Breed Spotlight: The Sussex
The Speckled Sussex is a true example of a gorgeous chicken. My first experience with this breed was when I received a female chick in my order of Mrs. Meyers Assortment chicks. This hen’s plumage was striking with the brown mahogany coloring, accented by green and white. I was quickly attached to this friendly and beautiful chicken, and she was a model mother when she hatched some babies. As I watched this idyllic chicken lead her babies around the barnyard, I knew I now had a favorite chicken breed!
The Speckled Sussex is friendly and calm and an ideal dual-purpose breed. You can expect hens to begin laying around 16-20 weeks old and consistently lay 4-6 large, light brown eggs each week. Hens average 7 pounds, while roosters average 9 pounds. These hens are known to go broody and make great mothers. Foraging comes easy to this charming and curious breed, but they can also thrive in confinement. They are hardy and well-suited to all types of climates.
As chicks, Speckled Sussex can look very similar to other breeds, such as Welsummer or Light Brown Leghorn. Still, one slight difference is that they have a distinct eye line that curves up while Welsummer chicks have an eye line that goes straight back or slightly downward. To further identify a Speckled Sussex chick, look for clean, white legs, four toes, and brown striping down their back. A Speckled Sussex hen was recently featured on the 2020 cover of the Meyer Hatchery catalog and is consistently a customer favorite.
The Sussex breed of chickens was developed in England, in the county of Sussex, of course! Before the development of the Sussex, as it is known today, its lineage is thought to go back to the Roman invasion of England. Sussex and the surrounding countries get the credit for developing and maintaining various modern dual-purpose breeds, including Darks Brahmas and Orpingtons. English poultry breeders sought to create ideal dual-purpose chickens that matured quickly into sizable birds and were excellent for egg production. Breeding these birds made it possible for chickens to become a sustainable food source, thus increasing the demand that led to the broiler breeding and production that boomed in the 1940s and ’50s.
The Sussex chicken first arrived in America in 1912 and is recognized by the American Poultry Association in 3 colors: Speckled, Light, and Red. Through the years, breeders have developed additional colors such as White, Coronation, Buff, and Silver, and bantam Sussex chickens.
The Speckled Sussex is a nearly ideal choice for any homestead or family flock. You can count on steady production of brown eggs, an active forager, excellent mothering skills, and a friendly greeting whenever you spend time with your flock.
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