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Articles about Raising and Breeding Chickens

Black Australorps

Black Australorps are a breed of chicken that was developed in Australia beginning around 1890-1900. They were based on Black Orpingtons from England, which were mainly being raised for meat production. Breeders crossed the Orpingtons with several other breeds, all known for their egg-laying ability: Minorcas, White Leghorns and Langshans. Some sources say that Plymouth…

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Black Australorp Breeding Goals

Having raised my current flock of Black Australorps for nearly 2 years, I’ve been very happy with them – both the breed and this particular strain. They’re good layers. The males grow quickly to where I can process them for meat starting around 20 weeks. The hens will occasionally go broody and hatch their young.…

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GQF Incubators

How Long Does it Take for Chicken Eggs Hatch

Once incubation starts, it takes about 21 days for chicken eggs to hatch. That’s true whether you incubate them mechanically in an incubator or naturally under a broody hen. Both approaches take the same length of time. Using an Incubator When I’ve incubated eggs from our flocks in a styrofoam table-top incubator, some eggs will…

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Heritage Black Australorps

Heritage Chickens

The clearest and most complete definition of “Heritage Breed Chickens” that I’ve found is on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) website. The ALBC’s definition touches on several important points: APA Standard Breeds Natural reproduction Long, Productive Lifespan (Outdoors) Slow growth rate Recognized by the APA prior to the 1950s Let’s go over each of…

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The Best Waterers for Chickens

It’s essential that chickens have access to plenty of clean, palatable water. During hot weather, it’s best to put the waterers in the same shady area that the chickens tend to hang out in. If it’s too hot, they’ll be reluctant to venture out of the shade to drink water. If you had asked me…

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Choosing Which Chicken Eggs to Hatch

I recently incubated another batch of eggs from our Black Australorps. One of the first steps when incubating chicken eggs is choosing which eggs to hatch. Why does this matter? For several reasons. First, not all eggs are equally likely to hatch. Excessively large or small eggs tend to produce chicks that are less vigorous…

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Baby chick visible at day 19

Hatching Chicks in an Incubator

Once you’ve gained some experience raising chickens, I recommend starting to hatch eggs. This article gives an overview of how to hatch using an incubator. Why Hatch Eggs? You can perpetuate your chickens by hatching eggs from your own flock instead of needing to buy chicks every few years. It’s interesting and enjoyable, and you…

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A broody hen and her chicks

Hatching Under a Broody Hen

Certain times during the year, particularly during the spring, some of your hens may go broody. Some breeds of chickens (and certain strains) are more prone toward broodiness than others. What is broodiness? It’s when a hen decides to sit on eggs to hatch them. Her body goes through certain hormonal changes, and her behavior…

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Which hens are laying?

If you aren’t getting as many eggs as you know you should be getting from your flock, how do you tell which hens are laying and which ones aren’t? There are a number of different ways to tell, some practical and some not so practical. I’ll go over the most accurate approach and then the…

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Black Australorp Rooster

How to Get Started Breeding Chickens

If you want to start breeding chickens in order to perpetuate your flock, where is the best place to start? There are several possibilities: hatch fertile eggs — get eggs from a breeder and begin hatching those buy adult birds — get adult (already laying) hens and a rooster from a breeder, begin hatching eggs…

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black australorp chicks

What Are Straight-Run Chickens?

Straight-run simply means that you’re getting the chickens “as-hatched.” No attempt has been made to determine the gender of the chickens. Does “straight-run” mean that half will be males and half females? No, not necessarily, when you hatch chicks, they may come out 50-50. But you could also have more than 50% males. Or more…

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Black Australorp Rooster

Selecting Chickens for Breeding

January to mid-February, is a good time to begin selecting your breeders. It’s important to do this early in the year so that you have time to move your breeding pairs into separate pens several weeks ahead of when you will begin gathering eggs to hatch. In this article, I’ll go over how to select…

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Black Australorp Roosters

Are Black Australorp Roosters Aggressive?

Are Black Australorp Roosters Aggressive Toward People? I’ve never had any serious problems with Black Australorp roosters becoming aggressive toward humans. Our roosters have nearly all had good temperament and are easy to manage. We often pick up and handle the roosters. That said, I think this has as much to do with breeding and…

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Improving and Perpetuating Your Small Flock

Chickens are remarkable. They produce fresh food in family-sized portions, both meat and eggs. They’re adaptable to a wide range of climates and varied purposes. Their manure, properly managed, can build your land’s soil fertility. They’re excellent foragers. And they’re easy to take care of. Once you’ve begun to raise a flock and have mastered…

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Black Australorp Hen

How to Maintain a Productive Laying Flock

In this article, based on a talk that I’ve given for several years at the Homestead Fair, I’ll give you a basic framework and some techniques to help you keep a productive laying flock. This is written for small-scale production, on a family homestead or small farm, not for large-scale commercial egg laying. What does…

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Black Australorp Rooster

Selective Breeding of Chickens

What is Selective Breeding? Selective breeding is, simply put, breeding with the intent of accomplishing some type of goal. Usually, the goal is multi-faceted. It takes into account various traits, the overall health and vigor of the chicken, the reasons you have for raising the chickens and the way (and place) in which you are…

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black australorp rooster

A Clarification about Selective Breeding

I think it’s important to clarify something about selective breeding because it has, to some degree, gotten a bad rap. Some people take issue with selective breeding because it is an approach that has enabled breeders to produce factory-raised broiler chickens with unnaturally high growth rates and finished size—chickens that can even have difficulty supporting…

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black australorp males

How We Got Started Breeding Black Australorps

My family and I began breeding Black Australorps in 2015. We started with a flock of about 100 Black Australorp chicks. I chose Black Australorps for several reasons: They are good layers (they’re known for being the most prolific heritage breed layer). They are large birds that are good for meat production I knew of…

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black australorp eggs

When do Black Australorps Start Laying Eggs?

Black Australorps hatched in Spring and early Summer (April through June in the Northern Hemisphere) typically start to lay their first eggs at around 6-7 months of age, in my experience. But other things can influence that: the type of food that you have them on (starter/grower versus layer feed) the time of year at…

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2017 Black Australorp Breeding Plan

Based on our breeding goals, here is a list of what needs to be accomplished this year: Grow newly-hatched chickens to 18 months of age before selecting which ones to use in the breeding program. This will enable us to select breeders more accurately than if we selected earlier, plus it lends itself to selecting…

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