Sussex Chicken Breed Profile and Management Information

The Sussex chicken, originally bred in Sussex, Britain has become one of the most popular chickens for small backyard farms and homesteads. Initially bred to be a market chicken, for sale at the market, the Sussex chicken breed was known for fine table meat with its tender juicy flesh, white skin, feet, and legs.  

Reared as a dual-purpose bird, the Sussex chicken has been around for several hundred years and is loved for being gentle, it’s consistent laying and great meat. 

History of the Sussex Chicken Breed

The Roman invasion of Britain brought about a few interesting things, one being chickens and breeding skills, which were highly adopted especially in Kent, Sussex, and Surrey. These areas were known for their great fowl. 

The original colors of the Sussex chickens are said to have been speckled. They were bred with other chickens to produce other varieties. 

The modern-day Sussex chicken is a cross of Brahma, Dorkings, and Cockins. It gets its well-proportioned body from these breeds. 

The Sussex chickens were the best table chickens for a long time. There were so popular and loved that a variety, the coronation sussex, was developed for the coronation of King Edward VIII. 

The rise of the fast-growing broilers in the 1940s and 1950s replaced Sussex as the common table meat bird. 

Sussex Chicken Characteristics

The Sussex chickens have broad bodies, white feet, shanks, and skin. Graceful with a broad flat back, the Sussex has wide shoulders and a breastbone that is straight. It has a single red comb. The ear lobes are also red in color.  The eyes are orange in lighter varieties and red in darker varieties. 

Sussex chickens gain weight easily, with cockerels weighing 9 pounds and hens 7 pounds. 

As a dual-purpose chicken breed, the Sussex produces great table meat as well as large brown eggs. 

Hens lay well if not allowed to get fat, laying brown large-sized eggs. The laying range is between 180 – 200 eggs a year, with some varieties laying up to 250 eggs per year. 

The Sussex is a calm active bird, ideal for any homestead. It does well in both free-range and confined spaces, although spacious environments are recommended for better mating.  The Sussex will forage for food. Hens go broody in warmer months.

Physical Appearance of Sussex Chickens.

Classified as a large fowl with soft feathers, the Sussex chicken has close-fitting feathers. They have a broad flat back. They boast of a broad breast that is held outward, held together by a deep long, and straight breast bone, that supports its wide shoulders. 

Sussex chickens have a medium-sided head, with a short curved beak. On top of the head is a medium-sized erect comb, that fits closely. 

The short legs, combined with tightly fitting feathers give the Sussex chickens its majestic compact rounded appearance. The legs of Sussex chickens do not have feathers. They have four well-spaced toes. 

Varieties of the Sussex Chicken Breed

The Sussex chicken breed has 8  recognized varieties that are recognized by both the American Poultry Associations’ Standards of Perfection and the British Poultry Associations Standards. These are:-

  1. Speckled Sussex Chicken.
  2. Red Sussex Chicken.
  3. Light Sussex Chicken.
  4. Brown Sussex Chicken.
  5. Silver Sussex Chicken.
  6. Buff Sussex Chicken.
  7. Coronation Sussex Chicken.
  8. White Sussex Chicken.

Speckled Sussex Chicken.

The speckled Sussex is one of the most beautiful utility chicken breeds. This is due to the color of its plumage.  

Male and Female speckled Sussex chickens have different feather color patterns.  This makes it easier to differentiate speckled Sussex roosters and hens. 

Speckled Sussex roosters have dark chestnut-colored feathers on the neck and head. These feathers have black stripes and white tips. The wing primaries have a mixture of white, black, and brown feathers. 

Speckled Sussex Hen

Female Speckled hens have chestnut-colored feathers on their head, neck, and body. These feathers are speckled with a white spot at the tips. There is a black color that borders the white tips, acting as a divider from the rest of the rich dark brown color. 

Red Sussex Chicken. 

The red Sussex variety has primarily dark brown feathers on their bodies. The head and neck hackle feathers are dark red, with black stripes. This makes the red Sussex look like it has a black neck. 

Light Sussex Chicken.

The light Sussex has pure white feathers on their bodies, with black and white feathers on the neck and tail. 

White Sussex Chicken.

The white Sussex looks similar to the light Sussex, with pure white feathers on their bodies and black and white feathers on the neck and tail. The difference between the light Sussex chickens and white Sussex chickens is that the light Sussex has more black and white feathers on the neck hackle than the white Sussex. 

Brown Sussex Chicken.

The brown Sussex chickens have light brown feathers on their bodies, with black and partridge feathers on their neck hackles. They have a few black feathers on their tails. 

Silver Sussex Chicken.

Silver Sussex chickens have primarily black feathers with white borders on their bodies. The back and wing bow feathers are silver-white. 

Buff Sussex Chicken.

