The Leghorn Club of Australia Inc.


"One of the most attractive Breeds".

"Wright's Book of Poultry" by S.H.Lewer

This is an excerpt taken from "Wright's Book of Poultry" by S.H.Lewer from the early 1900's. It is a very interesting read and is only a sample of what can be found in the book. The Article was converted from a PDF file so please excuse the grammatical mistakes.


LEGHORNS:  From S.H. Lewer. “Wright's Book of Poultry”.


BRITISH breeders are indebted to America for their first knowledge of Leghorn fowls; but that they really originated in Italy there is not the slightest question. The first White Leghorns were sent to Mr. Tegetmeier in 1870, the birds having taken first prize at the previous New York show of 1868. A second lot of Whites were soon afterwards sent to us by Mr. W. Simpson, and the first pen of Brown Leghorns seen in England were received by us in June, 1872, being sent over by Mr. A. M. Halsted. Other importations of Brown Leghorns were soon made by the Rev. A. Kitchin, from whose stock came at least of the present strains are descended. The Brown variety seems to have been the longest known in America, Mr. F. J. Kinney having stated that he purchased a trio which had come from Italy, in Boston harbour, in 1853; but these birds were brown rather than black - breasted. Some other American writers trace them back to 1835. For many years the White and Brown alone were bred to any extent: of other varieties since, Blacks and Cuckoos and Mottles have undoubtedly been imported, but Piles and Duckwings were made by English breeders. Buffs came to us from Denmark; but it is worthy of remark that for many years birds of Leghorn type have been known in that country and Holland and Belgium under the name of Italians, so that the Buff is probably of more or less Italian origin. The Leghorn family constitutes a group of one of our very best and most profitable laying fowls, though unfortunately some changes that have taken place since their introduction have by no means tended to increase their value in this respect.

They have the large single comb of the Mediterranean group, straight and upright in the cocks and falling over in the hens, almond shaped white ear-lobes, with red faces, and the general 'type of the class. Their chief characteristic differences are their bright yellow legs, rather smaller size, sprightliness and activity, and greater hardiness. When first imported, the tails were carried very upright, or even squirrel-tailed, which had been the fashion in America but as we predicted and advocated from the first, that fashion has never been approved in this country, and is now abandoned in America also. Another change is more regrettable. The original Leghorn comb, though of the family, type, was moderate in size, and thin and fine in quality: there has been too much tendency towards a large and beefy comb, which has been deplored by every practical writer upon the breed without exception, and has necessitated wholesale dubbing of breeding stock. American breeders have fortunately never adopted this fashion, which has gravely affected the egg-average of some strains and it is to be hoped that some little reaction lately observable may continue, and the more moderate American and Italian comb again prevail. Breeding for size has also in some cases, been carried too far, the largest birds by no means laying the largest eggs, and being inferior in activity and hardiness to those of more typical size.

Leghorn chickens are very hardy, and feather easily. Some of the cockerels weigh 6 lbs., and few are less than 5 lbs., and the flesh is by no means bad eating, being juicier than that of the Minorca. The great usefulness of this group is however as exceedingly hardy, non-sitting, laying fowls, whose eggs are large for the size of the bird, even small Leghorns rarely laying eggs less than 2 Ozs. In weight, and many decidedly heavier, though (as just observed) the largest by no means lay the best ones. Both Mr. Tegetmeier and ourselves reported upon the first specimens received as amongst the very best layers we had met with ; and except in some strains which have been injured by crossing for show points, this character has been preserved, and is always easily bred up to. The White Leghorn is renowned in the United States and Australia as a breed which, bred for laying and adequately fed, is easily got up to an average of close upon 200 eggs per annum, while these eggs are of a good marketable size, it has the current name there of being “the business hen," and divides with the Wyandotte and Plymouth Rock nine-tenths of American poultry-farming. It has the further valuable property of maturing early, and at a very uniform age, so that if adequately fed pullets may be depended upon to lay before six months old. They can be forced much earlier, but this is not advisable, and it is far better to date the time of hatching accordingly.

The breed is not much used as a cross; but that with the Houdan is known as an excellent layer and fair table-fowl and it is worthy of notice that the produce of a White Leghorn cock with a Barred Rock hens has produced the only actual record known in England of an average of 152 eggs per annum from an entire flock of as many as fifty hens. Before proceeding to the individual varieties of Leghorns, it may be well to remark that there is one natural difficulty in breeding them all. This consists in the natural antagonism between bright yellow legs and pure white earlobes. For some years attempt was made to get recognised cream or ivory (not yellow) shade in the ear-lobes, but it was ineffectual; and there is little doubt that a cross with the Minorca, which is known to have taken place, was introduced partly with a view to whiten the lobes. By this cross was introduced more coarseness, with some loss of the original uprightly type. The real difficulty now is in regard to the yellow of the shanks. There was also an attempt, many years ago, to tolerate straw plumage in Whites, as natural to yellow-legged breeds; but that also was ineffectual, and this particular difficulty has undoubtedly been somewhat lessened by the whitening of the lobes. It is certain, at all events, that with the establishment of white ear-lobes the plumage, of White birds has improved in colour.

