The Leghorn chicken is a breed that’s well-loved and renowned for its prolific egg-laying abilities. This chicken breed is gaining popularity among poultry enthusiasts for its hardiness and efficient feed conversion.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned chicken keeper, the Leghorn offers an array of benefits and a few challenges as well. Like all breeds, Leghorns have their own unique temperament, noise levels, and care requirements.
In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know about Leghorn chickens, including their appearance, temperament, lifespan, health issues, and cost. Read on!
Leghorn Chicken Overview
|Italy (Originally from Tuscany)
|Small to Medium
|Hens: 4.5–5 pounds (2–2.3 kg)
Roosters: 6–6.5 pounds (2.7–2.9 kg)
|Excellent egg layers, around 280–320 eggs/year
|White, large-sized eggs
|Active, alert, and generally friendly
|Very hardy and adaptable
|Low to non-broody
|White, brown, black, and more
|Moderate (not overly noisy)
|Mainly kept for egg production
|Thrive on standard poultry feed
|Relatively small coop due to size
|Great for free-ranging and foragers
Leghorn Chicken Origin and History
Leghorn chickens, often simply called Leghorns, are renowned for their prolific egg-laying abilities. These chickens originated in Italy, particularly in the Tuscany region.
Their journey to prominence began in the early 1800s when they were first imported to North America. These birds quickly gained popularity due to their remarkable egg-production capabilities.
In Italy, Leghorns were known as “Livorno” chickens, named after the port city of Livorno. Their journey to America began in the early 1800s when they were brought across the Atlantic.
These chickens quickly captured the attention of American poultry enthusiasts, and by the mid-19th century, they became established as the “Leghorn” breed.
These chickens became a fundamental part of the American egg industry and remain popular for backyard flocks today.
Leghorn Chicken Appearance and Breed Standard
The white Leghorn chicken, a popular breed in the poultry world, is renowned for its distinct appearance and adherence to breed standards.
These chickens are small to medium-sized with a sleek, elegant appearance. Their defining features include a well-proportioned body, a single comb atop their head, and striking white feathers.
The plumage of white Leghorns is pure white with a glossy sheen, which sets them apart from other varieties of Leghorns. Their bright red wattles and earlobes contrast beautifully with their snowy feathers.
These birds have yellow legs and a strong, upright carriage, giving them an alert and active demeanor.
The American Poultry Association (APA) has established specific breed standards for Leghorns, including criteria for size, color, comb type, and more. In particular, they have a single, upright comb, which should have five to six even points.
Both the APA and the American Bantam Association recognize several Leghorn varieties, including white, silver, black, light brown, dark brown, red, black-tailed red, buff, Columbian, buff Columbian, and barred.
If you are considering raising Leghorn chickens, it’s helpful to consult the breed standard. This ensures that you are getting a bird that meets established guidelines for appearance and traits.
Leghorns are especially known for their hardiness, adaptability, and high egg production, making them a worthwhile addition to any flock.
Leghorn Chicken Size and Weight
When it comes to size and weight, the Leghorn chicken is typically on the smaller side compared to other breeds. Generally, adult Leghorn chickens weigh between 4 and 6 pounds.
Females, also known as hens, usually weigh around 4 to 5 pounds. Their smaller size makes them less suitable for meat production but excellent for laying eggs.
On the other hand, males or roosters are slightly heavier, averaging between 5 and 6 pounds. This makes the Leghorn chicken a less meaty option compared to broiler breeds.
The white Leghorn, the most popular variety, is even more lightweight than its colored counterparts. This helps them stay active and adapt to various climates, particularly warmer ones.
Their smaller body size also makes them less likely to suffer from leg or joint issues common in heavier breeds.
While the compact size of Leghorn chickens might be a disadvantage for those seeking meat birds, it’s a benefit for those with limited space.
These birds are ideal for small backyards or coops and require less feed than larger breeds, making them cost-effective. Additionally, their agility and small stature make them experts at avoiding predators.
Leghorn Chicken Temperament and Behavior
The temperament and behavior of the Leghorn chicken make it a distinct breed. Generally speaking, Leghorns are active, energetic, and quite independent. They’re not the type to seek out human interaction, but they’re also not overly aggressive.
For someone new to raising chickens, it’s important to know that the white Leghorn chicken, in particular, is known for its flighty behavior.
