Since European settlement of Australia, poultry has been part of the domestic landscape of country areas. Historically, hen-keeping was also common in many towns, and once again it is on the rise in urban environments.
Many imported heritage and hybrid breeds can be found in backyards and on farms around the country, but there are four specifically Australian breeds of fowl that have been developed since settlement: Australian Game, Australian Pit Game, Australorp and Australian Langshan. This stamp issue by Australia Post celebrates these breeds, with the former three depicted on the stamps, and the Australia Langshan included on the miniature sheet.
The Australian Game was developed by farmers and fanciers in the early 19th century. This large bird had great egg-laying qualities and was appreciated on the dinner table.
The origins of Australian Pit Game also go back to the early 19th century, when British Army Officers played a role in developing it as a fighting bird. After cockfighting was outlawed in the mid-19th century, the Pit Game was bred for exhibition.
Proudly known as Australia's national breed of fowl, the Australorp was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The result was a heavy breed that is an outstanding egg-layer, a good table bird and reliable brooder.
The forerunners of the Australian Langshan were imported from China in the early part of the 20th century for their egg-laying ability. Following selective crossing, the breed soon proved itself a better layer of good-sized brown eggs and an excellent table bird.