Ah, Italy… one of the most romantic destinations in all the world, home to some of the finest wines, exceptional seafood, exquisite pasta, and… chickens?
Ummmm, chickens you say? Yup. Believe it or not, one of the most iconic chickens originated in Tuscany, Italy.
I mean, when we think of a chicken, what comes to mind? For many of us, it’s Foghorn Leghorn — the Looney Tunes chicken. If you are too young to know what I’m talking about, check this video out! (Go on…it will make you smile).
If you’re feeling that your home could use some Italian spice (and a LOT of eggs), then perhaps a Leghorn (pronounced Leggern) is just the bird to add to your family!
History Snippet of Leghorn Chickens
Much of the history of Leghorn chickens is a mystery, like many breeds of chickens. Let’s face it, keeping track of chicken lineage probably wasn’t at the top of the priority list for people back in the day. What we can track leads us to Italy.
We also know that this breed has been refined over the years, and is now one of the best-known egg layers around!
The name Leghorn is a curious name, but once you hear the reason it makes perfect sense.
The Leghorn is a breed of chicken originating in Tuscany, in central Italy. Birds were first exported to North America in 1828 from the Tuscan port city of Livorno, on the western coast of Italy. They were initially called “Italians”, but by 1865 the breed was known as “Leghorn”, the traditional anglicisation of “Livorno”.Google Arts and Culture
Leghorn Chicken Appearance
For starters, they are cute. Super cute.
I love a lot of color in my flock, but there is just something refreshing about my all-white leghorns with their big, red floppy, combs.
BUT…did you know that the white variety is not the only color this breed comes in? There are as many as 12 varieties, depending on the source. They come in a variety of colors such as light brown, dark brown, black, red, buff, gold duckwing, and many more.
Several of the varieties also have rose combs, instead of large single combs. These were bred on purpose in order to help those that live in a very cold climate, meaning less comb frostbite. A large comb is more susceptible to damage in cold weather.
Leghorns are slender, upright birds that look ready to take on the world. Due to their slender build and dedicated work ethic (excellent foragers), they are not heavy chickens. In other words, they aren’t really known as meat birds. The females weigh around 5 to 6 lbs, and the males weigh around 7 to 8 lbs.
Leghorn Egg Production
Now we are talking! Leghorns are excellent egg-laying chickens, most would label each hen as a prolific layer. The production Leghorns (not the Heritage Leghorns) are the most popular white egg commercial breed in the world. They lay 220 – 300 large or extra-large white eggs each year! Some even say they will lay up to 320 eggs per year!
Not only are they fantastic egg-making machines, but their “warranty” doesn’t expire after two years. They can lay for 4 to 6 years! Wowzer. Just be sure to feed them high-quality feed and treat them with some vitamins too!
One of the reasons Leghorn chickens lay so many eggs is that they are not known for going broody. When a female chicken goes broody, they hull up in its laying box nurturing and incubating its eggs – they stop laying during this time.
It’s a good thing these ladies don’t go broody because they are awful mothers.😢
Do Leghorn Chickens Make Good Pets?
Most will tell you that they don’t really make the best chicken pet in the world — at least not a lap pet. Don’t give up on them though, they aren’t aggressive or mean…just not willing to walk around town on a leash letting all the bystanders pet them. 😉
Leghorns do tend to be nervous and always on guard. But this is precisely what makes them excellent foragers, aware of their surroundings andoften able to avoid predators. They are very independent, like to do their own thing, and need plenty of space. They really do best as free-range birds.
Should You Buy Leghorn Chickens?
With excitement, I say yes! I have several varieties of this breed and I love them! 💞
They truly are stupendous egg layers, so if you want a steady betty egg-laying chicken, Leghorns are your ladies (especially the traditional white leghorns).
I have one that flys over the fence and into the pen where I keep some teenager bantams. She gecoldnerally spends the night with them instead of sleeping with all the other full-grown hens and roosters.
This hen loves hanging out with the younger ladies and she leaves me one big, white, beautiful egg each and every day (even in 20-degree weather)! I know it’s her because she’s the only one old enough to lay in the bantam pen. She also follows me around for sunflower seed treats every time I walk in the coop (which I happily give her).
Where Can You Buy These Egg-Making Wonders?
