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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 9:01 pm 
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Hatchling
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We've just had a couple die within a month, aged ~8 years. We've got another of the same age that is fighting fit and still producing 3 eggs per week!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:43 pm 
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Wise One
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Location: near Albury NSW
Isa Brown, actually do not exist in a pure form now, they have been superseded with the Hi Line and Hi Sex, or maybe a new breed by now. The Isa Brown laid a nice brown egg that lightened as they got older. The new breeds lay a “pullet” egg all their life, consumer like nice dark brown eggs!!

One of the characteristics that is selected in these breeds is they ovulate each 22 hours, therefore you could get (7 days x 24 hours / 22 hours eggs a week ) 7.6 eggs a week. A fact a female only has a limited number of eggs in her ovaries. So an I/B feed on a high protein diet and kept under lights will “burn itself out” in a two – three period. And an appropriate ratio for rescued bird or birds bought at POL.

A pure I/B can live a normal lifespan, 5 – 8 years, but would they lay eggs all that time? I know a lot of breeders are crossing the I/B back with the foundation breeds (Welsummer, Austrolorp, Leghorn, etc) to get a good layer that lives longer, etc.

Some stories I have been told by different people:
a commercial hatcher gets rid of a pen of breeders (60 hens and 10 roosters) when the eggs laid ratio gets down to average of 4 eggs a week,
free range egg producer get rid of I/B at 18 months regardless of egg production or get rid of them at their first moult (see the poultry section in newspapers “layers $4 each”

Another observation is that a I/B that is all “moth eaten” will be the best layer, they place all their effect into egg production, not feather production. This observation came from a small battery egg farm I would visit to collect “rescued” birds.

If anyone else has any more info on the history of the Isa Brown I would love to hear it.

Broken bird


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:59 am 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:37 am
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Location: FNQ Near Cairns
Hi Broken Bird, I'm interested in your comment:
Quote:
Isa Brown, actually do not exist in a pure form now, they have been superseded with the Hi Line and Hi Sex, or maybe a new breed by now.


How long ago were they superseded? Up here in FNQ there are 2 chicken dealers which don't breed their own chicks but have them flown up from Brisbane. Both dealers get them from the same breeder in Brisbane. We bought 4 Isa Browns from one of these dealers. We got them at 8 weeks old which makes them exactly 3 years old at the start of March. They did the thing you mention, where by the eggs start off dark and get lighter as the time progresses. These dealers are still advertising as having Isa Browns for sale, and I have spoken to them and they confirm they can still get Isa Browns (the same as the ones I bought 3 years ago). Do you think they are just calling them Isa's because most people know the name?

On another note, we are down to 3 Isa's due to a snake at christmas, but out of the 3 left, we still are getting on average a dozen eggs a week. When they were in their 1st year of laying out of the 4 we were getting around 2 - 2.5 dozen, which pretty much carried through their second year as well. I think they are doing quite well at laying. Also interesting, it is a struggle to keep them fully feathered when they were in their 1st and 2nd year (around their bum and neck) as all the protien must go into egg production. Now that they are 3 all their feathers are back. Just thought you may be interested. :D

Hi csteddy, I hope my Isa's are still laying at 8 years (if they make it that old). They do seem quite hardy birds I have never had a problem with them (touch wood).

Although I am now moving towards pure poultry, I still find it interesting to learn about the Hybrid layers.

Brendan :)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:04 pm 
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Hatchling
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We got the three ISA browns exactly three years ago from my brother-in-law. Until recently we thought that they were only a couple of years old when we got them, but have just found out that they were circa 5. They bought them as point-of-lay pullets so they have only ever been backyard chooks feed on City Farmers poultry mix, bran and kitchen scraps. We only started them on ISA Brown laying pellets six months ago when they totally stopped laying. We had been noticing thin shells but didn't tweek to a calcium deficiency because we assumed that they would eat what they needed and they were leaving the shell grit (stupid of us in hindsight but we are new to this :-) The pellets forced them to eat all or nothing! The last ISA Brown is a very big and heavy bird with all her feathers. A few months back we did get a very big (90g) egg which we assume came from her. The eggs are still reasonably dark, although the colour does vary from lay to lay. I agree that you still seem to be able to get ISA Browns. We just got some week olds from LayerTech in Baldivis (just South of Perth).

I hope that your ISAs live long and produce until the end as well. The two who have died recently laid the occassional egg up until 3 months before they passed on.

regards,

Craig


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:28 am 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:02 pm
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Location: Melbourne
I have nothing to add in terms of useful info, but thought I'd add my observations with a young "IsaBrown".

I got Isabel in the beginning of Sept06 as an 18 week old. So that makes her now about 9 months.

From the point she started laying, she has pretty much not missed a single daily lay. Her eggs have been a consistent 60g and light-medium brown. In that time I’ve had 1x double yolker from her. She's also beautifully feathers and quite a mean forager compared to all my other pure breeds.

Image

Aaron.

