The Complete Guide to the Speckled Sussex Chicken – Is This The Right Breed for You?

Don’t move on without taking a look at this first-rate breed.

The Speckled Sussex has been around for quite some time, and not because of a stroke of luck. These British birds have set the bar high and we’ll tell you all about it in this following in-depth review. 


The Splendid Survivor – A Peep Into The History Of The Sussex Chicken Breed

For many years, Sussex (along with the areas of Kent and Surrey in England) has been a center of top-quality poultry production. Thus, it may come as no surprise that one of the oldest chicken breeds known to humankind, the Sussex chicken, was developed in the English county of the same name.

Although its exact origins and breeding are somewhat vague, it is believed that the breed was introduced by the Romans during their invasion of Britain in 43 A.D. Others, however, maintain that they were introduced by Phoenician traders instead.

By mid-1800s, British farmers began to cross local flocks with imported Asian breeds, which in turn pushed many of the local breeds to the brink of extinction. Amongst these dwindling local breeds was the Sussex.

Upset about the situation, poultry industry writer Edward Brown warned farmers about being on the verge of losing such a fine breed, and their reputation as distinguished poultry suppliers with it.

It wasn’t long after, that farmer E.J. Wadman formed a club dedicated to protect and promote the Sussex chicken breed, giving us the opportunity to enjoy these birds today.

Learn more about the history of this breed on the Livestock Conservancy website


Profiling Sussex Chickens

Physical Features

At first glance, one cannot help but think that the Sussex are a perfectly proportionate breed. They are characterized by a broad and long back that is followed by a tail that rests at a 45° angle. Their shanks and toes are white in color and their legs clean (meaning their legs will remain bare, rather than grow feathers).

Sussex chickens have a single comb with five well-defined pointy ends, medium-sized earlobes, and small- to medium-sized rounded wattles. These are all red in color. Keep in mind that single combs are more susceptible to frostbite. The Chicken Chick has put up a post on the causes, treatment and prevention of frostbite, if you’re interested in learning more.

This is considered a large breed, with the weight of a standard Sussex hen reaching 6.5 pounds (or 3.20 kilograms), and a standard rooster reaching 9 pounds (or 4 kilograms). On the other hand, the weight of a bantam hen is 2 pounds (or 910 grams), while a bantam rooster is 2.25 (or 1 kilogram).

Speckled Sussex Chickens - Appearance

The oldest variety of the Sussex breed is the Speckled. In both the U.S. and the U.K., this variety is recognized for both large fowls and bantam types.

Female Speckled Sussex chickens have dark mahogany heads, necks, and bodies. The tip of almost every feather is adorned with a white spot and a black bar that separates this white section from the rest of the feather. Their tails are brown and black with white on the ends, while their beaks are brownish-pink.

Male Speckled Sussex chickens have a dark mahogany head, neck, and saddle with the tip of almost every feather adorned with white and a black bar that lies between the white tip and the remainder of the feather. The wing bow (the upper part of the wing) is speckled while the other wing feathers feature black, brown, and white. Tail feathers are mostly black and white.

Both female and male Speckled Sussex chickens have a slate, red, and white undercolor.

Temperament 

Gentle and low-key, yet sharp and energetic – these are perhaps the most adequate adjectives to describe the Sussex breed.

These charming birds can easily adapt to confinement, but benefit greatly from foraging due to their curious and active nature. 

Part-time ranging – that is, combining a few hours of free-ranging with confinement on a daily basis – is probably the best way of managing a flock of Sussex.

Generally speaking, Sussex are likely to end up at the bottom of the pecking order. This, however, won’t be a problem as long as they aren’t being tormented by more dominant breeds. Our article on How to Introduce New Chickens provides helpful tips on how to present newcomers to an already established flock.

Sussex hens are recognized for their caretaking qualities, which make them great mothers.

These hens tend to go broody often, and most of the time are willing to look after eggs that aren’t theirs.

There are mixed reviews when it comes to the Speckled Sussex rooster temperament – or all Sussex temperaments, for that matter. Some claim that they have a tendency of getting territorial and aggressive, whereas others claim to never have any problems.

Purpose: What About The Speckled Sussex Egg? Speckled Sussex Egg Production

This is a superb dual-purpose breed that will perform successfully both as a layer and as a meat bird.

Sussex are reliable layers that yield around 200 to 250 large tan- to brown-shell eggs per year and are amongst the few birds that are rugged enough to continue producing throughout winter.

