Orpingtons vs Australorps
The Orpington was bred to be the perfect bird for the self-sufficient farmer, a good layer but with good meat production too. It was named after Orpington in Kent and was created over about 10 years in the 1880s by commercial poultry farmer William Cook. His business sent thousands of birds all over Europe and he wanted to create the perfect utility bird, one that would lay high numbers of eggs (over 300 a year) and still provide a good meat source.
The Orpington breed quickly became popular, and was soon a meat bird of choice.
In the late 1800s, Orpingtons were imported into Australia, but local breeders found they wanted a bird that was a better layer. They began crossing the Orpington with Minorcas, White Leghorns and Langshans to try and improve the laying ability. The result was a bird they called the Australian Black Orpington, or the Australorp for short.
By the 1920s the Australorp was winning
the big egg laying competitions, and poultry owners around the world were clamouring to have it in their flock. In 1929, it was decided to recognise the breed in its own right.
“It was the egglaying performance of Australorps that attracted world attention when, in 1922-23, a team of six hens set a world record by laying 1857 eggs for an average of 309.5 eggs per hen during a 365 consecutive day trial (without the benefits of artificial lighting).
“A new record was set when an Australorp hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days.”
Above: Orpingtons, 1885. Right: Champion Orpingtons from the USA, 1910. Orpingtons.