Hatching This Week: Brown Leghorns

By Acarrick0 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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 colorsBrown 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.

By Thaddeus Quintin from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA (And then there was one.) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

By cyclonebill (Æg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

4 thoughts on “Hatching This Week: Brown Leghorns

  1. Pingback: Which Rooster? « Scratch Cradle

  2. Leghorns come in so many beautiful varieties! They are a very independent mind-their-own-business kind of breed and do so very well free-ranging. Had one white Leghorn I rescued but had to rehome her when she suddenly got aggressive with flockmates after 2 years. She lays the most beautiful large snow-white eggs. Currently we have a Buff Leghorn who lays slightly smaller pink eggs but is just as prolific as the White layer. Leghorns are lightweight but hold their own very well in a mixed flock of larger breeds. I would not advise them mixed with bantams. Otherwise, a delightful breed to own. The RC Brown is one of the most stunning hens. Sandhill Preservation ranks their Buff Leghorn as their 10th best layer which is why I happened to choose Buff over the Light or Dark Brown when I got a new hen. The Light Browns almost look identical to the Welsummers. Pretty birds!

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