What in the world are ISA Brown chickens? They may have a weird name and a mysterious history — but I assure you, they are WONDERFUL chickens.

If you want an incredibly friendly, even cuddly, chicken that provides you with PLENTY of eggs all year long then ISA Brown’s are what you want.

Keep reading to find out fun facts about this chicken breed, as well as how to care for them.

ISA Brown chicken standing in front of a red brick background

What Does ISA Brown Mean?

Good question. And when I first came upon this breed at my local farm store, I had to look twice. Then I consulted Google to find out what in the world an ISA Brown is.

It turns out that this oddly named breed is a pretty new addition to our poultry breeds and highly popular. I guess I was a little late to the game but certainly happy I opted in!

The letters stand for Institut de Sélection Animale, which is the name of the company in France that designed and bred this breed in 1978. Now you can better understand why they are just called ISA Browns – much easier to say.

The exact “recipe” used to design this breed is a super duper secret that has been guarded with care. Most folks in the know think Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns were part of the secret sauce, but it’s not likely we will ever find out (which is impressive in my opinion).

This breed was bred for one purpose only, EGG PRODUCTION. Lots and lots of eggs. And then more eggs. They are eggcellent indeed. As you can probably tell, these are a hybrid breed and not heritage chickens.

ISA Brown Appearance

When these girls are out and about with my backyard flock, it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart from my Rhode Island Reds. But after a little practice, you can tell them apart.

This egg-making machine is a medium chicken with chestnut brown feathers and white tail feathers. The white feathers peak through and almost give the appearance of white spots throughout the plumage. This breed will sport a single comb that is red with matching red wattles.

The ISA brown chicken breed is both lovely, and loveable – the perfect combo.

How Big Are ISA Browns?

They are a medium sized, hybrid chickens. Hens weigh approximately 5 lbs and roosters weigh around 6 lbs.

ISA Brown Chicken Temperament

I have about 20 different breeds of chickens at any given time, and I am here to tell you that these are the friendliest lap chickens I’ve ever had…even friendlier than my Silkies. They are truly tame and love affection.

ISA Browns are simply great for beginners, maybe the best breed to start with. They are good with kids, not too loud or chatty, and even enjoy being held and cuddled. Some other friendly chicken breeds are Orpingtons, New Hampshires, Barred Rocks, and Silkies. But I’ve owned all of the above, and my ISA Browns (and Silkies) have been the ultimate pettable pets!

Due to their docile nature, they are a top choice for any flock or pet chicken (as long as you know about them…and now you do)!

Boy holding ISA Brown chicken with frosty cold field in background

ISA Brown Egg Production

Since ISA Browns were bred specifically to have this excellent egg-laying ability and you can bet your bottom dollar that they get an A+ in egg production. They are certainly considered prolific egg-layers by commercial outfits as they are the number one brown egg layer according to some studies.

I can believe it. In fact, as I type this I have a star performer out in my chicken coop laying an egg in 20-degree weather! And she does it every, single day while my other slacker breeds stand around and cluck (while not laying eggs in the winter).

I do need to give some credit to my White Leghorn and Rhode Island Red as well, these two girls are also laying an egg every day in this cold season. And that makes me think that a White Leghorn and Rhode Island Red is definitely part of the secret recipe we would all love to figure out!

An ISA Brown hen lays 300 plus eggs each year. With that number of eggs, who wouldn’t want one or more of these chickens? They lay large and extra-large eggs, with an egg color of brown – we wouldn’t expect anything less from these beauties.

ISA Browns Are Auto-Sexing

This is one of the easiest chickens to sex on hatch day which means you are less likely to get an accidental male chick when you order pullets. The males are white (but really more of a soft yellow) and the females are tan.

Too Wonderful To Pass Up

The breed is too wonderful to pass up, and so is this description I found on the ISA Poultry website. It pretty much sums up the goodness of this ultra sweet bird. It’s still a wonder that many people, including some that are addicted to chickens, are unaware of this breed.

The ISA Brown has proven more than 40 years of excellent performance as the best brown laying hen in the world. The ISA Brown is well known and globally recognized for its strong and reliable results, also renowned as the Global super star in performance. Extensive field testing with the ISA Brown shows that the ISA Brown has exceptional feed conversion and is capable of laying up to 500 first quality eggs. The ISA Brown laying hens are able to adapt well to different climates, poultry management styles and housing systems.

ISA Poultry Website

How To Care For ISA Chickens

  • Provide plenty of fresh, clean water
  • Feed a high quality chicken feed
  • Give a lot of high protein treats
  • Be sure they have an adequate source of calcium with an oyster shell supplement
  • Ensure they have a good shelter to protect them from predators and weather
  • Let them free range if possible in order for them to hunt and peck for bugs and other goodies


If you want a ultra friendly-lap-pettable-pretty-chicken that lays a ton of eggs, even through the winter, then you NEED to get some ISA Browns. This is a breed that won’t disappoint!

Leah Betts

A happy wife, mother, teacher, writer, hobby farmer, lover of chickens, and contributor to Pampered Chicken Mama!

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