The Australorp chicken is a dual-purpose breed, which means they are suited for both egg and meat production.
The breed was developed in Australia, based on the British Orpingtons ~ which explains the name (Austral from Australia and ‘orp’ from Orpingtons). Originally there were only Black Australorps (pictured above), but South African breeders have since developed the White, the Golden, the Wheaten Laced, the Blue and the Splash.
Australorps are hardy and are exceptional egg layers, with an average of 250 pale brown eggs per year. They also are a good meat bird with reasonably early maturity and white skin.
The body weight of mature roosters is 3,9kg to 4,7kg and hens weigh 3,7kg to 4,5kg.
Characteristics to look for are a very upright stance, carrying the tail high, with a full, well-rounded breast and a deep, solid body. Wattles, earlobes, and comb should all be red. The comb should be upright and have no more than seven points.
The blue or slate coloured legs should be clean of feathers. There are four toes to each foot, and the skin on the bottom of the foot should be white, as is the body’s skin. Eyes are shiny jet black, and the beak is dark.
The Australorp breed enjoys free ranging, but tolerate confinement well.
They might be shy to start with, but will then become extremely friendly, making them a good choice as a child’s chicken.
A bantam version is also available.
This is part of a series of articles on popular breeds in South Africa. For more, click here.