as Australia to cooler places such as the American mid-West. This bird really is an all-rounder as far as the weather goes.

Summary

The Australorp is a delightful bird to have in your flock.

They are easygoing and friendly, a great bird for beginners since they require little in the way of ‘special care’ and are easy to deal with as they acclimate to being handled very quickly.

It is a delightful, quiet bird to have in your flock. They aren’t flighty or noisy, are cold hardy, make good flock-mates and lay an abundance of delicious eggs…

Who could want for more?

If you have Australorps, we would love to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments section below…

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Comments

  1. chris james says

    I now have 4 Australorps in my flock
    I find them very friendly nosey and curious .
    I also have 3 RIR and 3 Plymouths and 3 others no one seems to be able to tell me about. I think at the moment I consider my Australorps my favourites . A Beautiful bird

      • Kelly says

        I have 3 Australorps that are 10 weeks old. I have 2 Buff Orpington’s. The babies All want to be lap chickens as I have had them since they were 2 weeks old.

    • Nicholas says

      I have this type. They lay abundant eggs true but they don’t sit on them to hatch. Always take the eggs for hatchery elsewhere. What could be the problem?

      • HappyChicken says

        Sometimes they are just particular about when it’s time for them to get broody. I would wait it out, she might be picky for some reason that will soon pass. If you can’t wait then an incubator will do the trick.

        Claire

  2. elaine says

    I have an australorpe hen. Not sure how old she is as she came to me over a year old, and sick with a chronic repiratory disease. She spent 5 months on my porch in quarantine, but for the past year has been out free ranging as a member of my mixed flock. She is so friendly and talkative. She hatched a clutch of eggs last May, and she is a fantastic mother. Even better than my cochin! She lays 5 – 6 eggs per week. She is pretty near the bottom of the pecking order, but she is fine, gets enough to eat and is always first running to me when I go out into the garden.She has beautiful black feathers with green sheen, large black eyes, gray/blue legs and bright red comb and wattles. And she loves foraging. I think she is my favourite!

  3. Emily says

    When we started, we wanted 3 Rhode Island Reds but the feed store sold the ones I had “on hold” so they gave me 4 black Australorps and what a bargain! We love them, they are our first chickens and they are super easy, great layers! We were getting 4 eggs a day all week long until it got cold, now we average 2 eggs a day from the team. Their names are Eggna, Amelia Egghart, Audrey Henburn, and Princess Lay-a!

    • Allexus says

      I have an Australorp rooster and although he takes food that is extended from my hand, I can’t get close to him. I tried today and he flew away so hard I thought my nose was broken, as he hit it trying to get away. I was very slow and cautious trying to get close to him. He has no problem with me in the hen coop or pen at all. I’ve had my hens for over a year so I’m sure they told him I’m their momma. How do I tame him? I didn’t have this problem with my last rooster which was an Orpington.

      • Egena says

        I got 4 this week at TSC at least I hope that’s what they are can never tell there. Can’t wait to see them grow up.

        • Allie says

          Yes, I bought 2 ‘Asia black’ chickens from TSC but ended up with a Plymouth Rock and a black australorp. Love them regardless and my australorp hen is very sweet.

    • roberta says

      how do you tell them apart in order to name them? I just call my lorpie girlies, because I cant tell them apart in order to name them.

  4. Tamara Huffman says

    We started our backyard flock 1 1/2 years ago with 8 hens. The grandkids named them after Santa’s reindeer. We were supposed to have two Australorps, Donner and Blitzen, but when Blitzen started growing feathers on her feet, we knew we had an imposter.(we eventually identified her as a Langshan, and we fell in love with her). Last year someone gave us their year old Austrlorp, so we finally had the two we planned on. She was molting when she moved in, so she looked pretty scraggly. She has filled out now, but her comb and wattles are a pale red (almost pink) as compared to the bright red on Donner. In fact, all of our girls have bright red combs (we now have 16 girls, including 4 Ameraucanas, 3 Wyandottes, 2 Langshans, 1 Marans, 3 Wellsummers, and 1 Faverolle). We are concerned that Dasher’s pale red comb may indicate she is not as healthy as our other girls. Is this something we should be worried about? Other than this, she is a sweet girl and a perfect addition to our friendly flock!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Tamara,

      Please send me a photo so I can take a look 🙂

      However, if the comb has always been this way I wouldn’t be too concerned. Its when there has been a sudden change that indicates problems…

      Claire.

