Leghorn chickens: description and characterization, maintenance, feeding and care

In the world there are a large number of breeds that are very difficult to calculate. However, among this large variety stands out such a breed as Leghorn, which is one of the best laying hens. This article will help you learn a lot more about Leghorn chickens and their content.

History of breed origin

Leghorn chickens were bred in the 19th century by Spanish breeders. They got their name in honor of the port city of Livorno. However, due to low productivity and poor adaptation, the breed did not receive special popularity. Despite this, leggorn chickens were exported to England, and then to the United States. These birds attracted the attention of American breeders, who later by crossing with different breeds could significantly increase productivity.

Did you know? In 1979, a test at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture set a record for laying eggs among leggors. The white leggorn laying hens laid 371 eggs, which is 7 more than the previous record.

After analyzing the results of their work, poultry farmers came to the conclusion that the Spanish breed has great potential and already in 1874 the first data of this breed were recorded. From that moment, the standard was revised several times and made additions and amendments. At the end of the 19th century, an improved version of the leggorn chickens began to be exported from the USA to Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was well distributed.

Many European breeders continued to improve this species, and as a result a large number of different subtypes appeared. In addition, they were used as genetic material to increase the productivity of many local breeds and breed new species. Leghors were brought into the Soviet Union only in the 1920s. Only a small percentage of the total poultry production fell on the breeding of this breed. The situation changed in the 60s, when there was worldwide demand for poultry.

Find out how many chickens live at home.

During this period, an innovative breeding system was introduced, which made it possible to increase the production of leggorn chickens in a short period of time. However, not only the USSR was actively engaged in the production of this breed. The global growth of the poultry industry is associated with the Leghorn chickens, who became the founders of many crosses in many countries around the world.


Due to the sufficiently large age of this breed and the numerous experiments of breeders around the world, there are no clear standards for leggorn. In addition, in the 20th century, many regional varieties were bred, which led to the formation in each country of its own standard of the Leghorn breed, which is based on inbreeding subtypes.

The most popular subspecies of leggorn in the world:

  • white is the most common variety. They are often grown in the northern and southern latitudes, as they adapt well and are not whimsical to the conditions of detention and nutrition. In addition, they are able to rush for more than 200 days annually, for which they are appreciated by poultry farmers. Biological material of this variety was used to breed other breeds;

  • brown - this subspecies is often also called Italian partridge chickens. They, like white leghorns, are egg-bearing breeds, however, in these feathered males and females differ significantly in their plumage. The males are quite bright - a golden neck and a large spreading tail, and the females look dull against the background of the males;

  • Cuckoo-partridge - males of this species of leggorn have a light shade neck, black tail and brown back. Their plumage has inclusions of white and silver color, which create a mottled color. Females have brown breasts, and the back and tail are black. The plumage has a smooth transition from brown to black; there are inclusions only in the area of ​​the wings and withers. Females rush well, but the size of the egg is smaller than that of other subspecies;

  • golden th - appreciated for its decorative appearance and high performance. One layer is able to lay about 265 eggs per year;

  • spotted - the representatives of this subspecies plumage has a rare black and white color, for which they received the second name Dalmatians. This species of leggorn was bred in 1904 and gained popularity very quickly, because in addition to the unusual coloring, their egg laying rates are at a fairly high level;

  • dwarf - very often they are called mini. They are in no way inferior to their adult relatives, however, they consume about 40% less feed and need a small space for keeping, which makes them quite popular among poultry farmers.

Appearance characteristic

In our region, the most popular are the white leghors, which are often used in household plots. However, in Russia there are more than 20 specialized poultry farms that are engaged in the cultivation of this breed exclusively. The appearance of roosters and hens varies somewhat. The most striking feature that is characteristic of all varieties is the comb. In roosters it stands straight, and in laying hens hangs.

Check out the features of the anatomical structure of the chicken.

The appearance of these birds is quite compact, since they have a small wedge-shaped body, which gracefully rises above the ground. The head is proportional to the body. Blue or white earlobes are clearly visible on it. The iris of the eyes may be dark orange or pale yellow; its color depends on the age of the birds. Chicken earrings are large and have a bright red hue. The neck of these birds smoothly bends. Leghorns have large round breasts and a broad, flat back. The chest is pushed forward and smoothly passes into a wide belly. The wings of birds are small and fit snugly to the body.

In leghorns, the tail is inclined to the body at an angle of 35–40 °. Most often they show off only roosters, since laying hens are often lowered down. The legs of the hens are thin, of medium length. In young individuals, they are yellow, and whiten with age. However, the metatarsus is bright yellow or wheat yellow. The plumage is dense. Although the most common is white, brown or black and white, black, silver and even blue shades can be found, because Leghorns have more than 20 different variations.

