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If you are looking for an egg laying machine, look no further than Leghorn Chickens. These majestic, slender birds with their large, floppy combs are one of the best egg laying chickens that you can add to your flock.
Leghorn chickens come in both standard and bantam size. They are a light breed with weights ranging from 4.5 -7lbs depending if they are hens or roosters. They are outstanding egg layers laying 5 – 6 eggs per week which totals 290-310 large white eggs per year.
Although they are most commonly white or brown in color, they do come in a large variety of other colors as well.
If you aren’t sure what breed you want to add to your flock, but you know you are looking for egg production and an easy to care for chicken, then this is definitely a breed to consider. They are not one of the larger chicken breeds, however, they do churn out those eggs!
They are such good egg layers they have been used to make hybrid chicken breeds to use as production birds such as ISA Brown and White Stars.
Before you rush out to add them to your flock, keeping reading below to make sure you know their temperament, care needs and other important facts so that you can decide if this is the right breed for you.
|Size||Males 6 – 7lbs; Females 4.5 – 5.5lbs|
|Color||White and Brown most common.|
|Temperament||Active & Stand-offish|
|Hardiness||Cold & Heat|
|Eggs/Yr||290 – 310|
History & Origin
Leghorn chickens, though their exact background is not completely known, are originally from Italy (similar to the Sicilian Buttercup chicken). The Tuscany region of Italy to be exact.
They made their way to the United States (Mystic River, CT to be exact) around the year 1855. There is some disagreement whether the White or Brown Leghorn first came to the United States, but in reality, the doesn’t matter much which was here first.
They made their way from the United States to England sometime in the late 1880’s. Due to their fantastic egg laying abilities, they quickly became a popular chicken breed there as well.
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What Do They Look Like
In terms of size, this breed is a lighter breed. Males range from 6 – 7 lbs while females range from 4.5 – 5.5lbs in size. These weights are, of course, for the standard size. They are also found in bantam size as well.
Unlike other breeds, which typically only have one type of comb accepted in the breed. Leghorns actually have two accepted comb types which are single comb and rose comb. They are known for their big, floppy red combs. Their eyes, face and wattles are also red.
They have white ear lobes which is an indication they will lay white eggs instead of brown eggs, blue eggs or green eggs.
Their beaks, legs and feet are all yellow. They are a clean legged breed like Rhode Island Reds, Australorps and Wyandottes. They have four toes unlike Silkies (which have 5 toes per foot).
They are a long and elegant looking bird. Their wings should be held tightly to their sides. They have a well balanced albeit slender appearance. They should have wide shoulders and a long neck.
They were accepted into the APA’s Standards of Perfection in 1874. Though they are most commonly associated with being white in color, there were three colors added to the standards. Those colors are: Black, White and Brown.
Several additional colors have been added over the years to include: Buff, Gold Duckwing, Silver Duckwing, Columbian, Silver, Red and several others. Duckwing is not a super common color, but some other breeds like Yokohama come in this color also.
Leghorns are in the Standards of Perfection as both Standard and bantam sized chickens. And, they are entered with two comb types: single and rose comb.
Leghorns are a very active bird. They tend to be high energy and enjoy being able to run around and do their own thing.
However, if they are kept in a coop and run rather than being allowed to free range and run around, they can adapt to that lifestyle as well, it is just not their preference.
As they prefer to be allowed to run about doing their own thing, they are also good foragers. And, will spend their time out and about hunting for food. This is great as it helps to cut down on your chicken food bill.
They are not aggressive birds, but most lines do tend to be flighty or stand-offish with humans. So, if you are looking for a pet that loves to be held, this may not be the perfect breed for you.
What is Their Purpose?
As you can probably tell from the above, this breed is mainly used for it’s egg laying abilities. They are egg laying machines topping out at over 300+ eggs per year for some lines/varieties.
Their eggs, as mentioned previously, are large white eggs. This breed is commonly used in the egg production industry.
Due to their smaller size, they are not well suited as a dual purpose chicken since you won’t get much meat from them. However, this smaller size just enhances their egg laying as they need less feed to in turn produce even more eggs.
Adding to their egg laying purpose, they are particularly cold hard (lay eggs throughout cold weather) and also tolerate heat well. This means that you can gets eggs closer to year round with this breed whereas some breeds with decrease their egg production significantly in winter.
Due to their flighty, stand-offish nature, they don’t tend to make the best pets. However, they are easy enough to be handled, that they are also used as show chickens.
Care & Health
Taking care of Leghorn chickens is pretty on par with most other breeds. They need the typical chicken supplies such as a coop, run, chicken feeder and chicken waterer.
They are not particularly fragile, but there are a few health and care concerns to be aware of.
First, as mentioned above, this breed can tolerate confinement, but much prefers to be able to have a large area to roam since they are active with a high energy level. Therefore, whenever possible, they should have a little more room than your average chicken.
Second, due to their large, floppy combs, they are more prone to frostbite when it gets cold out. So, make sure that you know how to take care of your chickens in winter by giving them a warm and draft-free coop among other things. And, if they are still having issues, you may need to add some Vaseline to their combs to help protect them.
Lastly, though they are not as prone as hybrid breeds such as Amberlinks, you do need to be aware they can be more susceptible to egg laying issues such as prolapse, egg binding and peritonisis.
Are Leghorn chickens friendly?
They are not a super friendly breed. They can tend to be flighty or stand-offish. Though, aren’t typically aggressive. There are several different lines and varieties and temperament can vary a bit.
How many years do Leghorn chickens lay eggs?
Like most chickens, they hit their peak around two years of age. However, unlike some other heavy production breeds, they have been reported to still lay fairly well into 3 and 4 years of age.
Are Leghorn chickens cold hardy?
Yes, they are cold hardy. Though you do need to keep an eye on their large combs to ensure that they don’t get frostlbite.
How big do Leghorn chickens get?
For the standard size, males get about 6 – 7lbs while females get about 4.5 – 5.5. lbs. They do come as bantams also. Bantams tend to be about ⅓ – ½ the size of their standard sized counterparts.
How long do white Leghorn chickens live?
They tend to have slightly less of a lifespan than the average chicken. So, in the 5 – 6 year range. This is due somewhat to the extra stress and energy output that their heavy egg laying puts on their bodies.
At what age do white Leghorns start laying?
They start laying eggs on the early end of around 16 weeks or about 4 – 5 months of age.
How much does a Leghorn chicken cost?
The cost of these chickens will depend a bit on where you get them, the color, age and sex. In general, day old chicks can range from just under $3 to just over $4. The cheaper end will be roosters or unsexed chicks while the more expensive end will be for females.
Of course, if you are looking to get pullets or adult hens, then the price will go up significantly. Though adult roosters won’t be as expensive since they are typically not as high in demand.
How do you tell the difference between a male and female Leghorn chicken?
The main differences, like many other breeds, will be that roosters will have larger combs and wattles. They will have larger and longer tail and hackle feathers. They will have thicker legs and will have spurs. And, of course, roosters won’t lay eggs.
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.