  5. RoseAnn Simpkins says

    I have one old Australorp. She is known as Aunt Penny. She tries to lay but I think she is done. I have 3 young hens that are now laying. I think one of them is a Jersey Giant. How do I tell them apart?

  6. Robert says

    I have six white Australop hens, purchased from Sutherlands Building Supply. They are extremely curious and sometimes get in the way. Egg production has been better but since the weather has turned colder, eggs have dropped off. I will get more of the Australops if I can find them, especially the black variety.Great hen to have around.

  7. Sue D. says

    I currently have four and I find them to be incredibly sweet, curious and well mannered birds. They each have their own little personalities and one, ms Sassy, follows me around like a lil puppy as she’s happily chatting nonstop about something!?. Love them! They do, however sign loud and proud~ their egg song!… otherwise they’re pretty quiet. ??

  8. Anita says

    We inherited a RIR and an Australorp. The Australorp is a champion! Great temperament (not at all flighty) and lays consistently, 5~6 eggs a week. Meanwhile, the RIR goes broody every 5 weeks or so and creates so much more fuss generally!

  9. Carol says

    Mine is top hen and very vocal. I almost lost her 2 years ago to a blocked crop. I was lucky and found a vet that operated on her and removed the blockade. She is one of my layers . Out of the 9 chickens I have she is one a mine favorite.

  10. Kathleen says

    I started my flock with a mail order of 10 Rhode Island Red and 5 Buff Orpington hens. I ended up with 2 Rhode Island roosters in the mix but that’s another story.
    I raised them in the brood box and then placed them in a large coop with their own private perimeter fence equipped with solar electric for overnight safety. During the day I have an additional movable mesh fence for safe free roaming.
    All of the hens were laying in approximately 5 months.
    All was going perfect until a stray black Australorp roo showed up and moved himself right in and took total charge of the hens.
    ” He’s the boss”.
    Over the summer a couple of the Buff’s and one Rhode island hens became broody, so I allowed some hatching to go on. The Buff’s make spectacular mother hens and hatched quite a few chicks. I gave away 2 Rhode island/ Australorp mix and 2 Buff/ Australorp mix and I still have a Buff /Australorp which is doing well, I can’t wait to see what kind of a layer she will be.
    Unfortunately neither of my beautiful Rhode Island Roos became a father, maybe next summer.
    All of the hens are great layers and have a great disposition.
    So far so good with 3 roos living together. I guess space is the key.

  11. Tammy says

    We are new chicken owners! started our adventure in Sept. of 2017. we have 6 Austras. I love these girls. they are so comical! in fact we named one WRONG WAY because she kept going the wrong way! LOL we have 18 girls altogether. 3 barred, one RIR, 6 Golden Stars, one Black Star, and one Wynodette. plus my australorps.

  12. Eggcited says

    Never owned chickens before now but these were recommended by supply company as good egg production birds. I have 4 hen Austr. in a backyard setting. Do I need to clip their feathers??

  13. Larry says

    I have had Rhode Island Reds and Golden Comets. The Golden Comets were egg laying machines but had health problems because they’re hybrids. I got 2 Black Astralorps last year and just got 3 more chicks. The black Astralorps are beautiful birds. Very gentile and friendly and lay about 5 eggs per week. I love the Astralorps because they get along so well within the flock and never bully the others. With their temperament and high amount of eggs they lay they have become my favorites. Can’t go wrong with them if you’re wanting egg production.

  14. Rachel says

    I hatched 6 of the australorps, From day one they followed me around and even came when called, they were very good birds my 6 lived 7.5 years and they had the best temperament even around the farm geese and dogs we had.

