People decide to keep chickens for various reasons. Some want them for the eggs, others want solid meat birds, and others simply want companion animals. If you’re looking to add a dual-purpose chicken with a ton of character—consider the beautiful Australorp as your newest flock addition.
The Australorp is an Australian chicken that’s a worldwide favorite because of its docile nature, incredible egg yield, and plentiful meat source. Let’s learn a little about what an Australorp can offer your barnyard.
Quick Facts about Australorps
|Species Name:||Gallus gallus domesticus|
|Color Form:||Black, white, blue|
|Minimum Coop Size:||2-3 square feet per chicken|
The amazing Australorp came about in the 1900s after a group of William Cook’s Orpingtons was imported to Australia. Breeders in Australia were looking to form a dual-purpose bird that could withstand the climate with ease.
They crossed meat-purpose Orpingtons with the Rhode Island Red to enhance egg production. Along the way, another few breeds were thrown into the mix. The producers were pleased with the outcome—as Australorps are sound, healthy birds that can lay up to 300 eggs per year.
Since their initial development, they have grown in popularity in hen houses across the globe. Australorps have been elected to cross with several other breeds to date, such as the Austra White, for their incredible, beneficial traits.
How Much Do Australorps Cost?
Australorp chickens are relatively inexpensive. For a baby pullet, you can expect to pay somewhere between $2-$5 per chick.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
Australorps are known for their playful, friendly demeanors. Many owners would describe these chickens as having very vibrant personalities. They get along very well with other flock mates, although they might take to another chick in forming a best friend style relationship.
Australorps will be one of the chickens in your flock who follow you around the yard, nosily checking out what’s going on. They don’t like being left out of the equation. If there’s a nurse just happening, you will need to include them.
They might also be a bit bossy and unafraid with bigger animals. They have a curious side as well, so they can get them into trouble sometimes.
Appearance & Varieties
As far as breed standards go, the Australorp is accepted in black by the American Poultry Association. However, in its native home, the Australian Poultry Association also recognizes blue and white.
The standard size Australorp is a plump, meaty bird. Roosters weigh roughly 8.5 pounds as adults, while hens are about 6.5 pounds.
Australorps also come in mini variations. Roosters weigh nearly 3 pounds while hens weigh a little over 2.
The traditional black Australorp has an iridescent green cast to its feathers. They have a steady gait, although they are hefty and can become overweight quickly.
How to Take Care of Australorps
How to house your Australorp is incredibly important to the overall wellbeing of your flock. They require certain conditions to thrive, although they are quite hardy and easily adaptable.
Habitat, Living Conditions & Setup
You will need a safe spot for your Australorps to both nest and sleep. Your coop needs to be about 3 square feet per hen. A coop too small can cause a stressed flock, which can lead to bad behavior.
Even if you plan to have free-ranging chickens, you still want the coop to be secure. It’s vital that all of the fencings you use be fully enclosed and predator-proof. If you’ve never had chickens, you might be very surprised just how crafty predators can be.
Regular chicken wire isn’t the best option for hens since many threats can reach through the bars. Welded wire, also called hardware cloth, is the best option since it keeps out snakes and even mice.
If you have enough space in your yard that allows it, you can always allow your chickens to free-range. There are some precautions to take when letting your chickens roam freely. Not only what you need to secure your belongings and crops, but you also need to make sure that your chickens are safe.
Chickens can hop, fly, glide, and climb. It might surprise you just how many places they can go if they really want to.
Despite being birds, chickens are quite a cold hardy breed and do very well in winter temperatures.
Straw is one of the best things to put in the coop. It helps to insulate the area, is easy to clean, and it stays nice and dry. However, if you don’t clean the coop frequently, straw can develop mold.
Sand is becoming a popular choice among chicken keepers. It’s simple to sift through, and it has low dust levels—being incredibly safe for your poultry.
They should have nesting boxes available to them for egg laying at all times. Nesting boxes should be sectioned off, and each one should be large enough to house a full-sized chicken.
Originally they were widely revered for their incredible egg-laying potential. Australorps lay an average of 250 eggs annually. They have exceptionally well-colored brown eggs that are large. They are prize-winning pics when it comes to egg production.
Because Australorps have a powerful motherly instinct, it is not unusual for Australorp females to go broody. This doesn’t happen in every scenario, but if you have a flag full of them, the chances are that one or two will want to hatch some babes.
In addition to their incredible laying potential, they are also excellent choices for meat birds. They have a thick, muscular body creating fine eating if you so choose.
Do Australorps Get Along with Other Pets?
Australorps get along fantastically with other flock mates. They might form a strong bond with one member, in particular, creating a strong pair. They aren’t pushy or disagreeable, but they are often free spirits.
Since Australorps are curious, they might like following the family dog around the yard. It isn’t unusual for them to take to a cat, either. They work well with other farm animals, too.
But do take some precautions—other animals don’t always share the same sentiment. Chickens are prey animals, so they shouldn’t be around a dog or cat unattended just in case.
What to Feed Your Australorp
Diet needs might be a little different depending on whether your chicken’s free-range or they are in an enclosure. Chickens are free-range and can forage and get lots of nutrition from insects and plants.
Even though this makes for an extremely healthy flock, every chicken owner isn’t an option. So if you have a run for your chickens, you need to make sure that they have a lot of scratch, commercial chicken feed, and fresh water available to them at all times.
You should give your chickens fresh fruits and vegetables every day, too. They greatly benefit from nutrition from many sources, as they are omnivorous. It isn’t unusual to see your chickens feasting on mice or even frogs.
Keeping Your Australorp Healthy
Here are some tips to keep your flock healthy and safe.
- Keep the coop moisture and dust-free
- Secure free-ranging areas
- Offer a well-balanced diet
- Check your chickens’ poop
- Observe for any egg-laying issues
- Protect your flock from predators
An Australorp rooster is capable of mating 20 to 30 times per day. This impressive number definitely increases his chances of fertilizing eggs.
There is a chance that a rooster can over-breed the hens, which can cause illness and even death in certain circumstances. A good rule of thumb is to have one rooster per 10 hens. This way, they can evenly divide their meeting between the hens and not overwhelm them physically.
If one of the hens goes broody, she might be able to hatch several chicks. However, not all Australorps are guaranteed to be broody. If that’s the case, you can always round up a handful of your best eggs and put them in an incubator.
The incubation period typically takes 21 days.
Are Australorps Suitable for You?
Australorps are truly an excellent choice for virtually any barnyard setup. You can have them in bantam, standard sizes—or both. You can also select the traditional black color—blue or white.
The Australorp will impress you with their incredible laying abilities—making sure you have a plentiful breakfast every morning. Not to mention, they have pretty terrific personalities, too. If you’re stocking the coop, a dual-purpose Australorp should definitely be on your list.
Featured Image: Ton Bangkeaw, Shutterstock