Note, that hens will not lay as many eggs when too fat, so you may want to keep an eye on their physique.

Take a look at our article on What are the Best Egg Laying Chickens to find out what other breeds stand out as layers. 

As meat birds, they will gain weight fast – their heavy build enabling them to provide an abundance of meat. 

More Than Just Speckled - Additional Sussex Chicken Colors And Recognized Varieties

The Sussex arrived in the United States for the first time around 1912 and became a recognized breed by the American Poultry Association in 1914. The British Poultry Standards, on the other hand, recognized this breed in the early 1900s.

At this moment, there are 3 different colors of Sussex chickens recognized in the United States, all of which apply to both large fowl and bantam types. In the U.K., there are 8 recognized varieties that apply to both large fowl and bantam types.

​​​1

Red Sussex Chicken

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For both female and male Red Sussex chickens, their heads and necks are dark red in color and striped with black. Their bodies and wing bows are also dark red, but lacking the black stripes. Remaining wing feathers are dark red with black accents, while their tails are black and dark red. The plumage undercolor is slate, and their beaks are generally horn-colored.

This variety is recognized by both the American and British Poultry Associations.

2

Light Sussex Chicken

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For both female and male Light Sussex chickens, their heads and necks are white in color and striped with black, so that the black stripe in the middle part of each feather is encircled by the white. Their wing feathers are white with black accents and their tails black. The rest of their bodies, including their beaks, are white.

It is said that the Brahma, Cochin, and Silver Grey Dorking breeds were used to develop this Light variety.

The Light is recognized by both the American and British Poultry Associations.

3

Brown Sussex Chicken

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Female Brown Sussex chickens have brown heads and necks that feature a black stripe in nearly every feather. The back and wings are dark brown with black accents, while the breast and lower part of the body feature a light brown hue. Their tails are black and their beaks horn-colored.

Male Brown Sussex chickens have dark mahogany heads, necks and saddles that feature a black stripe in almost every feather. Their backs and wing bows are mostly dark mahogany with some bluish-black, black, and brown hues. Black predominates in the areas of the breast, tail and thighs.

This variety is recognized by the British Poultry Association only. 

4

Buff Sussex Chicken

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For both female and male Red Sussex chickens, their heads and necks are buff in color and striped with a greenish-black. Their wings are buff with black accents, and their tail feathers greenish black. The rest of their bodies should be a uniform buff, though having a dark undercolor is still accepted by the British Poultry Association.

This variety is recognized by the British Poultry Association only. 

5

Coronation Sussex Chicken

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The Coronation is almost the same as the Light, but with blue hues rather than black.

For both female and male Coronation Sussex chickens, their heads and necks are white in color and striped with blue, so that the blue stripe in the middle of each feather is encircled by the white. Their wing feathers are white with blue accents and their tails blue. The remainder of their bodies are white.

This variety is recognized by the British Poultry Association only. 

6

Silver Sussex Chicken

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Female Silver Sussex chickens have white heads, necks and saddles that are striped with black, so that the black stripe in the middle part of each feather is fenced in the white. Their backs and wing bows are grey, and each feather features a white shaft along with silver lacing surrounding it. Remaining wing feathers are greyish-black, and tails black.

The breasts and thighs are also greyish-black, but in lighter tones, along with white shafts and silver lacing just as with the backs and wing bows. 

Male Silver Sussex chickens have the same color as the female in their heads, necks and saddles. Their backs and wing bows have a silvery-white hue, and the remaining wing feathers have black and grey accents. Their breasts are black, and feature white shafts and silver lacing.

Their thighs are dark grey with slight lacing, and their tails black. The undercolor for both the female and male is grey-black and white.

This variety is recognized by the British Poultry Association only. 

7

White Sussex Chicken

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For both female and male Sussex chickens their plumage is snow white from one end to the other (even their skin)!

This variety is recognized by the British Poultry Association only. 


Speckled Sussex Farm Fowl Facts – Answers To The Most FAQs

When Do Speckled Sussex Start Laying?

Generally speaking, the Sussex hens laying age begins around 20 weeks.

When Do Light Sussex Chickens Start Laying?

Expect eggs at pretty much the same time as the Speckled Sussex, around 20 weeks of age. Find out about How Long do Chickens Lay Eggs on average, by reading our article on the topic. 

Speckled Sussex Egg Color?

