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Written by Carole

It has been a while since I have posted a new chicken breed so here it is. Today I chose Australorps due to information I read in one of the many forums I frequent.

Black Australorps

Black Australorps

These beautiful chickens were developed from the Black Orpingtons and came to the US in the 1920′s. One person was quoted as saying, “This breed is a good one for young children. The are friendly and quiet, great brown egg layers and good mothers. Recommended for small back yard flock.”**

They are available in standard and bantam size but the black comes in standard size only. They gained notoriety when one hen in the 1920s laid a record 364 eggs in 365 days. That performance has never been matched by subsequent Australorps.

Other facts about this breed:

  • Dual purpose breed meaning good for eggs and meat
  • Lay medium brown eggs
  • Single comb with no feathers on the legs
  • Good brooder and mother
  • Early maturing (begins laying between 5 to 6 months) and very cold hardy

According to what I have read, this breed is excellent for raising chickens in your backyard because they are quiet, gentle, and tolerate confinement well. Excellent breed for a chicken tractor.

australorp chicks
Here is a picture of some baby Australorp chicks. They are so cute with their white and black fuzz. As you can see by the first photo they lose their white feathers when maturing. Isn’t it amazing how chicks develop. They normally look nothing like they do when they are first hatched.

Here’s another picture of a Blue Australorp bantam cockerel.
blue australorp bantam rooster
He looks more grey to me but what do I know. This breed comes in a variety of colorings and as stated before black is only available in the standard size but you can get blue or white in the bantam size.

So if you are looking for a chicken breed that is a champion egg layer (a long time ago), then this is it. As always when I write about breeds, I think I need some of the breed. I am looking for a docile breed in a rooster and hen that pays for it’s upkeep with a consistent flow of eggs and from what I have just written and read about the Australorps these might fit the bill.

If you own some of this beautiful breed, please post a comment and give us some feedback. I would like to hear first hand from an owner.

**This was a comment quoted from McMurray Hatchery website.

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50 Responses to “Chicken Breed Series #11–Australorps”

  1. My daughter (almost 7 yo) has just found your blog and is enjoying your entries. She loves chickens and wanted to leave a comment. In the interest of time, I’m typing for her but here’s what she had to say. (She names all the chickens btw.)

    “I have found that they are very good egg layers and very friendly. I used to have a rooster that was very very friendly. His name was Rocky Mountain High Alaska. I have a hen that is named Silver. She hatched a chick in the summer. The chick’s name is Octopus (Octy for short). Now the chick is grown up. They do well free-ranged or cooped up. We have three more Australorps and they are just the same. All of ours are the standard black Australorps.”

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  2. The Black Australorp is certainly a fine looking bird. The single Australorp rooster I have is much smaller, or rather less stout, than a Silver Laced Wyandotte that rules the roost. Several, but not yet all, Austrlorp hens are laying well ahead of the Buff Orpingtons that grew along side of them. They are starting off in the middle of November laying everyday; although I’m so far quite dissappointed in the egg size. A standard store bought small egg would be, I estimate, 10-15% larger than these first eggs from the Australorps.

    Curiously, the Black Australorp are more prone to roost in the coop than the Buff Orpingtons which seem to prefer an adjacent peach tree. I though it might be the other way around. I’ve an equal number of guineas that roost 50/50 inside and out of the coop which may have an influence on the roosting habits of the 36 bird flock. Perhaps the noise level bothers the Orpingtons and not the Australorps. The Australorps have a tendancy to uttering a very faint cooing sound when they are content.

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    luke Reply:

    your egg size sounds disapointing, mine lay eggs which give store baught cage eggs a run for their money so to speek.

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    Steve Reply:

    All young hens lay smaller eggs when they first start laying but the eggs will gradually increase in size. Australorps lay average sized brown eggs so do not be disapointed by the initial small size of their eggs. When the hens are about eight months their eggs should be their normal size.

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  3. I own seven austrolorp hens (large fowl) and all them are professionally shown at various fairs. They are very, very beautiful birds and ssooo easy to work with. All of mine have recieved first place ribbons and trophies. I find them extremly easy to take care of and definetly recomend austrolorps to any and/or “first time” chicken buyers!

