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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Lets talk about about why you should consider Australorps for your chicken flock.

Tolerate heat well – they were developed in Australia in the late 1800s.

High egg production – in 1922-23 a team of six Australorp hens set a world record of 1857 eggs at an average of 309.5 eggs per hen for a 365 consecutive day trial (from wikipedia). Australorps also hold the world record for egg production. In trapnest testing, a Australorp hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days.



A trapnest is a nesting box that closes after a hen has entered the laying box. This traps the hen and allows inspection and marking of the egg to a specific hen. If a hen is eating eggs, a trapnest allows the farmer to know which hen is eating the egg, as the hen will be trapped in the laying box with the egg.

Heritage Chicken – This is something that we need to pay attention to, or at least take into consideration.

According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, the definition of a heritage chicken is as follows:

APA Standard Breed – Breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) prior to the mid-20th century.

Naturally mating – let nature takes it course.

Long, productive outdoor lifespan

Slow growth rate – You may be asking “why do you want your chickens to grow slow?” Chickens that are bred for meat production put on weight faster then their legs can keep up. As a result, certain breeds of meat chickens may become lame and not able to walk. Certain breeds of meat chickens do not tolerate heat well. The chicks have to be bought in early spring and butchered before the summer heat kicks in.

The slow growth rate is for the chickens growth to match the rate the legs, bones and muscles to develop.

Friendly – Australorps are friendly and are easy to handle.

A couple of days ago two of my hens escaped from the run, one was an Australorp, the other was a Barred Rock. My daughter tried to catch the hens to put them back in the run. The Australorp hen let my daughter pick her up and put her back in the coop, while the Bared Rock ran away.

When the Australorps are in the laying boxes I can get close to them and they never make a sound. Rhode Island Red on the other hand, I got too close to one while she was in the nest and she took a chuck of meat out of my hand. This was not a little love tap, this was a “get the hell away from me” peck. The Rhode Island Reds make a raptor sound as a warning to stay away while she is laying her egg. My Australorp has never made such a sound.

Quiet – Out of all of my hens, the Silver Laced Wyandotte and the Australorp have to be most quiet hens in the flock.

Sometimes the Rhode Island Reds and the Barred Rocks get upset about something. When they get upset, they make a lot of noise.

Being quiet may not always be a good thing. A couple of months ago a chicken snake was hanging around the chicken yard. When one of the Rhode Island Reds saw the snake, the hen got in the chicken coop and started making a lot of noise. This makes me wonder if the Rhode Island Red have a stronger survival instinct than the Australorp? After my wife and I get moved to the homestead I will be able to see which breeds have a better survival instinct.

To someone living in an urban setting, warning about predators may not be a big issue. How many bobcats and coyotes are going to be in the middle of a city? And most people living in the city probably have a fenced in backyard.

Broody – Broody is when the mothering instinct kicks in. The hen lays a clutch of eggs, sits on them until they hatch, then she takes care of the chicks.

If you want a self-sustaining chicken flock, broodiness is essential.

Some breeds have had broodiness bred out of them, as sitting on a nest slows down egg production. If all you want is egg production, then you do not want your hens sitting on a nest.

When this article was written my Australorps are 11 months old. During the past 11 months they have not gone broody a single time, but then again I do not have a rooster. When my wife and I get moved to the homestead we will be getting a rooster. After we get a rooster I will be able to tell just how broody my Australorps are.

Foraging – During a complete collapse of society / post SHTF / TEOTWAWKI, a chickens foraging skills will be essential to its, and your survival. When commercial feed is not available, chickens will have to find their own food.

This video shows a Barred Rock, Speckled Sussex and Rhode Island Red foraging in a tree line.


From my experience with my Australorps, they are just as good at foraging as my Barred Rocks, Speckled Sussex and Rhode Island Red. I think the Speckled Sussex is a little better at foraging then the other breeds, but just slightly. When the hens are let out of the run, the Speckled Sussex focuses on foraging and finding something to eat. The other hens seem to be a little less intense then the Speckled Sussex.

In Review

Why do I recommend the Australorp?

Good foragers

Good layers

Broody

What more could you want for a homestead or backyard chicken flock?
 

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With my 3 Welsummers I have one Black Australorp hen; the main thing I've noticed is that she is quite a bit bigger. She is not yet a year old, so I'm not sure whether she has the broodiness inclination or not. Her eggs are not as big as the Wellies, nor as dark (Welsummers are known for their dark, terra-cotta eggs), but she has been laying regularly since she started. I plan on replacing one of the Wellies with another Aussie this spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
With my 3 Welsummers I have one Black Australorp hen;
How does the Australorp do in your Canada cold weather?

Here in southeast Texas my cold is 20 - 30 degrees Fahrenheit.


I have them and like them there good for eggs but big and meaty as well
How cold does it get there in North Carolina?
 

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How does the Australorp do in your Canada cold weather?

Here in southeast Texas my cold is 20 - 30 degrees Fahrenheit.




