ISA Brown – the Ups & Downs
ISA Brown are an incredibly popular backyard layer choice, most probably because they are readily available through many stock feed stores across Australia.
They are also popular mainly because of the big brown eggs they produce, just like the ones on supermarket shelves.
ISA Brown are also famous in egg farming and as ‘battery hens’ due to their enormous egg production rate.
ISA Brown is not a breed but actually a brand, much the same as Holden or Sony. The ‘ISA’ stands for “Institut de Selection Animale”, a French company that developed the breed in 1978 as a battery hen for optimum egg production of approximately 300 eggs per hen in the first year of laying.
As a hybrid sex link chicken the girls (hens) hatch out a different colour to the boys (cockerels). This is ‘ideal’ for the commercial egg industry as chicken sexing is made simple. Also if you mate the rooster to a hen you will not produce an ISA Brown chicken which is another component of producing a hybrid chicken.
The ISA Brown is not recognised in poultry shows and there is no breed standard for them. The genetic makeup of an ISA Brown is a closely guarded secret, but what is known is that there is a fair bit of New Hampshire/Rhode Island Red chicken in there.
On the bright side…
The ISA Brown is popular among all backyard chicken keepers because of its egg laying abilities – it was what they were bred for after all!
They will provide you in excess of 300 large, brown eggs annually and that’s a whole lot of omelets!
Apart from supplying your kitchen with an abundance of fantastic fresh eggs, ISA Brown are very friendly and make great family pets as they take to humans very well. Even the chickie’s aren’t easily spooked or stressed.
Another great factor about the ISA Brown is that she is considered quite a hardy bird, in that she will cope well with the elements. Rain, hail or shine, hot or cold, the ISA Brown will withstand it all like a champ!
They are not flighty or fussy, so they bear confinement well, and will adapt to their surroundings with ease. They are particularly good foragers, easily spotting tasty morsels from afar.
On the down side…
As a result of amplified egg-laying for the two years of their life the ISA Brown can look rather bedraggled and will often have a loss of feathers around its neck and/or bottom. This is because they direct the protein they gain from food into egg production instead of feather production. If you have ISA’s a boost of protein will help with feather regrowth.
A small amount of meal worms or another good protein source once or twice a week would be really good for them.
They would also greatly benefit from live cultured yoghurt/Lactobacillus and of course Natural Chicken Health – Super Mash
Unfortunately the ISA Brown has a significantly reduced life expectancy compared to other chook breeds with the majority of ISA’s living for between 3-4 years. Some backyard chicken keepers report their pet ISA’s living between 5-8 years but mainly less because it simply isn’t what they were ‘bred’ to do.
The short life expectancy is directly related to their high egg production. Other chicken breeds will molt, possibly go broody and a majority will take a break from egg laying during the colder month to rest their reproductive system and regrow their feathers.
Because their body works overtime for two years to supply a bounty of eggs, the ISA Brown lifespan is significantly reduced compared to other chicken breeds – sad, but true
There is reportedly a movement against ISA Brown being sold as the common backyard chicken as many people believe that they have been bred with too many health issues that are not usually as prevalent in other breeds.
ISA’s can also be quite ‘chookist’ in so far that once they are part of an established flock they can be quite brutal to newcomers. This can be overcome by ensuring that any new additions to a flock which have ISA Brown are of a similar size (if not bigger) and have plenty of room to run away until the new pecking order is established.
It is best not to breed from ISA Brown. As a Hybrid they pass on their genetic faults to their chicks which can put their health in jeopardy, so anything that may not have been very noticeable in your first batch of hens will be very noticeable in their offspring. ISA Brown’s are well known for reproductive and kidney issues.
All in all, ISA Brown are amazing chickens for those wanting a lot of eggs for their time/money/food conversion.
They are also one of the most family friendly chooks out there.
Also that they are readily available tends to make them the choice for backyard chicken keeping – especially for people new to keeping chooks.
I would much rather have a heritage breed that will give less eggs per year but more over their lifespan, live longer and develop less reproductive related health issues.
But that’s just how I flock!
Heritage Chicken Breeder
If you are looking for a reputable heritage chicken breeder in the Bega Valley, NSW you cant go past Schoolhouse Farm as breeders of heritage chooks that are lovingly and ethically raised. Check out their beautiful chickens, goats, soaps and more by clicking here
Whether you have ISA Brown or Heritage breeds….it will be good to keep Super Mash up to your chooks!
Chicken owners can grab a bag of Super Mash at over 30 stockists across, SE NSW, Gippsland and ACT, or buy online from our Webstore
Treat your chickens well – they’ll love you for it and lay great eggs!
Find out more, order online and check for a stockist near you at https://naturalchickenhealth.com.au/
Information sourced from:
ISA Brown official website: http://www.isapoultry.com/