These birds are quick to evade if they feel threatened and often prefer to keep their distance from people. They’re not ideal if you’re looking for a lap chicken to cuddle.
Leghorn chickens are exceptional foragers, always on the hunt for insects and other small critters. This makes them a great option for those who prefer free-ranging flocks.
Due to their active nature, they’re not well-suited for confined spaces, and they’ll likely get bored and restless if not allowed to roam.
Leghorns are also known for their intelligence. They quickly figure out the pecking order and are smart enough to evade predators.
The white Leghorn is especially alert, making it less likely to fall victim to common backyard threats. While they may be skittish around humans, they generally get along well with other chickens in the flock.
Egg Production and Broodiness of Leghorn Chickens
When it comes to egg production, the Leghorn chicken is a true champion. These birds are known for laying many eggs, often exceeding 280 to 320 eggs per year. Their eggs are usually white and of medium size.
The Leghorn chicken is especially prolific in laying eggs. Their excellent laying ability starts at a young age, often around 4 to 5 months.
I’ve had the privilege of raising Leghorn chickens on my small farm for over five years now. Honestly, I was skeptical at first, wondering if the hype about their laying prowess was exaggerated.
However, my white Leghorns quickly proved their worth. Starting around five months old, they began laying like clockwork. I soon found myself collecting six to seven eggs per chicken each week.
They even continued to lay throughout the winter months when other breeds took a break.
Because Leghorn chickens start laying early and consistently produce a lot of eggs, they’re a top choice for both commercial egg farms and backyard flocks.
However, if you’re interested in hatching chicks, Leghorn chickens may not be the best option. They tend to be low on the broodiness scale, which means they rarely sit on their eggs to hatch them.
This lack of maternal instinct makes them less than ideal for natural chick rearing but doesn’t affect their egg-laying performance.
While the white Leghorn is known for its extreme egg production, other colored varieties of Leghorn chickens are also quite reliable layers.
Although they might not match the sheer numbers of the white Leghorn, they still offer a respectable amount of eggs annually. This makes the breed versatile for those who want a good layer but may prefer different feather colors.
Noise Levels of Leghorn Chickens
When considering keeping Leghorn chickens, it’s important to think about noise levels, especially if you have close neighbors. Leghorns are generally more vocal than some other chicken breeds.
They like to communicate, not just among themselves but also with their human caretakers.
While Leghorn chickens aren’t necessarily loud in the way that dogs or other pets might be, they do have a persistent chatter.
This is especially true for the white Leghorn chicken, which tends to be more animated and expressive. Hens may get particularly vocal when they lay an egg, alerting everyone around with a sort of “egg song.”
Roosters, on the other hand, have a more traditional crowing sound, which is what most people expect from chickens.
It’s worth noting that rooster crowing can be heard quite a distance away. So, if you’re in a suburban area or have nearby neighbors, a Leghorn rooster might not be the best choice.
The noise level is something to consider based on your living conditions. If you’re in a rural area with plenty of space between you and your neighbors, the chattering and crowing of Leghorn chickens likely won’t be a problem.
However, for more congested residential areas, it may be best to stick with just the hens to keep noise at a manageable level.
How to Take Care of Your Leghorn Chicken
Owning a Leghorn chicken can be a rewarding experience, especially when it comes to egg production. But like any pet, Leghorns require specific care to thrive.
As a potential owner, you need to understand key factors like lifespan and health, feeding, coop setup, and temperature requirements for your Leghorn chickens.
Lifespan and Health Issues
Leghorn chickens are generally robust birds with a lifespan of around 7 to 10 years, depending on their care and environment.
While they’re known for being hardy, they’re not entirely free from health issues. Common concerns include lice, mites, and respiratory infections, which can be mitigated through regular check-ups and good hygiene.
Feeding your Leghorn chicken appropriately is crucial for their well-being and egg production. A balanced diet of layer pellets, grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables is usually recommended.
Since Leghorns are excellent layers, adding calcium supplements like crushed oyster shells can help ensure strong eggshells.
Coop Setup and Roaming
Leghorn chickens love to explore, so make sure your coop has ample space for them to move around. At least 2 to 3 square feet per bird inside the coop and 8 to 10 square feet in an outdoor run are advised.
They also enjoy perching, so having high roosting bars can make them feel at home. Secure the area with a predator-proof fence to ensure their safety.