  15. jeanne says

    I started with 6 Australorp chicks. I now have 3. They are not the consistant layers described here! In fact, my RIR and Sexlinks are much more reliable.
    1 died unexpectedly and when butchered had no eggs in her! So, a bit disappointed to say the least.
    Has anyone else experienced this? My hens are 10-12 months old and starting to molt, but they were not GOOD layers at any point.

    • Lisa says

      My Black Australorps were disappointing layers as well. Just sold my 2 year old flock, and going back to Rhode Island Reds.

      • roberta says

        I am not worried about that for my lorpies, because I got them for pets, if they lay alot or just a little no problem, sometimes heavy production of birds for sale can cause some quality to drop off. unfortunantly being popular and profitably can ruin a breed or animal sometimes depending on who is breeding them

  16. Kirsti says

    We just got started with chickens, I decided to get mostly Rhode Island Reds, but we told the boys they could each pick two pullets. My three year old picked out two Australorps, and I’m so glad he did! They were really shy at first but they warmed up to us really quickly and have the best personalities! They’re still a few weeks from laying but they are so friendly, and beautiful! The RIRs are always trying to escape but these birds are so content! Our other son picked two Buff Orpingtons (which are also beautiful but a little more shy) and the four of them tend to stay together.

  17. Mable H. says

    Iam learning to keep Australorps and I started with 40 chicks which hatched on 21st March 2018. Last week one hen started laying eggs. I have 21 hens and 19 Roasters. The problem is that the roasters are very sexualy active…they are always fighting for hens. Do I need to reduce the number of Roasters, and if so, how many should I leave?

  18. Rosalind says

    I have 8 black Australorps. Prior to this I’d only had Dutch bantams (for about 8 years). The Australorps are 10 weeks now, and fortunately, I’m pretty sure they’re all pullets! They are just DELIGHTFUL. My bantams were supposed to be friendly, and we handled them a lot, but these girls are much friendlier, and what I love most is that there is so little pecking and bullying behavior. They are calm and gentle, come running for treats, and love each others’ company. Just lovely birds.

    Still working on hubby to get the dog to guard them. 🙂 Baby steps.

  19. Stephen says

    We have 3 Australorps and 3 Rhode Island reds I am loving all of them! But I can’t wait for the Australorps to change color!

  20. Nancy Smith says

    I brought home 2 Australorp chicks in January of this year. After 8 mos they still have not laid one egg. The Rhode Island Red I bought along with them is laying. Is it normal for Australorps not to lay at 8 mos?

  21. Bob Sandberg says

    We started with 16 eggs given to us by a friend. 7 hatched, 6 hens and 1 rooster on the 28th of may this year. Should be laying in the next couple of weeks?Not sure what breed they are but they are beautiful hens. Picked up 5 Australorps and 5 Califorina Whites at 3 weeks old from Tractor Supply in Cottonwood on the 23rd of August ’18. We are new to this game, waited until we retired, and are so excited about our flock. I built a coop 144 sq feet and attached a 400 sq foot run. We’re having the time of our life with our new pets!!

  22. Nechole Knight says

    I ended up with a few of Australorps when I ordered Jersey Giant Pullets from a company online. Oops! I knew I had imposters when I began getting eggs when they were only 5 and half months old. Jersey Giant or Australorp, they’re both beauties and I love watching them foraging about in the yard. Theyr’e great bug hunters!

  23. Barb says

    I have 3 black Australorps. They are really friendly and chatty but very big and heavy to pick up. They get their feathers below the vent in a right old mess with lumps of poop accumulating so I give them a good clean up when I think they look too messy – I have perfected a way of doing it and I only get the feathers round the vent wet – and I dry em off with a hairdryer. They free range all day. I had to alter my shed so they could have a lower wider perch as they could not fly up onto the perches like the other hens. One was broody last year and raised chicks beautifully – sadly the fox got her. They are quite bossy with the other younger hens but they are the top hens so that is their right. They had very bare bottoms but since that hen went they have refeathered so I think she was pulling their feathers out – they look so nice now.

