Raising poultry has a wide range of benefits. Chickens can provide a sustainable food supply and can serve as lively companions. The unique breed, the Isbar chicken, is an excellent egg producer and a delightful pet.
The hardy yet beautiful Isbar (pronounced as Ice-bar) is a relatively new breed that lays green-tinted, speckled eggs. They are generous layers that can produce all year round if provided proper care and nutrition. These docile creatures love to forage and are good at saving their food for rainy days.
If you’re wondering if this breed is the right one for you, you can read more about the Isbar chicken in this article. We’ll help you understand what makes them unique and know the best ways to take care of them.
What’s the origin of the Isbar chicken?
In the 1980s, a Swedish pastor named Martin Silverudd created the Isbar chicken. He crossed a small and productive adult Rhode Island Red with a New Hampshire to create a new breed.
To create the gene that will produce a blue eggshell, he included descendants of the Cream Legbar that he imported in the 1950s. He then bred the Legbar gene with the New Hampshire and Rhode Island brown egg gene. The result is the Isbar chicken with distinct green-colored eggs.
According to Martin Silverudd’s notes, he raised Australorps on his farm. He probably used the Australorp to create the Isbar with its distinct blue plumage. A gene drive caused a wide variation in body shape, size, and color.
The Isbar wasn’t the first masterpiece of Martin Silverudd. His ultimate goal was to dive deeply into genetics and create several breeds of chickens. He wanted chickens that laid a large number of eggs with unique colors.
During his research, he was able to create breeding protocols that were later used by other animal scientists and geneticists in their studies. But among all his achievements, perhaps the greatest one was the creation of the Isbar breed, a beautiful and productive race.
To honor the man who developed this remarkable breed, the name Isbar was officially changed to Silverudd’s Blue. During the annual meeting of the Swedish Hen Cultural Association in 2016, they decided to clear the confusion that the name Isbar brought to the poultry industry.
The confusion stemmed from the suffix “bar” which means that the breed is barred or has stripes on its feathers. However, the Isbar did not have that distinct feature. The Blue Isbar may have been mixed up with another breed that Silverudd developed. It was barred and also laid green-tinted eggs.
The breed may have been officially registered as Silverudd’s Blue but poultry enthusiasts still endearingly refer to this heritage chicken as Isbar.
How do Isbar chickens look?
The Isbar chicken is a single-crested, medium-sized breed that is also highly dimorphic. Hens weigh up to 3.3 pounds while roosters can get as heavy as 5.5 pounds. These beautiful, single-combed birds come in three colors- black, blue, and splash.
Black Isbars come out as mostly black with patches of white on the wings, chest, and face. However, when the fluff is replaced by all-black feathers, the white spots disappear. Adult birds are jet black with touches of lustrous teal.
Blue Isbar chickens hatch out in various shades of blue, from light blue to deep indigo. Some chicks come out with one solid shade while others have darker necks, heads, or wings that create a lovely lace pattern. Hens and cocks usually have one shade of blue all over their body with a few touches of birchen in the hackles.
Splash chicks hatch out as either pure white or buttery white. Speckles of blue, known as splashing, come out after a week or two. Hens are either splash all over or have some degree of birchen. Cocks, on the other hand, have blue or white feathering in the neck area.
Watch this video to see how the roosters look.
It is interesting to note that most of the chickens in this breed do not procreate true to color. The Isbar chicken is originally black and was obtained by crossing two chickens from the same variety. Presently, the lighter colors of splash and blue are reproduced based on this genetic chart.
|Blue and blue||50%||25%||25%|
|Blue and splash||50%||50%|
|Blue and black||50%||50%|
|Black and splash||100%|
|Black and black||100%|
The blue-colored variety has become increasingly popular that’s why the breed is often referred to as Blue Isbar.
Are Isbar chickens friendly?
Isbar chickens are well-loved due to their friendly and docile nature. Many of those who are raising this breed can attest that they are easy-going and a joy to be with. Their calm and sweet personality makes them a favorite among poultry enthusiasts and backyard breeders.
Chicks are also friendly but can get skittish at times. But, if you give them some treats, they will make good companions. Adult birds, on the other hand, generally love to interact and are never aggressive towards people.
Though friendly with people and other birds, male Isbars will never back down on predators. Roosters are alert and will always fiercely protect the chickens in the flock regardless of the breed. They are wary of newcomers and will keep a watchful eye in case someone occupies their personal space. However, they are very considerate with the lady Isbars, so over-breeding has never been a problem.
An Isbar mom can be quite the disciplinarian. They will peck the little ones’ heads and chase them when they misbehave. They are also extra-protective of their eggs, so getting them when they’re brooding can be quite the challenge.
Both hens and roosters are known to be good foragers and savers and love to feed early on. These intelligent and agile birds will make exceptional free explorers. They’re also relatively quiet and love to keep themselves busy.
The Isbar’s generally pleasant temperament makes them a perfect homestead companion. They are also great first pets for children due to their sweet and friendly personalities. Parents can safely teach their kids about responsibility and sustainability while raising such gracious and productive animals.
