Sussex chickens are a brilliant addition to any backyard chicken coop looking for a chook with grace, a friendly nature and a little grit. Their long and distinguished family background and kind and curious nature make Sussex chickens perfect for novice chicken keepers and those wanting a friendly hen to add to their growing backyard menagerie. From a Speckled Sussex to a silver one, you’ll never be alone with a Sussex chicken as these girls make wonderful companion birds. They enjoy the spoils of being part of their beloved family, foraging alongside you and taking a turn about the garden grounds, but are just as content when mingling with their fellow splendid fowls in the garden, the coop or the chicken run and finding their place in the pecking order of society.
English aristocracy can trace their family trees back for hundreds of years and this is also the case for one of the oldest known breeds, the resplendent Sussex chicken. Originating from its namesake county in the southeast of England, the Sussex chicken was developed from native fowl that populated the area and bred almost undisturbed for hundreds of years amongst the rolling green hills. In 1845 the Sussex chicken participated in the first ever poultry show and their popularity bloomed, alongside other chickens named for their county or town of origin like the Dorking, Surrey and Kent breeds. Voyages to the colonies led to the Sussex chicken becoming a very popular breed in Canada. In this northern outpost of the Commonwealth, Sussex were used as exhibition birds and for crossbreeding with local chickens to produce higher yields of meat and eggs. Today, they are one of the 42 pure breeds of chicken available in Australia. For a glimpse of the others, have a look-see here.
One of the most popular and oldest of the Sussex varieties is the speckled Sussex. They were developed 100s of years ago and continue to be a favorite thanks to their dazzling speckled contrasting plumage and docile, friendly character.
Kind and curious
These Ladies of the Manor are simply charming and a lot of fun to invite to your next garden party or coop soiree. Sussex chickens are kind and curious birds, they really are the best of both worlds - a calm and docile hen that is also active and alert. Sussex are natural foragers and excel at finding themselves with an abundance of plump grubs after a day of free ranging. They do LOVE to converse and will happily chatter about the matters of the day whenever you are within earshot, but never in a shrill or alarming manner. A Sussex chicken makes for a good childhood nanny, they are so gentle that they will tolerate even the smallest and clumsiest of hands, so having your children participate in the raising of these hens will easily create happy moments. If you’re thinking of a mixed flock of hens for your children to keep, have a look at our suggestions for family fowl here. Even Mr. Rooster, Earl of Sussex, is known to have a sunny disposition, which is a rare and splendid thing in the chicken world, so having a rooster in your flock is very achievable. Considering it? Have a sticky beak at our article on keeping a rooster in your flock here.
Good English Breeding
Sussex chickens are not just an agreeable temperament and a sweet personality, they are also made of tougher stuff! Their strong constitutions and gracious grit make them perfect for cold conditions and ready to handle some heat. They have bold and full bodies with a wide flat back and a short but perfectly proportioned tail. A sussex chickens’ plumage is brilliantly resplendent no matter the hue of their feathers. From the vintage Speckled Sussex to Silver. From Light (white feathers with black hackles and tail) to Buff to Red to Brown. A Sussex chicken looks lovely no matter what outfit the occasion calls for. There is even a special society of girls called Coronation Sussex chickens. These regal hens were bred to celebrate the coronation of King Edward the VIII in 1936 and display lavender hackles and tail feathers instead of the black details seen on the more common Light Sussex chickens. They have featherless feet and are easy to maintain with most of their daily care handled by a self administered dust bath and a spot of polite preening.
Eggs for the People
Don’t let their aristocratic pedigree fool you, Sussex hens are very learned in the art of laying an egg. They are good and regular layers, rare for purebred hens, and one hen in your brood will supply you with 200 to 250 brilliant brown or tinted eggs per year. If you are looking to add more colour to your egg basket, they will do nicely! However, a Speckled Sussex won't lay speckled eggs. Already have a Sussex? Have a look at other breeds who bring a rainbow to your breakfast table here.They will even lay their little miracles in chilly conditions, not at all troubled by the biting cold of a crisp winter morning. Their gift of eggs is, of course, just an extra advantage of having such a wonderful and gentle chook in your flock, but naturally produced eggs are essential if you want to have one of the most protein, vitamin and mineral rich foods at your fingertips each morning. Sussex chicken cackleberries are perfect for a round of toast soldiers to dip into on a lazy sunday morning, or perhaps they could best be used in your favourite sponge, enjoyed with a lovely cup of tea on sunny afternoon?
A Gracious Mother
No matter if the fertilised eggs are hers or have been entrusted to her by a hopeful keeper in search of a flock of baby chicks, the Sussex hen makes an effective brooder and a gentle mother. Given the chance, they will take on their motherly duties with care and compassion, their large size ensuring that even batches of twenty eggs or more are well taken care of, kept warm and nurtured under her soft and full feather coat. And if you want to make sure your hens stay fancy free and continue to saunter and forage among your backyard shrubbery it’s easy enough to keep broodiness at bay, just have a look at this article for tips.
The Sussex chicken is a simply superb breed of chook for any Chicken Lady or Lad. To watch them saunter about your backyard is a pure delight. Sussex are kind, curious and reliable egg layers that make cordial constant companions and family friendly additions to your flock. Sussex hens are a chicken with personality and need a coop with character to flourish! Want to start a fledgling flock of two? Or perhaps create a proper and resplendent home for a group of these refined hens? We have all you need with our easy to love and easy to clean coops like the marvellous Mansion, the perfect Penthouse or the terrific Taj Mahal. Have a peck at these happy homes to see what coop is the right choice for your Sussex society girls.
The stunning Sussex chooks may be the perfect match for you. However, take your time to consider the many amazing breeds when starting your own flock. It can be eggstremely overwhelming to find the perfect breeds for you and your family. From looks, to traits to egg-laying talents - where should you begin?
Cluckily, our friends over at Chickenpedia have created an amazing Chicken Breeds Course. This extensive online course shares useful advice on choosing the right chickens for you as well as size & frequency of eggs laid. You’ll even learn about their individual personalities, and be able to use their family-friendly compatibility scale through this well-structured program. It really is a great way to find your perfect backyard buddies which is why I highly recommend them to all of my readers! The courses are beginner-friendly and filled with vital information to help you raise a happy, healthy flock.
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