Leghorn Chickens
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About Leghorn ChickensAbout Leghorn Chickens



The breed Livorno or “Italian chicken” is known as “Leghorn” all over the world. The origin is not so clear, probably from Central Italy, obtained from the selection of light chicken reared in Tuscany countryside. The name comes from the harbour from which, in 1828, some flocks have been sent to North America. (In the world there are many stocks of Leghorn: Italian L., Dutch L., English L., Danish L., German Italiener, American L., Canadian L.)

In 1874 was added to the American Standard of Perfection in its white, black and brown livery. The white specimen was most of all selected as layer. Later on, the Leghorn came back to Europe from America, landing at U.K. in 1870 and back to Italy again. In England they still have a standard very similar to the specimen they received from U.S.A. but this kind of bird is very different from present chickens.

In 1886 the American Poultry Association recognised the rose-mottled Leghorn.

The Leghorn is an excellent layer of eggs with white shell. The white Leghorn can reach mean production of 280 eggs a year, with peaks of 300-320 eggs. This breed is world wide spread with different colours of livery. The Livorno chicken has a typical Mediterranean body shape, slim, lively and strong, with elegant temper. Early feathering, fast growth, poor broodiness.

It was only recently that Italian breeders were enabled to refer to the Italian standard of the Livorno's native type.

The Italiener (German stock) is included in the “Italian Standard of Perfection” with a specific typology, different from the Livorno.

Before the publication of the “Standard book”, all the animals included as Livorno were judged using the Standard of Italiener (German stock), probably because of the large presence of German flocks. This went against the selection of the Livorno native type, so that the German selection of the Italian chickens - the Italiener - became the only strain to be found in Italy. According to F. Focardi (Scientific Committee of the Italian Standard Book) the Livorno is the only breed which has been added in the Standard of many Countries with different strain; strangely none of those Countries recognise the Livorno native type. This breed is officially recognised in Italy.

The native Livorno is a leaner and taller breed compared to the Italiener selected in Germany. The neck is carried upright and slightly arched, which confers to the bird a lively and alert appearance. Even the temper is different: the Livorno is quieter than Italiener (German stock). The tail is carried with an angle of 40-45° in the male and 30-35° in the female.

The main tail feathers are quite opened and regularly arranged. In the cock the sickles are rounded and they cover the main tail feathers. The body has the shape of a cylinder, of medium length, slightly sloping towards the rump.

Wings are worn closed and very tight to the body, with horizontal inferior line. The legs are longer than in the Italiener, The shanks are fine-boned, of a beautiful deep yellow (orange traces are admitted); 4 toes. Yellow skin. The abdomen is well developed, especially in the female, which is a good layer. All the livery is tight to the body, with ample and soft feathers.

The head is well shaped. The beak is proportioned to the head and yellow (dark traces are accepted on the edge, only in varieties Barred, Blue and Black). Eyes are big and lively, red-orange. Single comb, of medium size, carried erected in the male, and folded after the second point in the female. Five-pointed, with a quite ample base, regularly distributed on the comb blade, radial to the eyes. They must be erect, not leaning backwards.

A 4 or 6-pointed comb can be considered a good one. The comb blade follows the neckline without touching it. The wattles are red, oval-shaped, of medium length, without any horizontal or vertical wrinkle.

The face is red and smooth. The earlobes are white, oval-shaped, smooth, with no trace of red.

The livery is shining and iridescent in each variety. The White Livorno is the most common. It’s frequently used to create hybrids with layers or white hybrids for the production of meat. Other varieties are: Barred, Blue, Silver Duck-wings, Orange Duckwing, Black Red, Buff, Black, Pyle.

The most common defects are: a morphology too similar to Italiener (German stock), erect comb in female or wrong shape of the points; too long or opened wattles, yellow earlobes or red spotted earlobes.

Content and photo source: Agraria.org

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