Sussex Chicken – Characteristics, Origin, Breed Info and Lifespan

light-sussex-chickens

There are a lot of questions people ask about the Sussex chicken breed.

Questions like “are Sussex chickens good layers? How fast do they grow? Where are they from?”

In this article, you will be getting answers to most of the frequently asked questions about the Sussex chicken breed.

You will learn about their history, characteristics, lifespan and other fun facts that are worth knowing.

In the end, you will have enough information that will help you to decide whether this chicken is a good breed for you or not.

So, if you are ready to get the full details, let’s ride on from here.

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Table of Contents

What is a Sussex chicken?

Sussex Chicken is one of England’s oldest chicken breeds. 

It has stood the test of time for over 200 years and the taste still tastes good. 

The Sussex is a Dual-purpose chicken breed like the Plymouth Rock. Mostly reared for food and egg. 

Due to its tendency to become overweight, many poultry farmers prefer it for meat rather than eggs production. 

The Sussex was considered the finest of the eating fowl in the ‘90s. 

With over 5 breed varieties, the Sussex chickens have 8 colours recognized for both standard-sized and bantam fowl. 

But sadly, the silver, brown, buff and red Sussex Chicken breeds are now extremely rare. 

It’s a mellow bird with low maintenance cost whose basic needs are food, water and secure shelter. 

Also, it’s one of the good all-around farm fowl.

Many call it the socialist bird because it loves to interact and socialize with people. 

It has a high tendency of being a pet because of its endearing nature. 

This bird combines both exhibition and utility virtues. However, they’re more popular in Canada, England and other parts of the world than in the United States.

In this article, you will discover the breed history, known varieties, egg-laying ability, special care and requirements of the Sussex chicken breed.

speckled sussex hen and cock
Speckled Sussex hen & cock

What is the Origin And History of Sussex chickens?

Just like the name suggests, the Sussex Chicken originates from Sussex, England. 

It was the country pride chicken. 

100 years ago, it was first prized as the table fowl and known as the Kentish fowl in 1845. 

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This made them one of the most popular chicken breeds in Great Britain. 

And to that effect, the light Sussex chicken breed contributed to the development of the country’s commercial strains. 

During the Roman invasion of 43 A.D, the Sussex chickens were originally brown/reddish in colour. 

However, different cross breeds were made to bring about different varieties of Sussex chickens.

Following the chicken fever spread, later on, many thought the Sussex breed would go extinct. 

But the Sussex never really went away. 

Due to the rapid decline in number, many no longer sought Sussex chickens. 

But the traditionalists were still on the lookout for it – and so the Sussex endured.

In 1903, the Sussex Breed Club was organised. 

And in 1912, England’s pride Light breed of Sussex chicken made it to the United States of America. 

1929 is the year APA recognized the other Sussex chicken breed. 

They include; Speckled, Red, and Light varieties. 

But the British recognize totally different breeds from the ones classified by APA. 

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What are the Characteristics of Sussex Chickens?

1. They Have Long Broad Backs 

Usually, the Sussex chickens have rectangular bodies.

Due to their stout nature, they can be considered easy to handle.

Also, they have long broad backs.

Their shoulders are really wide.

2. Sussex Chicken Breeds Look Perky.

 Usually, look ‘perky’ because their tails are held at a 45 degrees

3. The Sussex Chicken have Close Fitted Feathers

Their Feathers are closely fitted which makes them look really full. But their tail feathers are less closely fitted and held at angle 45⁰.

4. The Sussex Breed have a Variety of Colours  

Owing to the different varieties of Sussex Chickens, you can identify each variety by its colour. 

Here’s the difference;

  • The speckled variety of Sussex chickens are very attractive with its multi-coloured plumage.
  • But the light Sussex chicken breed is white with a black neck and tail feathers.
  • On the other hand, the Coronation Chicken Sussex breed is a white bird with light blue (lavender) neck and tail feathers.
  • The brown Sussex chickens have a deeper colouring than the red. Also, the feathers have a partridge pattern.
  • The Buff is buffed with black neck and tail feathers.
  • Whereas the Red variety is deep red in colour. Often similar to a Rhode Island Red colouring.
  • The colour of the Silver breed is black with silver pencilling. Usually around the breast area.
  • For the White Sussex chickens, well you know the answer!!!

