White leghorn chickens are known as efficient egg layers. They produce white eggs and will lay more than many breeds while consuming less feed. Raising white leghorns requires quality housing, feed and flock management. With proper care, your hens will consistently produce eggs throughout the year.
Purchase your chicks from a farm supply store or an independent breeder. Specify that you want white leghorns because other leghorns are much different and less productive egg layers. Specify the number of chicks you want while accounting for the possibility of a few being roosters. Keep the chicks in a large storage bin or wire cage with a heat lamp and soft wood shavings for the first eight weeks. This gives them time to grow and develop feathers. Focus on preparing your housing and run while the chicks are in the brooder box.
Provide a coop with roughly 3 square feet per chicken. Place roosting bars inside the coop and keep soft bedding on the ground. Cedar or pine shavings, shredded newspaper and hay are common bedding options. Predator proof the housing with a door that will close at night. Large doors for easy access to clean the coop are ideal. Attach a run to the coop with predator protection. Netting on top and buried fencing secures the run against many predators.
Feed and Water Needs
Feed your chicks starter feed until they begin laying eggs. Egg production in white leghorns begins around 20 weeks old. Switch to layer feed when you find the first eggs. Add oyster shells to the feed to fortify the eggs and strengthen the shells. Provide access to food at all times and the chickens will self-regulate without overeating. Keep fresh water in your coop and run at all times. Water is critical to the health of your birds. Use a heat source to prevent water from freezing during the winter months as well.
Nesting Boxes and Egg Collection
Build nesting boxes with a minimum of 1 foot depth, width and height. Line the boxes with straw or wood shavings to provide a comfortable space. Place your nesting boxes in a safe, quiet space that is isolated from any activity. Check for eggs daily and remove them immediately to make space for more new eggs. The white leghorn will produce in excess of 250 eggs per year under optimal conditions. Egg production slows during the shorter winter days. Add artificial light to the coop during winter to encourage egg production. Fourteen hours of light is ideal for egg laying.
Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can follow his work at bustedoarlock.com.