Ancona Chooks

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BREED: Ancona
TEMPERAMENT: Inclined to flightiness but can be tamed
COST: $15 plus
LIFESPAN: 8 years (3 years productive)
RECOMMENDED FOR: Families & backyards

In a few weeks the poultry spotlight will be on a relatively unknown breed of chook from Italy – the Ancona. It is the feature breed at this year’s Royal Easter Show (3-18 April 1998 at Homebush Bay in Sydney).


The Ancona is a glossy black-feathered bird with a distinctive white v-shaped marking at the end of each feather. The legs are yellow mottled with black. There are two types of combs, a rose comb which is nearly flat on top covered with small regular points, and the single which is a narrow blade spiked in a line.

Roosters weigh 2.7-3kg (6-6.5lb) and hens 2.25-2.5kg (5-5.5lb). There is a bantam variety which weighs 570g-680g (20-24oz) for males and 510-620g (18-22oz) for females.


Anconas are often described as flighty but breeder Alex Cheetham showed that with calm firm handling they are quite docile. They are not known for being broody.

Health & lifespan

Long-time breeders say Anconas are quite healthy if vaccinations are maintained. They can live up to eight years but are only commercially productive for two to three seasons.


A commercial breeder crumble is a good base diet with grass, clean water and grains to scratch up. Anconas aren’t big eaters.

Breeding & costs

Anconas are not considered a good sitting breed (that is they may not be able to incubate their own eggs) so their eggs are usually passed on to broodier types. Exhibitors may find breeding birds with good mottled legs a challenge. Quality show birds may reach $60 each while backyard birds cost around $15 each.


The Ancona has a reputation for being a very reliable layer. Alex Cheetham says good birds can lay about 250 eggs a year (four to five per week) but this is dependent on a quality protein-rich diet. It is considered an early-maturing breed with pullets often starting their laying career at 18 weeks.

Space & housing requirements

All fowls should be penned at night to avoid predators, such as cats and foxes. Alex Cheetham estimates four birds would be ample to supply a family with eggs.

It is essential to check with your local council for the regulations for keeping poultry. Some councils will allow poultry but have rules which mean it’s unlikely suburban homeowners could comply. For example, a chook pen may be permissible as long as it is sited a minimum of 18m (60′) from any fixed structure, including fences.


The Ancona is said to have originated in the Ancona region of north eastern Italy. It’s likely that the Ancona is a derivation of many local fowls, its origins are similar to the Leghorn, another Italian breed, but development this century has resulted in an eye-catching, productive bird. Many poultry enthusiasts believe it is a breed which is highly underrated as a backyard chook.

Further information

Ancona Club of Australia
Vice president: Mr Alex Cheetham
PO Box 60
Ingleburn 2565
Phone: (02) 9605 1625

Show details
The Royal Easter Show is being held for the first time at Homebush Bay from 3-18 April. Phone: (02) 9704 1111.
Open: 9.30am-8.30pm.
Admission: Adults – $15; Concession – $11; Children – $7.50 (ages four -15). Children aged three and under are admitted free.