About 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
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.
(German stock) is included in the “Italian Standard of Perfection” with a
specific typology, different from the Livorno.
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.
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.
photo source: Agraria.org