Australorp is a shortened form of Australian black Orpington. As per the name, it can be deduced that these strain of birds has its roots in Australia from the English Orpington. This bird is best suited for the Australian climate. It lays about 300 eggs annually in a commercial setting; it can be a good layer. Those kept in the premises may lay up to 350 eggs.
The most common color of Australorp is black blended with a green radiance. White and blue kinds are also found in Australia. It is a perfect bird to keep in the backyard because of its friendly nature. This can get along well with members of the household. Apart from egg production, it may also be kept for meat.
The breed of Australorp was obtained directly from William Cook around 1890 to 1900. Several crossbreeds was made in Austria. The local breeds were crossbred with the Minorcas, Leghorns, and Langshas to improve the appearance and ability to lay eggs. The crossbreed brought about a chicken with bodies more extended than before, with the feathers closely packed. These were the only features differentiating the Australorp from the earliest Cook Orpingtons that were referred to as Black Utility Orpingtons. The Utility Orpingtons were crossed with that were specifically chosen. The cross’s product was then crossed with the Croad Langshans obtained from a breeding line from Australia. Croad Langshans had the following outstanding features. It had very bright and alert eyes, a clear face with no feathers, and its legs had tiny feathers. The cross resulted in a bird having even closer feathers and a very appealing green sheen. The breed was later crossed with fowls Gunning areas producing an excellent species. However, interbreeding has compromised the pure form of the species. Nevertheless, traces of this species still exist in the presently available Australorp.
Australorp was held with high commercial standards. This lasteduntil a discovery was made revealing that crossing females with males from the White Leghorn could result in a breed that was could yield more eggs than the pure breed. There is a set record of an Australoup that produced 364 in 365 days. Australorps are the most exhibited breed of chicken to date.
Australorp’s Acknowledged Standard
The black Australorp is the most accepted strain. Black was the color of the original Australoorp chicken. The American Poultry Association acknowledges the black Australorp chicken and no other color. Thepoultry society of Austria accepts the black, blue and white strains of this bird. On the other hand, South Africa acknowledges other strains of various colors including buff, splash, wheaten laced and golden. The bird is identified with an English origin.
Physical Description of Black Australorp
The Australorps are huge and bulky having an appealing outlook. Its feathers are soft, black and closely knitted. The feathers give a beetle green radiance making the chicken very stunning. The birds have an upright body posture with quite curved breasts. Shoulder and saddle regions of this bird are wide with their tails held high and stiff. Faces of the Australorps are bright red with no feathers. Their heads have a single serrated comb that they tend to keep in an upright position. The wattles below their chins arered. The chicken’s eyes are black and beak is dark. Its legs are either black or slate-blue in color while the underneath their feet are white. The weight of the chicken depends on whether it is a large size chicken or a bantam. The large australorps’ weigh as follows; the cock’s weight ranges from 3.9 to 4.7 kg, the hen; 3.0 to 3.6 kg, the cockerel; 3.2 to 3.6 and the pullets weigh between 3.3 to 4.2 kg.Bantam males weigh 1.2 kg, the hens; 0.790 kg, the cockerel; 1.6 to 2.1kg while the bantam pullets weigh 1.3 to 1.9 kg.
Importance of keeping the Australorp Chicken
The Australorp chicken is excelled egg laying poultry. This chicken’s has fleshy meat tastes great. This meat is covered in white skin. The layers may produce eggs for some years. A hen well care for can produce upto 200 eggs before going to an off-lay period. They produce average size eggs that are brown.
Some people prefer rearing the black Australorp together with their other chicken just because of their beauty. The chickens arecalm and sociable; more reason for keeping them in homesteads.
Wellbeing of the Australorp Chicken
The chickens are adaptive live for quite long. They are not susceptible to frequent chicken diseases. In fact, they portray a quite evident resistance. Deformities like crooked toes or malformed beaks are very rare in this type of chicken. The Australian chicken is able to withstand low temperatures and as well as cold weather.
The bird can feed on the ordinary even feeds given to other chicken. If the Australorp is reared alongside other poultry in the backyard, feeding should be the least of an individual’s worry. Feeding the chicken in excess could make it fat and consequently affect their egg production. This is mostly experienced with the black Australorp.
The black feathers camouflage, this could be a defense mechanism of the birds from predators. In some circumstances, the unique appearance may sell out the chicken to the predators.
The Australorp Temperament
The chickens are friendly and quiet. Most peopleprefer them as pets since beside their good looks; they are gentle and require very little effort to handle. The chicken can be kept either in an unrestricted area or in an enclosed area. In both situations, adequatespaceis crucial to containthe number of chicken reared. If an aggressive strain of poultry is also kept, it is recommended that a separate cage is made for the Australorps. The Australorps are very gentle and combining them with very aggressive poultry puts their safety at risk.
Advantages of Austalorp Chicken
- They produce eggs and meat. These chicken eggs continuously irrespective of the season. They can lay about 5 eggs of good quality weekly.
- The features of the chicken are quite appealing and wouldcapture the attention any lover of chicken.
- It has a friendly and gentle attitude both to human beings and animals including other chicken. This makes it possible to be reared in the backyard together with other chicken. This makes it a good pet as well as good consideration for exhibit.
- The hens are good mothers to their chicks. They can also be nice foster mothers. The chicken would sit on eggs that do not belong to it.If the birds are for exhibit, the fostering may not be a good option.
- The Australorps enjoy foraging. This helps to keep the farm free from weeds together with insects.
Limitations of the Australorp Chicken
Despite the merits linked with keeping this chicken, some challenges could be met in the process. Some of them are outlined below;
- Some states do not allow possession of birds with different colors but black. For example, the USA only acknowledges the black colored breed.
- The hen may reduce their ability to produce eggs when they are overgrown. They may also outgrow the weight that children can lift.This reduces their preference as pests.
- The chickens have a tendency of getting overweight when enclosed. For this reason, they should be provided with free space to walk around since they need to exercise and keep being active.
- There calmness could be abused by other violent chicken.
- The birds have a tendency of staying distant. This may encourage confrontation from predators. Heat stroke is the most experienced health threat to the Australian chicken. Provision of shades will be of great help.
Raising Australorp Young Ones
Australorps are a product of birds that sit and those that find it hard to brood the eggs. Some Australorps may sit while others may not sit. Once the chicken sit, they get to be excellent mothers.
Providing an appropriate cage for the chicken that are sitting is very crucial in order to keep the eggs safe.
Caring for the chicks is quite easy. For the chicks raised by their mothers, shelter and food will be the main requirements. For those raised in the absence of mothers, there will be need for a heat source. The heat source helps the chicks maintain optimum body temperatures until their feathers can serve this purpose.
It is quite interesting getting to find out the origin of the Australorp chicken. Getting to realize the wonders that cross-breeding can work is a thrilling adventure. The Australorp itself as a result of the crossing has turned out to be a very wonderful breed. With it come a lot of benefits including the provision of eggs in plenty, the tasty meat as well as the beauty it adorns the environment with. The chicken itself requires very little effort to keep it healthy. What if someone did not think of crossing the birds? We would have missed out.