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Leghorns are also known a Livorno or Livornese chickens and come from Tuscany, central Italy.
They white Leghorns were primarily bred for egg production are to this day used for commercial egg production. They lay the large/extra-large white eggs you buy in the stores today. These birds are used worldwide for this purpose. The White Leghorn variety is also the most common out of all the varieties of this breed.
They are not the friendliest of birds are quite flighty, nimbly avoiding predators or being caught by their humans.
|Country of Origin:||Italy|
|American Poultry Association:||Yes – They are recognized as a breed of chicken in the United States
Single Comb Black, White, Light and Dark Brown was Admitted to the Standard of Perfection in 1874. The Rose Comb light and dark brown admitted in 1883, the Rose Comb White admitted in 1886. Then the Single Comb Silver and Buff varieties were admitted in 1894 with the Red, Columbian and Black-Tailed Red admitted in 1929. Lastly, the Rose Comb Black, Silver, Golden Duckwing and Buff were admitted in 1981
|Chicken Category:||Large Breed|
|Bantam Variety Available?||Yes – 2 Classifications: Single Comb Clean Legged Bantam Classification and Rose Comb Clean Legged Bantam Classification|
|Good Starter Chicken?||No, they are not the best chickens to manage as a starter chicken|
Appearance/Body: Exhibition Longhorns have longer bodies and long flowing tail feathers, whilst the production birds have smaller shorter bodies.
Their combs and wattles are red whilst their earlobes are white.
They have clean yellow legs and four toes.
Color(s) Black, White, Light and Dark Brown
Comb: There are the single comb and rose comb variations
Ave. Weight: Pullet: 4 lbs.
Hens: 4.5 lbs.
Cockerel: 5 lbs.
Rooster: 6 lbs.
Eggs: They are very good egg layers.
They lay large/extra-large white eggs
They lay 222 – 300 eggs per year
They will lay consistently throughout the year
They start to lay eggs from around 20 weeks old.
Meat: They have yellow skin
It is mainly the cockerels that are used as fryers
Breeding: Leghorns have been known to be very fertile and easy to breed but not for the novice breeder
The hens are not broody
They do not make good brood hens
They are not sitters for the Leghorns it is best to have either brood hens or incubation equipment to help hatch the chicks.
They are also not the best mothers.
Show Bird: The show class leghorns have beautiful plumage and make some of the most beautiful show birds.
Pets: They are not very good pets but love to work in the garden with you
Other: These birds are the workers of the chicken breed as they love to hunt, forage and scratch. As a result of being great foragers, they tend to eat a lot less feed than as breeds as they prefer their fresh foraging catch. They are also quite good hunters and will attack small mice and the likes.
|Life Expectancy:||The average lifespan is 6 – 8 years|
|Health:||No known health issues and are a hardy breed|
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|Temperament:||Flighty, skittish and not very friendly but they are extremely active, intelligent and inquisitive. If left to their own devices, they will eventually warm up to humans coming over to see what you are doing in their garden.|
|Flyers?||They can fly very well and will often be found roosting in high up branches of trees. It may be advisable to have their feathers clipped on a regular basis.|
|Noisy Birds?||They are noisy chickens|
|Interaction with other chickens:||They can be a bit stand-offish to other chickens/breeds and take time to get used to them.|
|Good with kids?||Not the best chicken to have around children|
|Socialize Behavior?||They will avoid other domestic animals|
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|Known predators:||Always keep an eye on domestic pets such as dogs and cats.
If hawks and or foxes are in your area it is always best to take precautions.
Check with local animal shelters, zoos, vets, animal control and or pet stores about common predators in your area.
|Conservation Status:||These birds conservation status is recorded as “recovering”|
|Garden Size:||They do take to confinement well, but much prefer the freedom of free-ranging.
