Columbian Leghorn

Columbian Leghorns
by Danne J Honour 1980
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Columbian Leghorn

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Flag USA The popularity of this variety is very limited, perhaps because some people feel the Columbian color pattern is most attractive on big frames like the Light Brahmas. The Lakenvelder is also a light weight, white egg layer of a somewhat close color scheme which competes with Columbian Leghorn for breeders, and fanciers. The Columbian color demands a good knowledge of breeding in order to be very successful. The Columbian Leghorn was never popular commercially, and will likely remain a fancier’s variety. The Columbian Leghorn, when bred right, is a most stunningly attractive show variety indeed.

The Columbian Leghorn was first exhibited at a Boston show, about the year 1905. These birds, for years stayed on the mind of Richard Harwood, a well known breeder of Light Brahmas and Columbian Wyandottes. In 1922, Mr. Harwood saw some attractive Silver Penciled Leghorns at a show. He bought the best colored Silver Penciled Leghorn male and mated with him, three outstandingly well—shaped White Leghorn females. The offspring were a jumbled lot. The cockerels ranged in color from nearly white to a few with Columbian possibilities. The pullets were all more or less penciled, except a few solid black. Some had white breasts and wing bows and all had black tails, black and white inside the wing, with Columbian necks. In 1923 a light colored cockerel with the best Columbian wing, neck and tail, was mated with the darkest pullets. Also a darker cockerel was mated to the lightest pullets. This generation indicated the possibility of his scheme to use purely Leghorn blood to produce Columbian Leghorns. The cockerels, about 75% had to be culled for color defects, such as spotted breasts and back, poor under color, or brass. Out of the 25%, two were selected, or one a little dark, the other a little light with very good type. The pullets were poor in color, perhaps due to the brown the Silver Penciled Leghorn females carry in there genes, about 95% were color culls. None were used with the slightest trace of brown. The following year, 1924, out of 135 pullets raised, only 4 showed any ­brown coloring. The next year, not one showed up in 200 with a brown feather of any kind.

In 1924, by selecting only the best black and white birds, he produced his first real Columbian Leghorns, about 300 in the flock. By 1925 the color was much better and the practice of dark and light matings was discontinued. These matings were only with even colored males and females; severely culled for good combs, lobes, and type. In 1926, the matings produced practically no real culls, as they were uniform in type and color. One of the nicest females was pictured by Schilling.

Mr. Harwood died Jan.11, 1964 at the age of  77 . He was regarded as the most outstanding breeder of the Columbian color pattern of all time. His origination and development to perfection, in Columbian Leghorns, played an important role in admitting Columbian Leghorns into the Standard of Perfection in 1929.Today Columbian Leghorns are very rare and in need of serious breeders familiar with the Columbian color pattern. There are still some pure Columbian Leghorns, and one should get the best quality available to use as a foundation..

The breeder must have plenty of room to raise good numbers In order to give selection a chance to work. Several matings each year will help speed improvements.In cases where the color is very poor and better strains unknown, a completely new line may have to be made. A breeder mentioned he thought a good Columbian Rock male on good typed White leghorn females, together with about 10 years could produce a good strain of Columbian Leghorns. A breeder would have to have experience in crossing and know the Columbian color pattern. Regardless of what the pure Columbian Leghorn may be in quality it would be wise to keep them going pure, until a new line is good. The two lines could be crossed, in case of needed vigor or health.A note on crossbreeding Columbian:  In a first cross, a Columbian female will give her color to her sons but not her daughters. A Columbian male will give his color to both sexes.

Mr. Harwood did not claim to be the originator of Columbian Leghorns, only his strain. The first good ones he remembered were shown at a Boston show sometime between l905-l9l0 by Prof. John Evans of Rhode Island. The Silver Penciled Leghorns Harwood saw at a 1922 show were shown by Fred Field Jr. and Fred Rogers, both of Brockton, Mass. The White Leghorns used in his foundation stock came from H.P. McKean of Beverly, Mass. Mr. Harwood also lived in Massachusetts.

Note —— This article on the large Columbian Leghorns is of historical interest but it should be pointed out that today we know how to make a Columbian Leghorn bantams in a very short time by crossing a Silver Leg­horn male with a Black Leghorn female. The second generation resulting from this cross will include some Columbian Leghorns. 1985 –Fred P.Jeffrey

Dan Honour

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