Alright, in recent articles regarding a chicken house plan and types of chickens to use in the coop, we’ve taken a look at some of the more well known breeds. We have looked at the Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire Red more recently.

In todays article we will exam the attributes of the Australorp breed of chickens. As chickens go, they are a pretty remarkable breed.

First, let’s look at where they come from. This basic black chicken owes its origins to Australia (from which we get the “Austral” in the Australorp. Gee, whoduh guessed that?)

The original chicken stock was brought to Australia from England. William Cook and Joseph Partington exported some of their Black Orpingtons (hence the “orp” in the Australorp) to Australia from their English chicken yards during the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s as well.

The local Aussie’ breeders of the time were trying to develop a “utility” breed of chicken. They cross bred the Black Orpingtons with Minorcas, White Leghorns and Langshans. There is even the possibility that some Plymouth Rock blood was utilized. (That’s the chicken breed, not the famous rock!) Due to their desire for a “utility breed”, the breed was originally known as the Black Utility Orpingtons!

The name switch to the Australorp is somewhat of a mystery. Wow! A chicken mystery! It is said that before the first world war (the first war to end all wars!) Walter Wallace Scott came up with the name Australorp.
However, in 1919 Arthur Harwood said that he had suggested that the Australian Laying Orpingtons be named “Australs”, and that “orp” be added to honor the primary sires from which the breed was developed, the Black Orpingtons.

Another bloody Englishman, W. Powell-Owen, said that he came up with the name! The only thing known for sure was that the name Australorp was being used routinely starting in the early 1920s.

Enough of that. Let’s look at the facts. The Australorp is a black feathered chicken, with a beetle-green sheen. They have dark eyes and are very active. When plucked, their skin is white, unlike the yellow skinned Rhode Island and New Hampshire Red breeds. They lay brown eggs.

The roosters weigh around 8 1/2 lb; cockerels at 7 1/2 lb. The average hen weighs 6 1/2 lb; pullets at 5 1/2 lb.

The most remarkable aspect of this “utility” breed is it’s egg laying capability. Although also used for meat, in 1922-1923 a team of six hens set a world record (in the chicken Olympics?) for laying 1857 eggs over a 365 consecutive day trial! It was an average of over 309 eggs per hen. Now that’s some serious laying! (they would have kept the trial going except the chickens started dying from exhaustion! Just kidding!) There is even one chicken that dropped 364 eggs in 365 days. That record still stands today! Your average well cared for Australorp can be expected to produce 250 eggs per year.

So, you should consider using some Australorps when developing your chicken house plan!

OK, lets get on with why you put up with my ranting and raving.

Its time for today’s Stupid Chicken Joke!

Why did the rooster run away?
He was chicken!

Oh, that was really stupid…as promised.

Bill Boren is a market research expert who investigates and reports on topics that have proven to be of interest to major segments of the world. Further information regarding the information presented in this article can be found at

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