You need to know everything about the White Leghorn Chicken Breed: background history, appearance, temperature, health issues, and care guide. Keep reading!
The White Leghorn chicken breed is the most popular breed producing many eggs per year globally.
They’re mostly kept in small homesteads and chicken yards. Mostly, a white leghorn chicken lays eggs of about 4-6 weekly.
Leghorns love much space and spend much time of the day searching for food and scratching dirt.
They know how to fly and are always on alert watching for predators. Also, they hate being held since they get tensed near people they do not know.
Overall, Leghorns are sweet breeds when you provide a much more conducive environment. They’ll reward you with a lot of beautiful white eggs.
History and Background
Leghorns have a long history. They originate from Italy, and their egg-laying ability made them more recognizable.
A captain gates of the USA brought the breed to the United States, landing at Connecticut and Mystic Harbors. Here, the breed became the ancestor of today’s Leghorns.
After breeding a rose comb in 1868, leghorns won the New York show. Later on, the breed was moved to the United Kingdom– around 1870.
The reception in the UK was not great, and they decided to cross the white Leghorn chicken breed with Minorca.
As a result, a more dual-purpose breed came into existence. Eventually, around 1910, the crosses returned to the USA, where the larger size was recognized in the budding poultry industry.
Afterward, two groups emerged– those that acknowledged it as it was, naturally, and a group that valued production over everything else.
The two divisions still exist up to date, with the original Leghorn lines preserved by a few while the majority raises the Leghorns to be industrial hens.
Reasons Why Many People Love White Leghorn Chicken
- Leghorns can withstand the cold due to their rose comb.
- The breed has a high egg-laying ability.
- They’re never contemplative.
- Leghorns also have a lot of energy and love searching for food.
- They lay white eggs that get larger as they grow.
Leghorns come in several colors. But surprisingly, the only color that crosses breeders’ minds regarding Leghorns is white.
To shock you, even more, Leghorns are only a single comb or rose comb. Rose combs breed thrives in the USA because they can survive the harsh winters of the northern states.
Unlike large single combs that cannot withstand the harsh winters. Large floppy combs are the usual giveaway of this breed.
Leghorns have red wattles with either a single or rose comb. A white earlobe for Leghorns shows that they lay white eggs.
In addition, the breed has red/orange eyes and a yellow-colored beak. Not only is the skin yellow, but also the four-toed feet.
Leghorns’ overall appearance is long, sleek, and aerodynamic. However, the single comb is exceptional as it has a slightly comical look.
In 1874, the Leghorn family’s first members were accepted and added to the American Poultry Association.
The standards include Mediterranean class, single comb, rose comb, clean legged, standard, or bantam.
On the other hand, Italian Association acknowledges ten standard varieties. However, rose combs are not recognized.
- 1981- buff, silver, and black rose comb.
- 1894- buff and silver single comb.
- 1889- red and black-tailed red Colombian single comb.
- 1886- white rose comb.
- 1883-light and dark brown rose comb.
- 1874- black, brown, and white single comb.
A standard fowl weighs 7.5lb for males, whereas hens weigh 5-6lb. Bantams weigh 0.9kg for hens and 1kg for males. Note that there are variations in weights between the associations of each state.
Leghorns keep themselves active and like to forage most of the time. Despite being busy and intelligent birds, they make a lot of noise– not good enough to rear in an urban backyard.
You can confine them in a spacious room, but remember that they’re high-energy birds and might get bored.
Generalizing a breed with numerous types is never easy. These types are not created the same way. However, look at their parents to gauge how the chicks may grow. It’s also important to enquire from the seller about their temperament level.
Handling chicks more frequently will make them controllable to humans.
Leghorns are independent, nervous, shy, and flighty birds. All these are exhibited when around strange people. The breed is not worthy of playing with children and is also not lap chickens.
Also, Leghorns love to be free rangers and can do well in a spacious area. Roosters are overprotective– they will seek high spots to stand guard and warn their ladies and the other flock of the danger.
Because of their independent nature, most people think they’re unfriendly. In reality, they are friendly but don’t love human contact, for instance, being picked or held.
Leghorns eat very lightly. If the breed free ranges, your feed bill will be very reasonable as they will glean many other fresh foods from supplementing their diet.
A standard 16% layer feed is just enough for a fully grown Leghorn in a year. Molting is a tough season.
During this period, feeds rich in protein are essential. We recommend increasing the protein content up to 20%.
Yearly, a Leghorn hen lays around 280-320 eggs. This is why the breed is a firm favorite of the industrial poultry concerns.
It means that the hen can lay four eggs and above every week. Research also shows that the Leghorn hen can lay eggs into their third or fourth year.
The eggs laid are white-shelled and weigh around 55g each. The eggs get larger as the breed ages. By the end of the laying cycle, the eggs might even be extra-large.
Leghorns lay eggs and are never broody. They also make rotten mothers as they do not set well. Firing up an incubator is a good idea if you want chicks.
Not only do the chicks feather quickly, but also mature much faster.
Leghorn chicken does not have common health issues. Its activeness and high energy keep it stronger in fighting illness.
However, during the winter seasons, you’ll need to buy a jar of Vaseline to prevent wattles and frostbitten combs because the breed has large and floppy combs.
Also, getting rose comb varieties is another good alternative.
If you’re a Leghorn enthusiast and want to make a healthier bird, you must furnish a perch and protect the chickens from cold. Also, the Leghorn chickens need enough space for forage.
During cold winter, you should ‘insulate’ the combs of the Leghorns– single combs with Vaseline.
We do not recommend keeping the Leghorns chicken in an urban backyard because they do not mind territorial lines and would move to places they want to go.
Leghorns are also active flyers. Therefore, consider setting up an open place in your compound when building an enclosed roost. Always try to make the breed much more comfortable.
In addition, the birds like to explore and roost in trees. A covered roost and run are the best if you have limited space for exploration.
The birds also love to forage. If you do not have an unlimited area to allow them to wander around, you will need a henhouse with a covered run to keep them confined.
Leghorn is not a cuddly chicken; instead, it’s so independent, just like how the original birds were. However, some breeders say that a good number of the Leghorn chicken interact with them.
Is The Leghorn Right For You?
The answer will depend on the breed you need in your roost. If you want a friendly and cuddly breed, then Leghorn is not for you.
But again, some people say Leghorn are super-friendly and cuddly.
The breed is less friendly because it evolved as a feral landrace bird, and to date, it has retained the character of independence.
On the other hand, if you want a hen with substantial egg-laying ability– Leghorn is the best choice! If the breed can free-range, the feed-to-egg ratio is around.
We also recommend keeping children away from the Leghorn chicken as they’re flighty and nervous. If the kids are around, play a watchdog role.
The Leghorn is a beautiful, sleek, well-designed bird. The breed is powerful and has a high ability to lay many eggs. Recently, the breed has been loved a lot in the poultry industry.
Most people also love them as delightful creatures, serving them as backyard hens. By eating less food, they can still give you lots of eggs.
Even though the breed is not friendly and cuddly– not keeping it as a pet, you still have them on your homestead to provide you Company.
Leghorn is good to keep because they can withstand the cold due to their rose comb, lay bigger eggs as they age, are never contemplative, and love to forage.
If you want to keep this breed, make a roost to protect them from cold and have a spacious area for forage.
During winter, we recommend insulating the Leghorns’ rose combs with Vaseline– protecting them from cold.
You have everything you need to know about the white Leghorn chicken breed. We hope this article is helpful and you have every reason to rear this breed at home.