Sussex chicken sits idly in its coop.

5 Reasons Sussex Chickens Belong in Every Backyard Flock


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A dual-purpose bird, the Sussex chicken is a poultry breed from England. Here are five facts you need to know about this old British chicken breed.

Traditionally bred as a table bird and kept for meat production, the Sussex chicken is now just a really great dual-purpose poultry breed. Originating from the Sussex county in England (hence the name!), Sussex chickens are known to be good, steady, egg layers with a friendly nature and gentle disposition.

If you are a chicken keeper and looking for a new addition to your backyard chicken flock, you can look no further than the Sussex breed: this dual-purpose bird from Great Britain will no doubt be the perfect addition. Whether it's for egg-laying or for more, um, meaty pursuits, or even just as a great feathery companion: you can't go wrong with this dual-purpose breed -- here are five facts about Sussex chickens.

1. It is one of the oldest chicken breeds.

The Sussex chicken is among the oldest chicken breeds in England. Also called the "Old Sussex" or the "Kent Fowl", the egg-laying bird was shown at the first ever poultry show: held at the London Zoo in 1845 -- this was a chicken making history!

2. There are eight color varieties.

Sussex chickens are quite good-looking birds: they have a red single comb along with red wattles and earlobes. They come in eight color varieties, all of which are recognized by the Poultry Club of Great Britain:

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? Speckled: Speckled Sussex chickens are a rich mahogany color with a white speckled body that increases with each molt.
? Light: Light Sussex chickens are white with black neck and tail feathers.
? Red: this deep red coloring is similar to the Rhode Island Red chicken coloring.
? Brown
? Buff
? Silver
? White
? Coronation: with the same markings as the Light Sussex, this is a white bird with a lavender neck and tail feathers.

The American Poultry Association (APA) recognizes the light, red, and speckled colors.

3. They are great egg layers.

Sussex hens are known to be excellent at egg production -- these hens will readily supply you with an average of 200 to 250 large, light brown eggs a year, with these hardworking egg layers producing four to five eggs a week. They are also cold-hardy hens and will lay throughout the winter; they also tend to go broody and their broodiness makes them great mothers.

4. They were developed from multiple chicken breeds.

The Sussex chicken was developed by crossbreeding the big and fluffy Cochin chicken, the British breed Dorking chicken, and the giant-sized Brahma chicken. All these poultry breeds went into making the Sussex chicken we know and love today.

5. They are gentle and curious birds.

When it comes to their personality, these chickens have the best of both worlds. They are calm, docile, and easy to handle, but are also active, alert, and confident friendly birds. The Sussex breed are also very curious birds and love to forage -- they are natural foragers, gathering most of their needs when allowed to free-range in the wild -- making them low maintenance chickens that're great for beginners and children.

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READ MORE: These 4 Factors Will Impact Your Chickens' Life Expectancies