The Ancona chicken breed, named after the Italian province, is an old breed dating back to at least the 17th century. This breed is supposed to have made its way from the Italian coast to Britain in the late 19th century. When this breed first arrived in the U.S, also in the second half of the 19th century, they were often referred to as Mottled Leghorns because both breeds have some common characteristics. Both are, for instance, excellent layers of large white eggs, rarely broody and, therefore, supplier of eggs throughout the year.
A standard Ancona cock weighs around 6 lbs., hen 4.5 lbs. There is also a bantam variety with the cock weighing around 1.6 lbs and the hen 1.3 lbs.
The plumage of the Anconas is a mottled black with white speckling on the tips of the feathers. The dark plumage together with their quick and alert temperament make them difficult prey for predator birds, such as hawks and owls.
The Ancona chickens have four toes on each foot, no feathering on their legs, and do not possess a crest. They are, like other Mediterranean breeds, closely feathered. They have either a rose or a single comb. A single comb is a medium size red comb with five distinct points. The males have all five points standing upright, while the females have the first point standing upright and the other four drooping to one side. The rose comb is a bright red, medium size red rose sitting square in front. They have bright red wattles and white earlobes. A cock has long, well-rounded wattles and small almond shaped earlobes, close to head, and the hen, medium well-rounded wattles and oval earlobes close to the head. As for colour, they generally have a yellow beak, reddish brown eyes and yellow shanks and toes.