Monday, March 3, 2014

Thoughts on Leghorns

Leghorns (I just learned it's pronounced "Leggern") are an interesting breed. Not interesting in the unique, heritage, beautiful bird type of way.... but interesting none the less. They are your basic white chicken. The chickens from cartoons.... white with bright red combs, probably Leghorns. First off they are such amazing layers, large white eggs, nearly every day of the year. When other breeds slow down in the cold months you can count on Leghorns to keep your protein packages coming. At first I wasn't too thrilled about them. They are not as beautiful as some of the other breeds, at least at first glance.  After growing up on white eggs and then later in life being introduced to green, blue, brown, dark brown, tinted eggs... white eggs just seemed rather boring to me, too normal. I also was put off by their "spunkiness". They can be pretty aggressive when snacks (snails, and scratch) are tossed into the pen. It drove me crazy when I just wanted poor Mrs. Weasley( a stunning cochin) R.I.P, to have a tasty snail, and those blasted Leghorns would swoop in out of no where and snatch it up before she even realized it was there, granted she was really slow. Still I would try and fake them out by tossing something on the far side of the run and then giving the others fast access to the treats, but those Leghorns are quick, I've got to give them that.
The Leghorns have grown on me. They were originally my cousin Shaun's. There were three of them, one died (rather odd story that). Now there are two, Cherry and Carllozy, I think. Shaun was never too clear on their names These are the brains in the flock. I mean as big as a chicken brain can be, these two actually use it. They are the ones that fly, where as the others are happy hanging on the ground, these two fly over the 8 foot fence, even when they have clipped wings (Not a cruel process I assure you). They make me laugh with their determination. We put bird netting over the entire run to get them to quit flying the coop, alas they found the one little opening in the netting and managed to get out. Next thing I know they are on our front porch steps eating the shells that I have in a succulent planter! Little buggers! They are the only chicken that will bite my hand if I try and reach around or under them when they are laying an egg, they are pretty vocal about this intrusion too. Overall they are crafty, determined and by far our best layers.
We have some friends that have over 200 chickens. They sell produce and eggs at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market and they sell eggs to local health food stores. Their farm and eggs are called Wyeth Acres, maybe you've seen them? They have all brown egg layers, maybe there's a few blue in there, I can't recall. They thought about getting some Leghorns for their flock to up the egg production, but chose not too because consumers are snobby about egg color! Sounds so weird, but it's so true. I too was biased about the colors of my eggs, why would I want a boring white egg when there are so many other beautiful colors to choose from? These days I am perfectly happy with our white eggs, they are just as tasty and maybe even more nutritional since Cherry and Carllozy are the only birds that escape the pen and find other things to eat like shells and bugs. In a few weeks we will be letting them all out to roam during the day if we are outside to keep our eyes on them, but for now we want them to get really used to the new coop. If you are thinking of getting a flock of chickens, I recommend at least a few Leghorns, you can count on them for year round eggs! Here's a picture of them , I tell ya, they have trouble written all over their faces!

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