Adaptable to any garden size although smaller gardens should really not have more than about four medium-sized chickens.
|Ideal Climate:||They are very weather hardy chickens tolerating both the heat and cold. Even though they may be hard in all weather conditions they still need a warm place to retreat to in the cold weather. Lots of shady spots and cool fresh water in the heat.|
|Ideal Coop:||The rule of thumb for any coop is 50 cm x 50 cm per hen/rooster in the coop.
Ensure there is a good space for the nesting boxes and nightly roosting rails at least 1.5 inches wide.
Good ventilation for air but not too drafty especially in winter.
It is always a good idea to raise the coop off the ground to give the birds a dry place to roost and lay especially in wet weather.
|Ideal Coop Run:||Leghorns love to fly completely covering the coop run will ensure your chickens do not fly the coop.|
|Ideal Flock Size:||They are quite happy in any size flock as long as they have one or two friends to have a cluck or two with during the day.|
|Special Instructions:||They do not have any special instructions|
|Accessories:||The following accessories are ideal for your coop:
Straw for the boxes and roosting area
Animal carrier for transport purposes
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WHERE TO BUY THEM
|Live Poultry Outlets:||You can find the White Leghorns at most poultry outlets always check the outlet’s reputation and customer satisfaction ratings before buying your chickens|
|Internet Poultry Websites:||There are a few sites on the internet that sell Leghorns from their hatcheries. Search for Longhorn Chickens and there are quite a few pages that will pop-up|
|Organizations:||American Poultry Association is a good place to start if you are looking for a registered breeder with a good reputation and quality stock.
American Livestock Conservancy will also have a comprehensive list of the registered breeders plus valuable conservation instructions/advice and listings on.
|Breeders Clubs:||The North American Leghorn Club is full of useful information about the Leghorn breed. There is membership information, poultry shows, etc. The site is sure to have an up-to-date full list of American Leghorn Breeders.|
|Other:||The organizations and or breeders listed above may also have a host of valuable information about your chickens.
They will also be able to provide you with any special instructions, problems, etc. about your chickens.
The Leghorn is from Northern Italy near the port of Leghorn. This medium to small sized landrace fowls was known Livornese and were prolific layers of very large white eggs. Captain Gates found these chickens upon one of his journeys and brought the first few to America in 1852. It was not long before these extremely useful and hardworking beauties won over the heart of Americans.
They even made a cartoon about these white chickens called Foghorn Leghorn who was a fast-talking snarking rooster and his little nemesis Henry the chickenhawk.
The White Leghorns are the ones that lay the white eggs nearly every single day. The other Leghorn varieties are not as prolific as the White variety.
The Leghorns popularity grew in the 1870’s when their great egg laying abilities captured the attention of America’s poultry industry. Coupled with their small appetites, hardiness and they are active almost ambitious nature this breed is still today one of America’s favorite breed of chicken.
The first of the Leghorns to be brought to America were of the Brown variety and are the backbone of all the Leghorn found in America today.
The Leghorn was exported from America to England in 1870 but the English were not that impressed by the bird’s small appetite and size. The English Leghorns were sent back to America to help improve on the breed’s size. Minorca chickens were bred into the Leghorns in order to increase their size.
NOTES / SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS
As they are registered as a “recovering” conservation status they may need an extra license to own or keep in your garden. For advice on what the bird’s conservation status and orders are please check with your local conservation department.
For breeders, it is imperative that you always check your bird’s bloodlines and ensure you are buying your birds from a reputed breeder/farm. In order to sell birds of such stature, they have to be recorded and documented, always check with local animal breeding organizations for these records.
These legitimate documents are also required should you wish to show your bird(s) in various poultry shows/competition showings.
For information and advice on adopting rescued animals, you can visit or contact your local animal welfare center.
- Caring for your Chicken
- Socializing your Chicken
- Breeding Chicken
- Raising Chickens A-Z
- Hatching Eggs
- What is Molting
- Animal Shelter (ASPCA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- American Poultry Association
- American Animal Welfare Society
- American Animal Control
- American Animal Husbandry Society