Of all the varieties of Leghorns, the White has been longest known in England. It has become much larger than when first imported —many think too large—and it has White suffered as much as any from large Leghorns. Over-grown combs, which bow down the necks of the poor birds in too many pens; but we have said enough on this point. Mr. F. Tootill, so long associated years ago with the late Mrs. Webster's successful stud of White Leghorns at Horsforth, and later as founder of the present successful stud owned and exhibited by his firm, Messrs. Whitaker and Tootill, of Pool, Yorkshire, has kindly supplied the following notes on this variety.

“It is with pleasure that I consent to supply a few notes respecting the leading and most popular variety of Leghorn. In doing so my desire is to assist the amateur and breeder, and to further the interests of the breed; and with this end in view any little knowledge I possess is most freely given, and I am. in hopes that from the perusal of these notes those for which they are intended may derive benefit.


During the past few years the White Leghorn has been much improved, to such an extent that at present shows it is no uncommon thing to find specimens staged which are equal, both in size and head-points, to our best Black Minorca’s. In fact, this has been carried so far that it has been questioned, and has been the cause of long and heated controversy, whether breeders were not now losing that beautiful stately carriage of the typical Leghorn in their desire to obtain size. Size is difficult to secure, and, when once obtained, a breeder has reason to be pleased with the result of his exertions but we must have type in conjunction with it.

Experience tells us, however, that it is little use nowadays to exhibit the small pretty, whites, our judges signifying their requirements by their invariable decisions in favour of size, sometimes in preference to head-points and general quality. This applies more particularly to the all round judge, and is to be regretted, as type and quality should always have prominent consideration. Only on one occasion, in my experience, has any specialist judge been so infatuated with mere size as to have given the preference to a huge body and ungainly carriage against a perfect head, with good shape, on a smaller body; but as this was at one of the most important shows of the season, such a decision may have a considerable effect on breeders. The position of the judge is as important as the task is an unthankful one, and specialist judges at our principal shows should not lose sight of the fact that they have, to a certain extent, the destiny of the breeds on which they adjudicate in their hands. In White Leghorns, some years ago, there was some foundation for the view that in consequence of the tendency above noted we were threatened with loss of type, the all-important feature. I am glad to say now, however, that breeders are paying much more attention to shape than formerly. Although it is a characteristic most difficult to put down on paper, the shape of a Leghorn is totally distinct from that of a Minorca, just as the Andalusian is. In breeding I make this feature as important as purity of colour. I place vital importance on type and colour, because a Leghorn ceases to be a Leghorn when it is not typical, just as it ceases to be a White Leghorn when the colour is impure. It has been suggested that, to secure the size of present White Leghorns, foreign blood has been introduced, such as that of the White Rock, White Malay, etc. etc. but this theory loses weight when we look at the perfect head-points which have been shown simultaneously with increased size. I consider the improvement to be seen to-day in the White Leghorn and it will be readily conceded that the breed was never nearer perfect, the Champion Trophy offered by the Poultry Club at the Crystal Palace for the best male being won at the 1910 show by a White Leghorn—is evidence of the breeder's art, and a result of what has been done by careful selection and careful breeding. "The time is long past, too, for one to be able to win in anything like decent competition with Leghorns of the straw-coloured variety, pure colour being demanded by every judge.

This can only be obtained by breeding, discarding all inferior-coloured specimens (no matter what other good points they possess) when selecting one's breeding stock. If any degree of success is desired, this, as I said before, is especially important, as when a Leghorn is not a pure white it is not a White Leghorn.

The White Leghorn has seen improvement in more characteristics than size and head-points.

We now have the cocks much more heavily clothed in feather than in former years. Few are exhibited to-day with scanty hackles, and close whip tails with narrow sickles. A White Leghorn requires to be furnished with long, flowing sickles and secondaries to be a thing of beauty. Scant feather looks particularly amiss on the larger specimens, and strange to say these are generally the ones that are deficient.

To breed White Leghorns a large financial outlay is not needful. What is principally required is sound common-sense in the selection of stock. It is a breed that is hardy, and will flourish under ordinary conditions. Apart from being a show bird, it has utility advantages, the Leghorn being a recognised egg-manufacturer. And good birds sell well.

During the past few years the prices for good specimens have gone up a great deal. Where £5 was originally considered a high price, we have now £10, £15, and £20 paid for single specimens, whilst on one occasion I sold a well-known hen for £30, and if this latter figure may be a record, £20 is not considered now to be a very exceptional price for a pair of exhibition birds. From the novice's point of view the White Leghorn has an advantage over most other breeds, and even over other varieties of this breed, in as much as exhibition cockerels and pullets can be produced from one pen. Pure white being desired in both sexes, no special blending of colours is required, as in Browns or Piles. Some breeders have two distinct strains for cockerel and pullet breeding, and if a breeder only uses one pen, it may generally be noted that he is more successful with one sex than the other. On many occasions, however, I have produced several winners of both sexes from one pen, but where there is convenience the breeder's object may be more speedily attained by mating up separate ones.

