Final Report on Black Australorp-- January 2010:I have enjoyed the Black Australorp hens! I have 5 and plan to keep them with the Austra White flock/rooster. They were very placid... more extreme than calm, so placid seems more appropriate. They didn't do anything cute or clever, but neither did they do anything bad. They seemed to stay close to the coop, but seemed to stay out later in the evening... they seemed to like the dark! I thought I would lose some of them to predators, but didn't... even The Fox didn't get a single one of these!
They sized up quickly, but matured slowly. Our neighbor had Black Australorps also, and had two roosters in her bunch. They were very, very difficult to tell which was pullets and which was roosters! We had to go by the starting spurs and the longer feathers at the base of the tail. This would be a negative thing, if I had many of these to sort and butcher. I didn't have any roosters, so cannot say what they butchered like. The neighbor's BAs appeared to butcher out similar to the size and shape of my old 'heritage' greys. (She had one of my grey roosters of approx. the same age.)
They began to lay at 3 1/2 to 4 months of age, and have laid very, very well since. In late November, I turned a light on in the coop, as I wanted to see which breed was laying which eggs, and how many they would lay under optimal conditions. The Black Australorps had been laying several months, and so of course, two decided to set! I eventually convinced them to stop, and am hoping they have the same idea when it is Spring! I think they would make great setting hens and very good mamas.
I do not plan on keeping a seperate flock of Black Australorps, or very many hens, but I will see how they set and hatch... and what they produce/add to the Austra White line. The Austra White is actually a cross between a White Leghorn hen and a Black Australorp rooster, so I don't think knwo what I would get with a cross between the Black Australorp hens and the Austra White rooster... but the eggs from the AW hens and the BA hens will be obviously different, and I can sort out the BA eggs when setting a hen or incubator.