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  4. Katheryn Krockett
    May 3rd, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I’ve had chickens for a number of years, Buff Orpingtons and black Oustrolorps. I choose the blacks because the comments about them being good egg layers. We live in Montana and the winters get cold, at first I didn’t have electricity, so I wanted a bird that would winter well and maybe lay eggs too. They proved to be pretty good at that. Now I have electricity and keep light 12 hrs. a day in winter and heat their water. This year we had a slow start because I didn’t force the molt during the summer and they didn’t pick up their laying until Dec. or so. But now they are full swing and most lay every day. Some of our eggs are so big they won’t fit in an X large carton. We bought some new chicks last year and we have a beautiful rooster.

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  5. I have a few standard Black Australorp hens. They are excellent layers, and we just had our first hatch of chicks from one and our Rhode Island Red rooster. She is a great mom- protective, but still friendly .I hope to get an Australorp rooster soon so we can expand the breed in our flock. Highly recommended.

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  6. How does one “force the molt”?

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  7. Ryan R. McDougle
    May 19th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    The ultimate diuel purpose bird! Bred to lay until they drop (dead) and will dress out at very high weight. The only special care I give them is adjusting their calcium intake to higher levels during summer heat (when they eat less and cannot get sufficiant amounts from normal feed) and year after year they out perform all the breeds in my mixed flock in both egg size and production. Each hen averages about 5 eggs a week all summer long and about 3-4 during the winter!

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  8. I have a trio of Australorps and have just started breeding them. When they started hatching yesterday, I was quite worried when they turned out with black and white fuzz. Thanks , I am glad to know that they weren’t accidentally cross-breeds, and the white fuzz will go!!! They are certainly beautiful birds and very quiet in comparison to the general egg-layers.

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  9. hey, ive only just stumbled upon this site and find it really ineresting. i own two austrolorp hens (both in black) and they are amazing layers, docile and incredibly friendly (thay literally jump over each other for your attention) though they enjoy a large area to forage, the thicker the undergrowth the better and do become dominating of my flock as they are far bigger than the brahmas, ex-battery hens and campines that make up the rest of my flock.
    they don’t eat nearly as much as the other hens because they are so good as foraging and catck crusafix spiders, feild mice, skinks and even shakes with such ease. they truly do make their keep.

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  10. as the creator of all things is good, i just had a friend give me 3 laying hens, and a gorgeous rooster,(not an austrolorp) white flowing feathers from his neck to shoulders. well mannered, friendly,love to “talk” and tolerate my pitt,chihuaua,and my mountain feist. they are”friends” coo,and trill at each other.My “pack” protects the coop.No others allowed near it. or the dogs go nuts. i will keep all informed as to what i learn. just because i learned something here, and i appreciate that.
    norelv44@yahoo.com

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  11. I just got home from buying two austrolorp hens. Within an hour of being placed in the coop, one laid an egg (small). Mine are black and I was assured they were pure breed.

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  12. Australorpes are an Australian breed and six of them set a world record in 1990 of 1500 Plus eggs in a calender year. I’m not sure where it happened but it may have been the US.

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  13. I have 22 Australorps and I love them. The hens are very sweet but my rooster is getting mean at one year old. They lay extremely well winter and summer. Im hatching more right now!

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    Carole Reply:

    Sabra, I had some Australorps also and definitely enjoyed the beauty of them. My rooster ended up being mean also and I sold the pair and the offspring that I hatched. Now I’m raising Brahmas and love the gentleness of the breed.

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    Mike Reply:

    I bought nine hens and a rooster about 3motnhs ago was very impressed by their demeanor. I have found Austrolorps hens to be the hens of my choice. However the rooster has turned very aggressive. He has attacked me and several visitors. The hens are very docile you can reach down and pick them up or pet them. A few of them will litteraly stand on your feet when you enter the barn or feeding area. as far as hens you can’t go wrong. I have seen post in ref. to the small egg size. My girls started small now I am getting eggs that will hardly fit in an egg carton and they lay faithfully. Overall a very good breed. I do have one question for anyone who may be able to anwer. I have heard that there are some breeders attempting to start a lavender strand. Does anyone have any info on this?

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  14. I got four Australorp hen chicks about a month ago. They currently live in my downstairs bathtub! I’ve been hand-feeding them at times and they’re now adolescents who let me pick them up and pet them. It seems very likely that they’ll be tame and good with my grandkids. I’m looking forward to when it’ll be warm enough to put them outside, and have been using the time to build them a coop and nesting huts. It’s amazing to watch them grow! They spend a lot of time preening, as they now have tons of new feathers coming in. Hopefully besides being gentle and easy going, they’ll also live up to their egg-laying reputation!