The most important features are colour, shape, head-points, and size. For producing cockerels, I would advise mating an extra smart-headed cock, with a firm, upright comb, carrying plenty of feather, with correct shape, and stylish, to large hens, the head-points of the latter—beyond a small, neatly serrated comb and a tight fitting lobe—not being nearly so important as in the cock. Although I like size in a cockerel-breeding male bird also, I find that it is not as necessary as in the hens, but he must be well furnished with feather. It should be stated here, too, that in cock breeding, quality must be the watchword, and young, vigorous birds should only be used in the breeding pen. Old stock is generally responsible for coarse progeny. In selecting a male bird for pullet breeding, I look for size in conjunction with colour, a fair length of limb, and plenty of head-points. When I say this I do not mean an overabundance of comb in particular, but one of fair size, with a good, strong, thick lobe and a fair length of wattle.

It is immaterial whether the comb is carried upright or over, so far as pullets only are concerned, but it must be well serrated. Abundance of feather is not as necessary as when breeding for cockerels. The hens should be big and shapely, with heavier head-points than the cockerel-breeders, paying particular attention to lobe, as I think that the pullets, speaking generally, at the present time, want more in this respect than any other, while the cockerels are far superior in this point. I like to see a good lobe for either a White Leghorn or Black Minorca, together with a sound face. It is, however, difficult to get as yet, though improvement is perceptible every year. I prefer dubbing my male birds, and breeding from second season birds of both sexes, as, by following this practice, I get the best results. To fix a strain, I advise judicious in-breeding, as often times the introduction of new blood has disastrous effects, and when a breeder has laboured hard for many years it is very disheartening to have his work undone by a single season's breeding. In the necessary washing of White Leghorns for show, the first wash often brings out a distasteful yellow tinge known as ' sap,' that should wear off with a few good baths ; but, if not, the bird may be discarded as useless.


"The colour of the Brown Leghorn as first bred in America, was very uncertain, some of the first imported specimens having a great deal of brown in the breasts of the cocks. This was however gradually bred out in favour of the black breast; and for many years the accepted colour has been what may generally be described as that of the black-breasted red Game, with the exception that the cock's hackles are somewhat darker, or orange-red, and should have a little black striping near the shoulders. This colour resembles that of the Game cocks before these were bred quite so bright, and there is no doubt that several crosses with black breasted red Game were employed at different times, to improve and fix the colour and marking.

The effects of this crossing are still seen occasionally in pullets with dark legs and feet (from the willow legs of the Game), and as this fault is especially, obstinate, specimens which exhibit it should be carefully avoided in breeding. It is less common now than a few years ago.

For the following article on Brown Leghorns and their breeding, we are indebted to Mr. L. C. Verrey, The Warren, Oxshott, and Surrey, whose connection with the fowl is probably longer than that of any other living breeder.

The Brown Leghorns, like their brethren the Whites, are of pure Italian origin, but like them, did not come to us from their native country, but from America, where they had been bred for many years before being imported into England. They were at first there called 'Red Leghorns.' Their prolific egg-producing qualities soon brought them such a reputation that they were eagerly sought after and constant importations from Italy had to be made to supply the demand. Since the first Brown Leghorns in England arrived from America during the year 1872, they have been cultivated with ever-increasing energy.

Though their general characteristics and prolificacy have been fully maintained, the type of the fowls has been greatly changed in England, so that, at the present time, the English and American types differ to a large degree ; the latter being more sprightly and of slighter build. The English idea seems to have been to make them more of the Dorking than the Game type, and consequently the modern English Brown Leghorn is much heavier 10 build than the original. Unfortunately, Game and also Minorca blood was introduced into the

Brown Leghorn some few years ago, with a view to improve colour of plumage, size of lobe, and size of body, but this infusion of foreign blood has done more harm than good, and much of the existing darkness in feet and toes and white in face is attributable to these causes.

The colour of the present-day Brown Leghorn has also suffered by the use of very light-coloured hackle cocks for stud purposes, so that the thick black stripes which points of form such pleasing contrast to the Leghorns. ground colours of golden bay have been almost lost, and it is rare to see a really well-striped hackle. This striping in the neck and saddle hackles, more especially in the former, is one of the points that American breeders have been most careful to maintain, so that a Brown Leghorn cock with a plain hackle is considered of little worth across the Atlantic. The large over-developed combs of both sexes that are now prevalent are also totally at variance with the combs of the original type, which were, though large, quite in proportion to the head. These are some of the points wherein the ancient and modern types differ, and are set forth to illustrate what the art of the fancier can do by studied selection of the breeding stock, combined with the infusion of alien blood.