Description of appearance:

Headmedium sized
Crestleaf-shaped, red
Beakstrong, short, yellow
Necklong, thin, slightly curved
Chestround, wide and forward
Wingssmall, tight to the body
Tailwide, slightly tilted
Pawsmedium length, thin
Plumage and colordense, more than 20 colors

Productive qualities

For two centuries of breeding, the productivity of this species has been significantly increased. Breeders tried to increase early maturity and egg production. As a result, they were able to achieve maturation in 4–4.5 months. Hens begin to hatch already in 4.5–5 months and in a year they are able to lay 300–350 eggs. For different regions, this indicator can fluctuate, so the average value is often indicated by 220–240 eggs per year. Egg weight varies depending on the subspecies of Leghorn and is 55–58 g. However, in some crosses the weight of the egg can reach 65 g. In addition, depending on the variety of cross, there may be a different shell color.

Often this shell has a white shell, but since there is a great demand for brown eggs in the world, crosses were bred for which such a shell is characteristic. For breeders, indicators such as the percentage of fertilized eggs and hatchability of young animals are very important. If you take 100 eggs, then there will be no more than 95 pieces fertilized from them. And no more than 87 chickens hatch from these, as the hatching percentage does not exceed 87–92%. Unfortunately, the difficulties do not end there, because of the Leghorn mothers are very bad, because they have no maternal instinct.

Did you know? In 1956, a leggorn laying hen laid a 454 g weight egg, which had a double shell and two yolks.

Therefore, for effective excretion, it is best to use incubators. And in those rare cases when laying hens show a brood instinct, producers try to get rid of such individuals immediately. It is important for poultry farmers to know the weight of live chicken and rooster, as well as the yield and quality of meat. Leghorns, like egg breeds, are characterized by small dimensions: a rooster - not more than 3 kg, a laying hen - up to 2 kg. When slaughtering these birds, the yield is very small and therefore they can be used only as a soup set, well, no matter how for the fillet. In addition, their meat is hard, coarse and tasteless, and also dry.


This breed is characterized by peaceful calm temperament, however, it has increased activity. Free walking is more optimal for them than the cellular content. If you decide to keep the leggorn in the fence, then you should think about a net that will not allow birds to fly up and protect against birds of prey.

Although these chickens are characterized by unpretentiousness in keeping, however, this should not be abused, since under unfavorable conditions of keeping the birds are prone to pecking.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • pros
  • rapid puberty (4–4.5 months);
  • start to lay eggs early (at 4.5–5 months);
  • increased egg production (up to 300 eggs);
  • easily adaptable and at the same time quite unpretentious to the conditions of detention;
  • have a calm and complaisant character;
  • well tolerate negative temperatures;
  • high rates of hatchability of young animals;
  • low feed costs;
  • attractive appearance.

  • Minuses
  • a sharp decrease in egg production in the second year of life;
  • lack of brooding instinct;
  • low meat yield.

How to keep Leggorn breed?

Although these birds are undemanding to the conditions of their maintenance, they should not be neglected. After all, proper care will significantly improve the effectiveness of the bird. So, let's figure out where and under what conditions it is necessary to contain the Leghorn breed.

Important! Leghorn chickens can be kept in cages, which will be quite spacious. This content is most often used in industry.

Arrangement of a chicken coop

According to many poultry farmers, special conditions are not required for this breed of chickens, the main thing is that they are protected from loud sounds and bright light, which can cause stress in birds. As a chicken coop, even a barn or other non-residential premises can come up. The room for this breed should be spacious enough, as the cramped space can cause the disease of birds.

A good adaptation allows you to easily transfer both winter in the southern regions and in the northern ones. When arranging the place of detention, special attention should be paid to the absence of drafts, and also to prevent sudden jumps and lowering the temperature of less than + 5ºС. To eliminate drafts and maintain a temperate climate in the chicken coop, insulation of walls and ceilings will help. The use of high-quality insulating material will significantly save on heating.

If the walls and ceiling can be sheathed, then thick litter must be used to insulate the floor. To do this, straw, sawdust or hay is suitable. The thickness of such a flooring should be at least 50 cm. This will protect the herd from various diseases and maintain high egg production. In winter, it will be a good protection against the cold. As an overnight stay for chickens, it is necessary to equip reliable and comfortable perches, which can be easily grasped.

Read also about how to build a chicken coop with your own hands in the country.

