ISA Brown Chicken: Breed Profile, Facts & Pictures

ISA Brown chickens in a farm

The ISA Brown chicken is a remarkable breed known for its excellent egg-laying abilities. It’s popular among experienced poultry keepers as well as beginners due to its versatility and adaptability.

Originating from France, this hybrid has found a home in many coops, winning hearts with its friendly nature and impressive attributes. It is primarily kept for its productivity, yet some people adore it as a pet.

Read on as we uncover the reasons behind its popularity. From their origin and appearance to their behavior, care, and unique characteristics, this article has got you covered.

ISA Brown Chicken Overview

Other Names:Hubbard Brown
Weight:Roosters: 6 pounds (2.7 kg); 
Hens: 5 pounds (2.3 kg)
Purpose:Mainly kept for egg production
Egg Production:300–350 eggs per year
Egg Color:Light brown
Temperament:Friendly, docile, gentle
Broodiness:Low to non-broody
Hardiness:Cold and heat-hardy
Lifespan:2–8 years
Unique Features:Exceptional egg layers, friendly disposition
Beginner Friendly:Yes

What Is the ISA Brown Chicken?

ISA Brown chickens sitting on the grass

The ISA Brown is a hybrid chicken specifically bred for the poultry industry. It excels in egg production, laying over 300 eggs per year. It’s also known for its friendly and adaptable nature, making it a top choice for both backyard poultry keepers and commercial egg producers.

This hybrid holds a unique status in the poultry world. Because of its status as a copyrighted breed, the Institut de Sélection Animale (ISA) holds exclusive knowledge of the breed’s genetic makeup.

This exclusivity also extends to its name. The term “ISA Brown” cannot be used by any other organization or individual for any other line or breed of bird.

Despite not being a heritage breed, their prolific laying and low-maintenance characteristics distinguish them as one of the best egg-laying hens available.

See the following video for a few more facts about this amazing breed:

Breed Overview: ISA Brown Chickens

ISA Brown Chicken Origin and History

Developed in 1978, the ISA Brown is a relatively new breed of chicken. Originating in France, ISA stands for Institut de Sélection Animale, the institute responsible for its development.

This breed is the product of meticulous breeding efforts aimed at meeting the demands of commercial egg production, combining traits like high egg yield and docility.

The exact genetic makeup of the ISA Brown is a closely guarded trade secret. It is said, however, that the breed originated from extensive breeding involving Rhode Island Red and White breeds and the White Leghorn.

Known for its impressive food-to-egg conversion ratio, the ISA Brown quickly became well-known outside of France.

Today, the breed’s ability to lay eggs consistently and its beginner-friendly nature continue to make it a popular choice for both backyard flocks and larger poultry operations.

Its origin and development showcase the advancements in selective breeding in the poultry industry.

ISA Brown Chicken Appearance

ISA Brown chicken walking in the backyard

Since ISA Brown chickens are hybrids, their appearance can vary because there is no official breed standard for them. To a casual observer, ISA Browns look like any other brown chicken.

With their rich chestnut brown color, these chickens blend seamlessly with other brown chicken breeds, often leading to delightful mix-ups.

In fact, many people commonly mistake them for Comets, Rhode Island Reds, and Red Star Chickens due to their similar appearance.

However, a trait that makes them special is that they are sex-linked. This allows keepers to determine their sex by the color of their feathers when they hatch.

The hens exhibit a consistent chestnut brown color from head to tail, while the roosters are typically brown with white plumage from the chest down.

Moreover, roosters have larger and redder wattles and combs compared to the hens, and these features become more pronounced as the chicks age.

Despite their resemblance to other breeds, ISA Browns hold their own charm. Their upright, short tails, reddish-orange eyes, and occasional white tail feathers add to their distinctive yet familiar presence in the coop.

ISA Brown Chicken Size and Weight

Known for their modest size, ISA Brown chickens fit well in various poultry settings.

The hens of this breed are typically medium-sized, with an average weight of about 5 pounds. Meanwhile, the roosters are slightly heavier, weighing around 6 pounds.

This difference in weight between the genders is common in many chicken breeds and is noticeable as they mature, helping keepers distinguish between the genders.

Despite not being large enough to be ideal for meat production, ISA browns’ size and weight make them a versatile choice for chicken keepers, whether in backyard flocks or larger operations.

Because of their versatility, they are a good option for people looking to strike a balance between manageable size and egg production.

ISA Brown Chicken Temperament and Behavior

ISA Brown chicken on the hunt outside

ISA Brown chickens are beloved for their docile nature and friendly behavior, making them a delightful addition to any backyard coop.

They are known to be non-aggressive, which makes them family-friendly and suitable for homes with children. Whether free-ranging or perching in the chicken coop, they exhibit a calm and approachable nature.

This breed’s approachable character means they often seek attention, adding a touch of warmth and liveliness to any coop.

