Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Our farm has many different breeds of chicken, each with their own special qualities. When it comes to being a true farm bird though, one that’s good with kids, lays big brown eggs and can handle Michigan’s weather, the ISA Brown stands alone.
The ISA Brown breed is fairly new. It was developed in 1978 specifically for egg laying by French Company, Institut de Sélection Animale. That’s where the ISA in their name comes from. Since then, the ISA Brown has become an industry leader in what it was made for, big, brown eggs. Once a hen reaches maturity, she’ll typically lay 300+ eggs a year. While this is a bonus for eggs, it can take a toll on the hen. Because of their high output, you’ll want to be sure their feed is high in protein and calcium. Letting your hens out to forage for bugs and plants is also a good way to help them get the nutrients they need.
The Isa Brown is not only an amazing egg layer, the hens are also very friendly. Our boys spend a lot of time carrying and even hugging our ISA Browns. The other hens get their fair share of pets too, but the Isa’s almost seem to look forward to it. This easy personality makes them a great choice for both those just starting out with chickens and the seasoned pro.
Sadly, the ISA Browns expected life span is only two to three years. However, it’s common outside of commercial farms for them to last five to eight years with proper care, though their egg production will decline or even stop in old age. If egg production does stop, it is still a chicken so even though it wasn’t bred for meat, you can butcher and eat them. Or, you can continue feeding and giving them pets while they live out their years. Every farm is different so you can make your own choice. I’m not much of a gambler, but I’d be willing to bet ours will still be getting hugs and pets.
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