We now come to the colour-points of the cock. The head should be 'fairly deep, whilst the beak should be rather long and straight, of a yellow colour, though horn-colour, or a stripe of horn-colour running down the centre of the yellow, is quite permissible, and will be found in nine instances out of ten. The comb is single, fine in texture, large in size, deeply and evenly serrated. There is no definite rule as to the exact number of serrations, but the most symmetrical comb is that which has six. The comb should be firmly set on, and extend well over the back of the head. Unfortunately, the desire to have pullets with the largest possible combs has had a harmful effect on the combs of the cocks, for not only has it made them too heavy, but has caused them to become bulgy, and thus create a hollow near the front, which is commonly called a 'thumb mark.' The face should be bright red, quite free from wrinkles and white specks or spots. The eyes red, bright, and sparkling. Wattles rather long and thin, fine in texture, and without folds. In the colour of the ear lobes we have gone away from the original, for now it is decreed that they must be pure white, while in the pure Italian Leghorn they are yellowish white or cream colour, which certainly is in greater harmony with the bright yellow legs. The lobes should be rather of the almond shape, that is, pendent, smooth, and resembling a piece of white kid.

The breeding for tremendous lobes has been the cause of that unsightly blemish, 'white in face. Coming to the plumage, the neck should be well furnished with hackle feathers, which fall gracefully on to the back, the colour of these being golden bay, each feather having a fairly broad stripe of black running down the centre, though the shorter feathers near the head and round the throat are without any striping. The feathers on the back are a deep red, almost crimson, this same colour running over the shoulder coverts and wing bows. The wing coverts are a beautiful bluish violet tint, and form a broad, even band across the wing, commonly called the wing-bar. The primary wing feathers are brown, the secondaries being a very deep bay on the outer and black on the inner web, the bay being the only colour seen when the wing is closed. The saddle feathers are a very deep orange-red, some of them having the black stripe down the centre as in the neck hackle. The breast and thighs a rich glossy black with a slightly greenish hue. This same colour pervades the under-parts, though getting of a less glossy nature near the tail. The tail, which should be carried well up, though not squirrel fashion, is of a rich greenish black all through, being surrounded at the base with grey fluffy feathers, whilst the tail coverts are black edged with brown. Legs long and slender, of a brilliant yellow. The foregoing are the plumage colours of a typical Brown Leghorn adult cock, but these feathers will not be found in young cockerels when just feathering. The first feathers are nearly always brown, splashed with more or less black, the breast being especially so, and not infrequently the little tail feathers will be margined with grey. As the young birds go through their first change of feathers, the breast and tail assume the metallic black of the adult. Should there be any considerable amount of white in the wing, however, the bird may be considered a ' weed ' and not worth keeping, for in nine cases out of ten this white will increase as the bird grows, and is a fault that should not be tolerated.

Perhaps there is no more graceful and soft coloured hen to be found than the Brown Leghorn; its elegant, symmetrical outline, covered with the most delicate coloured plumage, the tones of which blend with each other in the most perfect harmony, cannot fail to attract admiration from even those who care little for the beauties of nature. To describe the colour points of the hen is somewhat difficult, for the pen cannot really do full justice to the beautiful soft tints that exist in the plumage of a typical specimen." The comb of the hen should be large, of fine texture, and evenly serrated. It should rise straight up for a short distance from the head, and then bend gracefully over to one side. The beak should be yellow or horn colour; the eyes bright and sparkling; the lobes white and as large as possible, but fitting more closely to the head than in the case of the cock. The wattles of fine texture, free from folds and nicely rounded. "The neck is well arched and abundantly furnished with hackle feathers, the colour being of a rich yellow or golden tint, with a sharp black stripe running down the centre of each feather. Though the stripe should be fairly broad, the yellow or golden colour should predominate.

The tendency of late has been to breed hens with light hackles, and consequently much of the sharp definition of the black has been lost.

The colour of the breast should be a salmon-red, the feathers on the throat being of a deeper tint, but these graduate in tone. until they mingle with the salmon-red of the breast. The feathers on the under-parts and on the thighs are an ashy grey. The body colour is a soft light brown, clearly and beautifully penciled with fine black lines, resembling the markings of the partridge. The wings are of the same delicate colour when closed, but when open the inner web is black. The great difficulty is to get the wing solid in colour, for many otherwise good hens are disfigured by deep brown-red patches, which are commonly termed 'rust on wing.' The wing is the home of the chief faults that are to be found in the Brown Leghorn hen, for not only is the rust apparent on the outside, but very often many of the flights will be found to have more or less white on the inner web. A pullet with white in flights may be considered a weed, for in hardly any instance will this diminish with age, but will rather increase with each successive moult. The tail should be carried at a very slight angle, almost upright, the feathers black, some of them being penciled with light brown, or having a light brown edging on one side. The legs and feet are bright yellow, free from black spots or scales.