Moreover, they tend to form close bonds with their keepers and get along well with different breeds in the flock thanks to their gentle disposition. For this reason, they are usually recommended for first-time chicken owners.

The ISA Brown’s temperament guarantees that they are a pleasure to have around, regardless of your experience level with chicken ownership.

Their affectionate nature ensures they’re not just seen as egg producers but also as cherished pets.

Egg Production and Broodiness of the ISA Brown Chicken

ISA Brown chickens are one of the best-laying hens in the world. An ISA Brown hen can lay around 300 to 350 large brown eggs per year, with an average of six eggs a week.

They typically reach the point of lay around 20 to 22 weeks of age, which is earlier than several breeds. This prolific egg-laying ability makes them an excellent choice for those seeking a steady supply of fresh eggs.

However, it’s important to note that ISA Browns’ peak egg production only lasts for around two years. After that, their egg-laying rate may decrease, but they continue to be a valuable addition to any flock.

In contrast to their egg-laying prowess, ISA Browns rarely go broody. This trait ensures they lay lots of eggs without interruptions, as laying hens are less likely to sit on their eggs to hatch them.

Noise Levels of ISA Brown Chickens

The ISA Brown is one of the more calm and less flighty chicken breeds, making it a popular choice for backyard chickens.

In my extensive travels and interactions with various chicken breeds, I’ve observed that ISA Browns are generally quieter. Their gentle nature seems to contribute to their lower noise levels than other more active breeds.

While they had their moments of vocalization, especially during egg-laying, they were less disruptive overall.

This trait made me appreciate ISA Browns even more, and I would highly recommend them to anyone who wants productive chickens but lives in an area where noise might be a problem.

How to Take Care of Your ISA Browns

Three ISA Brown chickens side by side

Taking care of ISA Brown chickens requires a thoughtful approach to meet their unique needs.

With proper nutrition, a comfortable coop, and regular attention, you can ensure these hardy and productive layers will thrive under your care.

Lifespan and Health Issues

ISA Brown chickens are known for their hardiness and prolific egg-laying abilities. However, this impressive productivity comes at a cost to their lifespan.

Their constant egg production without significant breaks takes a toll on their bodies over time.

Because of this, ISA Browns have a relatively short lifespan, typically ranging from 2 to 3 years, although some can live up to 5 to 8 years with proper care.

Moreover, they are prone to reproductive issues such as egg yolk peritonitis, cancer, and egg prolapses, especially after two years of age. Thus, regular health checks are vital to ensure they remain in optimal condition.

Further, ISA Browns are not recommended for breeding as they won’t breed true, and their offspring may have poor health.

Despite their shorter lifespan compared to some other breeds, with TLC, ISA Browns can thrive and contribute greatly to any flock.


Properly feeding ISA Brown chickens is crucial for their health and egg production. Since these chooks are capable of producing eggs at a rapid rate, they have particularly high dietary needs.

Providing them with a high-quality layer feed containing at least 17% protein is recommended to maintain egg quality and quantity, although 16% protein will do.

Additionally, supplementing their diet with calcium sources, such as oyster shells, is essential for strong eggshells. Regular access to clean water is equally important.

By meeting their feed and water needs and providing occasional treats like fresh vegetables, you can maintain their health and ensure they remain a thriving and productive part of your backyard flock.

Coop Setup and Roaming

Setting up a comfortable coop is essential for ISA Brown chickens. Make sure that each chicken has at least 4 square feet of coop space to prevent antisocial behaviors like feather pecking.

However, more coop space is ideal if you do not let them free range. Even though ISA Browns prefer to be around their coop, they do love having access to free-range areas where they can roam and forage.

Moreover, for ISA Brown hens, a well-designed coop should have enough perch area and nesting boxes.

Each chicken requires an average of 8 to 10 inches of perch space, and offering a variety of heights allows them to choose their preferred roosting spot.

In terms of nesting boxes, a standard 12×12 inch box should be plenty for their needs.

To further improve their overall comfort and hygiene, adding a dust bath area is also beneficial as it helps them keep their feathers healthy and control parasites.


ISA Brown chickens are adaptable to various climates, but it’s essential to monitor their environment.

These chickens can withstand winter temperatures at or slightly below 32°F, but they should not be exposed to freezing temperatures for prolonged periods.

They also fare well in hotter climates, but providing them with shade and ample water is crucial to prevent overheating.

Ensuring the coop is well-insulated during winter and well-ventilated during summer will help maintain a comfortable temperature for these chickens.

How Much Does an ISA Brown Chicken Cost?

ISA Brown chickens outside the coop

The cost of an ISA Brown chicken can vary, but they are generally affordable, making them accessible for many chicken keepers.

Prices can range from around $3 to $5 per chick, depending on whether you purchase pullets, cockerels, or straight-run chicks. It’s advisable to check with different sellers for the most competitive prices and availability.