The Buff Sussex chickens have golden-beige-colored feathers on their bodies.  The neck hackles have buff-colored feathers with green-black stripes. 

Coronation Sussex Chicken.

The Coronation Sussex chicken was bred to commemorate the coronation of King Edward the Eighth. Their colors were to emulate the red, white, and blue colors of the Union Flag.  

The head and neck hackle feathers of the coronation Sussex are white, striped evenly with blue. This makes the neck appear lavender. The tail feathers are lavender-blue in color. The rest of the body is covered with white feathers.

Coronation Sussex Rooster

The temperament of Sussex Chickens. 

Sussex chickens are friendly chickens. They are gentle and will readily accept to be carried and cuddled. Due to their calm nature, they can easily be bullied by other chickens. It is advisable to protect them by not putting them together with chickens that can easily bully them. 

Dues to their graceful nature, Sussex chickens can do well in confinement. However, they do well when let to forage for their food and satisfy their curiosity. The docile nature of Sussex chickens should not be confused for being dull. They are ever alert and will scamper to safety at any sign of danger. 

Sussex Chicken are good at foraging

Feeding Sussex Chickens

Sussex chickens readily enjoy treats. They will adore you for giving them sumptuous treats. In addition to treats, Sussex chickens will need a balanced chicken feed, consisting of 16% protein among other important nutrients. 

Being the gents and ladies of royalty, Sussex chickens will just eat enough feed. They will not overfeed like other chickens such as the Cornish Cross. With this in mind, you can leave them with food throughout. They will just eat what they need. 

During winter, Sussex chickens are most likely to go into molting in order to grow new feathers and get ready to serve you in the next seasons. Ensure you increase the protein percentage in their feed as this will help them go through molting gracefully. 

Housing Sussex Chickens

Sussex chickens, classified as a large chicken breed will need more space than small and medium-sized birds. It is recommended to have at least four square feet per Sussex chicken in the coop. This gives the chickens space to move around and do their stuff, without getting stressed due to congestion. 

If you are keeping Sussex chickens for eggs, provide adequate nesting boxes for them. The recommended ratio is one nesting box for 4 chickens.

Sussex Chickens and Noise

Sussex chickens are known to be quiet. They will make the common chicken noises such as the egg song and cluck in low tones when foraging. Do not expect Sussex chickens to make enough noise to annoy your neighbors.

The fact that Sussex chickens are not noisy makes it easy to keep them in cities, sub-urban areas, backyards, and homesteads. 

Cost of Sussex Chickens

Sussex chickens are in high demand. This is due to Sussex chicken’s great laying capability and being great for meat. Hatcheries sell unsexed Sussex chickens at $3.50 per chicken,  $4.50 for Sussex hens, and $2.70 for Sussex roosters. 

Sussex Chicken Eggs. 

At about 20 weeks of age, Sussex chickens will reach maturity and start laying. To get better egg production from your Sussex chickens,  raise them as layers on pullet and layer feed. If they get too big, there will produce fewer eggs in their lifetime than one raised on a layer feed regimen. 

Susses chickens are champions when it comes to egg-laying. They lay 250 eggs per year. This averages to about 4 to 5 eggs per week per Sussex chicken. The eggs are large and vary from brown to creamy white in color. 

With Sussex chickens, you do not have to worry about having to go without eggs in winter. They will continue laying well throughout winter when other chickens breeds have taken a break. 

Do Sussex Chickens Go Broody?

Sussex chickens will go broody and will sit on their eggs. They will sit on their eggs until they hatch. Sussex chickens never abandon their eggs. 

When the chicks hatch, they will take good care of them. This makes Sussex chickens ideal if you would like to naturally multiple your flock or breed with other chicken breeds. 

Are Sussex chickens good pets. 

The gentle, likable, and calm temperament of the Sussex chickens make for good pets and companions. 

When they are not minding their own business, they will follow you around for treats. Give them treats and they will adore you for it, and always come back for more. 

Sussex chickens will let you hold and carry them without resistance. 

The life span for Sussex chickens is 8 years and more. Their long life expectancy will give you time to know your Sussex pet and bond with them. 

Sussex Chicken Breed Profile

  • Sussex Chicken Egg Color: Brown
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg Productivity: 250 eggs per year
  • Skin Color: White
  • Sussex Chicken Breed Standard Weight.
    • Rooster: 9 lbs
    • Hen: 7 lbs
    • Cockerel: 7.5  lbs
    • Pullet: 6  lbs
  • Purpose: Dual Purpose –  Meat and Eggs
  • Temperament: Curious and Calm
  • Size: large
  • Broodiness: get broody in warmer months
  • Comb: Single
  • Climatic Tolerance: 
  • Varieties: Speckled, Red, Light, Brown, Silver, Buff, Coronation. white
  • Color Description: Different colors depending on the variety. 
  • Conservation Status: Recovering
  • Country of Origin: England

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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