To produce Brown Leghorns of standard colours, it is necessary to mate two pens of stock birds, the one for cockerel and the other for pullet breeding, as it is not possible to produce both of equal merit from one mating.

For producing the most typical cockerels it is necessary that great attention be paid to every detail when mating up the breeding pen the stock cock should possess all the points an exhibition specimen, with an evenly serrated comb, good open lobes, and a perfectly sound face, and no white in face should be tolerated in a one-year-old bird. His hackle should be bright in colour, with the black striping sharply defined, but not heavy. The breast should be solid in colour and perfectly free from white splashes. Such a cock should be mated with large hens (size being very important), of the light brown colour, with fine though distinct penciling. A shade of warmth or rust on their wings will not matter; in fact, it is preferable, as it helps to give a warm tinge to the colour of the progeny. The combs of the hens should be firmly set on their heads, only medium in size, and well and evenly serrated. Combs that fall half to one side and then double over and fall in the opposite direction should be avoided for cockerel breeding, as they often cause malformed combs in the cockerels. The hen's ear-lobes should be large and smooth. The carriage of the tail is an important point, for a high-tailed hen will most likely produce squirrel-tailed cockerels, so that hens should be selected which carry their tails rather low.

For pullet-breeding, the stock cock should be of a more somber colour, the hackle being deeper in the golden bay, and more heavily striped with black. The breast may be slightly splashed or ticked with brown, and this will even be found an advantage, by the production of deeper colour on the breasts of his offspring.

Such a cock should be mated with rather light but perfectly sound partridge-coloured hens, which should be absolutely free from any rust or warm tinge on the wings. Their combs should be large and gracefully carried the lobes as large as possible, and the legs bright yellow, entirely free from dark spots or scales. This mating will produce even-coloured pullets, but the cockerels, with scarcely an exception, will be of no use except to be retained as pullet breeding stock birds." If a two-year-old stock cock be used, it is well to mate him with one-year-old hens, and, in the case of a cockerel, his mates should be two years old."


Pile Leghorns should probably come next in date, having been produced by crossing Whites with Browns, in the same way as were first produced Pile Game. It was in 1881 that Mr. G. Payne mated up his first pen of White and Brown; but it was not until January, 1886, that he was able to exhibit two Pile pullets and a cockerel, the latter Leghorn. being poor, but the pullets good. At the Dairy Show of that year, however, he produced two pairs of Piles which left little to be desired, and took first and third prizes m a mixed class; and for a time the colour was fairly popular. Other crosses have been introduced by various breeders at one time or another. The article below speaks of a Game crosses, and its effects on the type of the strain; and perhaps one of the most remarkable " flukes " in the history of poultry breeding was the colour and success of some Pile Leghorns exhibited in "the nineties," which the breeder himself stated to be bred from a cross-bred bird deriving parentage from the Light Brahma! This cross probably accounts for the feathered legs seen on a cockerel at the Palace Show in 1894; but we have a vivid recollection of the colour shown by this exhibitor for one or two seasons, which was marvelous. There can be no real occasion for crossing any further. The notes which follow on this variety were supplied in by Messrs. H. and A. P.Simpson, of Ilkeston, whose success in breeding and exhibiting will be remembered: "Pile Leghorns have made rapid strides in public favour during the past few years. They were first originated by Mr. G. Payne, about 1886, being the result of several years' crossing between the older established varieties of White and Brown Leghorns. For several years they moved very slowly in the estimation of the public, probably owing to the difficulty of producing a good percentage of birds true to type and colour; but as the result of careful breeding and untiring attention by a few fanciers who have not failed to recognize the merits of the variety, they appear to be now well established, and the number of miss-marked chickens considerably diminished." It may be interesting to record that our particular strain of Pile Leghorns were produced from a Pile hen which we bought from

Mr. A. C. Bradbury, in 1891, undoubtedly across between his White Leghorns and Pile Game; but we never ascertained in what manner the cross was made. This hen was mated to a Brown Leghorn cockerel, with the result that we were fortunate enough to breed prize-winners from her during the first season. We continued to mate her and the pullets bred from her with Brown cockerels, until we obtained fixity of colouring, and more of the Leghorn style and carriage. There is no doubt that this cross-bred Game hen has transmitted to her progeny a certain raciness of character, for which they have always been noted.

“From the year 1894 we bred Piles and Piles together, and have been successful in producing good cockerels and pullets from the same pen.

