Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Leghorn and ISA Brown

I have not gotten any birds yet; currently none of the layer barns in my area are getting rid of their hens. Layer barns get their pullets (a young female chicken, a cockerel is a young male) at about 18 weeks and keep them for one year, then get rid of them in either the spring or fall. There are two breeds that are typically used as battery hens, White Leghorns and ISA Browns. They are the most efficient layers of large sized white and brown eggs.

Of these two breeds White Leghorns are the most common. They lay an average of 300 eggs per year and are one of the best layers in the world. Many people think that after the first year of laying a hen doesn't lay anymore, but this is not true, a hen can still lay for a few more years. They might not lay as much as in their first year, but have the ability to lay many more eggs. In the fall of 2009 when I adopted my first layers I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of egg production, and they surprised me. Out of seven hens I got about four to five eggs a day, everyday.

One of my rescued White Leghorn hens about a month after arriving
 ISA Browns are one of the best layers of large, brown eggs. They lay an average of 280 eggs per year, almost as much as the White Leghorn. ISA Browns are a hybrid, created by crossing a variety of breeds together. ISA stands for Institute de Selection Animale, the company which developed the breed in 1978 for egg production as a battery hen. I have two ISA Brown chickens at my farm, they are a very friendly and curious bird. I get two eggs a day, everyday, one from each hen.

My ISA browns as day old chicks


  1. The owners of layer barns are ridiculous in their ignorance. If they wanted to have more eggs from the hens, and if they wanted more people to buy them, they would let the hens have more space. The quality of the eggs would improve greatly. But of course, they only care about quantity.

  2. Hey CBB how's the progress been coming on this?

  3. Hi! It's birdies from BYC. You have a great blog, and I love what you do! I'm following.

  4. I recently brought two Isa brown pullets.. occasionaly, we get one egg..mostly we get two a day. But, twice since we brought them two months ago, we have been surprised with three eggs. I do not feed them layer pellets..but they have the run of all my back yard, and I feed them twice a day. I often notice at night, they look deformed because of the swollen crop...I also notice, much to my delight, though they take a few liberties with my lettuces...I no longer have a problem with slugs or snails.

  5. Where did you find an egg farm that would even LET you have the retired hens??? I tried to get retired hens from local egg farms for a project with Food for the Hungry years ago when the tsunami hit Thailand, and all the egg farms said that their lawyers wouldn't let them give away the hens. They had to destroy them instead. They were paranoid that if anyone got sick, they would get sued and lose their company. How do you get them to give away their hens that otherwise will be killed and thrown in the bin?

  6. OK I am never ever ever going to check that page that this comment form just created for me on Blogger. Can you please email me your response to my question instead? Thanks!

    tinyzoo (@) yahoo (dot) com