Are you looking to become a chicken keeper? Getting your first bunch of birds can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to that first breed you pick. Most people are aware of brown chickens, but there are tons of different breeds to choose from.
One of the more popular “heritage” chickens that you can get is the Isa Brown chicken. ISA Brown chickens can offer a lot to the right family or farm, especially when it comes to egg production.
This chicken is unique in the sense that it’s part of the modern vanguard of chickens developed by major corporations specifically with a purpose in mind. Not sure if it’s right for you? Let’s take a look at the facts about this breed.
What are ISA Brown chickens?
ISA brown chickens are hybrid chickens that were developed by the Institut de Sélection Animale, also known as ISA, later to merge with Merck. The official name is currently the ISA Hubbard Brown Chicken.
These chickens were specially bred to become some of the most prolific egg layers in the world, ideal for families that want to have a pet that also can offer something to eat for the family.
ISA Brown chickens have a lineage that stems from several other birds, including the Rhode Island Red, White Leghorns, and more. Since it is a company secret no one knows the full list of birds that went into this hybrid chicken.
The American Poultry Association does not entirely recognize the ISA Brown chicken breed, but it is a copyrighted chicken breed. So, you cannot try to breed your own without having gone through the proper routes.
As the name suggests, this chicken breed originated in France.
What does an ISA Brown chicken look like?
ISA Brown chickens look like most other chicken breeds of their type. They are brown, often with a slight tint of white depending on their gender. They tend to be rather petite, with hens reaching a mature weight of about 4.4 lb.
They have red (or gold eyes), red wattles, and a large red comb. You might occasionally see white tail feathers, which are often ascribed to being the descendant of a white rooster during the hybridization process.
Since it’s still a new breed, there’s no set breed standard quite yet. This means that you might find a fair amount of variety. You can usually tell an ISA Brown by its medium size and ridiculous egg-laying capabilities.
What are ISA Brown chickens famous for?
ISA created this breed for one reason: its ability to create a wildly large number of eggs with excellent flavor and excellent shell quality. A typical ISA Brown female will be able to lay as many as 300 eggs per year or more.
However, that’s not all they are known for.
If you are looking for a friendly pet chicken, this is a great choice. They have a very sweet, docile temperament that makes them very friendly. Caring chicken keepers might end up with birds that try to follow them around and sit on their laps.
What should you know about ISA Brown chickens and their egg laying?
Their ability to lay eggs is hard to compete with. Many of these chickens can lay over 300 eggs per year. They basically don’t stop laying, which is why they are the best breed for people in need of eggs.
How do you feed ISA Brown chickens?
ISA Brown chickens generally are low maintenance. They don’t need too much chicken feed, but you should consider supplementing their diet with extra protein and calcium. Otherwise, they could end up hurting themselves due to the need for calcium from laying.
ISA Browns love to free-range for food. It helps them get the nutrients they need and also keeps them happy. Ideally, you’ll have more than one chicken. This will give them someone to cluck to while they dine on local bugs.
To help them get a lot of calcium, make sure that you get an oyster shell that they can peck at throughout the day. This is especially true when they molt or when they’ve started to lay eggs at a breakneck space.
How do you house ISA Brown chickens?
Unlike other chickens of similar egg-laying fame, ISA Browns do not need a lot of space to feel happy. They actually work very well in confinement and can handle small coops. They work well as backyard chickens because they tend to be quiet and okay with small spaces.
With that said, they do appreciate a little free range. They work well with low fences, and can easily do well in around 20 square feet of space. Coop space, on the other hand, will require four square feet per bird.
Since they’re fairly quiet birds, you can raise these in the suburbs with a little issue with neighbors.
Do ISA Brown chickens get broody?
ISA Brown hens rarely get broody. That trait was bred out of them, though they are great mothers when they do have chicks. Though most won’t get broody, there is always a chance you may end up with one hen that has a broody streak.
Are ISA Brown chickens good for meat?
First off, they do not grow large enough to give an adequate amount of meat. So, raising them to the point that they are broiler size will be difficult and time-consuming. If you want fast meat, this is not it.
The other issue involves the health problems that this breed is prone to having. ISA Brown chickens are more prone to tumors and cancers than other bird breeds. This does not look appetizing on a dinner plate and will negatively affect the quality of the meat.
This means that they are best left for the other two main purposes chickens are bought for: egg production and companionship. Meat is off the table here!
Are ISA Brown chickens healthy?
Unfortunately, egg laying at the pace of an ISA Brown chicken is going to take a massive toll on their health. If you want to get a backyard flock of this bird breed, you may have to brace yourself for medical bills.
ISA Brown chickens are prone to tumors, kidney problems, prolapse, and other similar issues related to “wear and tear” from egg laying. You can expect them to live only five to eight years in most cases. The problems start to show after they reach two years old.
In terms of hardiness, they can handle a wide range of different temperatures. These birds are not likely to die of frostbite or overheat. Extreme temperatures, though, should be avoided.
Are ISA Brown chickens good pets?
The ISA’s docile and sweet demeanor makes them a great chicken for kids and adults alike. They are fairly easygoing and will be happy to sit in your lap, follow you around for affection, and relax with you.
If you end up having a rooster in the hen house, you shouldn’t be surprised if your chickens let you handle their offspring. They are truly trusting of people, often to the point of being fearless. This makes them a good beginner breed, too.
Whether or not this gentle demeanor is part of the ISA’s breed goals is a mystery, but most chicken owners would agree that it’s a nice bonus either way. This means commercial growers don’t have to worry about pecks, and families might have a new fluffy pet to love.
How much do ISA Brown chickens cost?
ISA Brown chickens are slightly more costly than most other chicken breeds. This is due to both their corporate (and copyrighted) background as well as their background involving laying lots and lots of eggs.
A single ISA brown chicken will go for $3 to $5 per hatchling on average, with female chickens going as high as $6. If you go to an individual breeder that raises chickens in small numbers, the price may be higher as a result of the individualized care that they offer.
Like with all chicken breeds, we strongly encourage you to choose a breeder that is ethical and takes good care of their birds. Health problems can start very young in neglected ISA Browns!
Right now, ISA Brown chickens are a breed that shows cutting-edge breeding technology in egg production. Ever since they were made in France, this hybrid chicken has been taking the egg production world by storm.
If you love large, high-quality brown eggs, you’re going to want to check out ISA Brown chickens. They are ideal for backyard pets, egg layers, and members of your already-existent flock.