What is an ISA Brown?

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by redheadfarmer, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. redheadfarmer

    redheadfarmer Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 20, 2011
    SW Ontario
    I am looking at getting a couple more chickens with the hopes that one may lay an egg. I found someone local with ISA Browns? What are they and are they good layers? And how do I tell an old chicken from a new layer?

  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The ISA is to the layers what the CornishX is of the meat birds, in a way.

    There are over 30 years of highly selective breeding into this strain. It is not a run-of-the-mill sex link. Developed by I.S.A.-Hubbard conglomerate poultry genetics company. This conglomerate includes Hi-Sex, Bovan, DeKalb and many other divisions.

    The only known, licensed seller of ISA's to the public is Townline Hatchery, Zeeland, MI.

    I've kept them and thy are absolutely all they are cracked up to be. Utterly incredible, friendly, mannered, early developing, layer of huge, beautiful brown eggs, tightly feathered with awesome feed conversion properties. The ISA holds most of the important brown egg laying records around the world.

    They are NOT going to breed true. The F1 hybrid zip is lost relatively quickly in their offspring, as is their look. Here's a photo of some among some BSLs.

  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Further, if you're buying from someone local, there are a couple of possibilities for not getting what you want. First, they could be 2 or 3 years old and the ISA will lay OK through 4 or 5 years, but their most productive years are their first two laying seasons. Be cautious about buying someone's "well used" ISAs.

    Second, there are many folks selling generic RSLs as ISAs when they are not. Others, sell second generation ISA's and again, the zip of the F1 suffers badly so beware.
  4. Feral tabby

    Feral tabby Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 10, 2011
    We are absolutely new to chickens and adopted 3 Red Stars from a farm rescue group that works with regional egg farms ready to "retire" their layers. We got them at 16 months, and they are absolutely awesome! They are similar to the ISA browns, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong). They are social, beautiful, and only rarely skip a day. It still bewilders me how a chicken can lay an egg every day, but that's what they're bred for. I think that if you get some ISAs you will love them. Before getting our chickens I did some research and found a lot of folks that sing ISA praises about what wonderful pets they are!
  5. Lothiriel

    Lothiriel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Aug 30, 2007
    New York State
    My Coop
    ISA Browns, Red Stars/Red Sexlinks, Golden Comets, Gold Stars(?), recently found out Warrens (in the UK)... They all look almost the same and all have the same purpose: Lay an egg every day. [​IMG]
  6. impis

    impis Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 20, 2010
    They are one of the breeds commonly used in battery cage egg production. They lay at least one egg per day, for a year. After that, their poor little bodies find it hard to stay healthy. They have fantastic characters - and make great pets. We used to have 3 ex battery hens at the school where i teach.

    When they get ill [egg peritonitis is a common ailment] they can linger for a very long time - but the outcome is rarely good.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Quote:You must/should let ISAs moult and rest after a laying season. If you do, you'll find their second season is virtually as productive. We have ISAs now in the third year and still outlaying most of the flock. We have not had a single case of egg peritonitis. Granted, we only have had 30 or 40 ISAs so that isn't a huge random sample. I honestly have had more reproductive issues with other, more mainline, breeds, to be honest. Do I think they can lay 320 eggs annually for 5 years? No, but what laying breed does?
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Quote:If you go to the Poultry Genetics Conglomerate Home Page, you will see there are a half dozen or more renditions or models of top laying strains. ISA/Hisex/Bovan/Babcock/Henrix/DeKalb/Shaver. They have many versions, and yes, they are different. I've had two different strains. The Bovan Brown and ISA. They are quite different, yet, both great layers. I've not had any others. http://www.isapoultry.com/en/Products/Dekalb.aspx

    hatcheries "roll their own" red/gold sexlinks, while others just give these commercial strains nice names to sell to retail customers. Names like you mentioned.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
  9. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    I have 4 and I love them. I got them as day-olds from TSC and they have been healthy and vigorous ever since. I have considered adding some chicks of a different breed in the spring but I'm almost thinking "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" I'll probably end up adding more Isas. They are perfect for a stealth flock. Mine don't even sing an egg song. Fred's Hens is right... All sex-links are not created equal. My Isas started laying at 15 weeks and I've heard of other sex-links at 30 weeks that still aren't laying. Just make sure you use colored leg bands if you want to be able to tell them apart. I can identify mine by very subtle differences in markings and personalities but they all have different colored leg bands anyway.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by