    I’d just like to emphasize the importance of protecting your chickens from predators once they’re outside. Build a sturdy enclosure to keep out dogs and cats!

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  15. We bought what was supposed to be an Australorp and it turned out looking more like a Wyandotte, so we decided to try again since I had read so many positive things about the Australorp. This time we went to a feed store that received a large shipment of these chicks. They are all black and white, but I have noticed that a couple of them have white wing feathers developing. These feathers are kind of located under the other wing feathers and just the tips show out the back of the chick. Is this normal? I thought they were supposed to be pure black. These are standard size Australorps.

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    Carole Reply:

    Pocahontas, What I know about Australorps they are an all black chicken. I have hatched some chicks and they had a little yellow on the underside but it quickly changed to black by four weeks old.

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    Jeff Reply:

    My four Australorps have some minor white tipping on the under feathers. This may be a defect in the breed, or a bit of an indication that they were originally interbred with White Leghorn in Australia. I heard that they were when the Australorp was developed from the English Orpington.. Mine are healthy and fine for utility backyard chickens, but I suspect that hatchery chickens like mine are a bit “corrupted” as opposed to show chickens of any breed. Two of mine have yellow soles of the feet, which is a breed defect. Australorps should have pink soles. I was concerned that the yellow-soled ones might be Jersey Giants, but they are not growing faster than the others, so I doubt it. Jerseys look a lot like Australorps as pullets.

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    Heather Reply:

    All of my Australorp pullets had the white wing tips as adolescents. These were grown out, however, and replaced with the usual black with green sheen feathers of the adult. So, don’t worry! This is normal :)

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  16. Hi, I came here because I’m looking for a couple broody hens and lady that has them responded to my ad today and said they’re broody black australorps. I wasn’t happy when I saw pictures of ones that’s heads looked like some kind of vultures, but now I’ve seen others and they have beautiful normal looking heads. From what I’ve been reading, they should do well here.

    She says they just want to brood. Well, I have leghorns and reddish colored hens that do all the laying we need around here. The two free roosters I got earlier this spring are a mixed confection. They said that the tall black one part wellington or something like that and the other one is king who is a true mix of what? I don’t know. He has that close bubbly comb and a thick partridge looking neck feathers, with a mix of brown, tan, and black feathers on his body.

    The tamest ones are the red colored hens. So I look forward to these black setters coming in and adding a more docile type of bird than the leghorns are.

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    Mark Reply:

    hey betty if u dont want ur chicken to brood then just dip the place near its vent in cold water then dip its head in water and will forget about brooding completely act like its ina trance then go back to eating and foraging,

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  17. I have raised Australorps for many a year at one time i had as many as 36 hens and got 32-36 eggs a day. they were all just very docile. then I raised several that were in a coop with some Rhode Island reds My rooster grew up to be very handsome he would come up and wait for me to pick him up and hold him never mean at about 2 years old I had to get rid of all of them and I really hated it. the Rooster’s name was IRock.

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  18. hi my name is sammy ive started showing this breed this year my rooster won twice at novice show champion I have another pair coming soon different blood line the hen is a good layer the male and female should have red around their eyes,earlopes,combs,this is the std for uk and this breed has won big show across the uk the chick can be black and white or creamy colour and all chick do have like a tear make around the eyes and have charcoal coloured leggs these are very easy to train and as for the the lady that had trouble her young rooster I have herd of this before but the rooster became very time and ended up being show champion

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  19. I’m so excited to have my first batch of baby chicks. We live in Washington state and I purchased 4 Black Australorp pullets, 4 Ameraucana pullets, 2 Welsummer pullets, and 1 Red Sex Link pullets. Any pointers, anyone, about these breeds?

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  20. I was recently given a Black Australorp hen and her 4 chicks. The chicks are black & white but slowly growing feathers and losing the white.The hen is very quite and very protective of her chicks.I attended a poultry seminar at our local feed store that was very informative on the care & feeding of all types of poultry. Great information, as I am a first time chicken owner & my girls are “urban chicks”. They have a wooden coop for nights & roosting and I built a portable pen for days out in the yard. It is completely secure from pet preditors & various large birds we have in our area. It is a joy to sit and watch them!

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  21. I bought a black australorp chick about two weeks ago and she is starting to get her wing feathers. I ‘m concerned though because her wing tips are white. Is this normal? I’ve tried to do some research online but no one mentioned anything. This is my first time having this breed so I have no idea what is normal. If some one could let me know that would be great.

