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. 

Speckled Sussex In A Nutshell

Purpose for breedingEggs/meat
Standard weight6.5-9lbs (3.20-4kg)
Bantam weight2-2.25lbs (910g-1kg)
Egg color/size/production200 to 250 large brown eggs 
Broodiness levelHigh
Ease of careLow
Space requirementsAdaptable
Activity levelHigh
TemperamentFriendly
Sociability with other chickensLow in the pecking order

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

For many years, this breed (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 (Sussex) 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 the 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 chicken breed, giving us the opportunity to enjoy these birds today.

Profiling Sussex Chickens

COMPLETE GUIDE TO SPECKLED SUSSEX CHICKEN BREED

Physical Features

At first glance, one cannot help but think that the Speckled Sussex chicken is 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).

Speckled 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 so you have to make sure your Speckled Sussex chicken flock is safe and warm enough during the winter months.

Related: The biggest chicken breeds

The Speckled Sussex is a large breed. The weight of Speckled Sussex hens can reach 6.5 pounds (or 3.20 kilograms), and the standard Speckled Sussex rooster reaching 9 pounds (or 4 kilograms). On the other hand, the weight of a bantam Speckled Sussex 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 base color on their 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.

A Speckled Sussex rooster has 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 Speckled Sussex chicken.

These charming birds can easily adapt to confinement but benefit greatly from free-range due to their curious and active nature. They may even follow you around!

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, the Speckled Sussex chicken breed will likely 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. They 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’s temperament – or all Sussex temperaments, for that matter. Some claim that the Speckled Sussex chicken has 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

A Sussex chicken is a dual-purpose bird. Some say that their meat is better than other chicken breeds. (1).

Sussex chickens have a reputation, in some circles, of having flesh superior even to that of the Dorking and Old English Game chickens.

This backyard chicken breed gains weight fast, but there’s a downside. If a hen gets too fat, you won’t be able to enjoy this breed’s high egg production.

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

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

For meat production, 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 chicken breed in the early 1900s.

At this moment, there are 3 different colors 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.

SPECKLED SUSSEX COLORS AND RECOGNIZED VARIETIES

1. Red Sussex Chicken

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. The remaining wing feathers are dark red with black accents, while their tails are black and dark red. The plumage under color 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

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 chicken, Cochin chicken, 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

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 features a light brown hue. Their tails are black and their beaks horn-colored.

Roosters 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

For both female and male Buff 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

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

A Silver Sussex hen features a white head, neck, 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. The 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. 

Silver Sussex roosters 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

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. 

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? 

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

When purchasing a Speckled Sussex chick, 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:

While the Sussex is less expensive than some birds, they aren’t the cheapest birds out there either. In fact, we’ve added it to our list of most expensive chickens.

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 Chicken Right 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!

FAQs

Speckled Sussex chickens start egg laying around 20 weeks of age. Make sure to provide the hens with adequate water and feed. Their nesting boxes should be spacious enough, and away from any disturbances so they can lay their light brown eggs in peace.

Yes, a Sussex chicken can stand heat but in extreme conditions. 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 chicken 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!

Yes, the Speckled Sussex chicken breed is hardy but you’ll have to look out for the usual mites, lice, and worm infestation. Although they are not prone to more serious health conditions, this doesn’t mean they are immune. Most backyard chicken keepers have their flock vaccinated for peace of mind and prevention.

The Speckled Sussex egg color is 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.

  1. Sussex Chicken. Retrieved from: https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/sussex

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