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All about the Australorp Chicken Breed

Australorp chickens are not only calm and docile, they are good layers and good mothers.

As more and more people, in both rural and urban areas, are starting to raise chickens, I get asked more and more what my favorite breed of chicken is.

Although it's hard to choose just one because there are so many wonderful breeds of chickens - over 100 to be exact - I have to say that if I had to choose my favorite breed of chicken it would be the Australorp.

pair of black chickens

Raising backyard chickens for eggs is the perfect family project and an easy way to be more self-sustainable. It’s often the first step toward starting a homestead. 

Chickens are often referred to as the "gateway" livestock for several reasons including their small, manageable size and because by virtue of their egg laying, you can treat them more as pets than livestock because you don't need to eat your chickens to realize the benefits of them laying you breakfast! 

single black australorp chicken

All about the Australorp Chicken Breed

I always recommend that if you are allowed six chickens where you live, you should choose six different breeds. That will give you the most colorful egg basket and most interesting flock. You'll also be able to name your chickens and tell them apart very easily. 

There is no one perfect, or right, breed, but if I had to choose just one breed to raise, it would be the Australorp.

Australorps are one of the more family-friendly chicken breeds. This gorgeous, large, glossy black breed of chicken is related to the Buff Orpington, another very pretty, docile breed. 

black australorp chickens

The History of the Australorp Chicken Breed

Back in the late 1800s, black Orpington chickens were brought to Australia from England. While the English were breeding for meat production, the Australians decided to breed for egg production.  

They crossed the black Orpington with the Langshan, Minorca and White Leghorn to produce a solid black hen that was a laying powerhouse (and the birth of the Australian Orpington). 

By the 1920s the rest of the world had taken notice of this "new" breed, the Australorp, and the chickens were imported back into England as well as to the United States. 

Recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1929, Australorps only come in one color - black. Males weigh 8.5 lbs and females generally weigh 6.5 lbs and lay large cream or brown-tinted eggs.

light brown chicken eggs on gingham cloth

Australorps are Great Layers

The Australorp is a powerhouse layer of large, light brown eggs. In fact, the Australorp breed holds the Guinness Book World Record for laying eggs. In the 1920s, a “team” of six Australorps laid 1,857 eggs in 365 days, averaging more than 309 eggs per hen that year. 

In the years following, several other Australorps broke that record, until one hen finally laid a whopping 364 eggs in 365 days! So if you're looking for a high producing breed, then the Australorp is a great choice! 

No chicken lays an egg every day - not even the world record-holder!  But you can count on 4-5 eggs a week from each of your hens when they are at prime production age, which is between 2-3 years old. As a hen ages, her production will start to go down - dropping about 20% per year. 

But one of my Australorps, our very first one in fact who was part of our original flock we started in 2009, a beautiful sweet hen named Charlotte, laid eggs for the majority of her nine years, popping out a couple each spring until she was more than six year old.

australorp chicken with baby chicks

Australorps are Good Mothers

She was also a great mother, as was her sister Annie. Both hatched and raised several batches of baby chicks for us over the years. 

Australorp chick

Australorp Chicks

While the adult Australorps are solid black, the chicks are beautifully adorable black and yellow balls of fluff with "eyeliner" around their eyes.  

As they get older, they lose their fuzz and grow in their black feathers and so become gorgeous solid black as adults. Both hens and roosters are solid black with red combs and wattles and black-tinged legs and feet.

Chickens in a snowy yard

Australorps are Cold Hardy

Since they are large and dark-colored, Australorps are extremely cold-hardy chickens. But they do okay in warm climates as well (they were developed in Australia after all!), due to their good-sized combs that help to expel heat from their bodies. 

We've had Australorps in our flock since living in Virginia, and now raise Australorps in Maine. They're a hardy breed.

black hen in tall grass

Australorps are Good Foragers

My Australorps can forage with the best of them. They love roaming the yard looking for bugs, worms, weeds and seeds.  

They'll happily scratch in the dirt all day if you let them. Because they are a somewhat large breed, they're easily contained in areas you want them instead of the garden or flower bed using low fencing or other barriers.

australorp chicken with pink flowers

Australorps are Calm and Docile

Australorps are notoriously calm and even-tempered, but aren't so meek that they get picked on by more aggressive breeds, maybe because of their rather large size.  

Because they are a large breed, they are technically "dual purpose", meaning that they can be used for both eggs and meat. But unlike meat birds or broilers, they can be used solely for egg laying and be wonderful pets for years on end! 

Australorps can tend to be a bit chatty. If there's one downside to raising them, I would say that would be it.  In the video above, it's one of my Australorps doing most of the talking! 

My Favorite Chicken Breed?

I guess technically we're not supposed to play favorites, but our flock has never been without an Australorp starting with our very first chicks back in 2009. I highly recommend Australorp chickens for the backyard flock. And yes, they're my favorite breed for all the reasons I mentioned above.

Raising  backyard chickens for eggs is a great way to know what is going into the food you and your family eat. Eggs are a complete protein and the source of lots of vitamins and nutrients.  

Eggs are so versatile, and can be used in so many recipes, and there's nothing better than fresh eggs from your backyard, so why not start raising some Australorps for eggs in your backyard?

wire basket with chicken eggs

nest full of baby chicks

black australorp chickens in the yard

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