Purebred chickens are always very popular with poultry houses, one of these breeds is Leghorn chickens. The direction of their breeding is egg. High productivity, excellent characteristics, ease of care make these chickens very popular. Very often they are used for crossing with other varieties to obtain hybrids, crosses, new breeds, since the quality of the genetic material is very valuable.
Leghorn chickens were bred in the Italian city of Livorno. They did not immediately demonstrate good performance indicators, therefore, they did not receive wide distribution at the initial stage of hatching. In the early 19th century, birds were brought to the American continent, where breeders were looking for interesting breeds to cross. Leghorns were used to breed crosses with fast maturation and the highest egg production. They crossed them with fighting, Spanish breeds.
From that time on, Leghorns began to gain real popularity among breeders in many countries of the world, which led to the spread of birds throughout Europe. In the 20th century, Leghorns appeared in the Russian state, when the popularity of chickens reached its peak. In the USSR, white leghorns are most widespread. Modern poultry farming is very willing to breed Leghorns both in farmsteads and in industry.
The Leghorn subspecies are more popular than their main historical species. It should be noted that modern poultry farming does not abandon attempts to improve the breed and continues to work on crossing.
The external features of the breed make it easy to distinguish Leghorns from other representatives of poultry of this species:
- the body is harmoniously developed, all parts are proportional;
- foliate crest, juicy in color, deep red;
- the comb of a rooster is of an erect type, in chickens it is hanging;
- the neck is rather thin, elongated;
- yellowish or blue earlobes;
- the wings are large enough;
- the legs are elongated, in chickens they are yellowish, in mature chickens they are snow-white;
- the back is arched;
- the chest is convex, wide;
- the belly is large;
- the size of the bird is compact, small.
All these features make it easy to distinguish Leghorn in a crowd of chickens of different breeds.
The age of a bird is determined as follows: by the color of the limbs and pupils. The iris of mature birds is light, yellowish, while that of chicks is dark orange. As for the colors, the most popular variety is snow-white; there are also leghorns of spotted, brown and golden colors. In the middle of the century, a breed of chickens was bred, the color of which was distinguished by a cuckoo-partridge color. The productivity of the breed has very good indicators. Experts highlight the following points:
- representatives of this breed are bred only for egg purposes;
- the weight of birds ranges from 2 to 2.6 kg, depending on gender;
- sexual maturity is reached about 5 months, egg production begins around this time;
- the average annual clutch of eggs is 300 pieces;
- the rate of egg fertilization is high - more than 95 percent;
- the survival rate of chickens is about 90%.
The popularity of this breed of chickens is explained not only by good productivity, but also by a docile disposition, excellent profitability. Chickens are willingly bred both in poultry farms and in a home courtyard, since, from an economic point of view, this is very justified. Of course, there are both pros and cons, as with any of the breeds, but the advantages offset small disadvantages. The advantages include:
- a completely benevolent disposition and the ability to become attached to the owner alternate with pugnacity;
- high adaptability: they do not require too much maintenance, they tolerate temperature changes well, for example, they are not afraid of frost;
- early onset of egg production;
- large egg size;
- young animals survive well;
- from the first year, egg production is very high.
Among the disadvantages are:
- hens have no maternal instinct;
- after reaching two years, productivity decreases slightly;
- outbursts of aggression.
There are several varieties, hybrids and subspecies of the Leghorn breed, all of them were bred by artificial crossing.
A distinctive feature of this species is its resistance to climatic conditions. Regardless of whether they are kept hot or cold, these chickens are highly adaptable. They are very unpretentious in care and feeding. This is one of the most sought-after breeds in poultry farms and farms. They are bred in cages - they do not need free range.
They are also often called mini-chickens, as they are very compact in size. Dwarfism is perfectly inherited. The weight of an adult varies from 1.4 to 1.6 kg, depending on gender. At the same time, egg production is excellent, unpretentiousness is the same as that of large relatives. The color is predominantly white. Experts recommend placing mini-chickens in aviary poultry houses. They need very little food - almost half less than the usual varieties.
This subspecies was bred by breeders of the USSR back in the 80s. This variety was created for a long time and through the most severe selection. Thanks to this, the chicken has the following qualities: high egg-laying rates, early maturity, large eggs, solid exterior. Scientists used motley black australorpes to create the breed. As a result, this subspecies has an egg breeding direction, the number of snow-white or cream eggs reaches 220 pieces per year. Body weight reaches from 1.7 to 2.5 kg in a few months, egg fertilization is almost one hundred percent, and the survival rate is also very high. Immunity is excellent, appearance is attractive and marketable.
They have original plumage of white and black color, spotted type. They were bred at the very beginning of the 20th century, and at first this color was considered anomalous. Since then, this breed has been considered separate: spotted Leghorns do not combine with any genetic material, they are bred in pure form. Black spots, most likely, went to the chickens from the Black Minorca breed, which was used to create it. It is believed that this variety has some of the highest egg production rates.