As with all Sussex chicken varieties, the Speckled Sussex egg color will be tan or brown.

Bear in mind that the Sussex is a breed, in other words it is a group within a species that share much of the same characteristics in terms of looks, performance, temperament, etc.

Therefore, things such as the Speckled Sussex egg size and color, the Speckled Sussex egg production, and temperament will be very similar, if not the same, to that of a Silver, Brown, Red, Buff, White, or Coronation Sussex.

Can Sussex Chickens Stand Heat?

Having been developed in England, the Sussex has a reputation for being cold-hardy. However, although they are not to be confused with a heat-hardy breed, these birds can stand warm to moderate temperatures as well. But because they are better built for colder climates, take a look at our article, How Cold is Too Cold for Chickens, to learn how to confront harsh winters with your flock!


A Pretty Parade: The Speckled Sussex vs. Similar Chicken Breeds - Choose Your Favorite! 

​​​1

Faverolle

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The French Faverolle is a noteworthy, dual-purpose large breed. These peculiar farm fowls are known to be remarkably docile – including roosters – and to adapt well to confinement, therefore making them great backyard chickens.

Once you gain the trust of these birds, they will treat you as another member of their flock… and you, in turn, will most likely treat them as members of your family.

This is one of those cold-resistant breeds that will go ahead and lay through winter. Note, however, that they are not exactly heat-fit birds and so will best thrive in moderate to cold climates. Expect Faverolle hens to yield around 180 to 200 medium to large, light brown eggs per year.

Recognized varieties by the American Poultry Association include the stunning Salmon and White Faverolles, for both large fowl and bantam types. 

2

Buckeye

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The Buckeye is an all-American, dual-purpose chicken breed that is currently considered to be threatened, by the Livestock Conservancy. These are lively birds that prosper when raised in free-range conditions. In fact, this breed is popular for its outstanding hunting abilities, especially when it comes to snaring mice.

However, when it comes to liaising with humans these birds are strikingly friendly!

With its origins in Ohio, Buckeyes are cold-hardy birds, although some sources affirm that they can adapt to hot temperatures over time. Expect Buckeye hens to yield about 120 to 150 large brown-shell eggs per year.

This breed is only recognized as one variety by the American Poultry Association.

3

Langshan

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Another dual-purpose, large chicken breed, the Langshan are friendly birds that are highly flexible and resilient, and cope well with both free-ranging and confinement. These birds accept human handling and are easily reared.

This long-legged, endangered bird can do well in cold and hot climates, but will take a bit longer to mature when compared to other breeds. Once they get up and running though, expect Langshan hens to yield approximately 200 medium to large white-shell eggs per year.

Recognized varieties by the American Poultry Association include the Black, Blue, and White Langshans for both large fowl and bantam types.

Note: If your still searching for that special chook, look no further than our ultimate guides to Phoenix, Ameraucana, and Plymouth-Rock chicken breeds! The right chicken is out there waiting for you!


Where Can I Buy A Speckled Sussex Chicken?

Before heading out to purchase adorable Speckled Sussex chicks or lovely adult chickens that are ready to lay, make sure to read our guide on the topic of Buying Chicks or Chickens: Where to Buy Chickens and How to do it? 

Sussex Chickens For Sale

Remember that when buying mature chickens your only option is to go to the nearest hatchery shop.

When purchasing chicks, however, you have the choice of buying from online hatchery stores, from feed stores or local hatcheries, or from local sellers via buy/sell classified shops like Craigslist or eBay.

Some of the hatcheries that currently sell Speckled Sussex include:

  • Cackle Hatchery - The minimum quantity of chicks is 3 per order.
  • Meyer Hatchery - The minimum quantity of chicks is 3 per order.
  • My Pet Chicken - The minimum quantity of chicks per order will depend on your shipping address.

Note: Did you decide on buying chicks over adult birds? Let us guide you through the process of raising baby chicks with our guide on what to feed them and how to take care of them. 


Verdict: To Peck Or Not To Peck? Is The Speckled Sussex The Right Bird For You?

Do you fancy exquisite eggs and/or meat from English provenance? Would you like to have some placid chickens roaming around your backyard in a dandy Speckled wardrobe, even if “it’s brass monkeys outside”?

If that’s the case, well… “Bob’s your uncle!”

Ok, enough with the British slang…

We hope this article was helpful and – if it was – remember to let us know in the comment section below. Don’t forget to share this article with all your feather aficionado friends!

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