Heritage Breeds Can Be the Best Egg Laying Chickens

Rare domesticated animals need engaged stewards to survive. Raise heritage chickens and you’ll find some of the best egg laying chickens around.

| May/June 2012

For fun, profit, principle or superior nutrition, raising layer hens is a rewarding experience. Keeping a few of the chickens described in this article will provide hours of pleasure, a valuable education for the entire family, a renewed connection with your food and some of the animals who provide it, and a sense of satisfaction that you are participating in the important work of saving these interesting and valuable breeds for future generations. Many of these breeds need quality stewards to ensure their survival. If one of these breeds doesn’t strike your fancy, check out Heritage Chickens to learn about many other endangered chicken breeds that might fit the needs of your farm or homestead. 


Status: Recovering 

You might think Australia’s claim to fame is the kangaroo, but in the land Down Under, Australorps reign supreme. In fact, the breed is recognized as the unofficial breed of Australia, its country of origin.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Black Orpingtons were imported from England to Australia. The Australians valued the Black Orpington for its egg-production traits and began selecting and outcrossing to improve laying abilities. Meanwhile, the English continued selecting their Black Orpingtons for meat qualities. By the 1920s, the “Australian Laying Orpington” was divergent enough to be labeled as its own breed, the Australorp. The breed then was imported to England and the United States. In 1929, Australorps were officially recognized by the American Poultry Association as a standard breed.

Today, Australorps are still known for their great egg-laying abilities, often laying more than 200 eggs a year. The Australorp’s eggs are tinted tan, and average 26 to 27 ounces per dozen. Although the breed is reputed for its laying abilities, the birds have relatively meaty carcasses that can serve the needs of the small farm or homestead. The Australorp is a black chicken with a moderately large single comb. Females average 6 1/2 pounds and males average 8 1/2 pounds. The Australorp is gaining popularity among poultry fanciers.


Status: Critical 

3/29/2014 12:26:29 AM

Amazing. Not one mention of the Barred or White Plymouth Rock, breeds that are far more productive than most listed. No mention of the Delaware or the Buckeye, among many other useful, hardy, tough American breeds. For those who want low maintenance, try the Dominique, an extremely hardy, vigorous forager.

6/20/2012 2:40:22 PM

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Danine Segale
6/6/2012 7:41:58 PM

Who won the June 3 2012 coop contest? thank you Danine

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