We have occasional recourse to a Brown cockerel for change of blood. When this has been necessary we have made up a pen of specially selected pullets, the offspring from which have been carefully kept apart from the other stock, and during the following season the cockerels have been mated with Pile-bred hens, and the pullets to Pile-bred males. The result from this system of introducing new blood has been generally satisfactory. Some fanciers prefer to use a Brown hen for this purpose, but we have not tried it, as the method described above has always been attended with good results." So far as the breeding pen is concerned, it is only necessary to say, Let its occupants, males and females, be as perfect of their kind as it is possible to get them. We rarely mate up any birds that are not fit for the show pen, the exception, perhaps, being in the case of a bird possessing some strongly developed essential characteristics, which it is desirable to perpetuate; and even then it is better to allow a separate mating, so that the results may be, more carefully noted. A few good birds, judiciously chosen, will give far better results than a larger number.

The beautiful combination of colour in Pile Leghorns will always commend them to fanciers, while from the utility point of view it is difficult to surpass them. They are strong and hardy, and thrive well in close confinement; they lay an abundance of good-sized eggs, and, of course, are non-sitters like. All the other varieties."

The chief difficulty in breeding Pile Leghorns, we understand, is to get the pure white breast and tail in the cocks, and clear wings in the pullets. While seeking for these points specially, equal care should be taken to select a male bird whose back is as dark as possible.

A few mate up different pens, choosing dark-breasted rose-winged hens by preference for cockerel-breeding and lighter hens for pullet-breeding.

It is when richness of colour seems quite to have run out, that resort must be had to a cross from the Brown, as in Pile Game.


Duckwing Leghorns were also produced by Mr. G. Payne. It is true that a cockerel of this 53 colour was shown at the Palace in 1886 by Mr. Terrot; but this bird was acknowledged to be an almost solitary cull from a cross between Silver Grey Dorking and Duckwing Game, and no other results from that Leghorn experiment were ever seen; whereas Mr. Payne's birds brought out the following season, quite differently bred, were but the forerunners of a number more, which took hold as a popular variety. They were stated to have been first originated from some of the wasters bred in producing Piles from Whites and Brown Leghorns, which had come with salmon breasts, and a brownish blue all over the body, with brassy hackles and ashy grey under-parts.

After exhibiting the birds thus bred for a season or two, Mr. Payne visited Antwerp in January 1889 with a collection of his birds (his Duckwings taking first and medal there), and obtained at the Zoological Gardens a cock for crossing of the long-tailed Japanese Phoenix or Yokohama breed, of silver-grey colour. This cross effected very great improvement in colour, but its effects were seen for several seasons in sickles which swept the ground, and which were only gradually bred out again. From the prodgeny of this cross was selected the bird which won at the Dairy Show that same year, and was purchased by the late Mr. Hinson, to whom and to Mr. Gerahty the further breeding of this beautiful variety is mainly due. The colour of Duckwing Leghorns is in all but one point practically the same as in the corresponding varieties of Duckwing Game.

That point is the striping of the hackle: as the Brown Leghorn is a striped breed, so the Duckwinged varieties have the longer feathers of the hackle somewhat striped also. Mr. Payne had made no attempt to breed Golden and Silver strains, but as the variety was bred more generally this became inevitable. A good gold coloured cockerel almost always bred pullets red or rusty on the wings; hence pullets had to be bred from lighter or more silvery cocks. And conversely, good-coloured Gold cocks could only be produced from more or less rusty females.

Both classes are now recognized by the Standard, and are necessary for breeding, but at the majority of shows, where there is one “Duckwing" class only, the winners are usually Golden-Duckwing cocks, with almost silvery hens, so Mr. Hinson wrote us, are usually bred from one pen, the same mating producing both sexes good if the Brewing strain is well bred, and the colour markings sound on both sides. Where this is not so, somewhat inferior colour in either, or in both, often breeds very fair pullets, though failing in cockerels.

Pure silvery white in the hackles of both sexes is the great criterion. The best mating of all is that of a silvery-hackled cock with a rather dark grey but absolutely pure-coloured hen.

To breed Golden Duckwings, two pens are practically requisite, though not so much so as before the rich golden wing-bows now sought in the cock, had replaced the deep maroon or crimson once fashionable. For cockerel breeding it is best to select a typical Golden exhibition bird, sound in all his colours, and put to him hens with rich salmon breasts, and which may with no detriment have a little warmth or rust on the wing. For breeding pullets, the cock should be bred from Golden pullets, very sound in his black all over, but rather light on shoulder, and is none the worse if rather broken in colour there : if his hackle also tends to being silvery it is all the better. His mates should be pure in colour, as near as possible to ideal exhibition hens. If at any time too much colour comes in the hackles of either sex, or the bodies of the hens, a cross of Silver Duckwing blood is desirable.