  24. Dennis says

    I had 8 and recently lost one with some sort of respiratory disease if not pneumonia. They are quite talkative if not noisy. These girls lay a lot of large eggs and almost every day. Love the breed.

  25. Heather says

    I have 2 Black Australorps. One Rooster and one hen. “King” George and Wilma. I also have 3 Welsummers; Abby, Eagle and Sassy, in my flock. I will say that while i love to watch George strut around all proud and Wilma was my favorite chick from the start, the Welsummer Eagle is easily the most docile chicken i have ever seen. They are a ton of fun to watch chase each other for their treats and I am quite impressed with how protective but gentle George is for all of them. He does like to bully my 85lb dog though…quite funny to watch actually. if i could add pics up i would gladly share how pretty they all are.

  26. Ginger Young says

    We just lost our wonderful Australorp rooster and need a replacement, He was great at guarding the girls from Hawks during the day. We are picky about where we purchase a bird to bring into our flock, so are hoping to find a good breeder to work with.

  27. DENNIS HALL says

    I have just purchase an omlet eglu coop.
    I have never had chickens before and would like to know where I can purchase 2 australop layers.
    I live in Oxford county Ontario.
    Any help would be appreciated

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      They can glide, but not nearly like Wyandottes, you will have to clip their wings regardless. We put 4-5ft fencing as a general rule, but clipping wings is a must for something that low.

      Claire

    • roberta says

      mine dont go over my five foot fencing even tho one kept trying to fly over but not able, now I have the whole run fenced above and sides, not even a hawk or dog can get in. four feet seems to be the maximum my almost five months old lorpies they can jump to get to a perch. I free range them and sit outside to watch them, I enjoy their curisoity and they love it when I sing.

  28. Beth A Boughton says

    Great hens , but the roosters are very mean. We had to get rid of ours because he drew blood from me a few times and jumped on my daughters back and se was bleeding, We where not even near the hens. The hens a so nice and easy going

  29. Fred Cureau says

    Thank You Claire! I plan to put up a 5 foot fence. I actually put up a double fence to keep the dogs away or she will pull the birds through the fence holes.

  30. Vicki Foster says

    Thanks for all the information. When do austrolorps start laying? And what is the best feed to encourage laying. Thank you vicki

    • Nathi says

      I heard some folks say they start laying at about 4.5 months old in ideal conditions. This means no stress of terror lurking around. Good weather counts too. They need a laying mash to help them lay well otherwise you may read about the ingredients they need so you can mix it yourself.

  31. Paul says

    We picked up 4 pullets last November . Turned out only one was female. The Roos are fairly aggressive when they first get out in the morning. They charge me when I let them out in the morning and I have to show them who’s boss. The hen developedt a limp and now cannot even walk. Does anyone know what could be wrong with her?

    • Isabel says

      Perhaps she has bumblefoot…you could take her to a veterinarian who treats chickens to determine the cause for the limp.

  32. Erica Martin says

    I am new to this whole chicken business.. my mom convinced my 4 yr old he need them… I know 3 are hens but how can I tell if the Asia Black which was in the unsexed batch is a hen? He/she looks like an Australorp but as a chick newbie I am clueless

  33. Fawad says

    Is Astrolorp survive in Karachi Pakistan?
    Do you know the source where i can get these black birds in Karachi.
    advice please

  34. James Holt says

    I BOUGHT 10 STRAIGHT RUN AUSTROLORPS
    At tractor Supply..would you believe 5 and 5 when they
    Matured…Those 5 pullets
    Layed right thru the winter..
    I still have them ..roosters
    Are noisy..hens lay medium
    Size brown eggs

  35. Katelynn says

    I have a young Australorp rooster, and he’s about as friendly and loving as chickens get. Tho he can be a little clingy if he wants attention from me or my mum.

