The Australorp is an Australian chicken breed developed from Australian Langshans and Black Orpingtons. Known firstly as the Australian Orpington, it was then called the Austral Orpington and finally ended up as the Australorp. It is an excellent layer and well known in its home country as an ideal all purpose breed. It is smaller and neater in appearance than the Orpington. It is an excellent layer and produces large, light brown eggs.
The Australian states being what they are, it took until 1949 before they could agree on a standard for the breed and then they copied the breed standard of the British Poultry Club almost exactly. It has been celebrated as being the most important utility breed ever and in 1963, the World Poultry Congress acknowledged its worth and struck stamps and medals in its honour.
The Australorp cock has an erect carriage. He appears graceful and balanced with the head carried well above the line of the tail. The back is long and concave, sweeping up to the tail in a graceful arc. The body is deep and broad with good breadth across the shoulders and a full, rounded breast. The breastbone is long and straight. The tail is nicely curved but not long and flowing. The wings are carried close to the body.
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The skull is rounded with a strong, slightly curved beak and prominent eyes which stand out from the head and are large and bright. There were no feathers or wrinkles on the face and no evidence of 'beetling' eyebrows. The comb is medium in size and single with, preferably, 4 to 6 points or serrations. The medium sized wattles are rounded at the bottom. The elongated ear lobes are small. The neck joins the head in a gradual curve widening out at the shoulders.
There is little fluff to the plumage with is very soft and close-fitting. The whole of the shank should show below the underline. The legs and feet are black and completely free of any feathering. This breed has four toes which should be well spread.
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In its home country, Australorps only come in black but what a glossy black it is with a rich and lustrous green and purple sheen in the sunlight. There is a blue variety of this breed but it isn't often seen in Australia. The beak is black and the eyes black or dark brown. Providing a striking contrast are the bright red comb, face, ear lobes and wattles. The skin and toenails are white.
Mature cocks weigh 3.9 to 4.7kg and mature hens 3.7 to 4.5kg. There is a bantam version and bantam roosters weigh 1.8 to 2.3kg and hens 1.7 to 2.2kg. The character of the Australorp is quiet and placid. With its peaceful and dignified nature, it is ideal as a backyard fowl and will be dearly loved as a pet by younger members of the family. If you have small children, consider an Australorp bantam for the backyard. And while it's being a kindly pet, it will keep the family in eggs.