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The Leghorn Chicken

White leghorn Ian and Chris Mills

History

This chicken originates from The Port of Leghorn in Italy and arrived in Britain in the late 1800s in the white form followed by the brown. They have white earlobes and yellow legs and the eye is red in all colours. The females have a double folded comb, a deep abdomen and a whipped tail. The eyes are prominent and the beak is short and stout. Earlobes are well defined and the wattles are long, thin and fine in texture. Their legs are long and featherless with four toes on the feet with a long straight back toe and the feathers on the body are soft and silky. The Leghorn chicken were one of the breeds used to create the modern battery hybrid layer as they are very productive birds and are able to adapt to all conditions.

Behaviour

Leghorns are prolific layers that rarely go broody and are non-sitters unless left undisturbed. Eggs are white and of good size and are laid throughout the year. Chicks are easy to rear. They feather up quickly, are fast growers and mature quickly. The comb is large so care needs to be taken in cold, frosty weather to avoid frostbite. They can be left to roam freely but are just as happy in a run. They are sprightly, alert birds and can be tamed but not enough to allow handling and prefer to remain rather aloof. They can be rather noisy and will roost in trees given the chance. They are not good as table birds as they aren’t very meaty.

Varieties

Black, blue (not laced), brown, buff, cuckoo, golden duckwing, silver duckwing, exchequer, mottled, partridge, pyle and white

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