Chicken House Plan: What the heck is an Australorp?

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

In today’s article we will examine the attributes of the Australorp breed of chickens. As for chickens, they are quite a remarkable breed.

First, let’s see where they come from. This basic black chicken owes its origins to Australia (where we get the “Austral” in the Australorp. Wow, who guessed?)

The original chicken stock was brought to Australia from England. William Cook and Joseph Partington exported some of their Black Orpington (hence the “orp” in Australorp) to Australia from their English chicken farms in the late 19th century and also during the 20th century.

Local Australian breeders at the time were trying to develop a “utility” breed of chicken. They crossed Black Orpingtons with Minorcas, White Leghorns, and Langshans. There’s even the possibility that some blood from Plymouth Rock was used. (That’s the chicken breed, not the famous rock!) Due to their desire for a “utility breed”, the breed was originally known as Black Utility Orpingtons!

The name change to Australorp is a mystery. Wow! A chicken mystery! It is said that before the first world war (the first war that ended all wars!) Walter Wallace Scott came up with the name Australorp.
However, in 1919, Arthur Harwood said that he had suggested that Australian laying Orpingtons be called “Australes” and that “orp” be added to honor the main bulls from which the breed was developed, the Black Orpingtons.

Another bloody Englishman, W. Powell-Owen, said he came up with the name! The only thing known for certain was that the name Australorp had been in routine use since 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 fur is white, unlike the yellow-skinned Rhode Island and New Hampshire Red breeds. They lay brown eggs.

Roosters weigh about 8 1/2 pounds; Roosters at 7 1/2 lbs. The average hen weighs 6 1/2 pounds; pullets to 5 1/2 lbs.

The most notable aspect of this “utility” breed is its ability to lay eggs. Although it is also used for meat, in 1922-1923 a team of six hens set a world record (at the Chicken Olympics?) by laying 1,857 eggs in a 365-day trial. It was an average of more than 309 eggs per hen. Now that’s some serious placement! (They would have continued with the test except the chickens started dying of exhaustion! Just kidding!) There’s even a chicken that laid 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.

Therefore, you should consider using some Australorps when developing your chicken coop plan!

Okay, let’s get on with explaining why you put up with my ranting and ranting.

It’s time for today’s stupid chicken prank!

Why did the rooster run away?
He was chicken!

Oh, that was really stupid… as promised.

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