Are you thinking about raising chickens? If so, you may have heard about Black Australorp chickens.
These jet-black beauties can be found at practically any feed store once chick delivery season rolls around – and let me tell you, they’re some of the most gorgeous birds you’ll find.
But Black Australrops aren’t all about good looks – these chickens are actually some of the most productive you can raise on your farm or homestead.
In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Black Australorp chickens so you can start raising your own hardy flock today.
Table of Contents:
What is the Black Australorp Chicken?
Black Australorps originated in Australia in the late 19th century, and were primarily bred for their egg-laying prowess.
These birds are sleek, shiny – and completely black. They have shiny feathers and a friendly, docile nature.
Australorps are great for families, since they’re social creatures that adapt quickly. A large-bodied breed, they get along well with other breeds of chickens, making it easy for you to integrate your flock.
It doesn’t matter much what climate you live in, either – these are hardy birds that can tolerate both warm and cold conditions.
What is the History of Black Australorp Chickens?
Australorp chickens have a unique origin story. At the beginning of the 20th century, William Cook, an English chicken breeder, imported Orpington chickens to Australia.
These chickens were big, fluffy, and popular for their meat production qualities. Cook wanted to develop a new breed of chicken that combined the Orpington’s size and meat with the Leghorn’s egg-laying abilities.
So, he began cross-breeding Orpingtons with Langshans and Minorca chicken breeds, and wouldn’t you know it – the Australorp was born.
Australorps quickly rose to fame for being exceptional layers of large brown eggs. In 1922, an Australorp hen named “Queen of the Commonwealth” set a world record by laying 364 eggs in 365 days.
This feat cemented the breed’s position as one of the best egg-layers in the world.
The Australorp also proved to be a great choice for anybody who is interested in raising chickens, as they are a hardy and docile breed.
They’re easy to care for and great around small children (a major plus). They’re also relatively easy to introduce to an existing flock.
Today, Australorps are still popular around the world, and breeders continue to improve the breed’s characteristics.
Modern Australorps have the same defining characteristics as when they were first created – black feathering, soft and shiny plumage, and a calm and friendly demeanor.
However, there are other color variations as well, such as blue and white.
What Are Black Australorp Chickens Good For?
Black Australorp chickens are almost always raised for eggs. The average Australorp can lay hundreds of eggs per year and, more importantly, maintains its egg production throughout the winter months.
This is an unusual characteristic among chicken breeds, since many will drop off as the weather gets cooler and the daylight hours shorten.
Although this is true for Austarlorps, too, you’ll notice it much less – these birds aren’t as affected by the shorter season.
In addition to raising Black Australorp for eggs, many people choose to raise these birds as pets.
They don’t produce quite as much noise as other breeds, so if you live in a noise-restricted area like a city or even a suburban area that has zoning restrictions in place, Australorps can still be a good choice.
What Do Black Australorp Chickens Look Like?
The breed standard for Black Australorp chickens dates back to 1920, the year the breed was officially recognized in Australia.
The standard was established by the Australorp Club of Australia to ensure consistency and quality in the breeding of these birds.
Since then, the breed standard has undergone a few minor changes, but the general characteristics have remained the same.
Size and Weight
The breed standard requires that roosters weigh at least eight pounds, while hens should weigh six and a half pounds.
These birds are well-balanced, with their weight distributed evenly. They have a strong, compact body, and strong legs
They should have a sleek, black, and glossy plumage with a beetle-green sheen. They also have bright red combs, wattles, and earlobes, which are signs of good health.
According to the Australian breed standard, these chickens can be black, white, or blue.
Black Australorps have a single comb on top of their heads, which is three to four inches long and has five or six points.
Egg Laying and Temperament
Black Australorp chickens have a calm and docile nature, which makes them wonderful pets and easy to handle.
They are not easily frightened, so they’re great for children and families with small children.
They enjoy human contact and will often follow their owners around, making them endearing additions to any backyard flock.
If you’re looking for a chicken that’s more like a dog, well, the Australorp might be it…
Another advantage of Black Australorps is their hardiness. They are tough birds that can withstand a wide range of weather conditions.
They are naturally heat tolerant, adapting well to hot summers, and can tolerate the cold with appropriate shelter.
Australorps tend to be peaceful and easygoing amongst their own kind, and will often form strong bonds with their chicken companions.
They can be raised alongside other chicken breeds, as they will get along with all types of fowl, making them great birds for a mixed flock.
Unlike some other breeds that can be noisy and aggressive, Black Australorps are known for their quiet and friendly nature.
They aren’t known as loud birds and rarely make a fuss. They’re also gentle and friendly with humans, making them ideal for those who have small children or other pets.
Are Australorps Good Egg Layers?
Black Australorps are also good layers, with the ability to produce up to 300 large, brown eggs per year.
They are known for their consistent egg-laying ability, laying throughout the year and maintaining their production even in winter.
They are also known to continue laying eggs for several years longer than other breeds, making them a great investment when it comes to egg production.
What Color Eggs Do Black Australorps Lay?
If you’re expecting a black eggshell to match their feathers, you might be surprised to learn that Black Australorps actually lay brown eggs.
But not just any brown – their eggs are a rich, chocolatey brown that can vary in shade from deep mahogany to lighter tan.
This is due to a pigment called protoporphyrin, which gets added to the outer layer of the eggshell as it forms.
