ISA Brown Chicken – All You Need To Know
A relatively recent introduction to the poultry world, the chickens ISA Brown breed is undoubtedly one of the biggest sellers in the industry. This isn’t surprising at all; they boast a charming demeanor and excellent egg laying abilities compared to many other breeds.
ISA brown chicks
Video of some ISA brown chicks
While their fantastic egg laying abilities is something the Chicken ISA brown breed is famous for, their calm personalities make them a breeze to manage. This trait also makes them better suited to family living than most other egg-laying types – a quality especially vital if you’re looking to raise some in your backyard or in need of an extraordinary low-maintenance layer to include in your flock.
Origin of the Isa Brown
Before anything, we have to state here that the ISA Brown is a brand name. Just like any other product brand; e.g., iPhone, Toyota, and Gucci. ISA is an abbreviation of the “Institute de Sélection Animale” – the French company that originally developed the breed in 1978 for commercial egg production (they lay an impressive 300+ eggs per year on average). The “Brown” refers to breed’s feather color.
The company merged with Merck and Co in 1997, and the breed was renamed Hubbard ISA. Multiple mergers followed and today, the chicken breed ISA Brown is a subsidiary of the Group Grimaud La Corbiere SA.
The ISA Brown is not a breed recognized by major poultry associations/clubs but instead a hybrid of chickens. Although their exact genetic makeup is guarded carefully, there are speculations that the chicken ISA Brown is a hybrid of the Rhode Island Red and the Rhode Island White with perhaps some input from the White Leghorns. It is still unclear what other breeds may be involved if any.
ISA brown eggs
Chicken breed ISA Brown dominates the egg production market, and so it is not uncommon to find sellers passing off other commercial hybrid chicken as the ISA Brown. This is not unconnected with the looks and egg laying abilities they may share with the ISA Brown.
Note that while some other breeds may be similar appearance and share same egg-laying traits, you cannot refer to them as ISA Browns. Which is why discussing the origins of your “ISA Brown chickens” with your seller is necessary.
As a hybrid, the chicken ISA Brown does not have any particular “standards of perfection” from Poultry Associations or clubs. However, because they are a “brand” and as such “copyrighted,” sellers cannot simply refer to their lookalike chickens as “ISA Browns” or even permitted to pass them off as such.
Also, while most local poultry shows organizers would probably not bat an eyelid if you decide to enter your ISA Brown at their shows, it will not be allowed in more prestigious poultry events or competitions.
The ISA Browns share a striking similarity with the Rhode Island Reds and as such all too easy to mistake them for the latter. A closer look and you’ll notice the chicken breed ISA brown color is of a lighter shade/chestnut brown.
ISA Brown hens
Their features may not be particularly “outstanding,” but the medium-sized chicken with their rectangular bodies and their slight dips to their backs are still attractive birds nonetheless. Their upright white tail feathers complement their chestnut brown color and the single straight comb. Their eye color ranges from bay red to a yellow.
ISA brown rooster
The more stocky roosters are white with brown flecks and broader when compared with their egg laying counterparts. The hens typically classified as small to medium and often weigh around 5lb.
Chicken breed ISA Brown is a hybrid, and so the chicks expectedly will not live up to their parent’s abilities. Also, they do not have a reputation for being broody though may fare much better in backyard settings. Even when they do become broody, their offspring are commonly prone to kidney problems.
Certainly not the healthiest of chicks – and a reason you probably shouldn’t be breeding them yourself.
If your hen, however, becomes broody (and as a result stops laying eggs) usually in backyard environments, rest assured that they make great mothers to their chicks. Also, they are “sex-link” chicken, and this means at birth, they can be immediately and easily sexed. The whites are boys, and the tans are the girls.
That said, these chickens are not the perfect birds for personal breeding, but if you’re looking to breed them yourself, or they become broody on their own, you would need the necessary equipment like the lamp for incubation.
Again, they’re not the best ‘girls” for breeding, and if you want to raise chicks, it is advisable you get them from a good dealer or even better, get rescue chickens.
All animals require some level of care to stay healthy and of course, live longer. The chicken ISA Brown is no exception. However, because of their short and not-so abundant plumage, grooming is super easy. Like other chickens, the ISA browns will dust-bath regularly to stay fresh.