The first record of Buff Leghorns is at the Copenhagen Show of 1885, and the first hen exhibited in England, at the Palace Show of 1888, also came from Denmark ; but these birds were known as yellow Buff Leghorns, and there is no doubt of their Italian origin. The Palace Field hen was purchased by Mr. L. C. Verrey, who subsequently procured other stock, and bred them in England: Mr. Penfold also had early Danish stock. After a year or two nearly all the good Buffs came into the hands of one breeder, who however refused to dispose of either eggs or birds in England, though exporting to America; and this course retarded any progress in England considerably. Subsequently Miss Pulford (the late Mrs. R. T. Thornton) succeeded in procuring a good strain and Messrs. Bateman and others also imported from America, where the variety had been well taken up; and with this extension of Buff blood amongst a wider circle, improvement became more rapid, aided in point of colour by one or two out-crosses from Asiatic sources. Buff appears to suit the Leghorn type especially well, and in no variety is the colour more singularly attractive, the close but not short plumage giving a soft silkiness of texture which is not seen in some other breeds. For the following notes on Buff Leghorns we are again indebted to Mr. L. C. Verrey, who was, as stated above, the earliest to breed them in this country. Of all the sub-varieties of Leghorns, none has been taken up with so much zeal as the Buff, nor has any of the varieties been so much improved by the infusion of alien blood; for the first Buffs imported into England were different from those seen at the present time. The art of the breeder has produced a solidity of colour which did not exist in the original specimens; and it is very interesting to note how this uniformity of buff has been obtained.

It was in 1888 that the first Buff Leghorn was seen in England, and this was a hen- exhibited by enterprising Danish - fancier at the Crystal Palace show. The bird was full of true Leghorn characteristics, and of a very nice even lemon-buff colour. She was sold at the show and the exhibitor was approached for a cock and more hens of the same description and in due time a consignment was received. The cock possessed excellent shape and size, but was very deep orange, or nearly red on the back and rather light in the hackle, whilst his tail was white, with each feather having a line of buff running round it. The whole plumage was striking in contrast, but .it could hardly be considered a pure 'buff' in the sense that we now use the word. More birds of this variety were procured from the same source by other fanciers, and every effort was made to improve and intensify the colour by crossing with other buff breeds. So far as the colour alone was concerned, these methods answered well; but the Leghorn shape was lost for a time, and red-lobed, feathered legged chickens were of very frequent occurrence.

By judicious breeding and inbreeding these faults were gradually diminished, and now we have birds of both sexes even in colour, and possessing true Leghorn characteristics.

 The Buff Leghorn cock should have the same kind of comb and colour of beak and legs as the Brown or White varieties, whilst his plumage colour should be either a lemon or orange buff, the breast feathers being a little richer in tone than the back, but certainly not in any great degree such as to form a decided contrast. The whole plumage, whether of the lemon or orange shade, should be quite even and free from mealiness, and the tail should be solid in colour, perhaps a little deeper in tone, but free from white or black, or partly white or black feathers.

 The Buff Leghorn hen should possess the same characteristics as to head points, style, shape and colour of beak, lobes, and legs as the Brown hen, whilst her plumage should be an even shade of buff all through,  without variation in any part, though in many specimens the hackle will be found to be a shade or two deeper in tone than the body.

 Undoubtedly the infusion of the foreign blood already mentioned will make itself apparent now and again, and the reappearance of slight feathering on the legs, red in lobes, and white in flights and tail, are to be expected; but by very careful mating up of the breeding pen and persistent weeding out of the faulty specimens these evils will be overcome, and the certain production of solid coloured Buff Leghorns will be established.

 In selecting Buff Leghorns for breeding, great attention should be given to the head points of both the male and female, for up to now these Buff Leghorns have been comparatively neglected, the chief aim having been to produce uniformity of colour. Now that this has been established, the improvement of comb and lobes, especially the latter, requires earnest consideration. The stock cock may be a little deeper in colour than the hens that he is to be mated with, but he should not be too dark, particularly if the hens are inclined to be a light buff, for the extremes of shade never amalgamate well, and the progeny are apt

To become mottled when they assume their adult plumage. Whether the birds be lemon or orange buff, they should all be about the same shade, excepting as stated above, that the plumage of the cock may be a little richer in tint Hens that show any amount of mealiness should be discarded, as should also those that have decided black ticks at the ends of the hackle feathers, or on the tail feathers.

Too much stress cannot be laid on the under-colour, and every stock bird should be closely examined to see that the buff extends well into the under plumage ; for very often though the surface may be all that is desired, the fluff will be found to be quite white. Should the buff extend almost to the skin, there is but little fear but that the progeny will come sound in colour throughout. The tail of the cock will probably prove the greatest difficulty, this being especially the home of white and black feathers. Though both are faults, yet the former is the greater, and likely to be reproduced in a larger degree than the latter. Still, as really sound coloured tails are even yet the exception, choice should be made of the bird that has the least white in the main feathers of his tail."


Black Leghorns are generally believed to be pure Italian blood, importations having been traced direct to Italy, and also to Belgium and Germany, which both import Italian fowls.

As a rule, they are a rather wild race, great' flyers, and very hardy, in many respects resembling the Ancona, as Leghorns. Also in their quality as layers. The great difficulty is to get the pullets with yellow legs; with cockerels there is not the same difficulty, as remarked in the following notes upon this variety kindly furnished by Mr. Nelson King, Chorley House, and Clitheroe.