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    Heather Reply:

    Yes, this is normal! They will grow out and be replaced with black feathers.

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  22. Received a batch of these chickens by mistake: feed store thought they were Bardrock’s.
    Having raised rhode island reds, bardrock, and now these austrolorps, they are my new favorite. Zero loss from hatchling to early adulthood, free feed well, minimal care required and once they know you, they are extremely docile. Went from brood box straight to hen house as soon as they were almost full feathered(brood box had 20″ sides and when they started flying out of it, it was straight to the hen house)
    Hen house experienced several cold nights(mid 30′s) and the chickens experienced no distress.
    Mine are 4 months old now and I’m looking forward to the first eggs.
    Summers in this area can be 100+ so we will see how they handle the heat. Hen house is 8 x 14 x 8 tall with an attached yard 8 x 12.
    Using a bulk feeder that holds 100 pounds and watering with 2 each 5 gal waterers. Roost is 5 feet from floor of hen house and the full 8 foot width of same. 16 nest boxes and 2 show little use.Using hay for nesting material, and went from hay on hen house floor (concrete) to bare floor (easier to scrape and clean).

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    Mike Reply:

    New/learning. You say you went from hay on floor to bare floor.
    Im assuming then that they dont free range? Or am I wrong about that?
    I ask because I was planning on a couple of Australorp hens.
    If they get loud I’d have to put them in the garage. I live in an HOA.
    So is that ok? It also would be a concrete floor, and I could possibly let them out in a tractor once in a while. What are your thoughts?
    Thanks, Mike

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    Carole Reply:

    We live in a sand environment so I don’t put any type of bedding on the floor. I do keep hay in the nest boxes. Hens are not normally loud but if you get a rooster there is normally crowing. Chicken tractors are great because you can move them around your yard while protecting your chickens from predators. Good luck with your chickens.

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  23. Laura Spechtenhauser
    July 27th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I have 7 of these wonderful birds. They are 2 months old and they are such a joy to watch. They follow me around and are very very friendly! Beautiful birds,,,very nice,,,recommend them to anyone who is planning a backyard flock :)

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  24. I have 35 Australorp hens and 1 rooster.. This is my second batch of em, the first was such a good experience I wanted to try again. Great layers and great cold weather birds. My rooster is getting very ugly, though… He might just become Sunday Dinner.. Highly recommend Australorp hens, though!

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  25. Just started raising chickens in a residential neighborhood. I have 2 black Australorps(Tina and Oprah) and three Americaunas(Henny,Penny,& Marley) all hens.The Americaunas roam through my backyard during the day and the Australorps stay in the pen and never leave. All chickens go into the henhouse at night and perch. I am enjoying watching them. One of my Americaunas is all white with three black spots on her side.
    I will be getting to Bardrocks and a Silver-laced Australorp soon. I will gladly take any advice since this is all new to me. I am raising the chickens for eggs only.

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    Mike Reply:

    Im new too. Dont have any yet. I live in a HOA. How loud do your Australorp hens get?
    Thanks, Mike

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  26. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about the Australorps it makes me glad I have some.

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  27. I’ve had many varieties of chickens over the years, but only one has a name, and it is Einstein. She resides with about 80 Buff Orphingtons, and is left over from the last batch of chickens. She is still with us, and named Einstein – as she is the only one out of generations of chickens of all types that could fly out and get back in to lay an egg, or feed. When the last batch were given away , she couldn’t be caught. When we transferred our chickens into a new run, she was the last one caught, and was very difficult to find, as she plastered herself tight against the ceiling of a shade structure. Our Orphingtons seem to lack vigor, and laid well for the first couple of months, but once it got hot, they seem to have permanently declined. I am go to switch to Black Austrolops again – they rock!

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  28. I am raising my first ever chickens and three of them are Black Australorpes. They are six weeks old and going to the coop today from our passive solar greenhouse where they have enjoyed and thrived in its moderate even temperatures. As I read blogs, I’m less concerned about their well being as temperatures in central Ohio begin to dip here in mid-October. Question 1: But, should I put a heat light in the coop for cold nights? Also, I am hoping my Australorpes are all hens – was told they were by the hatchery, but two of them are quite a bit larger than the third. Question 2: Should I be worried that I have two roosters and a hen? When can I determine their sex and quit worrying about have two roosters? Mine also have some white tipped feathers at the bottom of their wings and a few grayish spots on their chest. Question 3: Does this mean they aren’t purebreds? Thanks for any and all replies and answers to my worrisome questions.