You should, however, check them routinely for pests like mites and lice. The last thing you want to deal with on your flock is an outbreak of these pests.
ISA Brown Health Issues
One quality we all probably adore more than its attractive built is certainly its egg-laying abilities. However, because they are a hybrid engineered for amplified egg production, they are prone to a myriad of health issues.
These health issues eventually cause early death. Some of them include vent prolapses, tumors (malignant and benign), kidney diseases, and even sheer exhaustion.
In a few cases, antibiotics may curb these problems, but in many cases, however, it does little. Again, early death in ISA Brown chicken breed should come as no surprise. For one, a bird laying no less than 300 eggs on average yearly can barely be expected to live to old age or even a healthy one at that.
This is why culling chickens after their second year is a practice in commercial poultries. They fall sick, or/and become exhausted, and their egg production drops considerably. At this point, they are said to be “spent” and sent or sold out to be slaughtered.
Sick ISA brown chicken
In recent times, however, many hen welfare trusts and other related organizations worldwide rescue these hens. They’re sent to go live as pets with ordinary people for the remaining part of their lives.
And yes, they make excellent pets and while their best laying years may be considered to be “over,” most will still lay eggs and reward your kindness with their affection.
ISA Brown and Other Chickens
ISA Browns are sweet birds, but there’s something you should know if you are planning to add them to your flock; they can be quite fierce to newcomers. Thankfully, curbing this is easy; ensure your new additions are of the same size, and there’s plenty of space to run away. This is required to prevent eventualities until they establish a pecking order.
Another way you can curb this is by providing more than one food and water station. This lessens the possibility of the more dominant chicken breed ISA brown denying your “newbies” access to nourishment.
Life Expectancy of the ISA Chicken Brown
If you’re interested in keeping the ISA brown breed, one of the questions you may have is; “what is the life expectancy of the ISA Brown?”
Like all other chickens engineered precisely for egg production, the lifespan of the ISA Brown is significantly less than that of the healthy “pure” breed chicken. On average, the ISA brown may live between 2-3 years, though some backyard ISA brown keepers have had a few that lived for up to 7 years.
However, you have to understand that for the chicken ISA brown, this is in the minority as they are just not bred to live that long.
Pure breed chickens, on the other hand, would often molt, brood, and even take breaks in cold months to develop new feathers and of course, give their reproductive organs some well-deserved rest.
ISA Brown Diet
In addition to their regular nutrient dense feeds, your chicken ISA Brown may require extra protein. They are heavy egg layers and as such their bodies are continually converting feed protein for egg production. And this is why it is common to find most ISA brown chickens with sparse feathers.
To supplement their protein needs, once or twice weekly, you could give them a small quantity of yogurt or mealworms to help keep their calcium and protein levels up and help them stay fit.
This is perhaps another of the most loved traits of the ISA brown chicken. They are hardy birds that thrive even in colder months, though; there might be a slight reduction in their egg laying.
However, warmer months are their favorite for laying; thus, in backyard settings; you should ensure they do not stay outside their coop for long periods in colder ones.
Lastly, the ISA brown chickens are excellent foragers, and once they adapt to their environments, they can spot safe and tasty morsels easily.
What’s there not to love about the ISA brown chicken breed? They’re lovely, friendly and terrific with small children. Plus they have “egg-cellent” egg-laying abilities! If you’re looking to add a great breed to your flocks for daily eggs or even as a pet, the chicken breed ISA Brown is definitely worth considering.
A word of caution; ensure your hen is precisely what the seller says it is especially with “very cheap” ISA brown chickens. While a dishonest seller may not tell you this, the truth is the cheaper a bird, the older it probably is. Even when dealing with a dishonest trader, it is easy to identify young ISA brown chickens. A young ISA brown chicken and chickens generally will have smaller combs and wattles. These get bigger and redder as they get closer to their laying age.
If a seller offers you a supposedly “young” ISA brown chicken with a large comb and wattle, do your due diligence. Ask questions to clear all of your doubts.
So, there you go; all you should know about the chicken ISA brown breed. Have other questions or any personal experience with this breed? We’d like to know, share in the comments.