The Leghorn Chicken comes from the Mediterranean area, from the rural areas of Tuscany, Italy. Before becoming known as Leghorns, they were called ‘Italians’. In 1865 they were introduced to American and by 1870 they were introduced to the UK.
In Italy, 10 color varieties are recognized. Leghorn chickens usually have single combs, but in some countries, the rose combs are ‘allowed’, but not however in Italy. Even though the Leghorn is used quite a bit in a factory setting, they are considered today as a Heritage-Breed.
Heritage breeds are actually endangered chicken breeds. In order to support their conservation, to recover chicken breeds, the Livestock Conservancy has defined heritage chickens as chickens that need to meet certain criteria to be classified. Basically, they are free ranging birds, they have natural mating procedures and grow slowly and naturally outdoors – no small and cramped confinement.
Leghorn Chicken | Breed Profile
Country of origin: Tuscany
Primary use: Eggs
Weight: Male: 2.4–2.7 kg, Female: 2.0–2.3 kg
Temperament: Nervous, Flighty
Recognized Varieties: Single Comb Red, Rose Comb Buff
Egg production (annual): 280
Egg color: White
Egg size: Large
Comb type: Single or rose
Characteristics Of The Leghorn Chicken
Birds from the Leghorn chicken breed are slender, muscular type birds A leghorn cock will weigh in at around 3.4 kg, hens around 2.5 kg, cockerels between 2.7 to 2.95 kg and pullets 2 to 2.25 kg.
For the bantam variety, the weight for cocks is around 1.02 kg, for hens 0.91 kg. These weights are according to the standards of the UK. The Leghorn will lay a large white egg, and average on around 280 eggs a year, sometimes even exceeding the 300 mark.
The Leghorn is not a great meat producer though. They are good flyers too and love to roost up in the tree. They don’t care a great deal about brooding. The Leghorn chicks are not hard to raise at all, growing and maturing quickly.
They can tolerate all climates. They have long yellow legs and their prominent eyes are red. Their feathers are soft and silky.
Although white Leghorn chickens are the most popular colour choice, there are other colours too in this chicken breed such as dark brown, light brown, black, buff, silver, Columbian, red, cuckoo, red-tailed black.
Generally, they are a very healthy breed and can live to be around 9 to 10 years old. If you’ve ever heard of Foghorn Leghorn Chicken Hawk is the name of the Looney Tunes movies which depicted a fictional big Leghorn rooster!
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Behavior / Temperament
Leghorns can be rather noisy birds, enjoying roosting in trees as well. They are friendly, calm, noisy and very active; shy of humans.
The Leghorn chicken breed tends to be rather flighty and skittish and not all that interested in personally interacting with people, rather enjoying being left alone with their own kind.
They run extremely fast. A lot of chicken breeds will have a certain personality type and a lot has to do with the way a chicken is raised. If you do spend time interacting with them from when they are very young, it is possible to end up with more personable friendly chickens.
Leghorns love foraging and free ranging and get most of their nutritional needs met just by their foraging. People have been heard to say that the Leghorn does not mind a confined space that much.
It’s got a kind of wildness to it, loving to roam and then come home to roost up in high places. Being excitable birds and a less domesticated type of bird with a penchant to wandering, they are not really ideal as a pet.
The Leghorn is not into being cuddled you could say. They cover great distances in their constant search for food. Experts of the breed classify the Leghorns, as far as chicken breeds go, as the most dedicated of the chicken foragers in the world.
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The pros and cons of the Leghorn Chickens ...
Is The Leghorn Chicken The Right Choice For You?
Yes, the Leghorn Chicken is a great choice for you. Why?
Leghorns are a joy to have in the backyard. White Leghorns are inclined to lay better than the brown The Brown Leghorns are larger than the white Leghorn. Even though they are suited for the warmer type climates, they also do well in winter.
But in winter time, you need to be mindful of their floppy, big combs and cover them well with Vaseline so as to prevent frostbite.
If your intention is to breed Leghorn, you most probably want to buy an incubator, just because the Leghorn does not go broody; this has basically been bred out of them. That’s why chicks will need to be artificially hatched.
Sometimes this wonderful bird is overlooked when you compare it to magnificent looking birds such as the Frizzles, the Polish, or the Silkies. But if you are interested in a steady supply of eggs, they stand in a league of their own!