Leghorn ancestors are said to be a landrace of fowl called Liveornese from Northern Italy. They were first brought to North America in 1828 from Livorno, a port city in Italy. At first they were called Italians but that was later changed to Leghorn which is the English translation of Livorno.
Their history trail goes cold after this. We do know they were shown during the New York show in 1869 and won. Two years later they were exported to the United Kingdom where they were crossed with Minorca to create a robust frame for a dual purpose breed. Despite this, the leghorns remained a thin bird. In 1910 these new crosses were brought back to the U.S. that later created a rival between breeders; those who liked the heavy, production line and those who appreciated the breed as they naturally are. Most industrial Leghorns are the thinner, naturally build.
To many people’s surprise, the leghorn comes in 2 comb types; single and rose comb. The rose comb was developed in the U.S. to decrease frostbite during our harsh winters. The Chick Depot only carries the single comb variety. It is the large, floppy comb that is the most noticeable physical trait of the Leghorns though!
They have bright red wattles and white ear lobes. Their beaks, skin, feet and shanks are all yellow. Their bodies are long and sleek.White Leghorns, single combed, were accepted by the American Poultry Association in 1874.