5 Reasons to Love Leghorn Chickens

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

03 November 2015

Leghorn chickens are adventurous, spirited, friendly and wondrous egg-layers. First developed in Livorno (Italian for “Leghorn”) in Tuscany and brought to Britain in the late 1800s, they became a popular purebred chicken in America and later Australia. The Leghorn chickens’ egg laying prowess, savvy attitudes and bold personalities made them the most common purebred fowl in Australia in the early to mid 1900s. We love Leghorn chickens, and not just for their ability to lay generously sized, bright white eggs on a regular basis. Have a sticky beak at 5 reasons to love Leghorn chickens below.  

Leghorn chicken in backyard   

The Italian ancestors of modern laying breeds

Just like many Australians, there are a lot of chicken breed hybrids in this country that can trace their heritage back to mamma Italy. Thanks to the Leghorn chickens’ natural ability to lay an egg (or two… or twenty!) they have been used as the base breed for commercial hybrid chicken development and breeds mixed with Leghorn are sold for superior egg production. They are the only purebred chook to lay so regularly and so much, taking up our second place spot for best layers behind the ever popular ISA Browns and just ahead of the true blue Australorp. For an even larger list of great layers, have a sticky beak at this article here.

Bellissima Beauties

The typical image that comes to mind when imagining a Leghorn chicken is probably that of a standard white chicken with a red comb, but these hens are not one to wear a uniform! True to their Italian heritage, Leghorns are classically beautiful and have a unique style. Their plumage comes in many different colours and patterns. Black, brown, buff, cuckoo, duckwing, exchequer, mottled, partridge, pyle and white. No matter the colour combo Leghorn chickens always look their best. With their jaunty bright red comb - which flops over on females and should stand up straight on the roosters - white earlobes, yellow beak and orange or yellow legs they are quite the sight to behold! Leghorn chickens are on the lighter side of the hen scale, weighing in at 2.5kgs and adorned with soft and silky feathers that stay tight on their elegant bodies. There is a bantam version available as well, and these smaller girls tend to be more docile than their larger namesakes, but don’t produce as many eggs as a standard Leghorn. Short on space? For a comprehensive look at bantams that make great layers have a look at our article here.

Brown leghorn chicken in backyard coop        

A Happy Hen in Hot or Cold Weather

Leghorns have been around for hundreds of years and have been raised in as many different climates. From tropical locations to cold winter landscapes, wet and grey England to the heat of the Australian bush, these hardy hens are up for anything. Like any chook, extreme heat isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but make sure your floppy combed Leghorn chickens are given plenty of cool fresh water and plenty of shade and they will do just fine. Have a sticky beak at our Coop Shades and keep them cool the easy way! For other ways to keep your hens happy in the heat have a peck at this article here. When it comes to cold, Leghorns aren’t terribly fazed, but their large floppy combs have been known to be at risk of frostbite in extreme conditions. A quick cover of petroleum jelly will keep them rosy red and ready to wobble on their next free range jaunt.   

leghorn-hens-have-floppy-combs

An Adventurous Spirit

Wily, wise and wilful are not terms people usually associate with chickens, but Leghorn chickens are that and more! Their active nature and excitable personalities mean they are a wonderful bird to watch free range in the garden. They love to forage and eggs-plore and will figure out ways to get that tasty cracked corn kernel or wayward mealworm that seems out of reach to all the other hens. Unlike most hens, Leghorns are good flyers, so care should be taken to make sure your flock of Italian adventurers have a secure coop and run and a good sized fence around their property to keep them out of trouble and out harm's way. To see what makes a good coop for your flock have a sticky beak at this article here.   

Egg-cellenti!

Leghorn chickens don’t mess about when it comes to laying a delicious and nutritious egg. They are perfectly prolific layers, producing upwards of 300 beautifully white eggs per year for their loyal chicken keeper and will even lay when the cruel mistress of winter has stopped other hens in their tracks. They don’t care about brooding, raising chicks or anything related to the mumma hen process whatsoever so broodiness won’t be an issue with these top tier hens. Their medium to large sized white eggs are a welcome sight nearly every morning in your coops’ nesting box. If you are partial to an omelette (or two) but don’t want to compromise when it comes to having a purebred hen for your fabulous flock, then a Leghorn chicken is right up your chicken run.

To make sure your wily and wonderful Leghorn chickens’ home is safe and happy, you’ll need a good secure coop with a personality to match this brassy breed. Want to start a fledgling flock of two? Or perhaps raise a bunch of these Italian ingenues in your backyard? We have you sorted with our easy to love and easy to clean coops like the marvellous Mansion, the perfect Penthouse or the terrific Taj Mahal. Have a peck at these happy homes to see what coop is the right choice for your family of chooks.

Sources and further reading

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