Australorps are the Australian refinement of the Orpington breed developed from strains of the original black Orpingtons that were exported to Australia during the 1880s. While British breeders plunged with great enthusiasm into endowing their version of the black Orpington with a vast profusion of feathers and show merits, the Australians were busy working towards a far more practical and utility form. The resultant fowl was a breed that by 1923 could set world records for egg production. The name Australian Utility Black Orpington was soon shortened to Australorp.
As a utility breed, the Australorp soon found its way to other countries and nowadays it is known almost all over the world. In many countries, it is highly popular among fanciers breeding with a view to exhibitions, not only because it is pleasant to raise and to show, but also because it has many commercial qualities.
The Australorp is a lively, medium heavy breed. Its body is fairly broad and deep and has a plump build. Its back is averagely long, ending with a continuous sweep in the tail, which is held semi-erect. The tail itself consists of broad main tail feathers that are well spread. The cock has an abundance of broad main and lesser sickles. These almost cover the cock's tail feathers entirely. The shanks range in color from dark slate to blackish. The soles of the feet are pinkish white. The Australorp's head is rather small in proportion to the body. The single comb is of medium size and is nicely and regularly serrated. The points (sometimes called spikes) are broadly structured. The ear-lobes are red, as is the face's featherless skin. The color of the eyes is dark brown to brownish black.
Sadly, Australorps suffer from the 'black bird unpopularity syndrome’.
A Black Bantam variety was developed in the UK prior to the Second World War, and both Blue and White versions of the breed are now available. The Bantam form now far outnumbers the Large Fowl at poultry shows.
Australorps are found in black, white and laced blue. This is a very practical breed, the birds make good broodies and mothers, and are very decent layers, producing around 200 eggs a year. Being a heavy breed, spare cockerels are good meat birds. In general, they have a very even, docile temperament. This breed should offer the novice no obvious problems and would be a very good choice.
Australorps were originally bred both for their meat and their eggs. They are fast growers and the hens already start laying eggs round about the age of five months. As a layer, the Australorp is one of the most productive breeds.
Australorp hens are generally non-sitters. They are friendly and also serene creatures that are rather easily tamed.
Adult Australorp rooster can weigh 3.5kg (7¾ Ibs). However, a diminutive form of this breed has been developed, and these animals are of course easier to handle. It is possible to house them in closed runs, but they also thrive wandering about a spacious yard. They are certainly not keen flyers, so that a fencing of around 1.50m (5 ft) is enough. Among themselves, the birds are quite tolerant. Raising young cockerels within a breeding flock is therefore certainly possible, so there is no need to separate them.
The color that is most frequently bred is black. This should be a deep kind of black with a beautiful beetle-green sheen. Young black animals often tend to have a few white feathers, which is entirely normal. As to the white version, there is a difference of opinion about the shank's correct coloring. In Germany, the legs of an Australorp have to be bluish gray. This requirement makes it possible to improve the (rare) white color by way of the black Australorp. In the Netherlands, one assumes the Australorp was bred by way of the Orpington. White Orpingtons have pinkish white legs, so in the Netherlands white is a requirement for the legs. Due to this roving the color by way of black Australops is a longer and far more difficult process.
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