The Australorp is an Australian chicken breed first introduced to America in the 1920s.
Due to the Australorp’s large size, they are typically raised for meat but are also consistent egg layers.
The beautiful plumage of Black Australorps also makes them excellent show birds.
Australorp chickens have a docile temperament and a friendly personality, making them popular with backyard chicken breeders.
One major concern any backyard chicken keeper has is keeping their birds confined to their yard.
The Australorp is known for being a large bird, but can it fly?
Adult Australorp chickens struggle to fly because their wings cannot lift their heavy bodies. Even if they wanted to fly, Australorps would have difficulty getting off the ground. A fence is still necessary to contain Australorps because they can jump as high as 6′ feet in the air.
It is not uncommon for an Australorp to jump onto low branches in trees or leap over a short fence.
Young Astralorps may need their wings clipped because they will attempt flying until reaching their adult weight.
Read on to learn what size of fence is needed to contain healthy chickens and common issues found in poultry that do not fly.
What Size Fence Do Australorp Chickens Need?
Since Australorp chickens can jump 4-6′ feet high, you will need a tall fence to contain them.
As a rule of thumb, a fence at least 6′ feet tall will likely be enough to keep your Australorps from escaping.
Adult Australorps generally understand their limitations when it comes to flight.
Fully-grown Australorp hens weigh an average of 7 pounds, and roosters weigh between 9-10 pounds.
Australorps are considered fully grown when they reach 1 year or 52 weeks of age.
There are also bantam sizes of Australorps, but their body-to-wing size still does not allow them to fly properly.
The wing feathers of an Australorp are not large enough for the chicken to fly like a songbird, and at most, all they can do is glide a few inches above the ground for a few feet.
Younger birds may be more feisty because they are still light enough to get off the ground.
If flighty young Australorps are an issue, you may want to install netting over the coop or chicken run.
It is also recommended to keep any trees near the fenceline trimmed.
A low-hanging branch may be all an Australorp needs to leap over a tall fence.
Once an Australorp is familiar with its boundaries, the bird is not likely to fly to new territory.
Issues With Chickens Who Do Not Fly
Many chicken owners assume these birds do not fly, but this is not true.
While they usually do not go very far, lightweight and bantam breeds of chickens will easily fly over a 6’-foot fence if they want to.
In 2014, a hen set a world record by flying continuously for 13 seconds.
The longest distance a chicken has been recorded flying is 301.5′ feet.
These flight records are not typical for most breeds of chickens, but they give you an idea of what these birds are capable of.
Most heavy breeds, like the Australorp, are flightless birds.
Owning flightless chickens presents challenges outside of keeping them confined to a designated area.
Australorps and other flightless birds spend a lot of time on their feet.
All this time spent on their feet makes these docile birds more prone to issues like bumblefoot and scaly leg mites.
Keeping the coop and chicken run as clean as possible is crucial to prevent bacteria and mites from causing leg and foot infections.
Since flightless chickens like Australorps are usually heavy birds, they may be more susceptible to foot injuries.
If a heavy chicken falls from a short height, the bird can break a toe or leg.
Even minor sprains will cause the chicken to limp.
When a chicken is unable to walk without limping, it may eat and drink less, leading to possible malnutrition or dehydration.
A malnourished chicken will also have a lowered immune system and is more likely to develop an illness it could spread to the rest of the flock.
Daily foot checks of your Australorps will help you spot any signs of injury or disease, such as:
- Lumps or swollen areas
- Cuts or other open wounds
- Unnaturally bent toes or legs
- Raised or peeling leg scales
- Overgrown toenails
If you notice any of these symptoms in your backyard flock, seek veterinary care as soon as possible for proper treatment.
A chicken with a leg injury must also be separated from the rest of the flock until it is fully healed.
They Are Still Able to Jump
Even if your Australorps do not fly, they can still jump quite easily.
If the fence around the chicken coop or run is not tall enough, your Australorps will jump over it.
As long as your chickens are content in their area and provided with plenty of enrichment activities and food, they are unlikely to attempt an escape.
Australorps are curious birds, and if they feel cramped or see better food on the other side of the fence, it may be worth the risk for them to jump across.
Your Australorps may also be adept at climbing trees.
Regularly trim low branches of trees near the fence to keep your Australorps from climbing them.
Young Birds May Attempt Flight
Young Australorps have a lower body weight than adults, and they may push the limits of their boundaries by attempting to fly.
The tendency for flight is most often seen in Australorp chicks younger than one year of age.
You may have to keep a closer eye on the younger members of your flock to ensure they do not escape.
It is helpful to keep the young Australorp’s flight wing feathers clipped until they grow to a larger size and are no longer capable of flying.
Australorps usually outgrow the desire to fly once they reach their adult weight and realize they are too big to get off the ground.
More Susceptible to Predator Attacks
Another issue with the flightless Australorps is they are more susceptible to being attacked by predators.
It is more difficult for an Australorp to escape a fox or coyote because it cannot fly away.
An Australorp rooster will crow loudly to warn the rest of the flock when there is danger nearby, but this does not guarantee the chickens will be able to escape.
Never allow your Australorps to free range without supervision, and ensure the coop is secure at night.
Prone to Obesity
Australorps are generally very active birds, but they are prone to becoming obese if they are not given enough space to roam.
Obesity makes a chicken more susceptible to illness and causes a drop in egg production.
Because they do not fly, Australorps cannot escape from a cramped environment to get more exercise.
Each Australorp needs at least 4′ square feet of space in the coop and 10′ square feet in the run.
To prevent obesity in your Australorp flock, feed them a balanced diet, and be sure to provide the birds with plenty of space and enrichment activities to keep them busy.
A few well-placed perches, a cabbage tetherball, and an area for a dust bath will keep your chickens occupied and avoid boredom.
Australorps are excellent foragers, and it is recommended to allow them some supervised free-ranging time whenever possible.
The black feathers on Black Australorps make them susceptible to overheating, so be sure to provide them plenty of shade to keep cool in hot weather.