One of the standout breeds are the Ancona chicken and we will explore this breed in more detail to help you make an informed final decision.When you set up a backyard coop, it can be a real challenge to find hens that meet your specific needs. There are a wide range of chicken varieties, and they all have their pros and cons to consider.
The Origins of the Ancona Chicken
The origin of the Ancona chickens name is the Italian City of the same name. It’s believed that this is the birthplace of the breed, but they were relatively unknown until they reached England in 1851. The exact origins of the breed are unclear, but many experts believe that they are like the Mottled Leghorn. But this is only a Leghorn variety and its status as a distinct breed is rarely challenged in the modern age.
Ancona chickens have striking good looks with a wonder comb and their similarity to the Black Mottled Leghorn hints at their Mediterranean origins. The Ancona arrived in America in 1888 and their introduction proved to be a success.
In the following years further imports from Italy and birds bred in the US were used to perfect the breed. In Holland and Germany an alternate Blue Mottled Ancona variety and the Ancobar (which was autosexing) was developed from American and later British Ancona chickens. But this proved to be unpopular, some remain to this day, but in the UK they are believed to be extinct.
Ancona Chicken Characteristics
Many people have an initial attraction to Anconas based purely on the quality and details present in their plumage. There are white V-shaped spangles present at the end of each green/black feature and the resulting pattern is stunning. In the competitive world of fancy poultry breeding the Ancona always breeds true and a well-turned-out bird is a real show stopper. The colors are always correct, but it is tricky to find a bird with precisely detailed feather tips and expert breeders expect a “perfect bird” in a 10-1 ratio.
The Ancona chickens have a pair of variant comb types. They are the single comb and the rose comb. The single comb tends to be more popular, it’s the exact comb that you would envisage for the ideal chicken and it’s eerily similar to the cockerel featured on the front of a Kellog’s Corn Flakes box.
The rose comb is less well known, it can be observed at some larger shows and there is contention over the inclusion. Some breeders believe that the Ancona breed should have a single standard comb and others prefer some variety. As an example: The Orpington Club has recently changed their standards to reject the rose comb and yet in recent years those specimens were allowed on the clubs show bench.
Temperament of the Ancona Chicken
Ancona chickens are active, inquisitive, and hardy birds that are resistant to colder weather conditions. An incubator is needed for egg hatching because the hens are not broody, and they have an average lifespan of eight years.
These birds are pretty good flyers and high fencing is required to keep them close to home. But it’s important to avoid too many restrictions. Ancona chickens don’t enjoy confined conditions and they are happier if they can roam and forage.
If they are handled from a very young age and you are kind with these birds, they can be extremely tame and trusting. This breed is one of the non-siter breeds that produces a lot of eggs, and the chick matures quickly.
Ancona Chicken Eggs
Ancona chickens are good foragers, they are not typically broody, and they are renowned for their laying capacity. The Ancona Chicken egg color is white, they are a good size and it’s not surprising that they were raised mainly for egg production. An Ancona hen can lay around 220 eggs per year and they start laying at an earlier age than many other breeds.
An early reared pullet can lay their first egg at around 16 weeks of age, and they will lay all year unless they are molting. During the 2nd and into the 3rd year of life, the hen will lay consistently, but egg production will begin to diminish in the 4th year. So, if you want egg production consistency it will be necessary to replenish the flock every couple of years. When a hen reaches 20 weeks of age they will be in full lay, and you can expect 5-7 full sized eggs per week.
Ancona chickens are a good fit if you want to raise poultry with beautiful feathers. But, beyond the obvious aesthetic appeal, these chickens are active, hardy and they have a great feed to eggs ratio.
Who are Ancona Chickens Best Suited For?
If you need a chicken that’s a good forager to keep your garden, clear of pests these are a great option. These are an ideal poultry breed if you’re trying to start a free-range egg business because the birds mature fast and start laying early. If you have spare pasture and you want some chickens to browse and fertilize those areas, these are a great breed.
Ancona chickens are not particularly aggressive, but they can be stressed if they are chased by kids, and they should be left alone unless they are socialized from a very early age. This poultry breed is extremely talkative, they make more noise than other chickens because they talk constantly. So, if you need to keep the noise levels low this breed is not a great fit for your coop.
Conclusion- Ancona Chicken
It’s easy to see why Ancona chickens are a well-regarded breed amongst new and seasoned owners. This bird is hardy, but it can be a little highly strung although the bantam is a little calmer. They will enjoy handling and human interactions if they are handled gently from a very early age. It’s important to allow them adequate space to roam and they are a flight risk. However, when it comes to early, consistent and high feed to ratio egg production the Ancona breed is hard to beat.