  36. Teresa says

    I have 10, 7 week old australorp chicks. I also have one laying hen that i call Penny. We liked Penny so much that we got the others for laying. Although i ordered all of my chicks as hens, i have a sneaky suspicion that i may have a roo or 2 in the bunch. What is an easy way to tell other than vent sexing?

  37. Paul Mercado says

    I just recently acquired five Austrañorp chickens. Three are black;–two pullets and a rooster– and two blue pullets. They are almost five months old. I also have a small flock of white and buff Silkies. The white Silkies are approximately the same age as the Australorps, The buff Silkies, are now almost three months.
    It is fascinating to watch the interactions among the two breeds. I was worried that when I let them out to free range in the yard, that the Australorps would pull rank, given their size, but, the white Silkies are definitely the bosses. Even the Black Australorp rooster runs away when one of the white Silkies comes charging to get treats.
    The blue Australorp pullets were a bit more assertive, at least, with the buff Silkies. However, I’ve noticed that, now, when close to them, they are calm and won’t try to peck at them, calmly going around their business.
    I love watching the Black Australorps when the sunlight hits their feathers and they irridesce.
    Their calm and gentle nature is a wonderful complement to the Silkies’ happy-go-lucky demeanor. At night, the three groups have different sleeping quarters to avoid any unexpected quarrels.
    Little by little, everyone is finding their place in the pecking order and starting to get along like a big, happy family. I’m glad I chose Australorps as an addition to my flock. They are a beautiful breed that will surely add enjoyment to my chicken-rearing endeavors.

  38. Sharna says

    I have 2 Australop Roosters that are nearly five months old. We are getting one chicken today she’s six years old smaller size and looking at getting another six Chickens this afternoon or tomorrow. My question is will my boys 🐓 cock-a-doodle-doo be okay and will my little girl 🐔 be okay around each other? I want all my animals to be safe and happy.

  39. Jim says

    My 12 yr old daughter just started 4H this year, we bought her 6 austrolorp hens, she took 3rd in show and 5th in calss for Pullets, Egg production, her hens are quite social with her and easily handled, they live in a coop that we drag around the yard as we live quite close to a major road and free ranging is not possible, they lay very well, we get 5 eggs a day, and at least 2 double yolks a week, they have been laying since they were 5 months old almost to the day, very good chickens

  40. steve Mcgarry says

    We have 2 Australorp chooks…both 2 years old. They, recently, went through a moult & we got no eggs for 10 weeks.After that 2 eggs per day but suddenly only one egg per day. One of the girls has developed a lot of white feathers all over her body. Is there a reason for this & could this cause egg laying reduction?

  41. Roger Nugg says

    I have three hens and yesterday one of them laid a hot dog. can anyone tell me why? i also have a cockerel that seems to have gone broody? i am an experienced chicken breeder who breeds cockerels for the layers market. my best rooster gives me two eggs a day and he is so tame that he pecks at my ankles every time i kick the hen. i also raise birds for meat but i find they do not taste nice. the feathers are hard to swallow. and the toenails are really hard to bite.

  42. Lugen says

    Hi guys I’m in south Africa I have 35 hens at the moment I get 200 to 240 eggs per weeks. They are eggcelant only one bad boy rooster gives me a hard time when I collect the eggs but the other boys put him in his place. I hatch the eggs and sell the chicks at the moment there is a good market for black chicken in South Africa

  43. sandy says

    Our beautiful austra hen wandered into my business from off the street and after a fruitless local facebook search, I took her home. She is a really sweet bird, likes to be petted, and lays an egg almost every day. We’re wondering how hardy, cold hardy really is – we get lots of cays here in Indiana below freezing.

  44. Shirley says

    I am new to chickens but my husband is not. We started with 10 RIR pullets which are now three months old. We bought 5 two week old Aussies a month ago and have them in a separate bin for now. One is definitely a rooster. They seem very shy compared to the RIRs, which are very friendly. How old should they be before we introduce the Aussies to the RIRs? Will they be bullied? Will they come around?

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