This species differs from others in that already from the first days of life, the sex of the chicken is determined with accuracy. Males are lighter in color. This variety is not capricious, does not require special conditions in the content. The behavior is quite active, the character is peaceful, the productivity is high, the eggs are medium-sized, white-shell. Bird weight is about 3.5 kg.
This egg type is also called Italian. It is quite easy to distinguish them by sex from the first days, since the feathers of the males have a brilliant tint of a red-gold hue. A metallic sheen is present in the color of the belly, but the shade is black.
This is one of the most beautiful varieties, the decorative qualities of these chickens are very high, but productivity does not suffer from this in any way. With a compact size, chickens have an egg production rate of 260 eggs per year, weighing up to 60 grams. Carcass weight varies from 1.9 to 2.1 kg depending on gender.
The Russian white chicken is also worth mentioning. This is a separate breed of chickens, but it was bred on the basis of Leghorns, and they look very similar in appearance. Apart from looks, other characteristics also overlap in many ways.
Since this species of birds easily adapts to different conditions, their maintenance will not cause any particular difficulties to the owner. In this case, it is necessary to know and take into account some of the nuances that will allow avoiding mistakes in breeding. First of all, they are bred in both cages and standard poultry houses. They are considered shy, roosters can be aggressive. It happens that birds peck at each other, but they are very loyal to a person, if they are properly taught to the owner. To keep aggressive behavior to a minimum, you need to watch out for the following points:
- whether too many birds are located in one area;
- whether the hens are given protein-type feed in the required dosage;
- is it clean where the birds are kept;
- too much lighting.
In industrial production, the beak is most often trimmed; in a household, the following measures should be taken to avoid pecking by birds of each other:
- feed mixtures with protein content - at least a daily ration;
- turning off the lighting at night, using lamps with a dim type of light, matte lamps;
- do not exceed the norms for the quantitative content of birds: no more than 15 females per rooster;
- organization of leisure and proper nutrition, including large cuts of vegetables, fish heads in general;
- periodically provide free range;
- do not keep them in a common poultry yard with other birds.
If, nevertheless, the bird is pecked, it is necessary to move it out for a day, treat the wounds with an antiseptic with a smell that scares away other birds. The prevention of such behavior can be considered keeping in cages, it is impossible to place more than 3 individuals in them.
Chickens require a more careful attitude towards themselves, given the fact that in the process of selection, the incubation instinct in Leghorns was completely lost. This feature is necessary to ensure that the laying of eggs does not stop while the laying hen is incubating the eggs. Therefore, in the process of breeding, individuals with a desire to mess with offspring were rejected. To get chicks, eggs can be nested with other chickens that have a mother's instinct, or you can use an incubator.Eggs are selected without external shell defects, even, without cracks, spalling. Almost a month is spent on the hatching process. Since hatching and hatching rates are very high, this process is fairly straightforward. After the chick appears, at first it needs a high temperature - at least +30 C. The temperature is gradually reduced, bringing it to +19 by the monthly line.
Features of feeding chicks:
- the first five days, the chickens are fed with chopped eggs, semolina;
- on the sixth day, you can add chopped greens to this, boiled vegetables, crushed grain, cottage cheese;
- after the chicks turn 14 days old, they are fed with feed mixtures, which additionally include a vitamin and mineral complex, fish oil.
You also need to take care of containers with crushed gravel and shell rock. In the first month, the feeding regime is six times, by the end of the month - four times, then three times.
Adult birds feed mainly on grain mixtures of millet and barley in the mornings and evenings. During the day, they are given a mash of boiled potatoes, carrots, nettles and fruits with vitamins, salt and feed-type chalk. We must not forget about chalk, shell rock, greens, since the egg-type breeds need calcium. The egg production of Leghorns is at the highest level. We can say that this breed beats all existing records for the number of eggs per year from one layer. These indicators vary in the region of three hundred pieces, while the weight of eggs ranges from 55 to 70 grams. It should be noted that from the second year of life, the indicators begin to decline. The meat direction is not considered economically profitable, since the body weight of the bird is small - no more than 2.6 kg - and more often even less. In addition, experts consider the taste of meat to be rather mediocre.
Like any breed of chickens, Leghorns have both positive and negative qualities. Most of the owners' reviews are pretty good. Most of all positive responses are left about egg production and productivity in this direction. These chickens are great not only for providing a family with fresh eggs, but also for selling products. Since the maintenance costs are low, the profitability of such production is high. As a negative point, the need to constantly update the livestock and monitor aggressive behavior is mentioned. Most farmers agree that in the beginning it is not necessary to purchase an incubator - if there are already breeds of chickens with a brooding instinct, they are quite capable of hatching. Many people note that dwarf leghorns require very little food, and they produce a lot of eggs,which turns out to be very profitable at the exit.
For information on how to properly care for Leghorn chickens, see the next video.