_________________
Araucana, OEG Bantams, Wyandotte, RIR x New Hampshire, IsaBrown. Austrlorp x ?? Roo, 2x home grown hybrids of the previous!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 3:46 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Location: Brisbane, QLD
When I bought my chooks at Northside Produce in Bald Hills, Brisbane they told me they were Hi-Sex althought they look like I/Bsso who knows!. I've only got one left after dogs got the other three so I"ll be going back to get some more, when I"ll ask more questions. The first two I bought laid close to 1 egg a day, about 50g each, through their first season, but didn't get time to recover before the dogs got the. Of the second two, one never laid a thing as far as I could tell, and then developed a dirty vent, so I was on the verge of culling her before she was eaten, and the other one is the one I have left, and since the dog attack she has laid one 45g egg every day.

Does anyone know what I/Bs or Hi Sex are like for eating? I only have chooks to supply food, so I'm wondering whether to eat them once their egg production slows down! Or whether I/Bs or Hi Sex would be the more productive bird in terms of eggs produced or table weight?

Broken Bird, you say they lay a “pullet” egg - what do you mean by that?


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 Post subject: Isa Browns...
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:17 pm 
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Gallant Game
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For the last two years I was on Norfolk Island and I kept a small flock of Isa Browns (I have just move to Tasmania and no longer have any chickens - for now!). I had the opportunity to own an IB rooster too. They are magnificent creatures resembling a red pyle bird and are great with their hens yet retain the quiet nature of the IB hens. My boy is shown on feathersite here: http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGP/ ... xLink.html - look for the pics courtesy of Simon Voorwinde. His name is Colonel. At the time I was good friends with the local vet who said that the biggest difference between an IB hen and a non-commercial breed hen was most evident during an autopsy of two year old deceased birds. He said autopsies of non-commercial 2 year old hens showed firm well coloured internal organs and an autopsy of a 2 year old IB hen often revealed soft, flabby darkly discoloured organs often revealing the cause of death to be organ failure. His advice to me was grow my birds slowly and I would get fewer eggs but they will remain healthy for a lot longer and commercial birds were replaced annually on Norfolk Island because at around two years old they would drop dead of their own accord anyway. I grew my birds slowly and concentrated on free ranging them and in their first year they laid a huge number of eggs. I incubated some of their eggs (made a whole bunch of cross breeds but out there that was better than having to get new birds in), anticipating having to turn my hens over after their first year and raised 16 pullets up from them and gave my IB hens to someone who was interested in owning some birds for the experience of owning some birds and the latest correspondance I have received from her stated that at about 2.5 years old now they look better than ever and they still produce good numbers of eggs, though they were tappering off. So my own feeling about IB is that if you do grow them slowly (ie as someone else has said don't pump the protein into them and let them forage) they will last almost as long as other laying breeds but grow them fast and they will burn out after 1-2 years.

As far as eating them goes, in their first year IB hens are quite lean under all those feathers and there wouldn't be much to eat. At two - three they fatten up some though I don't know they'd be much good to eat at this age.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:48 pm 
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Newbie
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I started with 10 ISA's at point of lay in Feb '05. They laid well right through their first winter and through Spring '05 and Summer, laid a bit in Autumn ’06 and then went off the lay completely in winter '06. I lost two to some kind of mystery illness that winter. The remaining 8 came on strong again in Spring '06 with marginally reduced production (around 5 a day). For the last week or so I have been culling the remaining numbers down as they go off the lay. I am down to 3 now. These three are still laying well (2-3 eggs a day). I suppose I am left with the best performers now. I would certainly recommend keeping ISA's for the length of time I did.

The problems I have found with ISA's are:
- Every few days or so one would lay an egg with a poorly formed shell. I provided them with a good supply of crushed oyster shell, but this problem persisted throughout the time I had them.
- They do not chase away the Indian Minor birds that are always trying to find ways into the chook house to steal the feed (I live in Sydney). To counteract that I set up weighted shade cloth over the open door that the chooks could push through, but the Minors could not - this worked most but not all of the time.
- Unfortunately the ISA's I bought had been de-beaked so their foraging ability was limited. They were also a bit fussy with some of the scraps.

Last spring (Sep 19th) I bought 15 day old RIR's from Barter & Sons Hatchery in Luddenham. All 15 survived and about 1/2 look like they are just about ready to start laying - the remainder look like they will come through soon as well. These birds are robust and excellent foragers (beaks are intact). They really make the most of the scraps we feed them. They also have this most excellent quality of chasing away any Indian Minors that sets foot in their run - they don't even get a chance to get near the actual house part where the food is.