ISA Brown chicks can be purchased from various hatcheries and poultry suppliers, both online and locally.

Websites such as Townline Hatchery, Spikes & Houles, Abendroth’s Hatchery, and Hoover’s Hatchery offer ISA Browns for sale.

These websites provide detailed information on the chickens, ensuring buyers are well-informed about the health and condition of the birds.

For those not comfortable purchasing online, you can check the hatcheries’ websites to see if they are located nearby.

If so, a visit can be arranged to personally select and purchase the chickens, allowing you to assess the birds’ condition and gather relevant information directly.

Pros and Cons of ISA Brown Chickens

ISA Brown chickens are a popular choice among poultry keepers for various reasons. However, like all breeds, ISA Browns come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages that potential owners should consider.

Some advantages of owning ISA Brown chickens are as follows:

  • Prolific Layers: ISA Browns are renowned for their impressive egg-laying abilities, often providing a steady and abundant supply of eggs. This high yield is a significant advantage for those seeking consistent egg production.
  • Friendly Nature: These chickens exhibit a docile and non-aggressive temperament, making them particularly suitable for families and novice chicken keepers. Their friendly nature makes them a joy to handle and manage.
  • Low Maintenance: ISA Browns are known for being low maintenance and hardy, requiring minimal care and attention. This characteristic makes them an ideal choice for first-time chicken owners looking for less demanding poultry.
  • Adaptability: These birds are adaptable to various environments and living conditions, showcasing their versatility and ease of management.
  • Economic Value: Due to their prolific egg-laying, adaptability, and general affordability, ISA Browns offer great economic value. They are a popular choice for both small family farms and larger poultry operations seeking efficient egg production.

While the benefits of keeping ISA Browns are many and appealing, it’s equally important to weigh the cons. Some disadvantages of owning this breed include:

  • Shorter Lifespan: The constant egg production of ISA Browns contributes to a shorter lifespan compared to other chicken breeds. This can be a drawback for keepers seeking long-lived birds.
  • Decreased Egg Production: While initially prolific, ISA Browns experience a significant decrease in egg production after the first two years. This decline affects their long-term productivity and may require additional planning for egg supply.
  • Limited Broodiness: ISA Browns rarely go broody, meaning they are less likely to hatch their eggs. This trait can limit the natural expansion of the flock for those looking to grow their chicken family.
  • Meat Production: You won’t find much in the way of meat or flavor in an ISA brown chicken as they are primarily raised for egg production. This trait can be a disadvantage for those looking for meat birds.
  • Common Appearance: Their appearance is not unique and is often mistaken for other brown chicken breeds. For people in search of birds with a distinctive look, this commonality might be considered a downside.

By weighing these pros and cons, you can make an informed decision as to whether the ISA Brown chicken is the right fit for your poultry needs and expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions

ISA Brown chicken on a hunt food

Is ISA Brown a Good Chicken?

The ISA Brown breed is often regarded as a good choice, especially for novice chicken keepers. Known for being hardy and low maintenance, these hens are one of the best laying breeds.

Moreover, their docile temperament makes them family-friendly. So, if you’re looking for a chicken breed that is both friendly and productive, the ISA Brown will prove to be a fantastic choice.

Are ISA Brown Chickens Noisy?

ISA Brown chickens are known for their relatively calm demeanor, making them well-suited for suburban settings.

They don’t make too much noise compared to other chicken breeds, which is a significant advantage for those living in areas with noise restrictions. 

For those seeking a more peaceful backyard chicken experience, they are perfect because of their laid-back and quiet disposition, which guarantees they won’t cause any disturbances.

Is ISA Brown a Hybrid Chicken?

Yes, the ISA Brown is a hybrid chicken. It was specifically developed to lay eggs prolifically for as long as possible. However, its exact genetic makeup is considered a trade secret.

This hybrid nature contributes to its adaptability and its reputation as one of the best laying breeds available.

Can You Eat Isa Brown Chickens?

Though their main purpose is to lay as many eggs as possible, ISA Brown chickens can indeed be eaten as well. That said, they are not typically as meaty as some other breeds raised specifically for consumption.

Hence, while ISA Browns are a fantastic choice for those looking to enjoy fresh eggs, they might not be the first choice for those seeking chickens for meat.

Final Thoughts

In wrapping up, ISA Brown chickens have proven themselves as a breed that combines productivity with a pleasant disposition.

These hardy and adaptable birds are a joy to have, laying lots of eggs and displaying a quiet and friendly nature. Regardless of your experience level in chicken keeping, ISA chickens are a reliable and rewarding choice.

Understanding their needs and characteristics is key to ensuring a happy and healthy flock. With the right care, these chickens will thrive and continue to be a valuable asset to any backyard.

Do you have any experiences or tips to share about ISA Browns? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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