A Good Egg

The pure breeds de­vel­oped for egg lay­ing This month: the Leg­bar

Your Chickens - - Contents -

The Leg­bar


The Leg­bar is one of many au­to­sex­ing breeds. These breeds are ones in which the chicks can be sexed at hatch­ing, which en­ables iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the fe­males from day one. This is caused by the bar­ring gene that comes from the barred Rock when it is crossed to an­other breed. The Leg­bar is a cross of the Leghorn and barred Ply­mouth Rock, the cream Leg­bar is that same cross with a dose of Arau­cana to pro­vide the head crest and in­ter­est­ing egg colours.


The Leg­bar was cre­ated in Cambridge, Bri­tain and is ac­cred­ited to the breed­ing work of Pro­fes­sor RC Pun­nett and Mr MS Pease in the 1930s. They un­cov­ered the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of the bar­ring gene in their ex­per­i­men­tal work on chicken breed­ing when try­ing to es­tab­lish a mech­a­nism to ac­cu­rately sex chicks based on plumage ap­pear­ance.


The Leg­bar comes in three va­ri­eties, the gold, the silver and prob­a­bly the most well-known to­day, the cream. The lat­ter has a small crest on its head car­ried well back from the eyes. The comb is large, sin­gle and evenly ser­rated; this is cou­pled with thin wat­tles. The body is wedge-shaped with a long flat back that slopes slightly to­wards the tail. It is an alert breed that lays eggs as pro­lif­i­cally as its con­stituent breeds.


The Leg­bar hen weighs 4.5lb (2kg) car­ry­ing her wings tight to the body and her tail at a 45 de­gree an­gle to the back. The comb can ei­ther be up­right or fall grace­fully to ei­ther side of the face but not as to ob­struct eye­sight. The crest of the cream Leg­bar hen tends to be fuller than that of her male coun­ter­part


The Leg­bar cock has an up­right and alert car­riage. It weighs in at 6lbs (2.7kg) which re­flects its sta­tus as a light breed. The comb is up­right and evenly ser­rated in each of the gold, silver and cream va­ri­eties; how­ever, the lat­ter also car­ries a crest of feath­ers on the head.


The eggs of the gold and silver Leg­bars are white or cream in colour. The eggs of the cream Leg­bar range through blues, greens and olives due to the pres­ence of Arau­cana genes within its makeup.


Leg­bars can be quite flighty, tak­ing on a lot of the sprightly char­ac­ter­is­tics of their Leghorn parent­age. It is pos­si­ble for a pa­tient and calm keeper to hand tame them, but they tend to main­tain a dis­tance in most cases.


Leg­bars are a hardy breed that is well suited to a free range ex­is­tence as they are ex­cel­lent for­agers. They cope well in most cli­mates and re­quire lit­tle spe­cial­ist help. They are, how­ever, ca­pa­ble of short flight and can reach a rea­son­able height, so roof­ing is re­quired if they are to be con­tained with run sys­tem. The cream Leg­bar crest does need a lit­tle more at­ten­tion as with all crests it can har­bour lice and mites more read­ily.


Leg­bars are quite read­ily avail­able on ac­count of the fact that they are au­to­sex­ing. Breed­ers are there­fore ca­pa­ble of iden­ti­fy­ing the hens and dis­pos­ing of the males on day one which saves in­vest­ing in rear­ing birds with lit­tle or no sale value. The con­se­quence is that qual­ity can be ex­tremely vari­able. A pet qual­ity bird can be as lit­tle as £12-15 whereas for birds suit­able for breed­ing, or ap­proach­ing show qual­ity, ex­pect to pay in ex­cess of £30.

PHOTO:Terry Beebe PHOTO:Grant Br­ere­ton

ABOVE LEFT: A Cream Leg­bar hen ABOVE RIGHT: A Silver Leg­bar cock­erel

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