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  29. I bought what were supposed to be Australorp hens in June..They were approx. 3 months old then.

    It is now December, and they are 8 months old, still growing (they’re HUGE!!), and haven’t laid a single egg..

    Right before I got the Australorps..I got 6 New Hampshire Red hens..They began laying in September…

    I have had chickens for years, mostly Barred Rocks and Domineckers..
    Most start laying around 6-7 months..

    I’m wondering what these hens are, actually…since they are apparently still growing and not laying at 8+ months..
    Jersey Giants?

    I have no way of posting a pic..But I will say this..their legs are balck, and they do have the greenish irridescent sheen to thei black feathers..

    Any info would be appreciated..

    Thanks!

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    Natalie Reply:

    Just to clarify..they *are* hens..not roosters..I can tell the difference…

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  30. Hi I’m Emily and I’m going to take my black australorp to the National Western Stock Show.I’m in 4H and this is my first year in chickens. My BA won grand champ at the county fair and my mentor thought I should take her to the stock show. I’m competing in Showmanship which means I have to know a lot about my particular chicken breed. And of course about chickens in general. I was wondering if anyone could help me out. Got any BA facts, anyone?

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  31. I just got 4 black bantam australorps from an acquaintance. Now, I know that supposedly they are not available in both black and bantam, but these chickens are completely black with the greenish (beetle) sheen around the head and neck and they are also much smaller than… well than any normal chicken (I’ve had buff orpingtons and leghorns) and have been around others.

    I was told they were 8-9 months old. None of them are laying. Shouldn’t they be laying by now? They’ve been eating scratch. If I switch them to layer will they lay? It is technically winter here in AR, but it’s been 50-60°F during the days.

    All I can think is that my acquaintance is wildly off in the age of the birds? He said he’s been raising them for 20+ years… Their wattles and combs do not appear to be fully mature. Should I just wait?

    Any thoughts? Thanks.

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  32. I have had chickens since i was a child, but havent had them for the last decade and have recently commenced a backyard flock: 2 Eurobrids, 3 black laced gold wyandottes, and when my partner said he wanted a couple of black, we found some pullets advertised, and collected them on the same day we bought 15 fertile eggs from a breeder of Australorps. The black pullets are large birds, and now two months into laying, are still laying bantam sized eggs, and considering their body size, am suprised. The two bought pullets are predominately australorp, but one has some red feathers in her neck which leads me to believe they are cross bred, which is fine as they are really pretty birds. The three chicks that have survived from the 15eggs which we purchased from a breeder are now 12 weeks old, and after reading all the above comments, I would believe that all three are female ( i hope for my neighbors sake anyway!). They are roughly the same size and literally the same size as the Eurobrids! Their combs however are relatively small, and from that im guessing they are going to commence laying. I have found all the above comments extremely useful and comforting to know that i have chosen well. Or at least my partner has! and just quickly, the eggs we got from the breeder were all show quality, and purebred, and two of them have white tips on their wings, so im guessing its part of the genetics of the breed. Love your work and would love to continue reading posts!

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  33. We are expecting to received some black Austrolorp chicks mid-May. We are new to raising chickens and they will live in the middle of a neighborhood. We live in Oklahoma. I’ve heard lots of people say they tolerate cold well, but what about heat? It can get to 105 or more during the summer. Do they need any special consideration besides good ventilation? Thanks in advance for any help.

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  34. I haven’t had chickens since childhood 40 yrs ago. I live in NW Okla. and am planning on buying Austrolorp chicks next spring after I remodel an old barn and retrofit a 10 x 15 coop in one end. I’m concerned about the summer heat as well. Can anyone offer any pointers? Am I looking at the right breed? Thoughts on ventilation? What about the use of vent fans?

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  35. My 1 yr old australorp hen has orange feathers mixed in with her black ones, does this mean she’s not a purebred australorp? The guy at the feed store where we bought them said that she is but in all the pictures I’ve seen, none of them have the orange like she does…. I was hoping to show her in the upcoming fair but can’t do so if she’s not purebred.

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  36. We owned 10 Buff Orpingtons, one was a rooster. He died mysteriously. Two days later a black Australorp rooster showed up at our place. He was trying to join our hens. He hung out for a couple of days before I finally lured him into our backyard. He was starving, thirsty, and lonely. We adopted him and he has turned out to be a fine rooster. Since then I decided to get Australorp hens. I do not regret it. They are just as sweet as my Buffs. One big happy family here.

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