Raising Leghorn Chickens: Best Tips for a Dynamic Flock

white leghorn rooster with bright red comb
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If you’re interested in bringing white leghorns home, you should learn a few things about their temperaments and nesting needs. These tips will help keep the spunky birds happy and maintain healthy egg-laying rates all year long.

young white leghorn pullet

Leghorns might have a more aggressive personality, but they are one of the best egg-laying chickens in the world. They are very active birds.

The Leghorn breed typically lays at least four white eggs per week in the right condition, resulting in over 250 eggs per year.

Here’s what you should know:

Origins: History of Leghorn Chickens

Leghorn chickens get their name from a port in Italy, Livorno. This white breed was shipped from Tuscany to the US and then to the UK in the late 1800s.

Before this, they were unheard of on this side of the shore.

Breeders loved raising leghorn chickens because of their high feed-to-egg ratio. This means they could get a large number of white eggs with little feed.

The only complaint was its size. British breeders crossed Leghorns with Minorca breeds to produce a chicken variety called an English Leghorn with a hardy frame along with superior egg-laying qualities.

Personality: Appearance and Temperament

Raising leghorn chickens means dealing with an active, noisy flock all year round. They are remarkably resourceful foragers who use available food from nearby fields and yards.

You can often find them roosting on high tree branches or perches (inside the coop). Their flighty temperament keeps mother hens from sitting still and brooding.

Most people recognize white leghorns with red combs and white ear lobes. Leghorns are the “poster chicken” of the best egg-laying chicken breed.

Despite varying feathers, each has a long neck, sleek frame, four toes, a yellow beak, and skin with reddish-orange eyes and red wattles.

white leghorn rooster walking in the green grass

Most leghorns have a single comb, but a specific breed comes with a rose comb to withstand rough winters. The majority weigh 4-7 lbs, with roosters having a heavier frame with full grown hens weighing between 3-5 lbs.

Yet, there are over a dozen speckled non-white varieties (i.e., single comb dark brown leghorn, a rose comb dark brown leghorn, single comb silver leghorn, etc.) recognized by poultry farmers.

Brown Leghorn Chickens are quite striking!

If you want a smaller size chicken with an exceptional feed-to-egg conversion rate and darker feathers…..then these Brown Leghorns might be a great option for your farmstead!

Overall, in general leghorns are a hardy breed with limited dietary (or other health) issues.

The Checklist: Top Tips for Raising Leghorn Chicken

Leghorn chickens might not be cuddly and meek, but they are natural layers with a dynamic attitude.

These aspects make them a fixture at homesteading farms and industrial egg production sites.

Here’s a quick guide for raising leghorn chickens in your yard:

Give Them Space and Freedom to Fly

Your chicken coop should have adequate space for the flock to roam around and fly. Keep at least 3 to 4 square feet for each chicken to prevent them from feeling confined.

Build a roof and install roosts at different heights. The latter will keep these high-strung birds busy inside the coop.

You can create nesting zones to let hens lay eggs away from the remaining flock.

In addition,  create a fenced enclosure to enable them to forage and scratch during the day.

Always protect your flock from predators that might be prowling nearby if you have open fields and foliage around your farmstead, homestead or backyard.

Lastly, insulate the coop during the wintry season to keep them cozy when the temperature drops.

white leghorn chicken with a floppy bright red comb

Balance Regular Feed with Foraging Habits

Leghorn chickens enjoy foraging for food. This offsets feed costs as well as balancing out their more natural diet.

Foraging pairs off their regular feed along with adding flock-safe leftovers, plants, and insects.

When it comes to feeding, begin with a high-protein diet like a good quality chick starter and grower during the first three months. This gives them adequate nourishment to maintain health and support a robust frame.

You can swap this diet for a lay mash or pelleted chicken feed after they grow older. It is generally recommended to introduce a lay feed when you get the first pullet eggs.

No matter how old they are, keep their feeder full. You can trust these smart birds to manage a healthy feeding schedule without your involvement.

Keep Your Chicken Coop Clean

Schedule coop cleaning day each week to create a hygienic and healthy environment.

Ensure that the bedding stays dry to prevent your feathered flock from catching mites or infection. You should switch bedding frequently to minimize health issues.

Other chicken coop cleaning hacks include:

  • Choosing dry bedding like straw, hay, pine shaving, or sand helps.
  • Scooping out bird droppings and dirty bedding 3-4 times a week.
  • Maintain ventilation by keeping the coop doors (and windows) open during the day.
  • Place fly and mouse traps at strategic points around the coop to prevent pesky pests from annoying your flock.
  • Bleach and disinfect your coop once or twice a month by shifting your flock to another shed or letting them forage for a longer period.

Apart from this, you should check your flock for mites, infections, and other health issues regularly—quarantine sick birds from their feathered friends to reduce the risk of contagious diseases from spreading.

baby leghorn chick in a field of purple hyacinths

Egg Laying and Breeding

Raising leghorn chickens is great because they are naturally good egg layers. You can expect your flock to lay adequately-sized white eggs when the chicks turn 4-5 months old.

Egg size will increase as they grow older, and your flock will maintain a consistent egg production rate till they turn five years old.

If you plan on breeding leghorn chickens, do not rely on mother hens. These birds won’t sit still or brood long enough for the eggs to hatch.

Instead, use an incubator to hatch your eggs.

Alternatively, you can place leghorn eggs under a broody hen (like Silkie, Sussex, or Orpingtons).

white leghorn hen

In a Nutshell

Yet, veterans can raise this feisty flock without any major issues. You’ve just got to ensure that their coops are clean and they have sufficient space for foraging and playing.

Additionally, if you’re planning to breed them, invest in some premium-grade incubators to take the place of a brooding hen because leghorn moms aren’t fit for the task.

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Will you add the best laying chickens to your coop or choose a meeker variety? If you’re up for the challenge, I recommend bringing them to your homestead.

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