Usually, their eyes will be either reddish or orange depending on the variety.

Regardless of the variety of Sussex chicken breeds, their earlobes and wattles are red.

Usually, their shanks are considered white in colour. 

red sussex chicken variety
Red Sussex

5. Sussex Chickens are Single Combed Birds

Usually, their combs are single and red in colour. 

6. The Sussex chicken breed has White Legs.

Each white leg of Sussex Chickens has 4 toes each. 

7. This Chicken Breed Weigh Between 6 to 9 pounds.

A Sussex Chicken Cock weighs about 9 pounds.

While the hen weighs about 7 pounds.

The cockerel on the other hand weighs 7½ pounds.

And the pullet weighs 6 pounds.

8. Sussex Chicken Breed are Broody, Sturdy and Healthy. 

Basically, Sussex Chickens are healthy and sturdy. 

The Sussex chicken family are a family of robust and hardy birds. 

In that regard, they do not have many notable health issues. 

So, you have fewer drugs to buy. 

However, they have a high propensity to become obsessed. 

If you want them fattened for the table then that’s an advantage. 

But if you want eggs out of them, you need to tune the fat level down. 

9. The Sussex is a low maintenance bird. 

Doesn’t require any special handling or treatments.

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10. The Sussex Hen are Good Mothers and Great Foragers

The hens of this breed make good mothers. They are usually alert, attractive and good foragers. 

11. They are a good source of Eggs and Meat

The Sussex chickens are the perfect breed for the production of both eggs and meat. 

12. They are Non-aggressive Birds

When you refer to the Sussex chicken breed, you refer to non-aggressive birds.

Even the macho roosters are mellow.

Table summarizing the Sussex Breed Information

Skin colourWhite
Egg colourTinted/brown
Comb typeSingle
Setter/BroodyYes
Especially DocileYes
UseDual-purpose breed
Cold HardinessHardy in winter
Conservation statusNot at risk (FAO 2007)
Heat ToleranceTolerates heat well
Also Known AsKentish fowl
PersonalitySmart, broody and docile
Country of originUnited Kingdom
StandardSussex Breed Club
Bears ConfinementBears confinement fairly
WeightMale: Standard minimum weight: 4.1 kgFemale: Standard minimum weight 3.2kg.
VarietiesSpeckled, Red, Light, Brown, Silver and Buff

Why Choose Sussex Chickens?

Many choose the Sussex chicken for many reasons. One of which is the need for a pet. Meanwhile below are some reasons to choose the Sussex chicken. 

1. They make Great Pets

For the love of pets, Sussex Chickens are great for families. The reason surrounds their docile and tolerant nature. 

Also, they enjoy the company of humans. 

It’s one of the chicken breeds that love to be stroked. Therefore it’s a great option for children who want to keep a chicken as a pet. 

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2. They are Not Noisy Birds

Although they are not noisy, they’re great conversationalists. In other words, you can find them joining the conversation at the table.

3. They are Good For Poultry

Sussex Chickens are a good supply of eggs. Also, they can be fattened up for meat for the food table. 

4. They are Easy to Maintain.

They’re usually very easy to maintain. In other words, you can focus on work and also keep the farm. Because you don’t have to frequent the farm to clean. 

For a novice, it’s the best chicken to start a poultry. It’s easy to care for. 

5. The Sussex Chicken Breeds are Good For Exhibition

The Sussex chickens are an excellent bird breed for 4 H projects. Although they’re more popular in Canada, England and other parts of the world than in the United States.

6. The Sussex are Excellent Source of Meat

Due to the fact that they easily get overweight, they serve as an excellent source of meat.

So depending on what you want to use the bird for, it really fits for a couple of reasons. 

Buff sussex chicken breed
Buff Sussex

What are the Disadvantages Of Having Sussex Chickens?

Although this chicken has a lot of promising features as to why you should keep them. 

Some attributes can be a pain in the ass to the owners. 