How cold does it get there in North Carolina?
record high was 105 in 77 and low was -8 in 85

the lowest I have seen it go in a very very long time is around 17 deg ish not including wind or anything but we havent had winters like that in a while right now its 29 and its been abnormally mild winters most years lately
 
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Kev, today is -17C (about 1F?) and she is the only one who went out; there is about 6-8 inches of snow on the ground but she goes under the coop where it is sheltered. I do not heat my coop. Yesterday when it was even colder, she was the only one to lay but as we didnt' get out there soon enough, her egg froze. (only took less than an hour )
 

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Kev, today is -17C (about 1F?) and she is the only one who went out; there is about 6-8 inches of snow on the ground but she goes under the coop where it is sheltered. I do not heat my coop. Yesterday when it was even colder, she was the only one to lay but as we didnt' get out there soon enough, her egg froze. (only took less than an hour )
I am same way I dont heat the coop its a 100+ year old building anyway but if its storming pretty bad I do put tarps up to block the wind to part of it just becuase they waste less energy staying warm and I have a small refuge from the wind doing chores lol
 
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I decided to go with Black Australorps last fall and a friend of mine is going to incubate some chicks for me. After reading the pros and cons it was a "no brainer" for me.

Al
 

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Ok I dont even have a coop yet, but its going to happen before spring. We have looked into a lot of different birds, this one sounds good, as far as disposition and eggs. What about meat? I want an all purpose chicken, if thats possible. Doesnt have to be a fast grower, that just seems abnormal and creepy to me!
 

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Ok I dont even have a coop yet, but its going to happen before spring. We have looked into a lot of different birds, this one sounds good, as far as disposition and eggs. What about meat? I want an all purpose chicken, if thats possible. Doesnt have to be a fast grower, that just seems abnormal and creepy to me!
there a good sized dual purpose breed
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
there a good sized dual purpose breed
After my Australorps get around 2 - 3 years old I want to butcher a couple, but my wife would probably throw a fit about it.
 

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After my Australorps get around 2 - 3 years old I want to butcher a couple, but my wife would probably throw a fit about it.
LOL just forget to mention you did it you know have her go to the salon get her nails done or a massage or something and do it while she's gone and just don't mention that you did it. she will forgive you.


that said since were talking livestock breeds to get I highly recommend going here and choosing a heritage breed of which austrolorps are one that way you can pick the livestock good for you and help preserve the bio-diveristy of our livestock instead of teh mono culture big ag is creating

Ensuring the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect nearly 200 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. Included are asses, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys.

Founded in 1977, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is the pioneer organization in the U.S. working to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. We hope you'll browse through these pages and learn more about the diverse and valuable agricultural heritage that is ours to enjoy and to steward.
home page
http://www.albc-usa.org

breeds watch-list
http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html

they can also help you source heritage breeds as well as has a free classified add section

great organization based here in NC
of which I fully support as I find that I believe it is important to preserve our farming heritage from the advances of larg agriculture and the encroachment of the population centers
 

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...
Broody – Broody is when the mothering instinct kicks in. The hen lays a clutch of eggs, sits on them until they hatch, then she takes care of the chicks.

If you want a self-sustaining chicken flock, broodiness is essential.

Some breeds have had broodiness bred out of them, as sitting on a nest slows down egg production. If all you want is egg production, then you do not want your hens sitting on a nest.

When this article was written my Australorps are 11 months old. During the past 11 months they have not gone broody a single time, but then again I do not have a rooster. When my wife and I get moved to the homestead we will be getting a rooster. After we get a rooster I will be able to tell just how broody my Australorps are.
...
Roosters/fertilization have nothing to do with a hen going broody, other than futility. A good broody hen, when she decides it's time, will sit on any eggs she can gather up, fertile or not, or a golf ball if that is all that is available.

They aren't smart enough to understand fertility. If you're lucky they may have the instincts to tell when an egg has gone bad, and to get it away from the nest.
 

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Not that Austrolorps aren't fine birds but they share with other dark breeds the tendency to leave a black feather sheath when you pluck- looks nasty and I hate taking the time to scrape out each one.

Having said that, I should mention that I dry pluck, not liking the skin quality on a scalded bird.

To each their own- for us, Gold Sex Links for egg production and Buff Orps for a homestead bird.
 

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I have found them to be very tame birds and good foragers. I do not trust the roosters around my toddler but the hens seem fine. GREAT egg production and very comfortable free ranging. The dark color seems to make them less visible to hawks etc. They are calm quiet birds and not as stupid as the sex-links I had tried before. A friend who is a vet was shocked at how easily they could be handled. Good all around birds and while it might take them a while to grow to meat size you get eggs and bug patrol in the interum. Also, should add that since they are slow going you can get meat for free by free ranging which you cannot do with fast growing meat conditions from what I have been told. (might be wrong there but word is that they need a more managed diet to avoid leg issues from showing up too soon)
 
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