Isa Brown chickens make a great addition to any backyard flock. They are family friendly pets and will happily interact with your kids.
They are easy to care for and handle living in various different climates. Isa Brown chickens lay more eggs than most other backyard breeds.
If you are looking for a bird that will provide you with lots of eggs and feed your family, an Isa Brown may be for you.
These features make them a popular breed and they are commonly found in Australian backyards.
Isa Brown Chicken Breed Profile
The Isa Brown was developed in the late 1970’s in France.
They are a man-made hybrid bird. The ‘Isa’ in ‘Isa Brown’ is actually an acronym. ISA stands for Institut de Sélection Animale which is the company that created them.
Isa Browns were developed especially for the commercial egg industry. They were designed to have very high egg production and are therefore very profitable.
It is a closely guarded secret what parent stock was used to create them. Many people suspect the parent stock includes Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns.
Because they are a hybrid, they are not officially recognised by the American Poultry Association or other poultry organisations.
This means larger poultry shows do not allow Isa Brown chickens to compete. Some smaller, local competitions may allow them.
The Institut de Sélection Animale have also created an Isa White chicken but it is a different breed and not available in Australia.
They lay white eggs (in comparison to the Isa Brown’s brown eggs).
Isa Brown chickens have a rectangular shaped body that is very lean. They have a short, straight tail that sits upright.
They have a single, upright comb. The comb and wattles are both small and red. Their earlobes can be either red or white.
Their eyes are usually either a yellow or red colour.
Because these birds were bred for commercial purposes and aren’t officially recognised by poultry associations, there is no breed standard. This means their appearance can vary.
Isa Browns are a medium sized chicken. Females typically weigh around 2kg and males weigh around 3kg.
Isa Brown chickens lay so many eggs, you won’t know what to do with them!
Their egg laying ability is outstanding and well above other commonly found backyard chicken breeds.
Isa Brown chickens lay so many eggs, you won’t know what to do with them!
Egg Colour and Size
Isa Brown chickens lay medium sized eggs. They are light brown in colour.
Isa Browns are prolific egg layers. They can lay up to 300 brown eggs per year which is roughly 6 eggs per week per hen. That is enough to feed a small family!
They typically begin laying when they are around 5 months old.
They are one of the best breeds if you want a hen that will lay all year round.
Unlike many other chicken breeds, they will continue to lay eggs during winter although the number of eggs laid may slow down until it gets warmer again.
Like all chicken breeds, they will stop laying when they are moulting.
During this time, chickens are using all their nutrients to replenish their feathers and are unable to also produce eggs.
However, Isa Browns usually moult for a shorter period meaning they get back to laying their eggs quite quickly.
Their egg production is very high for 2 to 3 years. After this it will begin to decrease and they will lay less and less as they get older.
Sadly, in the commercial egg industry, many companies will cull their hens after two years when their egg production slows down.
There are now various rescue groups who take these hens and adopt them out to backyard chicken keepers as pets, giving them a second chance at a happy life.
Isa Brown Chicken Breed as Pets
Isa Browns are a low maintenance chicken breed and therefore are beginner friendly.
They are suitable to live in various different climates and can withstand a wide range of temperatures. They are cold hardy but also handle the heat well.
Despite this, you will need to provide them with a warm enclosure in winter as well as ample shade and water in summer.
Isa Browns have a docile nature. They are super friendly and non aggressive, making them a great backyard pet.
Their affectionate and approachable nature make them family friendly chickens and they are suitable for homes with children. They are happy to be held by your kids and some will even enjoy sitting on their lap and getting cuddles.
They even get along with dogs, other birds and other animals if they are socialised together from an early age
They don’t make too much noise compared to other chicken breeds and are therefore suitable for suburban areas.
If you mix Isa Browns in with other breeds, their docile nature means they are likely to be low on the pecking order. This means they may get pecked, bullied or attacked by more confident breeds in your flock.
If you must mix them in with other chicken breeds, choose breeds that are a similar size and make sure they have plenty of space to get away from each other if they want to. This will help to minimise fighting.
Caring for your Isa Brown Chickens
Isa Browns are low maintenance birds and require basic care. Provide them with constant access to fresh water and feed them daily.
Your Isa Browns will need to eat high quality feed. As they are laying so many eggs, they need to be fed extra protein and calcium in their diet. This will help them continue to produce eggs as well as maintain their general health.
Feeding them oyster shell and dietary supplements can help add calcium to their diet while giving them high quality feed daily can help with their protein levels.
Isa Browns are prone to health problems. Many people believe this is because they were designed to produce as many eggs as possible and this causes a strain on their body.