Here’s why you might not want to keep the Sussex chicken;

1. Sussex chickens have a tendency of becoming overweight. 

Which makes it less productive when it comes to egg-laying. 

2. They can’t defend themselves against:

Sussex chickens are non-aggressive. 

Therefore, if you rear them together with another aggressive bird, it could result in the deaths of the Sussex chickens. 

Because they will never fight back!!!

3. Sussex chickens are great foragers: 

Because they’re great foragers, you might find them in your neighbours’ backyard always.

Why?

They are foraging. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Sussex Chickens

What is the Lifespan Of Sussex Chickens?

The average lifespan of the Sussex breed is 8+ years. 

Of course, this depends on how well you attend to them. 

If well-fed, placed in the right environment and allowed to forage, the Sussex chicken breed will live longer than estimated. 

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Are Sussex Chickens Good For Meat?

Yes, the Sussex chicken breed is very good for meat. 

Basically, they’re reared for meat and eggs. Like earlier stated, they’re dual-purpose chickens. 

Can Sussex Chickens Be Trained As Pets?

Of course, they can.

Although they are naturally not noisy, they love human relations. 

As described earlier, they live cuddles, stroking and kids. 

This makes them a great choice for bird pets. 

Are Sussex Chickens Good Egg Layers?

When we talk about the egg-laying ability of the Sussex breed, we often consider many factors. 

One of which is dependent on the variety. 

But on a general note, Sussex chickens are good egg layers. 

And interestingly, they lay eggs continually, even in winter when other chickens are on egg-laying vacation! 

Also, the Sussex chicken breeds only take some time off from laying eggs when they are molting!

In other words, the Sussex chicken breed is a jackass egg-laying breed!!!

How Often Do Sussex Chickens Lay Eggs?

About that! 

Basically, the number of eggs laid by the chicken is also dependent on the variety. But from a general perspective, the Sussex chicken breed lays about 4-5 large brown eggs every week.

What this means is that it lays about 208-260 eggs in a year.

Also, depending on what you feed them, they could lay more!!!

What do Sussex Chickens Eat To Grow Big?

Good food makes the Sussex chicken grow big. 

Naturally, they have overweight tendencies.

 Therefore, you don’t need a special feed to make them add weight. 

However, you need to watch out for the tendencies of being overweight. 

Unless you want to use them as meat suppliers. 

In that regard, if you want your Sussex chicken to grow big, feed them with scratch grain, mealworms and scraps.

On other hand, allow them to forage to scout for their food themselves. 

How Fast do Sussex Chickens Grow?

Sussex chickens grow pretty fast. 

Due to its fat nature, a small chick can be considered big enough for sales. 

Although they do not mature on time.

Physically, they grow really fast. But it takes quite a while for them to mature.

Are Sussex Chickens Noisy?

Not at all. The Sussex breed is not known to be noisy. 

This attribute keeps the neighbourhood calm. However, you only get to hear them when they sound the alarm. Or when they sing the egg song. 

Just like the Plymouth Rock Chicken breed, the Sussex chickens “murmur” rather than “shout”. Also, they are great conversationalists. So you can be sure they will never get bored. 

What is the Habitat And Environment of Sussex Chickens?

Basically, they are docile, confident and friendly simultaneously. 

Training them in an environment that suits them supports their productivity. 

An environment that lets them forage is a good option. Foraging keeps them active and less disturbing. This helps them gather much of their needs. 

So we suggest a garden environment other than a pen house. This allows for free-ranging. 

Also, since they’re not aggressive birds, it’s basically advisable not to put them in with other aggressive breeds. 

“Why?”

They will be at the receiving end of all pecks. Fellow chicken bullies and suffering will be the order of the day for the Sussex chicken breed. Since they are not great flyers, a 4-foot tall fence will easily keep them penned in. 

Ensure they have a cover to run and hide if Mr Hawks shows up!

Conclusion

Overall the Sussex chicken breed is a productive and low maintenance chicken that will be a great addition to your chicken house. 

It will excel greatly for both egg-laying and meat production. However, you will have to decide on how to feed them to get the result you seek. 

We hope you will consider adding this delightful and personable bird to your flock.

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