|Country of origin||Australia|
|Other names|| Austral |
The Australorp is a chicken breed from Austrailia, and very popular and common in the U.S. Australorps are medium to very large with soft, pure black feathers that often have a lustrous green and purple sheen. The Australorp is often known to be a very gentle breed, although temperaments can vary, and is a great breed for small-scale chicken keepers. Australorps are excellent egg layers, and well looked after Australorps lay approximately 250 light-brown eggs per year. They are also known to be good nest sitters and mothers, making them one of the most exceptional large, heritage breeds of chicken. They are good with children, But maybe a little heavy for younger children to lift!
The original stock used in the development of the Australorp was imported to Australia from England out of the Black Orpington yards of William Cook and Joseph Partington in the period from 1890 to the early 1900s with Rhode Island Red. Local breeders used this stock together with judicious out-crossings of Minorca, White Leghorn and Langshan blood to improve the utility features of the imported Orpingtons. There is even a report of some Plymouth Rock blood also being used. The emphasis of the early breeders was on utility features. At this time, the resulting birds were known as Black Utility Orpingtons.
The origin of the name "Australorp" seems to be shrouded in as much controversy as the attempts to obtain agreement between the States over a suitable national Standard. The earliest claim to the name was made by one of poultry fancy's institutions, Wiliam Wallace Scott a.k.a. W.W. Scott, before the First World War. From 1925 Wal Scott set to work to have Australorp recognized as a breed with the Poultry Society as he developed the breed. Equally as persuasive a claim came in 1919 from Arthur Harwood who suggested that the "Australian Laying Orpingtons" be named "Australs". The letters "orp" were suggested as a suffix to denote the major breed in the fowls development. A further overseas claim to the name came from Britain's W. Powell-Owen who drafted the British Standard for the breed in 1921 following the importation of the "Australian Utility Black Orpingtons." It is certain that the name "Australorp" was being used in the early 1920s when the breed was launched internationally. In 1929, the Australorp was admitted to the Standard of Perfection.
The Australorp is an active breed and they are fast growers with hens reaching point of lay at around five months of age. They are amazingly productive and are not prone to broodiness. They make good pets as they are calm and friendly birds although they are a little heavy for children to pick up. There is a Ã‚Â¼ sized bantam version though which would be much more suitable for children to keep as pets. They will happily live in runs but they do enjoy being allowed to free range. They aren't good fliers so fencing doesn't need to be particularly high. They are also very hardy and will stand cold weather well. An Australorp cock will weigh in at around 8Ã‚Â½ lbs while the hens tend to be in the region of 6Ã‚Â½lbs.