Common health issues include kidney problems, reproductive issues, tumors and cancers.
The average Isa Brown lives for 5 years but healthy, well loved hens can live for up to 8 years.
Breeding Isa Brown Chickens
It is not recommended that a backyard chicken keeper try to breed Isa Browns.
Because they are a hybrid chicken, they will not breed true. This means that if you breed two Isa Browns then the chicks born will not be Isa Browns too.
Being a hybrid also means offspring may not be healthy. They will have an increased risk of health issues, such as kidney problems.
Their offspring are also likely to have reduced egg laying abilities.
Isa Brown hens were designed not to go broody so aren’t a great choice if you want a hen to sit on and hatch fertilised eggs for you.
Isa Brown Hens
Most backyard Isa Brown owners only have hens. This is partially because of their egg laying ability and partially because of their personality.
These gorgeous girls are friendly and docile. They are happy to be around humans.
This makes them easier to approach, handle and care for. It also makes them more enjoyable to own.
Isa Brown Roosters
In comparison, Isa Brown roosters can be very hard to predict.
Whilst some are docile, others can be very aggressive. An aggressive rooster is harder to care for as you cannot approach it or pick it up if you need to.
They may become violent and attack either you or your hens, causing serious damage with the sharp spurs on their feet.
Another negative of roosters is that they crow loudly, often early in the morning. This may wake you up or annoy your neighbours.
Many backyard flocks contain just hens. However, some people say hens are happier with a rooster around.
If you are considering getting a rooster, make sure you are going to able to to handle it if it turns out aggressive.
You will also need to contact your local council to find out about their rules and restrictions on rooster ownership.
Isa Brown Chicks
Isa Brown chicks are sex linked. This means from the day they hatch you can determine their sex based on the colour of their feathers.
Females are brown and males are white.
This is handy for people purchasing day old chicks who only want hens and want to avoid getting any roosters.
Chicks are like this because they are a hybird that comes from a white rooster and brown hen.
Isa Browns are able to handle confinement but are much happier if you allow them to free range every day. They love scratching around in the dirt searching for tasty bugs and seeds.
Choose them a high quality chicken coop made from rot resistant timber. The size you need will depend on how many chickens you get but make sure you give them plenty of room to perch and stretch their wings.
Most owners agree that cleaning out the coop is the worst job! A chicken coop with large opening doors and a slide out metal tray will make cleaning easier.
Line the tray with an absorbent and disposable bedding such as wood shavings or shredded paper.
You will need to clean out the coop whenever it starts to smell which is usually once per week.
Consider what predators are in your area and use the coop to protect your birds. Strong wire mesh on the sides will stop predators from breaking through.
Some coops also come with a wire mesh floor which will stop foxes digging in or snakes slithering in underneath.
Locking your flock into their coop overnight will keep them extra safe.
Isa Brown laying hens will prefer to lay their eggs in a nesting box as it makes them feel protected and secure.
Nesting boxes also benefit chicken owners as you always know where the eggs are and don’t have to go searching around the yard to find them. This lowers the chance of an egg being stepped on or broken.
Purchase a coop that has nesting boxes mounted on the side with opening lids. This makes collecting eggs quick and easy as you don’t need to go inside of the coop to get them.
You will need one nesting space for every three laying hens. They don’t each need their own nesting box as they won’t all lay at the same time and are usually happy to share.
Chicken prices will vary based on demand, availability, location and the time of year. It is typically harder to buy chickens in winter and easier to find them in spring and summer.
You can buy Isa Browns from professional or backyard poultry breeders. Some breeders are able to transport the birds to you for an extra fee.
Many local farm supply or feed stores will also sell poultry.
You can buy Isa Browns at various ages.
It is most common to buy point of lay chickens. This is when they are at the age where they are about to start laying (around 5 months old). A point of lay Isa Brown will usually cost between $15-40.
You can also buy day old Isa Brown chicks for around $10. You will need a heat lamp to keep each chick constantly warm at 33 degrees. You will also need to keep them separate from adult chickens as they may injure the chicks.
Because Isa Brown male and female chicks are different colours, you can be guaranteed you are getting the gender you want. This is an advantage of the Isa Brown as most other breeds you take a risk of ending up with unwanted males.
It is cheapest to buy fertile Isa Brown eggs at around $24 per dozen. Hatching them can be a lot of work and no matter how hard you try you are not guaranteed that they will all hatch successfully.
To hatch eggs you will need either an incubator or a broody hen who will sit on them for you.
Hatching chickens is a great activity to do with your kids to teach them all about where chickens come from.