These chickens adapt well to various climate conditions, including both hot and cold temperatures. However, the white Leghorn is particularly sensitive to extreme cold due to its large comb and wattles.
During winter, make sure the coop is insulated and provide a heat source if temperatures drop drastically.
Whether you own a white Leghorn or another variety, following these guidelines will ensure a happy, healthy flock of Leghorn chickens.
How Much Does a Leghorn Chicken Cost?
If you’re thinking of adding a Leghorn chicken to your flock, it’s a relatively budget-friendly choice.
The cost varies depending on age, lineage, and seller, but typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $5 for a day-old chick.
Older Leghorn chickens, particularly those that are already laying, may range between $15 and $25 each.
For those interested in specific types like the White Leghorn, the price might be slightly higher but generally falls within the same range.
It’s also important to consider additional costs like shipping if you’re purchasing from a distant breeder. Most hatcheries charge around $35 to $50 for shipping, depending on the number of birds and your location.
However, the initial cost of the chicken isn’t the only expense you’ll face. You’ll also need to budget for feed, which can run about $15 per month per bird.
Then there are coop setup costs, which can range from $200 to $500 for a small flock and higher for larger setups.
Pros and Cons of Leghorn Chickens
Leghorn chickens are known for their remarkable egg-laying abilities, but like any breed, they come with their own set of pros and cons.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced poultry keeper, it’s important to weigh these factors.
The following are some pros of owning Leghorn chickens:
- High egg production: Leghorn chickens are egg-laying machines! Especially the white Leghorn variety, which can produce up to 280 to 320 eggs per year. That’s almost one egg per day!
- Low maintenance: These chickens are hardy and generally less susceptible to diseases. This makes them relatively easy to care for, especially for beginners.
- Good foragers: Leghorn chickens love to explore and are excellent at finding their own food. This can save you some money on chicken feed.
- Heat tolerant: Leghorns are well-suited to warmer climates. They’re resilient birds that can handle the heat better than some other breeds.
- Less feed consumed: Despite their high egg production, they don’t eat as much as other breeds. This makes them cost-effective to raise.
Despite these advantages, there are also some downsides to owning this breed. Here are some known cons of Leghorn chickens:
- Not very social: Unlike some other breeds, Leghorns can be somewhat aloof and less interested in human interaction. They’re not the best choice if you’re looking for a pet chicken.
- Noisy: Some people find Leghorn chickens, particularly the white Leghorn variety, to be noisy, which might not be ideal for those in residential areas.
- Poor sitters: If you’re interested in hatching your own chicks, be warned—Leghorns are not particularly good at sitting on eggs to hatch them.
- Not cold-hardy: They’re not the best choice for extremely cold climates as they can be susceptible to frostbite on their combs and wattles.
- Slender build: Their slim physique makes them less suitable for meat production compared to other, more robust chicken breeds.
As with any decision, choosing to raise a Leghorn chicken involves considering both the good and the bad.
Whether you’re eyeing the white Leghorn for its prolific egg production or another variety, this overview can help you make an informed choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Leghorn Chickens Good Egg Layers?
Absolutely, Leghorn chickens are some of the best egg layers you’ll find. Specifically, the white Leghorn is a superstar in the egg-laying department, churning out about 280 to 320 eggs per year. That’s almost an egg a day!
Are Leghorn Chickens Good for Beginners?
Leghorn chickens are a great choice for beginners due to their hardy nature and lower susceptibility to diseases. They’re low-maintenance and good foragers, making them easier to care for than other breeds.
Do Leghorns Get Along With Other Chickens?
Generally, yes. Leghorns are not known for being particularly aggressive, so they usually get along fine with other chicken breeds. However, they tend to be more independent and may not mingle as much.
How Cold Can Leghorn Chickens Tolerate?
Leghorn chickens are not well-suited for extremely cold temperatures. They have a slender build and large combs, making them susceptible to frostbite. If you live in a colder climate, extra care will be needed to keep them warm.
With their active and lively nature, Leghorns can be a rewarding addition to your coop. They offer both challenges and advantages, making them a versatile choice for a variety of poultry keepers.
The white Leghorn is particularly notable for its impressive egg production and lower feed costs.
So whether you’re looking for a backyard pet or planning a commercial venture, the Leghorn chicken breed provides an array of options to consider.
And while they may not be the perfect fit for everyone, they have qualities that make them stand out in the right settings.
If you’ve had experiences with Leghorn chickens or have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!