The best-known Leghorn chicken is the white Leghorn, made famous in the United States by the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn who routinely protects his “fair barnyard flowers” from a comically small but feisty chicken hawk.
These chickens are a favorite among backyard chicken owners, who lay a whopping 5-6 eggs per week.
But you need to know what you’re getting into with each breed, and Leghorn chickens are known for being noisy.
While not as “talkative” as Easter Eggers, Leghorns are as vocal as any other chicken. The hens will loudly proclaim their egg song, and the roosters crow with gusto. This is a difficulty if you are in an urban setting.
Leghorns do not make good lap chickens as they are very independent chickens but are friendly and, with some care in raising, make decent pet chickens.
To find out more about Leghorn chickens, keep reading!
Leghorns Get a Bad Rap For Being Loud
Leghorn chickens are known for being loud and skittish, depending on the individual chicken.
Generally, we found our leghorns to be curious, friendly, and have opinions rather than too noisy or nervous.
Our Easter Eggers constantly made noise, muttering and grumbling, whereas the Leghorns seemed to save their pronouncements for when they counted.
Our Leghorns were also our flock’s clear leaders, laying eggs and pecking order.
With the absence of a rooster, the lead hen took over, attempting to crow, which, while amusing, was fairly noisy and sounded like she was being strangled.
These self-reliant chickens provided many hours of entertainment and made for an adventurous flock.
Vocalizations Chickens Make
We think chickens are relatively low on the intelligence scale, but they are quite clever and communicate well.
Common things chickens communicate are:
- Alarms – to warn the flock of danger
- Laying an egg – a “buck-buck-buck” preceding the laying of the egg, followed by a particular “egg song”
- Contentment – usually a purr or trill
- I found a nesting spot!
- A mother communicating to chicks
- Chicks chirp to communicate as well
- Crowing – usually in anticipation of the dawn, but occasionally the darned fellows will crow at 2:30 am and wake everyone up
- Startlement – usually a squawk
- Growling of a broody or otherwise protective hen
- Here’s some food!*
- Where is everybody?
- I’m lonely!
*Further Reading: What do Leghorn chickens eat?
How Noisy Are Backyard Chickens?
Our neighbor three houses away have relatively quiet chickens, and we can still hear them clucking contentedly when the other sounds of the neighborhood, such as traffic and lawnmowers, quiet down.
Regular chicken noises are at the same decibel level (60-70 decibels) as human speech, whereas a dog’s bark can reach over 90 decibels.
The noisiest part of having chickens is undoubtedly a rooster’s crow at about 130 decibels.
If you have experience with chickens and chicken keeping, you’ll know they are not “seen and not heard” types of animals.
An experienced chicken keeper will smooth the way with neighbors by giving them eggs!
If you have a rooster who crows in the wee hours, build a sound-proofed box (open at the bottom for waste and with ventilation slits at the top) for the rooster to sleep in, it helps with the noise of crowing at night.
Let your rooster out of the box when you open the coop in the morning.
In our experience, crow collars did nothing but waste money and traumatize our poor roosters.
What Are Leghorns Known For?
Originally from the Tuscany region of Italy, these Italian chickens are primarily known for being superior egg layers.
The name “Leghorn” is an anglicization of the word “Livorno,” the name of the port the chickens were shipped from.
The Italians combined several breeds of landrace chickens to make the Leghorn.
These beautiful birds are good foragers, catching bugs and mice galore and endearing themselves to backyard chicken keepers for how much they can save on chicken feed.
They are very active chickens and can get into trouble with their wandering ways.
They are good flyers, able to jump up and clear a 10’-foot fence, and will fearlessly explore anywhere they can get to.
The workhorse of the egg production industry, Leghorns are considered to be a dual-purpose chicken breed, although they are a little smaller than a standard chicken and so do not make good meat birds.
Leghorns are one of our favorite breeds for the backyard mixed flock, as they are prolific layers and have such big personalities, providing hours of chicken TV.
It is wise to keep Leghorns entertained with things like a chicken swing, variable heights of perches, and even toys such as children’s xylophones attached to the wall of the chicken coop for them to peck out notes.
A bored chicken can become aggressive, which is not something anyone wants.
Further Reading: Why is my Leghorn chicken aggressive?
A very well-known kind of Leghorn is the white color variety, with its snowy plumage color and large red floppy comb and wattles.
These adventurous birds come in over 10 varieties and 30 colors and are often referred to as “Leggerns” in the United States.
Aside from White Leghorns, there are:
- Brown Leghorn chickens,
- Exchequer leghorns,
- Bantam Blue Leghorns,
- Buff Columbian Leghorns
- Buff Leghorns
- Rose Comb Leghorns
- Bantam Leghorns
- Silver White Leghorns
- Golden Mille Fleur Leghorns
- Dominique Leghorns
The Rose Comb variety of Leghorn bred in the United States is more cold hardy, as their small single comb is less vulnerable to frostbite than the original chickens.
Do Leghorns Get Along with Other Chickens?
Leghorns can do very well in a mixed flock, provided there is enough space in the coop and run.
These chickens are active and need a little more space than some more docile breeds.
You’ll need about 2-4′ square feet of interior floor space per chicken if they have a sizable outside run.
If you do not have enough exterior run space, you’ll need at least 4-5′ square feet per chicken to maintain a healthy flock and have enough room for exercise.
The standard adult bird will need 8-10′ square feet of space outside of the coop for stretching out, dust bathing, and foraging.