Protoporphyrin levels can vary depending on the breed of chicken, making for some interesting differences in egg color amongst different breeds.
When Do Black Australorps Start Laying?
Black Australorps are known for their early maturity, with hens typically starting to lay around 5-6 months of age.
This means that if you purchase day-old chicks, you can usually expect to start seeing eggs around the 5-month mark.
Of course, individual birds may vary slightly in their laying habits – some may start a bit earlier or later than others, and factors like nutrition and lighting can also impact laying age.
How Long Do Australorps Lay Eggs For?
Another important factor to consider when raising chickens for egg production is how long they will lay for. After all, you want to get the most out of your flock!
Black Australorps are known for being excellent layers, with hens laying consistently for 2-3 years or even longer with good care.
However, keep in mind that egg production will naturally decline as he ages, so it’s important to know when to expect lower yields and be prepared to cull older birds if necessary.
That said, you’ll generally be able to keep these birds around for quite a bit longer than hens of other breeds, since they have a long “laying lifespan.”
Can You Raise Black Australorps for Meat?
Australorps are primarily raised for eggs, but they’re actually dual-purpose birds. They can be raised for both meat and eggs…
The meat from Black Australorps is actually quite tasty and tender, thanks to their small stature and lean build.
However, keep in mind that they won’t produce as much meat as a larger breed, such as the Cornish Cross.
Not only that, but Black Australorps take a bit longer to mature (although they’ll produce a nice, meaty carcass if given time) can take a few months longer than if you were raising a meat breed like the Cornish Cross. You’ll need to be patient!
If you decide to raise Black Australorps for meat, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing them with a balanced diet that includes a high protein feed, such as one formulated for meat birds.
You’ll also want to make sure they have plenty of space to run around and exercise, as this will help keep their meat lean and healthy.
Tips to Help You Care for Black Australorp Chickens
Caring for Australorp chickens doesn’t have to be a challenge! Here are some quick tips.
What Do Black Australorp Chickens Eat? Feeding and Nutritional Needs
A healthy and balanced diet will keep your black Australorp chickens healthy. Their diet should consist of high-quality feed, fresh water, and access to free-range (for grasses, weeds, and insects).
You can supplement their diet with treats like fruits, vegetables, and mealworms. Avoid feeding them empty calorie scraps like bread, chips, and candy.
Health Concerns and Predators
Black Australorp Chickens are generally healthy, hardy birds that can tolerate different weather conditions.
However, they’re prone to the same diseases that affect other breeds such as Marek’s, Coccidiosis, and Fowl Pox, among others.
It’s essential to keep their coop clean, provide ample space, and give regular vaccinations to prevent these diseases from affecting your birds.
Predators like raccoons, foxes, and hawks love chicken meat as much as you do!
Protect your black Australorp chickens by securing their coop and run with sturdy materials like hardware cloth or welded wire.
Cover the run with a roof or netting such as hardware cloth to protect your birds from aerial predators.
Although it’s definitely a good idea to allow your Australorps to free range, you need to be mindful of the fact that these are not the fastest birds in the world.
They have large bodies and short legs, which makes it harder for them to run away from threats. Keep a close eye on them if you plan on letting them free range.
Also, make sure you keep your chickens locked up at night to prevent them from being attacked by nighttime predators.
Give Them Space
Your black Australorp chickens will need enough space to move around and exercise. They are medium-sized birds that require at least 4 square feet of space per bird in the coop and 10 square feet in the run.
Make sure you provide enough space for the number of chickens you have. Having sufficient space will prevent overcrowding, which can cause stress, disease, and aggression.
How Long Do Black Australorp Chickens Live?
On average, these chickens can live for anywhere from 6 to 10 years.
However, there are some factors that can affect this number, such as how well they are taken care of, their genetic predisposition to certain health conditions, and their living environment.
Just like humans, chickens can be born with certain health conditions that can affect their lifespan.
For example, Black Australorps are known to be prone to obesity, so it’s important to monitor their diet and exercise levels.
Chickens that are kept in cramped spaces with poor ventilation and unsanitary living conditions are more likely to contract diseases or have respiratory issues that can cut their lives short.
So make sure you’re providing your birds with plenty of space to move around, clean and dry bedding, and access to fresh air and sunshine.
Is the Black Australorp Right for You?
Like everything in life, deciding on the right chicken breed is ultimately a trade off.
There are lots of benefits associated with Black Australorps. For one, these chickens are great layers, with hens laying up to 300 large brown eggs per year.
They’re also known for being friendly and easy to handle, making them a great choice for families with children or for those new to chicken keeping.
They are a hardy breed and can tolerate both heat and cold well, making them adaptable to a variety of climates.
On the flip side, there are some cons, too…
While these birds may be great layers, they don’t tend to go broody often. This can be a downside if you are looking to hatch your own chicks.
Plus, their size can be a disadvantage in smaller backyard setups, as they can be too big for some tiny coops.
Another consideration is their appetite. Black Australorps tend to eat more than other breeds, which can add up in terms of feed costs.
However, this also means they are more efficient at converting that food into eggs, so it can be a trade-off.
For most people, the pros of raising Black Australorps outweigh the cons… these birds are beautiful and productive – and since they’re great with kids, they’re perfect for practically any family.
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).