as layers of good sized white eggs, non-setters, these beautiful chickens have
lustrous black plumage with white tips on every few feathers. The are about the
same size to a little heavier than Leghorns. The dark color and active
temperament make them a good bird to raise where hawks, owls, and animal
predators are a problem because they do not show up like white breeds; and they
are very quick and alert. They are an old breed in the Mediterranean Class,
coming from the area around Ancona, Italy via England to the United States by
the late 1800's. Baby chicks are very bright and snappy looking with their
approximately half and half combination of black and white patches.
As a Leghorn-related chicken the Ancona is a separated breed in most
Pre-eminently it is recognized as a good egg-producer and on the
same level of production as the Leghorn. The history is also closely
related to this breed, but they were earlier spread through the world.
The Ancona was created from a crossing between the Tuscany-fowl and local
farmyard fowl. Some poultry experts say that offspring was crossed with
black and white Minorca's but this was not proved scientifically. Also
there is some influence of the real Leghorn in this breed but they differ
slightly in type. Their breast is not as full is in the Leghorn.
They came as a breed from Eastern Italy - in the area of the seaport town of Ancona
on the Adriatic Sea - to Europe in the mid of the 19th century and were
first exhibited around 1850 in Birmingham, Great Britain. First the single
comb was found and later the rosecomb. In that era in England, they were
the most kept in Devonshire. Minorca's were used to increase egg-weight.
Many Mediterranean breeds with black and white mottled plumage were given the incorrect name of Ancona.
True ANCONAS have a white spangle on the end of each feather but visible the black should dominate. International some differences in Standard requirements are known. For example, the birds of America are darker than the British.
In 1888, F.A. Mortimer of Pottsville, Pennsylvania imported them in the US. One of the world's most important Ancona breeders, H. Cecil Shephard of Berea, Ohio, US continued
this strain around the change of the 19th and 20th century. He created the
utility variety of them with preservation of excellent breed characteristics for both the utility and exhibition Ancona. He was one of the largest breeders of
ANCONAS between 1906 and 1930 and still some of his strains exist at present-day.
In 1898, the Ancona Club in Great Britain was found. In most countries, you find a
specialty Club of them or as branch of the Leghorn Clubs. Since some decades, there is world-wide a
renewed interest for this very beautiful breed.
The moderate long, deep and equal broad body is of the same shape as a
Leghorn only with lesser breast.
Its head is middle long in nice harmony to
the body. A strong moderate long, yellowish beak, with darker shadings,
completes it. The ones with a red single comb have it middle large, carried
right up with five or six deep serrated points, following the head in
roosters. The hens have a small single comb, right up in the front and
folded slowly to one side at the end.
The rosecomb variety shows a moderate
small comb. A square front, fine of texture, right on the head following
the line of the head and tapering to the end. The end of the comb is
horizontal and behind the head. Wattles are red, middle long, thin and well
The face is bright red free from white. Eyes are orange-red of color.
Earlobes have an almond shape, moderate large, smooth and have white of color.
The neck is fairly long and nicely curved. Back- and saddle
feathers are long and broad with well developed hackles. The forward
carried, not too heavy breast is good arched. Wings are carried nearly
horizontal and close to the body. The ends of the wings may not pass the
body. Shoulders are nice rounded. The large and broad main tail feathers are carried half high and
spread well. With the nicely curved sickle
feathers, they form the tail. The hind quarter is rather deep while fluff
is better developed with the hen than the cock. Thighs are moderate long
and set well apart, rights under the body.
Legs are yellow with some darker
patches on it. The more evenly mottled the better. They are fairly long and
toes are well spread. The main color is beetle green black with nicely
tipped with V-shaped spangles on many of the feathers. The more evenly they
are tipped the better the quality.
Pullets and cockerels are in the second
year better than in the first. In the latter, they are in general speaking
A good egg-producer of white eggs, which weigh 55-60 grams each. Production
varies between strain from 200 to 235 per hen, per year.
quickly and commence laying at an early age. If hatched at the right
seasons the stay laying in wintertime.
They are vigorous, active and good
foragers. It's a non-sitting breed.
In some strains, nervous birds with
temperament are found. By careful selection, you can breed out this
ANCONAS weigh approx. between 1750 and 2500 grams, depending on age and sex
Most common are the Single combs but international there is an increasing
interest in rosecomb ANCONAS.