The Australians created the Black Australorp by crossing the English Orpington.
Back in the 1800s the Orpington was exported to Australia to expand upon the flocks already being raised there.
Although the Orpington did well enough the Australians decided they could improve upon the bird and make it more suited to their needs.
The Australians were interested in increasing egg laying.
After a lot of cross breeding the Aussies prevailed and they had the Australorp.
The Australorp went on to surpass the Orpington in many ways but especially egg laying. Unfortunately the Australorp was exploited by the egg industry because of their egg laying ability.
She was the main production hen until the 1930s.
At that time the Black Australorp was crossed with the White Leghorn and the Austra White was created. Austra Whites were much better suited to being a factory bird and the Australorp saw a bit of a decline in its numbers because of this.
However they have always been a well loved and useful chicken.
They are becoming more popular again and make an excellent addition to any homesteading or backyard flock.
~Egg Laying and Productivity
The Australorp breed holds the world record for egg production.
364 eggs in 365 days!
This record was set way back in the 20th century and this record still stands today. Sadly the Australorps of today do not produce nearly as many eggs as those pioneer chickens.
You can expect your Black Australorp to give you 4-5 light brown eggs each week.
They reach their point of lay somewhere between 16-20 weeks – usually more towards the 20 week mark.
The Black Australorp is a beautiful sight when the sunlight hits their black feathers which become a breathtaking iridescent green.
They are standard sized chickens that look imposing with their black feathering and upright carriage.
You will notice they have an upright single comb that should have seven points. Their wattles and earlobes are red and their beak is dark colored.
They have a solid rectangular shaped body. Their back is slightly dipped then rises up to the tail which is held at about a 45 degree angle.
Females will weigh between 6.6–8lb and males will weigh 8.5–10lb.
You can also find a bantam variety – the females weigh 1.7–2.2lb and males weigh 2–2.7lb.
They have yellow legs that should be clean and the soles of their feet should be white. If you notice closely you will see that some hatchery Australorps have willow colored legs. This coloring will mean that you cannot show them however they are otherwise unaffected.
Interestingly all varieties (except the black) were created in South Africa. Other Australorp varieties include: white, blue, splash, wheaten laced and gold.
When they are chicks there is no quick and easy way to tell the difference between roosters and hens.
A breeder familiar with the behaviors of their birds will be able to point out the boys from the girls early on, for the rest of us we have to observe and wait. Male behaviors (standing up straighter and being up front and more curious) will differ greatly from the female traits (keeping lower to the ground and being quieter and more timid).
At around 7 weeks old they will get their first true set of feathers.
The boys will start to grow out their hackle and sickle feathers, their combs will be larger and redder and they will start to crow.
~Temperament and Characteristics
Black Australorps love spending time with their humans.
When they first meet you they can be quiet and shy, but as they become more used to you they will start to interact much more with you. If you are out in the yard this intelligent and curious bird will come to see what you are doing (and see if they can get a treat).
They do not mind being petted and held although they do not usually become lap chickens. Because they are so gentle they are perfect for kids.
As far as mixing with other breeds, they are very docile and rarely cause any problems in the flock.
In fact despite their size they can get picked on because they are so gentle.