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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 11:47 am 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 5:59 pm
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Location: Abels Bay, Tasmania
I have just come across this old threat. I am very interested in info re. ISA browns, hy-line etc.
On my website (growyourownfood.com.au) I write about our experiences with commercial hybrids and traditional pure bred chickens. We now breed Welsummers, Salmon Faverolles and Minorcas. We promote traditional breeds of chicken and try to tell our readers/visitors that it is much preferable to get a smaller number of eggs from a healthy chicken over many years than to get the maximum number possible from a hybrid which is not bred for a normal healthy life. I tried to find correct info re. commercial hybrids on the net, and the best info is in this threat! I want to get my facts right. Could you please tell me if I am right (and where I can find sources to prove this) in saying:

- commercial hybrids are bred to lay the maximum number of eggs in the first year and in commercial systems will be culled after the first laying year
- commercial hybrids are bred to eat the minimum of feed to achieve that production outcome, that is: minimum feedcost for maximum number of eggs in one year
- commercial hybrids will deteriorate in their health while this production is achieved. In simple words: health failure is build into the bird as a consequence of high productiveness/low food intake. "They burn out"

We have a stall at Hobart's Salamanca Market and will sell free-range heritage eggs from traditional breeds soon. We want to provide people correct info about the benefits of traditional breeds and the problems associated with commercial hybrids. I am well aware though, that commercial hybrids do not automatically die after a couple of years, but that much depends on how they are kept and that they can reach eages of 8 years under very good circumstances.

Any info/comment is very much appreciated!


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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 1:03 pm 
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Newbie
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It's an interesting topic and I like your marketing angle there. I've read about pork producers doing the same thing - ie selling pork at markets that comes from rare breeds of pig.

I did a bit of a google search and found a book called "Old Poultry Breeds" by Fred Ham. If you google it you will find a preview online. You might find this book useful. In the preview I read he makes the point that as the formulas for the commercial hybrids are held secretly by the companies that developed them, farmers have to keep returning to those companies for new stock. This is akin to some seed companies building terminator genes into their vegetables. I know large egg producers these days usually have no interest at all in hatching their own chicks, but small egg producers often do and they can same money by breeding their own layers. Encouraging people who keep pure breeds by buying their eggs means that good stock will be around for those producers who want to be able to breed their own layers.

I hope this helps.

These days I keep Australorps. I have a young flock just coming into lay. They laid their first two eggs yesterday exactly on 6 months of age. They're nice healthy birds really thriving in our backyard.

I checked out your website Torsten - great stuff!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 4:24 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Location: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Following a few derogatory remarks on BYP Forum about Isa Browns, and comments I heard from professional poultry specialists, I decided to search further.

It is true that the Isa Brown is a HYBRID OF SEX LINK CHICKENS, the result of a cross between Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island Whites. The Isa Brown IS a hybrid, not a true breed. It is not recognised in shows and cannot be judged as there is apparently no breed standard for them.

ISA stands for INSTITUT de SELECTION ANIMALE in France, the company that developed the breed in 1978 as a battery hen for optimum egg production. They are know to produce abundantly for the first two years, wearing them out rapidly, and unless given an extended backyard life, have a two-three year lifespan.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:27 pm 
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Hatchling
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We bought 4 Isas from a local battery hen farm. They were at the point of lay. They lasted about 2 years when 3 of them died of unknown illnesses at separate times. We gave the last away. They were fabulous layers and all laid eggs between 60 and 75 grams (usually at the high end) for nearly all of the two years (a bit slower in the winter). I suppose they just burnt out.
They had lovely natures and would allow you to pick them up and would follow you around the garden and sometimes perch on your shoulder. Great pets. Miss them a lot. The new Australorps are not the same - just chickens.

Ann


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:27 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:46 pm
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Location: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Try Orpingtons instead. You will never be sorry. I have fallen in love with them as soon as I was presented with a pair, and decided to breed blues. I am now into recreating Ermines (Columbian collars and a very ancient, now extinct variety). The whites are also very rae and look stunning against a background of green lawn. Their pantaloons and cushion tails make them into the most gorgeous of fowl. No woder the Queen Mother chose them as her favourite breed, amd used to show them extensively. Since they are a heavy breed, they don't fly, so no problems with neighbours, they sit on your lap if you give them half a chance, follow you around like puppy dogs and allow you to pick them up and nurse them. The cherry on the cake is their consistent egg-laying ability, and unlike the ISA Browns or RIRs their life-span extends into the teens. My blue rooster is about 8 years old now and still going strong with the girls, and at 7 kgs is a mighty sight and a good guard dog, although as gentle as a kitten when you pick him up. The average egg is about 65-70grs, and I now have one or two girls presenting me with 100gr eggs every three-four days. Haven't caught the culprit yet, but when I do , I will present her with a blue ribbon. They are the perfect all-rounder, and also make a perfect children's pet. And the best thing yet, they are hardy and not prone to illness.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:55 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Broken Bird wrote:
Isa Brown, actually do not exist in a pure form now, they have been superseded with the Hi Line and Hi Sex, or maybe a new breed by now.
What is the difference betweeen Isa Browns, Hi-Lines and Hi-Sexs?. (besides their names)

How does one know if they are buying the genuine article of each breed?.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:18 pm 
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Great Game
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I've been selling Isa's and Hi-sex for 6 years now and I can't tell the difference. To me they are identical.

Baida Poultry, who have the Australian rights to Isa, would disagree with what Broken Bird has said there. Hi-sex and Hy-line have not superseded Isa. Isa and the other two regularly release improved "models" of their layers though.

Matt


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