To do this, the wooden base is turned round, and the diameter is selected in accordance with the circumference of the paws. The poles are fixed at a height of 80 cm from the floor. Choose the side opposite from the window. On the same side, nests are located just below. In addition, it is necessary to monitor air quality, it should be moderately dry and moist. The minimum permissible value of air humidity should not be less than 45%, and the maximum - more than 65%. A humid climate for the chicken coop becomes a favorable environment for the development of pathogens.

Also, do not forget about cleanliness. It is necessary to clean the chicken coop regularly so that the feathers of the leggorn always remain clean. To do this, once a few days carry out the cleaning of perches and nests. Once every 14 days, the old litter is removed and replaced with a new one, however many poultry farmers replace the litter as necessary. And once a quarter they carry out a complete disinfection of the premises and general cleaning of the premises. Do not forget about the place of walking.

For its arrangement, an outdoor area is best suited, which will be reliably protected not only from various predatory animals, but also from birds. It is also worth remembering that the light weight of the leghorns makes it easy to overcome obstacles 1.5 meters high. The presence of green spaces in the walking area will positively affect the health of birds. This will allow you to replenish nutrient reserves during a walk. Do not forget that the birds love to swarm, so it is worth considering the presence of ash baths and sand.

Important! During the period of active egg laying, it is necessary to minimize the noise background, since the birds are very sensitive to loud noises.

Nest arrangement

The arrangement of the nest is important for this breed, because egg laying depends on it. Nests must be placed at a certain distance from the ground so that cold air does not enter the hens. The number of nests is determined by the number of laying hens in the chicken coop, so one nest will be enough for several chickens. As a litter, a thick layer of hay or grass grass is laid in the nest, which is periodically replaced as it becomes soiled and compacted.

Feeding troughs and drinking bowls

Do not forget about drinking bowls and feeders, the designs of which are also important. For birds, there is no particular meaning from what to drink or eat, the main thing is that their quantity and contents in them are sufficient for all individuals. However, poultry farmers need to know that there are certain requirements for these elements of the chicken coop.

You will also be interested to learn how to make a bunker chicken feeder with your own hands.

The requirements for feeders for all types of chickens are the same:

  • the design of the feeder should not allow birds to climb into it and scatter the feed, as well as protect its contents from ingestion of excrement;
  • practical to use (there are no problems with filling, during washing, light weight, which makes it easy to move);
  • optimal dimensions that allow you to eat the whole livestock at the same time.
When choosing a feeder, you must remember that the depth of the tray should be 5–10 cm, and the length should be proportional to the number of chickens, with at least 10–15 cm allocated to one individual.

Drinker Requirements:

  • the design of the drinking bowl should be convenient for both hens and poultry farmers;
  • easy to wash and fill;
  • Do not tip over;
  • the probability of ingestion or reproduction of pathogens is excluded;
  • must be safe for birds: without sharp edges, without the release of chemicals.

As drinkers, you can use both nipple drinkers, and home-made drinkers from plastic bottles, vacuum or even open containers. The first version of drinking bowls is the most optimal option for the industrial cultivation of leghorns, however, in private households they have been very popular lately.

Did you know? For normal life, one chicken needs to drink at least 0.5 liters of water per day.

Ventilation and lighting

The air in the chicken coop should not stagnate, so it must be updated regularly. The room should be regularly ventilated so that the birds do not get poisoned as a result of exposure to ammonia or other harmful substances that are released during the decay of the litter. To organize a chicken coop, a ventilation system should be provided.

However, it must be remembered that it must meet certain requirements:

  • the ventilation system controls the rate of air renewal in the room;
  • removes vapors of ammonia and other vapors;
  • allows you to control the temperature in the room.

In winter, when it is cold enough outside, fresh air should be dosed, as there is a possibility of overcooling the chicken coop. For this, an automated air supply system is used during installation, and the supply channels are equipped with grills with adjustable openings. However, if leghorns are kept in a small chicken coop, natural ventilation will be sufficient, that is, regular ventilation 2 times a day. The chicken coop needs additional lighting.

Not only the health of birds depends on it, but also their productivity. In the absence of light, the probability of injury to chickens increases, and the aggressiveness of birds increases. For normal life, daylight hours of birds should be at least 8-10 hours, and a day duration of 12 hours will increase egg production by 30%. The need for an additional light source arises in winter, when it grows late and gets dark early.

Read more about what lighting should be in the chicken coop.

