Do Hatchery Chicks Have Leghorn Bred Into Them?

Savy_Flores

In the Brooder
May 13, 2020
3
10
24
Texas
Hi! I'm not new to BYC, but I don't usually post. There are so many good threads that I hardly have to ask new questions. I have one burning question however that would be so interesting for me to find an answer to.

I've heard that some hatcheries breed leghorns into their birds to up their egg production. I, for one, keep my chickens as pets, and nearly all the traits of Leghorns are undesirable to me. I originally bought 5 chicks, 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Wyandotte's, and 1 Splash Orpington from Meyer Hatchery. Here are some things that started to make me wonder whether they had leghorn genes in them, and I may be completely wrong. Who knows?

3 of the 5 grew up to have white earlobes. None of those breeds have white earlobes. It was my 2 Wyandotte's and 1 of my Barred Rocks. My birds would lay ridiculous amounts of eggs.

In their first winter, there was one day where I got 7 eggs from the 5 of them, having collected eggs the day before and without giving supplemental lighting. Sadly both Wyandotte's came down with egg-laying issues and passed away (despite the fact that I provide layer feed, oyster shell, and sometimes a small bit of greek yogurt for calcium and probiotics). One of my Barred Rocks (the one that lays ridiculously large eggs and every single day) also came down with an egg laying issue, but I managed to treat her successfully, and she survived it.

My chickens are also good fliers for their heavier body weight. I'll now only be referring to my heavy egg-layer Barred Rock. Her name is Nore. She has always been my flier and loves to perch on people's shoulders, but she can also fly halfway across my yard if she gets to a high enough vantage point. She also has such a large single comb that it flopped over (which my other Barred Rock does not have). Though this could just be unique traits for an individual bird, I'm wondering if her larger than average comb, heavy egg laying, and flighty nature could point to Leghorn genes. Not to mention that my birds cannot stand confinement and scream at me if I don't let them free range, despite having ample room in the coop and run. I don't mind letting them out, but I wish they were a little less insane about it haha.

Here's a photo of Nore. You can see her larger comb in the photo, and you can also see something that she and my other Barred Rock from Meyer have: A single black dot on the left side of their necks. Both have it, and it's not a black bar, it is a pure black feather that both have always had.
(I'd love to hear any thoughts! Excuse the long post, I've just been wondering about this for awhile)
 

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Tonyroo

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2020
3,062
7,384
611
N. California
It's not uncommon for hatcheries to mix there breed to diversify the gene pool. I suspect the hatcheries focus on maximum egg laying potential on there breeds and that's what most of there customers consider important. So then you have a market for that.

But yes I do agree with you about your birds and Wyandottes shouldn't have white earlobes.
 

LadiesAndJane

Life is good...
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
May 16, 2014
11,050
26,461
966
Hawaii
Well, if you are buying a specific breed, then you should be getting that breed with an expectation for it to be purebred. I do know, however, that leghorns are used in some of the new hatchery hybrids, such as Whiting True Blues, Sapphire Eggers, Austrawhites, etc. 🙂
 

bgmathteach

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Aug 22, 2021
928
9,448
576
Massachusetts, USA
Hi! I'm not new to BYC, but I don't usually post. There are so many good threads that I hardly have to ask new questions. I have one burning question however that would be so interesting for me to find an answer to.

I've heard that some hatcheries breed leghorns into their birds to up their egg production. I, for one, keep my chickens as pets, and nearly all the traits of Leghorns are undesirable to me. I originally bought 5 chicks, 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Wyandotte's, and 1 Splash Orpington from Meyer Hatchery. Here are some things that started to make me wonder whether they had leghorn genes in them, and I may be completely wrong. Who knows?

3 of the 5 grew up to have white earlobes. None of those breeds have white earlobes. It was my 2 Wyandotte's and 1 of my Barred Rocks. My birds would lay ridiculous amounts of eggs.

In their first winter, there was one day where I got 7 eggs from the 5 of them, having collected eggs the day before and without giving supplemental lighting. Sadly both Wyandotte's came down with egg-laying issues and passed away (despite the fact that I provide layer feed, oyster shell, and sometimes a small bit of greek yogurt for calcium and probiotics). One of my Barred Rocks (the one that lays ridiculously large eggs and every single day) also came down with an egg laying issue, but I managed to treat her successfully, and she survived it.

My chickens are also good fliers for their heavier body weight. I'll now only be referring to my heavy egg-layer Barred Rock. Her name is Nore. She has always been my flier and loves to perch on people's shoulders, but she can also fly halfway across my yard if she gets to a high enough vantage point. She also has such a large single comb that it flopped over (which my other Barred Rock does not have). Though this could just be unique traits for an individual bird, I'm wondering if her larger than average comb, heavy egg laying, and flighty nature could point to Leghorn genes. Not to mention that my birds cannot stand confinement and scream at me if I don't let them free range, despite having ample room in the coop and run. I don't mind letting them out, but I wish they were a little less insane about it haha.

Here's a photo of Nore. You can see her larger comb in the photo, and you can also see something that she and my other Barred Rock from Meyer have: A single black dot on the left side of their necks. Both have it, and it's not a black bar, it is a pure black feather that both have always had.
(I'd love to hear any thoughts! Excuse the long post, I've just been wondering about this for awhile)
My Barred Rocks have always preferred 'free range' to confinement, despite a very large run. That said, all of the other things you have mentioned aren't typical of Barred Rocks. I recently purchased some heritage breed Barred Rocks, and they have a bigger body, fluffier feathering, and seem to be less aggressive foragers (still good, but not quite so hard on my flower beds!). They are still juvies, so I can't speak to the size of these girl's eggs yet, but my non-heritage breed ones consistently lay eggs that are on the cusp of med./large in size.

P.S. Mine 'regular /non-heritage Barred Rocks' are from 2 different hatcheries, but not Meyer.
 

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