Leghorns are probably the most common commercial egg layers. They may not be the nicest, cuddliest breed on this list. A few owners have described them as flighty and edgy, while others swear that their Leghorns are nothing but calm and tame. But these Italians lay almost as many eggs as there are days in the year, so they are worth at least a look.

Due to Leghorns’ unreliable temperament, I may be stretching things a bit to put them on this list. But if you are less concerned with a cuddly pet and just want a bird that can handle backyard confinement while laying huge numbers of eggs, then Leghorns are still a good choice. Hatching them from eggs or handling chicks at an early age may improve their social skills around people.

Leghorns are named for the city of Livorno (Leghorn in English) in Tuscany, Italy. Leghorns were developed near the horn on Italy’s geographic boot and first exported in 1828. Since then, they have become a commercial success. Breeders have continued to refine the breed’s characteristics and use it to bring prolific egg laying qualities to other crosses.

White Leghorn Facts

Size

Medium sized breed, with hens reaching 4.5-5.5 pounds.

Coloring

White, black, and brown are the original standard colors, but today there are more than a dozen variations. Most commonly, the birds are all white with pink combs and wattles.

Eggs

They lay huge quantities of big, white eggs. The typical white eggs you see in the supermarket were probably produced by Leghorns.

Nature

It seems to vary with the bird. They can handle confinement and generally do well in backyards. But some owners see them as nervous and edgy, while others describe their Leghorns are calm and tame.

Notes

1) White Leghorns can lay as many as 300 eggs per year. Other colors of this breed may turn out to be less prolific, since they have been bred for their looks rather than egg production.
2) These birds can have large, droopy combs (some seem to have larger ones than others). In wintertime, keep these areas from getting frostbitten by rubbing them with petroleum jelly. Note the floppy combs in the following picture of a Leghorn flock.

White Leghorn Overview