When organizing lighting in the chicken coop, remember:

  • the length of daylight hours depends on the age of the birds;
  • учитывается также тип света: использование красно-оранжевого освещения позитивно сказывается на репродуктивных свойствах, а вот жёлтый спектр способствует уменьшению яйцекладке, но увеличивает вес яиц;
  • для освещения могут использоваться люминесцентные, светодиодные, энергосберегающие или другие типы ламп: одной лампы накаливания мощностью в 60 Вт достаточно для освещения площади в 6 м²;
  • высота размещения ламп должна быть не менее 2 м;
  • элементы проводки должны быть безопасны для животных.
Продолжительность ночи для леггорнов должна быть не менее 8 часов. Очень удобно для освещения использовать реле с временным таймером, которое будет автоматически включать и выключать освещение в курятнике.


Леггорны кушают мало, однако для поддержания высокой продуктивности корм должен быть сбалансированным.

Рацион состоит из трёх приёмов пищи:

  • утром и вечером — зерновые культуры (пшеница и ячмень);
  • в обед — мешанка с добавлением корнеплодов, фруктов и зелени.

Для нормального развития в питании леггорнов должны присутствовать минеральные и витаминных добавки, соль, мел и известь. Процесс пищеварения улучшает наличие измельчённого ракушечника. Летом ценным источником питательных элементов является зелень, которую регулярно дают, зимой же, когда птица испытывает дефицит витаминов, в мешанку можно добавлять травяную муку или сушёную траву, предварительно заготовленную летом.

Рекомендуем вам узнать сколько корма в сутки нужно давать курице-несушке.

Не стоит забывать про чистую воду, которая должна быть всегда в свободном доступе для пернатых. Тёплая вода в холодное время года позитивно сказывается на формировании яиц.

Herd replacement planned

При разведении этой яйценоской породы необходимо помнить, что высокая продуктивность сохраняется только в первый год жизни. Именно поэтому ежегодно следует проводить замену стада, т. е. сразу после окончания пиковой яйценоскости. В домашних условиях поголовье леггорнов обновляют в зависимости от потребностей птицеводов, однако стоит помнить, что продуктивность этих птиц ежегодно существенно падает.

Shedding and egg laying break

Для всех пернатых характерна сезонная линька, которая сопровождается перерывом в яйцекладке. Однако снижение показателей яйценоскости не касается итальянских кур. В холодное время года леггорны несутся не так активно. Для восстановления продуктивности птицеводы стимулируют принудительную линьку у несушек.

Узнайте сколько дней длится линька у кур несушек.

Ускорить процесс можно сократив световой день. Для начинающих птицеводов имеет важное значение вопрос сколько несутся эти пернатые. В среднем яйценоскость для леггорнов на высоком уровне сохраняется на протяжении 200 дней и более в году.

Breeding chickens

При разведении этих пернатых могут возникнуть проблемы с обновлением поголовья, так как у несушек отсутствует материнский инстинкт. К счастью для современных птицеводов существуют инкубаторы, которые значительно облегчают данную проблему. Инкубационный период у леггорнов составляет 27–28 дней. Молодое потомство отличается превосходным здоровьем, хорошей выживаемостью (87–92%) и быстрыми темпами роста.

Вам будет интересно узнать как выводить цыплят в инкубаторе в домашних условиях.

С 15-дневного возраста начинают проявляться половые признаки:

  • у петухов гребень приобретает ярко-розовый оттенок, а после 20 дней становится насыщенно красным. Гребень несушек остаётся бледно-жёлтого цвета;
  • оперение у самцов имеет насыщенные оттенки, а у курочек оно имеет однотонный цвет.

Feeding and care

После проклёвывания цыплят держат в тёплом помещении, где температура не опускается ниже +30ºС, на протяжении 5 дней. В дальнейшем температурный режим постепенно уменьшают, так, чтобы к 2-месячному возрасту он был на уровне +19…+20ºС. Особое внимание необходимо уделить освещению. Продолжительность дня в первые 7 дней должна составлять 20 часов, постепенно его длительность сокращают до 18 часов.

Did you know? Использование лампочек сине-зелёного спектра способствует более быстрому росту молодняка.

Через 7 дней с момента появления на свет, цыплят можно выпустить на первую прогулку. При этом следует выгуливать молодняк на зелёной лужайке, когда солнце хорошо прогреет землю, но не будет припекать. Длительность такой прогулки составляет 15–20 минут. Постепенно время прогулки увеличивают, а в 2-месячном возрасте окрепших птенцов можно оставить на целый день. С месячного возраста цыплят выпускают к взрослым курам, давая возможность адаптироваться. К 2-месячным птенцам относятся как взрослым.

