By Dennis Hawkins

There is no record of the genetic origin of the Leghorn breed other than the fact that it first came from Italy. It was formerly called the 'Italiana', but later renamed to 'Leghorn' after the city in Italy on the Ligurian Sea from where it was first shipped.

It was not until the Leghorn was first imported into America around 1835 and then later into England that it became the most popular egg producing chicken in the world. As such, the Leghorn has become the most important commercial egg producing breed in the world. In fact, it is quite rare to find any other breed in use at a commercial egg production facility.

Photo of White Leghorn Hen The Leghorn lays large white eggs and has an excellent feed to egg conversion ratio. The hens have very little tendency towards broodiness. Despite its extreme importance to the commercial egg production industry, it is of little value as a meat production bird because of its small size and skimpy flesh. Because of this reason, more and more commercial producers are finding that they cannot sell or even give away their unproductive 'spent' Leghorn flocks to meat processing facilities.

Photo of Black Leghorn Cock The leghorn is one of the smallest standard breed chickens. The hen weighs only four pounds. Her trademark is her flopped over comb. The leghorn comes in both single and rose comb varieties. Besides the standard white color of the Leghorn, it also comes in Light Brown, Dark Brown, Buff, Black, Sliver, Red, Columbian, Golden Duckwing, and Black-Tailed Red. However the white leghorn, with its pure white plumage, is probably the most popular variety in the world.

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