 The Black Leghorn as a variety ought to be better known for its qualities than it is at the present time by the majority of poultry fanciers. It is an exceptionally hardy bird to rear, and bears confinement well, and is a splendid all-round layer. I have had pullets, hatched in April, commence to lay at four months old, laying a good saleable white-shelled egg, and continuing to do so through the winter months.

Frost and snow seem to have no effect, the birds being out both day and night all through. I have had young cockerels to crow at 39 days old. They are very active, and the birds at liberty are splendid foragers and small eaters.

Fifty pullets or hens in a field make a splendid sight to see, with their jet black bodies and bright yellow legs. They always seem to be on the alert, and will take wing at times for fifty or seventy yards. They are rather of a wild nature when at liberty, and scarcely approachable. I firmly believe that a hundred and fifty Black Leghorns will equal two hundred of any crossbred birds brought to compete against them; that is, for egg production. I have also had cockerels weigh 5 lbs. at five months old, and the flesh is white and juicy.

 The chickens are easy to rear, and free from disease. They are generally dark, with white under parts when hatched, the majority then having dark legs, but becoming yellow as time goes on, more so with the cockerels than with the pullets. The chief difficulty in the cockerels is that they are subject to white in their tails; but this is greatly improving. I have possessed birds with sound black tails, but they have been wrong in other things, such as being inclined to show red feathers, or bronzy looking on the back. I always try to breed from a cock bird that has the least white in tail, but still having a good sound rich black body colour and good yellow legs. The bigger the lobe is the better, as we are still wanting in this particular point, especially in pullets, but the birds are as a rule quite sound in face.

 In mating a pen of Black Leghorns together, I should advise to get a big sound coloured bird, with good face, par lobes, and leg, and as little white in tail as possible. A cock of this description mated to six pullets with good sound black bodies and good yellow legs, and good lobes and nice folding combs, will breed birds for prizes in the show pen.

 As to the Standard for Black Leghorns, the plumage should be a rich glossy black, free from feathers of any other colour ; the more sheen the better. Legs and feet yellow; eyes bright red; beak and toe-nails yellow or horn colour; comb, face, and wattles a bright red. Size as large as possible."


Cuckoo-coloured or blue-barred Leghorns are occasionally seen, but are not popular.

They appear to have come chiefly from the Continent, and to have occurred naturally from mixture of black and white, as so many other similarly-coloured races have done.

There is no doubt that they are just as good in qualities as other Leghorns, but the colour does not seem in this variety to be attractive and there being no adequate support for it in classes, to have cultivated it.

Cuckoo is a difficult colour to produce in Leghorns, white and other faulty feathers constantly occurring. This difficulty is not now found to the same extent in the barred Rock, which has been bred for colour and marking through many generations, and in large numbers; but in a variety so little bred as the Cuckoo Leghorn it is felt severely. With such stock as is obtainable, we should advise selecting two-year-old birds (that age often showing up faults not seen in the chickens), weeding out severely for any faulty feathers, and selecting the medium colour and barring in both sexes. Strains are not fixed enough to breed by the same rules as barred Rocks, and this course will be found on the whole most successful.


Mottled Leghorns are also rarely seen, but are likely to be displaced by the Ancona, if not practically the same bird.

The Mottled Leghorn is bred and kept in America and also Australia to an extent quite unknown in England Leghorns.

Style, far nearer the original type, and, as a rule, more prolific American but the birds there generally are different from the English.

In one respect English type has prevailed. All the first birds sent to England were- very high in tail but we from the first advisedly opposed that style, as sure to be fatal to the fowl if adhered to, and the result has fully justified our action, which happily proved decisive at a time when the question hung in suspense. On both sides of the Atlantic the flowing tail is long since fully recognised.

But the American Leghorn differs in other respects. It remains considerably smaller than the Minorca, and is also rather higher on the leg than the English, of rather more slender form and sprightly carriage, and with the much more moderate comb of the original bird. These differences are well shown in the drawing by Mr. Franklane Sewell of an American Brown Leghorn cockerel, first prize at Boston. In 1900, for which we are indebted to the feathered World.

There are also some differences in colour. Buffs in America, at the time we write, are one or two shades lighter than the orange buff popular in England; and Browns are liked somewhat darker in the cock's hackles, and a darker partridge in the hens.

Little need be said about judging Leghorns. All real breeders, without exception, agree that many judges have laid too much stress upon mere size, and that Leghorn Judging there is urgent need for more attention to the distinctive Leghorn type, which is not as heavy as that of many birds exhibited. Many also have expressed regret that so much favour has been shown to large combs. There was a time when breeders themselves favoured these; but their fatal sterility thus caused, and widespread experience of the necessity for dubbing in consequence, has opened their eyes. Our opinion has been indicated; beyond that we cannot pronounce.