Speckled Sussex Chickens

The Sussex breed of chicken originated in England and comes in a variety of colors. The Sussex chickens are thought to have been bred as early as 43 AD, making them one of the oldest known  breeds of chicken.  They were originally bred as a meat bird but have been bred in more recent times as a dual purpose bird.  The Speckled Sussex is the most common variety of Sussex in the United States. 

  As with any dual purpose breed, they are not going to max out on egg production or on table weight as meat birds.  I have read egg production averages for the Sussex that range from 200-260 eggs a year. The eggs are cream to light brown in color. (For a comparison, the Rhode Island Reds are said to lay an average of 200 eggs a year and the Sex Link breeds ~ bred for strictly egg production ~ around 300 eggs per year.) They are also known to be decent layers even in the winter months. 

The Sussex are suppose to mature quickly, at least for a dual purpose/heavy breed.  Their  shape (a long deep body) makes them more suitable to fattening for the table. (One can't compare the Sussex to the commercial meat birds of today such as the Cornish X.)  It is to be noted that the speckled variety is said to be the slowest to mature in comparison to the other colors of Sussex birds.  The Sussex have been known for centuries as having exceptional taste as a dinner bird.  A mature Sussex Rooster will weigh nine pounds and a hen seven pounds.

The Sussex has a very mild temperament and  they do well in a variety of settings.  They do well in confinement but also do very well as free range birds for they tend to be good foragers.  The Speckled Sussex colors  help to camouflage them from predators. 

The Sussex are not excessively broody but the Speckled variety go broody on average more than the other varieties and are known to be good mothers. 

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists Sussex as being on the recovery list for endangered and rare poultry.  From their web site:

"By 1900 there were precious few flocks of the old Kentish, Sussex, and Surrey chickens that had not been contaminated by crossbreeding.


Speaking to a group of Sussex farmers in 1903, Edward Brown, a noted writer on the rural poultry industry, reminded them of their history and reputation for producing the finest poultry and berated them for being on the point of letting this breed die out. His speech moved many and in July of that same year E.J. Wadman took up the mantle and formed a club for Sussex chickens. Soon farmers networked to find relatively pure pockets of the breed and began its promotion. So it is that an ancient breed was brought back from the brink of extinction and became a “new’ player in the emerging poultry industry of the early 1900s.

Sussex chickens are a dual-purpose breed with a deep broad body, close fitting feathers, and white skin, shanks and feet. The breed will put on fat very easily, making it well suited for market poultry. The hens are fair to good layers of brown eggs, though they lay best if not allowed to get overly fat. This could be a wonderful breed for a small farm or homestead, being active and all-around an excellent breed for meat and eggs. Sussex chickens have a reputation, in some circles, of having flesh superior even to that of the Dorking and Old English Game chickens."




The Speckled Sussex lends itself to a variety of settings and is an all around efficient, dual purpose bird that we are happy to have as a part of our farm!



Photo Courtesy of McMurray Hatchery

. Note:  Information for this post taken from the following links:

Wikipedia

Murray McMurray Hatchery

Pickin A Chicken

American Livestock Breeds Consesrvancy

Comments

Sumaira Naz said…
Hi. My first speckled hen has gone broody and I have put eggs under her on last tuesday morning. On the tuesday evening, she came for the food and water. After that she did not left her nest again. My worry is that the hens eat, drink and poop once a day while sitting on eggs. But she is not doing so. Yesterday I pulled her out of the nest. She pooped but did not eat or drank. She tried to join the flock while making broody voices and puffing up feathers. Then I forced her to go to the nest. Now she is sitting again continuously. Anyone please tell me is this normal behavior if she don't eat/drink for 15-16 more days? I put food and water in the nesting box which she could approach while sitting but she has no interest in it at all.