Everything You Need to Know About the Ancona Chicken

Posted by Daphne Cybele
Everything you Need to Know about the Ancona hen
All Photos by Daphne Cybele

Is the flashy-feathered and prolific egg layer Ancona chicken right for your coop?

The free-ranging Ancona chicken doesn’t like to be cooped up, but if you have the space for this hardy chicken to roam, you’ll surely fall in love!

The Ancona chicken is a heritage breed. This lovely chicken originates in the Italian seaport of Ancona on the Adriatic Sea. Exported from Italy and mainly bred in England in the 19th century, the Ancona is now very rare in its homeland.

Ancona hens in coop

The Ancona traveled from England to America in 1888, and became recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1898 (single comb) and 1914 (rose comb).

READ MOREHeritage Chicken Breeds Are Disappearing and Here’s Why They Are Worth Saving

The Ancona chicken is extremely winter hardy despite its large single comb. This versatile breed does very well in cold weather, and equally well in hot weather. It may be difficult to convince your Anconas to roost in the coop if they find a suitable tree to their liking since they like to fly.

Hover over the image for more information:

General Appearance

The Ancona is a lightweight bird with mottled black feathers, yellow feet sometimes splashed or mottled with black, white earlobes, and either a single comb or a rose comb (both comb types are recognized in the United States and the UK).

The appearance and behavior of the Ancona is similar to the Leghorn (it has even been called the mottled Leghorn) but there are differences in the angle of back and tail and in temperament (the Ancona is flightier).

Coloration/Feathers

The mottled appearance of white spots on black feathers comes from mainly black plumage with white tips. The white feather tips grow larger with each successive molt, leading to a paler bird as it ages.

Temperament

Ancona chickens are active, vocal, and flighty. This breed is known to fly over four-foot (or higher) fences with ease.

The Ancona chicken is an excellent forager, and it likes to roam. They are quick to sound an alarm if predators are spotted and very loud if there is a disagreement over roost or nest box space.

While they can be friendly over time, the chicks are very nervous in comparison to other breeds, and Anconas do have a tendency to be extremely "flighty."

Head

In single comb hens, the large single comb flops to one side, giving the birds a comical appearance. This mediterranean breed has red eyes.

Egg Laying

The Ancona hen is a prolific white egg layer (over 200 per year). The eggs are medium to large in size despite the Anconas relatively small size.

Laying through the winter is common.

Want to try the Ancona?

So you think you want to try Anconas in your flock? Ancona chickens are fairly rare. This breed is available at several large hatcheries, but it can be hard to search out a breeder.

The Ancona has a “Watch” status on the Livestock Conservancy list of heritage poultry. The Livestock Conservancy defines “Watch” status as “less than 2,500 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 10,000.”

Ancona chicks

Are you looking for a flashy white egg layer to show off the other colors in your egg cartons? Consider the hardy prolific and active Ancona for your backyard flock!

Do you have or want Anconas? Tell us why in the comments below!

All images via Daphne Cybele

WATCH NOW: Silkie Chickens Are Fluffy!

Everything You Need to Know About the Ancona Chicken