When it comes to good breeds to buy, you have a fair number of options that you can consider. One of the more popular breeds is the Speckled Sussex Chicken. The Sussex breed has become a mainstay in England, but is it right for you?
Speckled Sussex chickens are a smart addition to many homesteads. You’ll want to buy one (or two, or three) for your flock once you hear the truth about this breed.
What is a Speckled Sussex chicken?
The Speckled Sussex is a chatty bird that hails from England. There is some evidence to show that Sussex chickens have been around (or at least, similar breeds of chickens) since the days of ancient Rome. Due to their long line of breeding, they are known as a heritage breed.
The American Poultry Association ranks them as a heritage breed. That means it’s an “old school” chicken that is unlikely to be used in commercial poultry businesses.
What does a Sussex chicken look like?
This particular variation of the Sussex breed has been around since the 1800s, and features white speckles over brown feathers. Sussex chickens have mahogany feathers. Their wattles, comb, and ear lobes all tend to be a deep red.
Their beaks are more of an orange shade—the same as their eyes. Their skin is white, as are their feet, legs, and shanks. Overall, they are a very pretty bird breed that is recognized for their broad back and deep chest.
When they are young, Speckled Sussex chicks have dark stripes around their eyes and body. Parts of their fuzzy plumage may also appear buff before they molt. It’s hard to hate these adorable baby chicks.
Unlike other breeds, they don’t have feathered legs. They also tend to have a single comb and are closer to the heavier side of the spectrum. “Stately” is a phrase you might use to describe them.
How are Speckled Sussex chickens for egg production?
If you are looking for egg-laying prowess, then you might want to get a Speckled Sussex hen for your flock. They typically can lay 4 to 5 eggs per week, which equates to over 200 to 280 eggs per year. Prolific? Oh, yes!
When they are “working their magic,” these hens produce light brown eggs. Chicken keepers agree that Speckled Sussex chickens are a good choice for people who want to have lots of eggs every week.
Do Speckled Sussex chickens get broody?
Like most other prolific egg-layers, Sussex chickens are prone to getting broody. This breed is somewhat notorious for going broody, especially when the warm weather starts to kick up during the spring.
These birds do lay reliably during the winter. When they do have chicks, they are wonderful mothers who enjoy sitting on their eggs.
How are Speckled Sussex chickens for meat purposes?
Most people raise Sussex chickens as a way to get delicious, large brown eggs. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t dual-purpose birds. Farmers have regularly used these birds for meat in the past, though that has fallen by the wayside as a result of their slower growth.
This breed will reach 7 pounds for hens, and 9 pounds for roosters. They produce light-colored meat that is said to be absolutely stunning in terms of flavor, juiciness, and quality. As a result, they are great meat birds that are regularly requested by top chefs.
The drawback to raising chickens for meat is that you may need to wait a while for them to reach maturity.
What are Speckled Sussex personalities like?
Speckled Sussex personalities are best described as ideal for pets. They are very friendly, often going so far as to follow around owners. Their docile and sweet nature often places them close to the bottom of the pecking order.
Because they tend to be so good-natured, they can become the targets of other chickens’ bullying. New owners need to make sure their Sussex chickens don’t end up getting hurt by more aggressive breeds.
If you notice them losing individual feathers, this could be a sign that they are being bullied. It’s best to separate them from the rest of the flock. You don’t want the rest of the feathers missing, too.
Aside from that, these birds are often described as intelligent and highly curious. They’ll be the first ones to sniff something out, so to speak. This can be problematic, as they tend to be targeted by coyotes and foxes…and they may not really fight back.
Are Speckled Sussex birds noisy?
Yes. If you have backyard chickens, then you may need to reconsider a Sussex chicken. They don’t stop making noise. They are so chatty, it’s actually comical. This can turn into a nuisance if you aren’t careful.
Do Speckled Sussex birds make good pets?
Speckleds aren’t just pretty to look at. Their temperament makes them a great choice for a pet chicken. They are calm, friendly, and full of personality. If you choose this as a pet, you are going to have years of fun watching them thrive. They are clowns with feathers on top!
If you were looking for a sweet chicken breed that will not get huffy around kids, you may want to get a Sussex. This breed is quite kid-friendly, and that is why many people choose them for their backyard flock.
How do you care for Sussex chickens?
Sussex chickens are best left to free-range. They are good forages who tend to love to eat whatever they find in the ground. However, they will also need a spacious coop and a feeding bowl. They love to eat, which is no surprise considering its heavy breed class.
Unlike other breeds of Great Britain, these chickens are fairly hardy and will do well in a wide range of temperatures. They are particularly amenable to cold climates. In warmer climates, ample shade and fresh water will make things tolerable.
PRO TIP – We strongly encourage you to add supplements like oyster shells for breeds that are so focused on egg laying. Chickens lose a ton of nutrients when they lay eggs so frequently. A healthy, well-fed chicken is a happy and long-lived chicken.
Are Speckled Sussex chickens healthy?
Yes! This breed is very healthy and is not prone to disease or deformations. They will live up to eight years or more if cared for well. The only issues they have are lice and mites…but every breed can have those. It’s a great and hardy breed, all around.
Should you get Speckled Sussex chickens as Showbirds?
Absolutely! This breed was actually featured at one of the world’s first chicken breed shows in the 1840s. It was listed as “Kentish fowl,” but the Sussex chicken was still present thanks to its rich mahogany base color.
Judges love their beautiful plumage. Their black bars and white tips make them stand out in a crowd like few others can. Since they are so beautiful, it’s quite possible that you could end up winning awards in poultry shows.
With that said, this breed has very strict standards as to what they consider “show quality.” You need to make sure you go to a high-end breeder. The slightest deviation from the standard can mean your bird will be disqualified.
PRO TIP – It’s important to remember that birds bred to be show-worthy don’t always have their utility intact. You may notice fewer eggs per week, or you may notice that these birds are not as meaty as others. This is a price you may pay for show birds.
Are Speckled Sussex chickens rare?
Not really. While they are a heritage breed, you can find them all over the place in Great Britain. They are still the most popular chicken in Sussex. They are also trendy stateside and sell for as little as $5 to $7 per chick.
Because they are affordable, useful, beautiful, and healthy, it’s not surprising to hear that this breed is thriving. People want to have their own Sussex at home. You won’t have too much of a hard time trying to find a breeder.
There are few chicken breeds that can be traced back as far as the Sussex. The Speckled Sussex is considered to be the original version of this bird, and that makes it extra special. You’ll love their white-tipped feathers and rich chocolate bodies.
People who want a gorgeous bird that can produce a stunning number of eggs would be wise to get a Sussex. They’re ideal for kids, beginning chicken keepers, and farmers who want to have a steady supply of eggs.
Thankfully, they aren’t too hard to find. Compared to most other heritage breeds, this one is a cinch to source and care for.