Dual Purpose Chickens
The Sussex chicken is one of the oldest breeds around. The original colours were Speckled, Brown and Red. There are now at least eight varieties and seven or so in the bantam version.
As the name suggests, the Sussex chicken was developed in Sussex, England. Sussex was famous for producing quality poultry for the table and the Sussex chicken was produced mainly for this purpose. It is now a popular dual purpose breed. Other dual purpose breeds are the Wyandotte and Australorp.
The Old Sussex breed was first exhibited in 1845. The Breed Club was formed in 1903 and fanciers were soon producing some stunning feather patterns.
The Sussex chicken is a graceful bird with a rectangular shape. The back is long, broad and flat. The head is neat. For exhibition birds, the tail should be at a 45 degree angle from the body. The darker varieties have a red eye and the lighter colours an orange eye. They have a single, erect comb of medium size. The earlobes are red and the legs and skin white. They are a heavy breed with cocks weighing around 9 pounds and hens 7 pounds.
The Sussex can be Brown, Buff, Light, Red, Speckled, Silver White, Lavender or Coronation. The Brown and Red varieties are rare as is the Coronation which was bred to commemorate the coronation of King George. For exhibition birds, the precise markings on the plumage are of great importance and it is best to consult the Breed Standards for detailed information.
The White Sussex is pure white. The Light Sussex is very attractive with a white body, black tail and black wing tips. The neck is white but striped with black. Markings on the Buff are similar but with ginger replacing the white plumage. Buff show birds need to be protected from strong sunlight as the colour will fade.
One of the latest colours is Silver where the body is black but with a lot of silver lacing. The Speckled variety is one of the 'old' colours and has a mixture of mahogany and black feathers with white tips. Speckled birds tend to become more speckled with each moult. Brown cock birds are darker than the hens, being dark brown with black points. The Red variety is similar to the Brown but the colour is richer.
Less common are Golden, Coronation and Lavender Sussex. Some of the more exotic colourations are not recognised by some poultry associations.
Sussex hens make good mothers. Their inclination to go broody varies somewhat. They make great chickens for smaller backyards and are good foragers. They are alert but docile, adaptable to most circumstances and highly attractive in their appearance. They are curious, friendly and easily handled. Being sturdy and plump, they are not inclined to fly and are relatively easily contained. Between 240 and 260 eggs may be laid per hen per year. The eggs are large and cream to light brown in colour. The Light and White Sussex are the best layers. `
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust lists the Light Sussex as 'at risk'.
Other articles about chickens:
ISA Brown Chicken - Characteristics
Malay Chicken - Characteristics
Japanese Bantam - Characteristics
Langshan Chicken - Characteristics
Coccidiosis in Chickens
Cochin Chicken - Characteristics
Orpington Chicken - Characteristics
Rhode Island Red Chicken - Characteristics
Wyandotte Chicken - Characteristics
Raising Backyard Chickens
Raising Backyard Turkeys
Plymouth Rock Chicken - Characteristics
Leghorn Chicken - Characteristics
New Hampshire Chicken - Characteristics
Feather Lice in Chickens - Its Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment
Brahma Chicken - Characteristics
Blackhead in turkeys