The Australorp Chicken {Top-Choice Dual-Purpose Breed}

The Australorp chicken is a true dual-purpose breed, known for laying an outstanding number of eggs while also providing you with a large meat table bird. They are a heritage breed originating from Australia but have become very popular around the world in numerous backyard and homesteader flocks due to the outstanding qualities the breed possesses. Is the Australorp right for you? Let’s find out.

a black australorp hen stands in profile in a pasture in the summer
Australorp chicken KS” by Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Australorp Quick Facts

  • Primary use: Dual-Purpose (Meat & Eggs)
  • Size (Roosters): 10+ lbs
  • Size (Hens): 6-8+ lbs
  • Egg production (Annual): 250-300
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg color: Brown
  • Origin: Australia

Top Reasons to Choose the Australorp Chicken for Your Flock

  • Calm and Friendly Chicken
  • Excellent egg producers; 250-300 eggs annually
  • Dual-purpose used for both their quality eggs and meat production
  • Resilient; cold hardy and heat tolerant
  • Larger sized bird
  • They begin laying eggs early on

The Australorp Chicken is also a bit shy, apprehensive, and aloof initially. While not necessarily cons, it is important for a chicken keeper to respect these chickens’ temperaments and not overwhelm them as you welcome them to your flock.

Additionally, they are a breed that is prone to obesity if confined on their own for extended periods or allowed non-stop access to feed.

So allow for free-ranging, yard or pasture exploration time to ensure your chicken is healthy and happy!

Overall, they are excellent, well-mannered, and highly sought-after backyard chickens.

a beautiful black australorp chicken walks outside on lush green grass
File:Australorps henne.jpg” by Palauenc05 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

History and Origins

The Australorp is an Australian breed of chicken with an interesting, albeit recent, history.

They were developed in the early 1900s from a cross between the Black Orpington and the Langshan, Rhode Island Red chickens, and even Plymouth Rock chickens to improve egg-laying ability and create a stunning breed.

The name “Australorp” is a combination of the word “Australia” and “Orpington”. The Australorp is a utility chicken breed that would thrive in the Australian climate.

They are good egg layers and produce quality meat, which is why they are so popular today.

See Also:

Why The Orpington Chicken Is The Best Dual-Purpose Heritage Breed

The Australorp quickly became one of the most popular chicken breeds in Australia.

In 1922, the hens were put to the test to assess their egg-laying abilities and far surpassed the expectations set out for them. They are extremely productive birds.

They were first exported to the United States in 1924 and soon became one of the most popular chicken breeds in America as well.

The American Poultry Association recognized Australorp in 1929.  

Today, the Australorp is popular around the world: Australia, America, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, just to name a few.

However, they are the most popular in Australia!

an australorp chicken hen stands in a grassy field

Appearance

The Australorp is a large-sized chicken breed. The hens weigh in at 6 and 8 pounds or more, and the roosters can easily reach 10+ lbs.

Due to their robust breast and size, they are dual-purpose birds utilized for both their quality meat as well as their very impressive egg-laying abilities.

The Australorp often has black plumage with a green sheen called “beetling”.

They have large, single combs and wattles. The Australorp’s earlobes are white, and they have red eyes. They carry their tails high, and they boast an upright posture. Their legs are black or slate grey (without feathers), and they have four toes.

Their breasts are deep, and their bodies are long and broad. The Australorp is a hardy chicken that can withstand cold weather conditions and thrive in hotter climates as well.

In countries like South Africa, other colors of the Australorp are recognized, such as Wheaten, Gold, and Splash.

On average, their lifespan is about 8 years, but some Australorps have lived well over 10.

See Also:

15 Beautiful Black Chicken Breeds

a black australorp rooster crows on a wooden fence post
casey crowing on the fence” by cskk is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Personality & Temperament

The Australorp chicken is known for being friendly and calm.

They are a good choice for first-time chicken owners or those with small children. If you’re hoping to handle a chicken, the Australorp is a good choice.

