Single combed Brown Leghorn rooster
The Leghorn was imported to the US from Italy in the 1850s or possibly earlier. Originally called “Italians,” they were eventually dubbed Leghorns, the English pronunciation of their port of origin. By the 1870s, there were three recognized colors: black, white, and brown, both dark and light; today, there are 14 recognized colors
. Brown Leghorns
can be light or dark, single combed or rose combed, and large fowl or bantam. They have white earlobes and yellow legs. Like most Mediterranean breeds, the Leghorn lays white eggs. Originally imported to the US for its laying ability but used initially for commercial meat as well, it has been further selected and refined so that an average Leghorn hen lays about 280 eggs per year. For this reason, most white egg-laying battery hens and research animals are strains of white leghorn.
Single combed Brown Leghorn Hen
The Brown Leghorn has wild-type coloring and is well-camouflaged. It is said to be a fantastic forager and able to subsist off of pasture only and keep laying. Also like most Mediterranean breeds, the Leghorn is flighty and skittish. Leghorn breeders have selected against broodiness to increase egg laying. Leghorns have also become lighter and are not generally used for meat today. Pullets mature quickly and continue to lay for many years.
Leghorns lay many large, white eggs
I chose Rose Combed Brown Leghorns because I want a pretty, prolific white egg-layer. I have only two of my original six eggs still developing. They were set with my Easter clutch and should hatch Saturday, April 7th. I really hope I get one girl!
For more information about Brown Leghorns and Leghorns in general, please see:
September 8, 2012 Update: Here is a picture of my one little Brown Leghorn chick which hatched and another of her now, nearing point of lay. You can see how her rose comb differs from the single combs of most Leghorns.