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 Rocks may have also been bred in.
The breeders were mainly interested in improving the egg-laying ability while maintaining a large body size for meat. By the 1920s, in an egg-laying contest, one group of six Black Australorp hens produced an average of 309.5 eggs per hen in a 365-day period. Another record was set by a single Australorp hen that laid 364 eggs in a year.
Our Experience with Black Australorps
We began raising a heritage strain of Black Australorps in 2015. They are excellent winter egg layers. We don’t see the kind of egg production mentioned above, but we do see egg-laying rates as high as 85-90% during their peak production.
The males are large-bodied and ready to begin processing for meat at 16-20 weeks of age. At this stage, the meat is tender and flavorful.
We often harvest them at 6 months or older, at times over a year old. We’ve gotten dressed weights as high as 6 pounds from the older roosters. The meat is much more firm and requires slower, longer cooking times, but has an excellent flavor.
At least a few of our hens go broody each year. We will normally set some eggs under them to hatch, and we also hatch in incubators. They don’t have as strong of a broody tendency as some other breeds, but we have had hens that hatch chicks well and make excellent mothers.
Overall, we’ve found Black Australorps to be an excellent all-around bird for the family homestead.