ISA Browns start laying eggs earlier than purebred breeds, typically around 18-22 weeks of age (about 4 and a half to 5 and a half months). This is just a general rule of thumb, however, don’t be surprised or panic if yours are a few weeks on either side of this estimate.
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How Many Eggs Do ISA Brown Chickens Lay?
ISAs were developed to be prolific layers, and prolific they are! ISA Browns typically lay 300+ large brown eggs in their first year of laying.
That works out at 5-6 eggs per week. If you’re after a breed of chicken that will provide a steady flow of fresh eggs, ISAs are one of the best egg-laying breeds.
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What Color Eggs Do ISA Browns Lay?
ISA Brown chickens lay light brown colored eggs. Basically, that ‘classic’ brown egg you commonly see on supermarket shelves.
In fact, there is a good chance you’ve bought and eaten ISA Brown eggs if you buy eggs from a supermarket.
How Long Do ISA Browns Lay Eggs?
This is where ISA Browns differ from most other breeds. They have a much shorter egg-laying lifespan. In fact, they have a much shorter lifespan, too.
It’s thought to be because they have been selectively bred to lay as many eggs as possible. But whatever the reason, they only lay eggs for 2-3 years. After that, you may get the occasional egg, but their laying days are behind them.
In those 2-3 when they’re laying eggs, they will produce 300 or so in the first year. That number does drop dramatically year after year though.
It’s reasonable to say that an ISA will lay around 700-800 eggs in its lifetime. Which, when compared to breeds like the Plymouth Rock or and Sussex that lay for many years more, that’s still in a respectable amount.
It's worth noting that they are known to be hardy birds that are capable of laying in the winter months with short sunlight hours when most other breeds stop laying.
Some History and Facts About ISA Brown Chickens
The ISA Brown has one of the more interesting backstories. They were developed by a company to provide meat and eggs back in 1978, and quickly became a popular dual-purpose bird.
It’s not known exactly what crossbreeding took place to make the ISA. In fact, it’s actually a closely guarded secret, which just adds to the mystery behind this breed!
Here are some of the things we do know about this breed:
Some quick facts:
- ISA stands for ‘Institut de Sélection Animale’, the French company that developed this crossbreed.
- ISA hens weigh around 4.4 lbs (2kg).
- In 1997 the ISA Group merged with another company called Merck & Co. Sometimes the breed is called the Hubbard ISA Brown.
- Their lifespan in commercial settings is expected to be around 2-3 years. Although, when well looked after owners report having them live as long as 5-7 years.
- The breeds that were used to create the ISA is a closely guarded secret. It’s believed to involve either Rhode Island Reds or Rhode Island Whites and some other breeds.
Where To Buy ISA Brown Chickens, Chicks, and Hatching Eggs
There are many places you can buy ISA chickens online, but most of these are crossbreeds with Rhode Island Reds and other breeds. Not the original ISA Brown, as only the company behind them knows the exact genetics.
My best advice is to check out Cackle Hatchery. They are one of the largest online poultry sellers and stock the widest range of breeds I’ve seen. Their stock is always changing throughout the year, it’s always worth reaching out to them and asking if they can help.
Are ISA Brown Chickens a Good Choice for a Backyard Breed?
ISAs are a great choice if you’re after a friendly, docile breed of chicken and you want a healthy supply of eggs.
They are easy to handle when compared with other feather-footed breeds and adapt well to confinement environments. Making them a popular choice for many farmers and backyard chicken enthusiasts alike.
They rarely need to be roosted, too, which is interesting. Instead preferring to perch while sleeping. Because of this, many ISA Brown hens are kept free-range.
The ISA Brown chicken breed is a very hardy bird that is able to survive harsh weather and diseases common in most chicken flocks, such as Marek's disease.
They are not without drawbacks though. Their short lifespan means if you have kids that are attached to them, they won’t be around as long as other breeds. They also tend to get broody, and I’ve read from several owners how they are more prone to breaking and eating their eggs.
Still, if you’re after an easy to keep, fun, durable, backyard breed that lays well, there are few better choices than ISA Browns.
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Image credits - Photo by Dan Schneemann on Unsplash