1. Meyer Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Meyer Hatchery
Meyer Hatchery is based in Polk, Ohio, and boasts itself as the “Premier Poultry Source.” Priding itself on customer service and availability, Meyer Hatchery provides a variety of chicken breeds to meet customer demands for color and diversity. They welcome the mixing and matching of breeds of the same poultry type to meet minimum order requirements for safe shipping. To help with orders, they have a calendar of hatchings.
Meyer has a variety of means of communication, including multiple phone numbers, fax, and email. They also run a blog that covers everything from breeds to plant pairing with chickens, feed, cooking recipes, fowl entertainment, and survival tips.
We have linked the page to the White Leghorn Chickens above, but Meyer offers a variety of Leghorns, including Light Brown Leghorns and Exchequer Leghorns.
- Significant discounts if buying male chickens
- Accepts checks and credit cards
- Guarantees gender of chicks either through refund or store credit
- Optional vaccination
- Member of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), and provide NPIP VS Form 9-3 free of charge
- Offer orders of over 100 chicks
- Limited store hours that change with the season
2. Murray McMurray Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Murray McMurray Hatchery
Murray McMurray started his chicken business in 1917. As a banker, he sold his chicks to locals through the bank, and by 1919, he had developed his own stock of chickens. During the Great Depression, he devoted himself to chickens full-time. Since then, Murray McMurray Hatchery has developed into one of the largest chick hatcheries in the country. They sell more than just chickens, with ducks, geese, guineas, turkeys, other fowl, and game birds all in the catalog.
We have linked the Pearl-White Leghorn Chicken above, but they also offer a variety of Leghorns, including Silver, Rose Comb Brown, Red, and Single Comb Brown.
- Males are extremely inexpensive
- Bulk discounts are available
- Excellent breed availability
- Minimum order of six birds at a time.
3. Cackle Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Cackle Hatchery
Cackle Hatchery proudly boasts that they have been hatching and shipping since 1936. A third-generation hatchery based in Missouri, their mission is to provide customers with quality poultry for showing, meat, enjoyment, and eggs. They ship throughout the USA, including Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. They offer nearly 200 different types of chickens at all stages.
Cackle also offers many other kinds of poultry including ducks, waterfowl, game birds, turkeys, and other fowl. They are also a good source of supplies and books.
The link above brings you to the White Leghorn Chicken sales page. This hatchery also offers Brown Leghorns.
- Discounts if you buy male chicks
- Very reasonable prices
- Vaccinations are available
- Only need 3 birds to ship (or just one for male birds)
- Limited availability
- Sold as baby chicks only
4. Purely Poultry
Find more information and prices here: Purely Poultry
As a family-owned business, Purely Poultry has some of the best customer service around. They pride themselves on their knowledge of their products, selection, and how-to details related to everything they offer, including ducks, chickens, geese, and lots of other birds!
Located in Durand, WI, they guarantee live birds with every order, which is a good promise, indeed!
The link above will take you to the White Leghorn Chicken page but they also offer Light Brown Leghorns, White Leghorn Bantams, and Exchequer Leghorns.
- Each order is backed by a live arrival guarantee
- Small order minimum on chicks
- Other kinds of poultry are offered, too
- Not a huge advantage to buying multiple chicks – discounts are minimal
5. Hoover’s Hatchery
Find more information and prices here: Hoover’s Hatchery
Another established brand, if you’re looking for chicks, is Hoover’s Hatchery. Hoover’s supplies many farm and garden supply stores in the United States with their chicks, making them a smart choice if you want to skip the middleman and order from the hatchery directly.
Plus, Hoover’s offers free shipping on practically everything you order. You’ll have to buy at least 15 chicks; so Hoover’s might not be the best option if you live in a city with chicken restrictions. However, as long as you’re willing to buy in bulk, it’s a smart choice. You can even mix and match your order by adding other breeds along with poultry species like pheasants, turkeys, guineas, ducks, and more.
Another benefit of ordering from Hoover’s Hatchery? Despite the fact that this hatchery is located in Iowa, not necessarily a warm-weather state, it hatches chicks all throughout the year – a must-know feature if you plan on buying chicks around Christmastime.
The link above will take you to the White Leghorn sales page. This hatchery also offers Brown Leghorns and California White Leghorns.
- Excellent guarantee and refund policy in case of shipping problems
- Hatches chicks during the winter, one of the few hatcheries to do so
- Sells other kinds of poultry too
- Large minimum order of 15 chicks or 20 bantams
A happy wife, mother, teacher, writer, hobby farmer, lover of chickens, and contributor to Pampered Chicken Mama!