Рацион цыплят состоит из измельчённого яйца, зелени и круп, которые смешиваются в расчёте на один приём пищи. В качестве измельчённой зелени можно использовать лук, крапиву или ботву одуванчиков. Через 15 минут после того как дали такую мешанку, необходимо удалить все остатки корма из кормушек и помыть. Это позволит защитить птенцов от расстройства кишечника. Для цыплят можно также использовать стартовые кормы. С 2-недельного возраста в рацион можно добавить дрожжи, рыбий жир, кисломолочные продукты, богатые на кальций, и корнеплоды.

Important! Запрещено кормить цыплят цельным зерном, сырым мясом или мокрой прокисшей мешанкой.

Также можно использовать добавлять измельчённую скорлупу. Сбалансированное питание должно быть богатым на содержание витаминов. Так пекарские дрожжи богаты на содержание витаминов группы В, а в моркови имеется витамин А. В возрасте 21 день птенцам можно давать капусту, которая богата на витамины К, РР и С. В первые 3 недели цыплят кормят до 6 раз в день, в дальнейшем частоту кормления уменьшают до 3. Начиная с месяца молодое потомство переводят на рацион взрослых кур.


Вопрос вакцинации играет важную роль для выращивания здорового потомства. Необходимо точно знать когда и от чего прививать цыплят. Сразу после проклёва цыплят необходимо привить от болезни Марека. Вакцинацию вводят подкожно или внутримышечно. С первого дня начинают давать препараты от Ньюкаслской болезни и инфекционного бронхита, которые дают с водой или закапывают в глаза или ноздри.

В 7 или 17 дней проводят двукратную вакцинацию от болезни Гамборо. Вакцину дают вмести с жидкостью. В дальнейшем вакцинацию производят согласно графику вакцинации. В процессе выращивания куры должны получить вакцины от сальмонеллы, микроплазмоза, бурсита, ринотрахеита или кокцидиоза.

Possible diseases and their prevention

Куры породы леггорн отличаются крепким здоровьем, поэтому болеют они довольно редко, особенно если соблюдены все условия по содержанию. Единственной проблемой, с которой могут столкнуться птицеводы, является шумовая истерия.

Ознакомьтесь с болезнями ног и глаз у кур.

Симптомами данного заболевания является:

  • повышенная агрессивность (сильно шумят и активно машут крыльями);
  • проявление признаков расклёвывания;
  • междоусобные драки;
  • снижение продуктивности.

Для облегчения симптоматики необходимо снизить уровень шума, создать оптимальные условия содержания и сменить освещение в курятнике на красный спектр, так как такое освещение успокаивает и стимулирует яйцекладку. Если не соблюдать санитарно-гигиенические условия содержания кур, то может развиться туберкулёз. Для данного заболевания характерно поражение всех внутренних органов.

Симптомами туберкулёза у домашней птицы может быть:

  • weight loss;
  • decrease in activity;
  • снижение яйцекладки до полного её прекращения;
  • окраска гребешка бледнеет;
  • серёжки сморщиваются.

К сожалению, данное заболевание вылечить невозможно, поэтому больную птицу убивают. В качестве профилактики следует регулярно убирать в курятнике. Ещё одно заболевание, с которым могут встретиться птицеводы, это воспаление и выпадение яйцевода. Если его не лечить, то несушка может погибнуть. При развитии этой болезни яйцевод воспаляется, опухает и выпадает из клоаки.

Important! Возможно воспаление яйцевода при развитии инфекции, в таком случае ветврач прописывает курс антибиотиков.

Определить её развитие можно обнаружив следующие симптомы:

  • несушки постоянно поносят, отчего их состояние становится только хуже;
  • перья вокруг клоаки грязные;
  • появление воспалённых тканей в области клоаки.
Лечение затрудняется, так как есть непосредственное воздействие внешних факторов и возбудителей. Вылечить данное заболевание можно с помощью промывания тёплой водой, 2% раствором квасцов или танина, и вправлением яйцевода. Вправлять его необходимо очень аккуратно, предварительно воспользовавшись вазелином. При повторном выпадении такую несушку необходимо забить.

Куры породы леггорн отличаются высокой яйценоскостью, при этом достаточно неприхотливы в содержании. Затраты на них минимальны и достаточно быстро окупаются, ведь эти пернатые растут быстро и потребляют мало. Одним существенным недостатком является отсутствие инстинкта наседки, однако высокая популярность данной породы позволяют купить яйца для инкубатора или цыплят в любое время годы без особых проблем.

Видео: куры породы Леггорн

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