They are not known for being aggressive or flighty but may exhibit signs of nervousness and shyness at first.

They love to follow humans for treats, so this is a great way to coax your chicken to warm up to you!

In terms of agreeableness with other breeds,  Australorps generally do well. They are not known to be aggressive or territorial, although they may sometimes quarrel with each other like any other chicken.

Australorps are happy to be confined, but because they are prone to obesity, they do better in conditions where they can roam and forage!

Large Brown Eggs

The Australorp chicken is a large brown egg layer and can produce 250-300 eggs annually.

They were first recognized for their egg-laying abilities in 1922 when an Australorp hen in Australia set the world record for egg production in one year.

This chicken laid an incredible 364 eggs in 365 days!

Other Australorp hens also laid significant amounts, averaging about 309 eggs.

Australorps can begin to lay eggs at 16 weeks, relatively early for a chicken.

As for broodiness, Australorps are one of the most reliable chicken breeds. They have a strong desire to sit on their eggs and hatch them.

As mothers, Australorps are known to be attentive and caring. An Australorp hen will protect her chick from predators and other dangers.

Australorps also make great foster mothers for other backyard poultry and chicken breeds.

See Also:

21 Best Egg Laying Chicken Breeds

Why We Chose The Azure Blue For Eggs

a black australorp rooster sits on a wooden fence post
casey crowing on the fence” by cskk is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Cold Hardy

The Australorp chicken is a  cold-hardy breed that can withstand cold weather and even snow, making them a good choice for chicken keepers in colder climates.

Their feathers are dense, which helps protect them from the cold.

Their comb may be prone to frostbite but this can be easily mitigated with a sheltered, covered run and proper chicken coo management.

I’m a HUGE fan of the deep litter system for this (and many other) reasons. It is the best choice for keeping chickens comfortable and healthy, especially in the winter.

They are also known to be heat tolerant, which means they can withstand hot weather without issue.

However, because of their dark plumage, you must provide your Australorp with optimal shade to ensure they do not overheat in direct sunlight.

See Also:

10 Steps To Winterize Your Chicken Coop

Feeding Free-Range Chickens In Winter

How Cold Is Too Cold For Chickens?

The Deep Litter System For Coop Management

Free Range

The Australorp can be kept as a free-range chicken, meaning they are allowed to roam freely and forage for food.

Free-range Australorp chickens can have a higher quality of life and produce healthier eggs.

And, as noted, because Australorps are prone to obesity, it is a good idea to allow them to exercise.

If you are raising chickens and live in an area with predators, provide your backyard chickens with a secure coop and run.

The Australorp’s black plumage makes them more visible to predators, so they may be at a higher risk.

In terms of foraging, Australorps are good at finding food. They typically scratch around in the dirt to find bugs and other small creatures to eat.

See Also:

How To Safely Free-Range Chickens

25 REAL Ways To Cut Down on Chicken Feed Costs

two australorp baby chicks in their brooder
Black Australorps” by photofarmer is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Where To Find Chicks

I’m a big fan of finding smaller, reputable, breeders that are passionate about their breed of choice. Your local online chicken groups are great resources for recommendations and reviews.

Care & Feeding of Baby Chicks

Taking care of chicks is easy and cheap. You may even want to try your hand at incubating and hatching your own.

I have several articles that go over this topic in great detail: Incubate & Hatch Eggs, Chick Care & Feeding, and When Can Chicks Go Outside?

Final Thoughts

The Australorp is a beautiful dual-purpose chicken breed that is known for being calm, resilient birds with incredible egg-laying abilities and high-quality meat.

They enjoy free-ranging and foraging and are fairly agreeable, friendly, low-maintenance birds.

They enjoy free-ranging and can withstand cold and hot temperatures, making them ideal for a homestead or a backyard chicken coop.

a flock of chickens on green pasture.

The Ultimate Guide to Homestead & Backyard Chicken Keeping 

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