Keepers must remember though that some breeds that are crossed with the Isbars may not have the same temperament. Two docile birds do not necessarily produce calm and friendly offspring.
Do Isbar hens lay many eggs?
Isbar hens are prolific and consistent egg layers and can lay about 200-250 eggs in a year. The most captivating part about their egg-laying capacity is their beautiful green-tinted eggs. The shade of the eggs can go from pale green to a delicate olive. Some eggs even have gentle brown speckles, making them the most captivating of all eggs.
This breed also produces large eggs. It is quite fascinating since Isbar hens are smaller than other breeds. However, a young hen or a pullet will lay a smaller egg, about ⅔ the size of the eggs from mature hens.
Being cold-hardy creatures, the Isbar chickens can produce eggs even during winter. They are known to produce all year-round and can adapt to different weather conditions.
Isbar hens usually start laying at around five to six months. But some hens would only start producing on the 7th-month mark due to the shortening of days. After they start laying, production will be consistent and reliable.
Sometimes, it’s hard to train younger hens to lay their eggs on the nesting box. It would be such a waste to see these pretty eggs lying on the ground. To prevent this from happening, try to place some golf balls on their nesting boxes to encourage them to lay their eggs in the proper place.
There may be occasions where some hens will produce a light tan egg. It means that two copies of the brown egg gene were passed on to them.
According to the Silverudd’s Blue breeders’ shared standard, brown egg layers must be weeded out to make way for the production of consistent green egg layers. It would be best to use chickens that are homozygous for the blue egg gene to ensure the production of the prized green eggs.
What are the common health problems of Isbars?
Isbar chickens are usually healthy and robust. However, some chickens could suffer from immunosuppression if there had been inbreeding. The health, performance, and growth of the chicken are affected when antibodies and cells become depressed.
Chronic Respiratory Disease
When chickens have lowered immune systems, they are more prone to bacteria and viruses that cause chronic respiratory disease or CRD. The symptoms of this disease include coughing, sniffling, and sneezing. To check if your birds have these signs, make sure to observe from a distance as they stop these actions when they know someone is watching.
One of the best ways to control this disease is to reduce the source of stress of the birds. You may also consult with a veterinarian about antibiotics that can also help with the treatment.
If you’re just about to buy your first batch of Isbar chicks, make sure that they come from unrelated flocks to avoid the occurrence of inbreeding depression. Also, remember to ask the breeders if the chicks have been vaccinated against CRD.
Proper management is also necessary even before the new members of the flock arrive. Ensure those flock dynamics are at an optimal level. Remember that Isbar roosters are very protective of their space so an abrupt addition of smaller chickens in the coop might stress them out and lower their immune system.
It would be best to separate the newcomers from the older chickens and gradually introduce them to the flock.
Isbar chickens love to roam around and forage so they are more exposed to waste and other disease-carrying animals such as rodents that cause Salmonellosis.
Signs of Salmonellosis include closed eyes, diarrhea, thirst, poor appetite, and dejection. If you see these symptoms in your flock, immediately consult a veterinarian for antibiotic therapy.
8 tips for raising an Isbar chicken
This breed is self-sufficient and are good foragers so their care is relatively straightforward.
- Isbar chickens love to explore so give them plenty of space to roam and forage. Make sure that the range is cleaned regularly. It would be best to keep grass short since it attracts rodents and serves as a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
- Keep possible predators such as pet dogs and cats away from your flock. Remember that Isbar roosters are very protective of the hens and may try to fight with them. Even if their interaction doesn’t end in a scuffle, it may cause stress to your chickens.
- Always clean up silos, feed containers, and spills immediately. The key is not to give rodents and vermin reasons to visit the range or coop.
- Remove or drain other water sources that are not for drinking. Puddles, pools, and waterways may harbor harmful bacteria that may harm your chickens.
- Sanitize their water containers at least once a month. Use a cleaning solution made up of one part bleach and ten parts water. Make sure to scrub the waterers and rinse them thoroughly.
- Provide a safe and comfortable place for them to rest at night. Install nesting boxes and perches high above the ground to protect your flock from rodents and other predators. Change the beddings immediately once they become soiled with waste or broken eggs.
- Introduce new chicks a few at a time. Male Isbars are protective of their personal space and might see these newcomers as a threat. Provide about a week for the young ones to settle in.
- Isbar hens are prolific layers so make sure to collect their eggs regularly. This routine will minimize cracked eggs that can lead to contamination.
- Take the time to observe your flock. This breed is a lively and active bunch so a drop in their mood and activity may be a sign of trouble.
Isbar or Silverudd’s Blue chickens are relatively easy to handle and are perfect for those who plan to start a free-range homestead. Their calm and docile nature makes them a favorite among growing families and backyard raisers.
This breed is a result of dedicated research and its form and function resonate up to this day. Martin Silverudd’s legacy will always be reflected in the captivating feather hues and the sweet nature of these birds.
Breeders, keepers, and poultry hobbyists initially raise Isbar chickens for their beautiful, green-tinted eggs. But as they get to know this alert yet friendly breed, they know that they have found a joyful companion.