Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder),
Posted Feb 22, 2013
I worked on an egg farm where they had 50,000 plus isa browns locked up in cages. The sheds stunk and the dust was terrible.... but the chooks kept on laying eggs.
At the chook farm they had lights setup on automatic timers. The idea being that the shed would have 2 x sunrises and 2 by sunsets every day. This was a technique used to fool the chickens into believing there had been 2 days for every 24 hours. Apparently this technique helped to get more eggs from each chook.
While the caged egg farms are no life for the chicken, when the Isa Browns egg production began to decrease the farm management would order the hens all be put through a malt. This basically means have the hens lose their feather, this was done by basically starving the chook. The malt would last anything from 7 - 14 days and after that period food would be given to the hen again and the feathers would quickly grow back.... the chicken would once again lay eggs at a great production rate.
After the egg farm had put the chickens through one malt they might occasionally try a second malt, but after the second malt the chickens would be sold off and new chickens would be brought in.
I always took a few of these old chooks home with me and had them free range my property. The chickens would take a while to settle in to the new environment, but after a week or so they were great..... although some of them never learnt to lay the eggs in the nest box.
While most chickens would be at their best egg production from age12 - 18 months, l was getting eggs from my chooks even at age 4 - 5 although the eggs might be coming every 2-4 days.
The Isa Brown will lay an egg which is usually a light brownish colour (not white) but it was not uncommon to get white coloured eggs either. A great egg for all uses, be it for baking cakes or for poached or fired eggs. The Isa Brown is a great chicken for people who want to collect their own eggs. Not the best for eating as they do not fill out like some other breeds of chook.
I personally believe a few chooks in your back yard is a great idea and the isa brown is a great animal to educate young children with.