American chickens came from where?

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Scientists say that there were chickens in America long ago. But, these chickens weren’t the same kinds of chickens that lay our eggs today. Historians believe that the first chickens related to today’s egg layers were brought to America by Columbus’ ships.

The chicken breed that lays most of the eggs we eat is the Single-Comb White Leghorn. The name Leghorn comes from a city in Italy called Livorno in Italian.

Can you find the city with the English name Leghorn or the Italian name Livorno on this map of Italy? Why do you think Columbus would have sailed out of Spain with chickens from Italy?

Christopher Columbus was Italian. He came from the town of Genoa, Italy which is also famous for salami. But, Columbus’ wife was Spanish and the couple lived in Spain for some time. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain paid for his voyage. Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain on August 3, 1492. He brought the hens along on his second voyage the next year. The laying hens first supplied eggs and then chicken meat for the hungry crew.