The best part of keeping chickens is access to fresh eggs daily. But before you go off buying just any chicken breed, you might want to do a little research. Not all hens lay to the same standards. You wouldn’t want to get an entire flock of hens that only lay 1-2 eggs a week. Today we are going to focus on one fantastic chicken breed, the White Leghorn. Are White Leghorn chickens the best egg layers? We think so. Keep reading to find out why.
What Are White Leghorn Chickens?
White Leghorns are the iconic white chickens with bright red wattles and combs. These beautiful birds originally come from Italy, and like all things Italian, they are the best of the best. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Leghorn doesn’t sound too Italian. That’s because they were initially named “Italians.” But when they were brought over to America, their names were changed to reflect Livorno, Italy, where they came from. Of course, the Anglo-Saxon name doesn’t do it justice. But no matter because it doesn’t change the excellent breed they are.
We will cut to the chase here and tell you that you will be amazed by these eggers. They are arguably one of the best egg layers of any chicken breed. White Leghorns lay four or more eggs per week, starting at a young age. All of which averages 280 eggs per year. In some cases, you can even expect 300 or more eggs a year.
And unlike other hens, these birds start strong. With a few leghorns, you will be swimming in eggs! You will never have to worry about running out of eggs with these hens. You could even use a few to bribe your neighbors. Or make beautiful egg baskets for everyone in your family.
White Leghorn Hen Laying Age
You can start to expect all of these eggs as soon as 16 weeks old. While many hens don’t start until 20-22 weeks, your hens will begin around 16-18 weeks. And unlike other egg-laying chickens, the White Leghorn doesn’t slow down. You will not notice a drop in egg production well after 3-4 years old. That means a single White Leghorn can give you over 1,000 eggs in her lifetime, which is outstanding! Most chickens slow down around this time and only produce a few eggs a week.
All of these eggs are great, but what quality are they? White Leghorn chickens produce exceptional eggs throughout their laying years. Once your Leghorn starts laying eggs, they start at about 2 ounces. Two ounces is a considerable size for a hen that has never laid before. And they only get larger from there. Once your hen has the hang of it, they are more than capable of producing extra-large eggs several days a week.
White Leghorn egg color is a bright classic white with a rich taste. The taste of your fresh White Leghorn eggs is incomparable to any egg you can buy at the store. So are White Leghorn Chickens the best egg layers? We think so. But there is so much more to them that makes them perfect for your flock.
White Leghorn Temperament
Leghorns are known for their friendly demeanors. With lots of interaction, your Leghorn will see you as part of the flock. They make great pets as well as egg producers. Hens are also very mild-mannered, and roosters are very protective. The only complaint most owners have is getting a little noisy when they are excited, which happens a lot.
White Leghorn chickens might be sweet, but they are also scatterbrained. They run around all day, curious about everything they come into contact with. Their hyper tendencies are fascinating to watch. You can almost guess what they are questioning next by the way they look around their runs. And if you allow them to free-roam, they find almost anything to eat. Their impeccable foraging abilities are excellent for you because it means that they eat less feed, though it should always be available.
How Do They Do In Winter?
One of the best White Leghorn characteristics is that they do well in all weather. No matter if your area has extreme hot or cold, Leghorns will get through it all despite their small size. The White Leghorn chicken is even known to keep up egg production throughout the winter. So you never have to worry about a drop in egg availability.
The only thing you need to be cautious of is frostbite. White Leghorns have a larger comb than most chickens and can be susceptible to freezing temperatures, especially a White Leghorn rooster. So keep that Vasaline ready to prevent it. And with a few adjustments with ventilation, your chickens will do perfectly fine in the winter.
What Are The Downsides To Having White Leghorns?
We love almost everything about the White Leghorn. But as with all breeds, there is a downside you should consider. Most of these drawbacks aren’t deal breakers for most owners; they are something to think about.
Not Meat Producers
While White Leghorn chickens are fantastic eggers, they don’t produce a lot of meat. Most Leghorns are skinny and not worth the time it takes to raise them for meat. It’s best to leave them to lay eggs for a living. But this isn’t much of a problem for most backyard chicken owners since butchering usually happens at 8-9 months old. And that’s right when your hens are producing the best eggs of their lives.
Don’t Go Broody
White Leghorns also don’t go broody very often, so breeding them can be difficult. Getting the mating process going is no big deal. But once your hens lay, they don’t incubate the eggs themselves. So if having White Leghorn chicks is your goal, you should have an incubator and brooder ready. Breeding your own Leghorns might end up more expensive to start with, but most supplies are one time purchases. So once you get the hang of it, you could easily breed your own in no time.
Did we mention that Leghorns are very loud? They quickly get excited and become vocal about what they do. Whether they are scared, happy, or exploring something new, you and all your neighbors will know. Most urban areas are not as accommodating for these chickens compared to rural areas. Your neighbors might not be as forgiving when your hens squawk in the early mornings to get out the coop.
You will want to keep your coop as far away from the house as possible. And if you do have neighbors, you should be courteous to them as well.
You will quickly find that your White Leghorn chicken is more active than other breeds. And without lots of enrichment, they get bored quickly. A bored chicken could mean trouble. They will start to scratch around in places they shouldn’t and explore dangerous things. Some might even take to picking at other hens and pulling feathers if they don’t have anything to do. You will need to be sure that the foraging areas are kept up with well, and allow them to free-roam as much as possible.
But the upside to needing all of this enrichment is that it aides in egg production. Your hens are excellent foragers, and in turn, your eggs will be nice and creamy. The more varied a hens diet is, the better the eggs will look and taste.
Great At Flying
You might not think flying is a con, but once you try to catch one, you will see why. If your chicken doesn’t want to be caught, they are quick and fly away at extraordinary heights for a chicken. It also means that your chickens can easily fly over fences and into trees. Making it more challenging to keep them contained and out of trouble.
White Leghorn Rooster vs Hen
So, are White Leghorn Chickens the best egg layers? All evidence points to yes! Now all you need to do is choose between a rooster or a hen. Obviously, having a few White Leghorn hens will give you a ton of eggs, but is there a benefit to males?
For one, White Leghorn males are very protective of their hens. They don’t let them go far without him and warn everyone of any predators that come close. But they aren’t so defensive that they won’t let you come near. Your rooster will be gentle and sometimes even affectionate towards you. All of which are perfect qualities you want in a rooster.
Another benefit of having a Leghorn roo is the potential of cross-breeding. If you have dabbled in hybrid birds, you understand the great potential here. You could cross your Leghorn with a hen to produce a breed with remarkable characteristics. Your ideal hen might be a hybrid that you will breed for over and over again.
Are You A Fan?
Are White Leghorn chickens the best egg layers? You tell us. They lay 280 eggs all year round. Leghorns have a fantastic temperament. And they lay eggs consistently for 3-4 years. What more could you want from your hens? If you get a White Leghorn chicken to add to your flock, you will not be disappointed. She will quickly become your favorite, and you will want more.