The Speckled Sussex chicken is an old time favorite in England (its homeland). It has lived for many centuries to become a strong favorite commanding a good number of following.
The Sussex chicken, alongside other varieties of Sussex fowl, was in danger of dying out in the early 1900s, a few die hard bird keepers kept the lines going, making great improvement on the stock in hand to give us the robost, healthy stock that we have today.
If you are in search of general information about the Sussex rooster and hen breed, continue reading the complete care guide below.
Today’s article features the complete information you need to arm yourself with to decide if this ancient heritage bird is right for you. Including general temperament, Egg color, Egg size, history, appearance, common illnesses and so much more…
History and Background of the Speckled Sussex Chicken
No folk can exactly pinpoint the exact period the Speckled Sussex chicken made it first appearance. There exist writings from the Roman invasion of Britain (A.D. 43) that show proofs of a similar chicken variety was to be found in England.
Whether or not this was the ancestor of the speckled Sussex or not has not been proven, however it can go to say that it was; this is indeed an ancient fowl with history. The Romans were surprised that the native Britons did not see this chicken as a source of regular food and so taught the people how to farm chickens in simple steps.
Moving forward to the Victorian times when “hen fever” had the US and the UK in its curse. A group of birds called “Kentish or Sussex fowl” were showcased in the first ever poultry show in 1845.
The show was then held at Regents Park Zoo and attracted a huge turnout. This was the first public outing of the bird that was to become known as the Speckled Sussex.
Originally, the Speckled Sussex was raised in the South Eastern countries of Kent and Sussex for meat- supplying London with plump, yummy chickens that were said to delicate and fine eating. The roosters were caponized, fattened up and sold as large roosters, they were high in demand as the capons were force fed milk and ground oats and grew to be very large foe a chicken.
During World War 2, the Rhode Island Reds, speckled Sussex, and other Sussex varieties were the main breeds that kept Great Britain eggs and meat through the wartime shortages.
Breed Appearance and Standard
The present day speckled Sussex breed appearance was finally “set” in the late 1800s and the standard was sent to the PCGB and accepted in the early 1900s”.
You can imagine the joy on breeders faces….
In 1902, the standard of the speckled Sussex was drawn up in England, along with the light and red varieties of Sussex hen. The speckled is thought to be the oldest variety of Sussex hen.
Over the Victorian period, lots of modification had been done to alter the appearance of the breed until it was decided that the hen has become “perfect”
The Poultry Club of Great Britain describes them as a heavy, soft feather breed. While the American Poultry Association recognized this breed only in 1914 ad describes them as English class.
There are live records of bantam speckled Sussex but they are extremely hard to find. There are only a handful of breeders so some lines have genetic issues.
The Speckled Sussex feather pattern is quite astonishing. The base color is a dark and rich mahogany. Every feather is white tipped and separated from the mahogany by a black bar with indecent overtones of green. The pattern gets more outstanding and vibrant each tear too.
This coloration pattern gives the bird a cool camouflage when out free ranging.
Their comb, ear lobes, and wattles are all red- indicating in this case brown eggs. The comb is of the single variety. The beak is horn colored.
They have white skin, legs, and feet. There are four toes to each foot. The legs are short and stout, muscular thighs. They should have a flat and broad back with a deep and broad chest.
Speckled Sussex Rooster Temperament
The Rooster is calm, docile and friendly. They will walk around you if they know you have some treats for them.
SS Hen Temperament and Disposition
The hens are calm, friendly, and docile too. Curious by nature, they can sometimes get themselves into mischief but are cold hardy and very resourceful birds. They handle confinement well, but they also excel at free ranging when allowed to. This will reduce the cost of your feed bill and remove pests as well from your garden.
Maybe because of their easy going temperament, they can go low on the pecking order and can be subjected to bullying with larger more assertive birds.
When Do Speckled Sussex Start Laying
Each hen begin laying around 20 weeks of age. This is time they mature and are a proficient eg laying chicken breed. A Great-Egg-Laying Chicken breed no doubt.
Egg Laying and Broodiness
The speckled Sussex is an excellent layer, giving an average of 4-5 large, brown eggs each week. They are reputed to lay well through the winter months pausing only a pause for the molt.
Speckled Sussex chicken have a tendency towards broodiness, they take in well and make fine mothers.
When raised as a meat bird, the Sussex dresses out a very decent 7lb for hens and 9lb for roosters.
The taste of the meat is unique although the American market generally prefers a little darker color of meat. The speckled Sussex ha a tender whitish/pink meat.
The Sussex variety takes less time to mature; 20 weeks and the Speckled Sussex chicken takes a little longer to mature.
Speckled Sussex Rooster Or Hen
Saddle feathers and green/brown iridescent feathers on her back is an indicator your pet might be a hen.
At times, dark back feathers without speckles might mean you have a boy. At times, it might be a hen too.
A friends “Whitie” at 7 weeks, had a broad patch of white on her breast and she’s my favorite girl of my 18.
Some female birds have the green iridescent coloring on feathers, and her saddle/tail feathers are on the pointy side, but a roo would have a larger/redder comb at this point.
If you are unsure of which sex you have, kindly wait as he/she will be more speckled with each moult. Saddle and hackle feathers might not be long and slender but pointy too.
Speckled Sussex Chicken Egg Color
They lay tinted or light brown color eggs. Their eggs are medium sized.
Egg Color: Tinted or Light Brown or tinted
Varieties: Sussex chickens have lots of varieties
Egg Productivity: About 4 eggs per week
Breed Purpose: Dual Purpose
Common Health Issues
The speckled Sussex is a good bird that tolerates a wide variety of circumstances from free range to confinement. It handles cold very well but does not like the heat too much as their feathers are quite dense.
Cool water and shade should always be available to these chickens at all times.
Other than the usual chicken problems such as mites and lice etc, this breed does not in any way suffer any particular types of ailment.
Is the Speckled Sussex Right For You?
In England, it is not as well-known as the light Susex, but here in the US, it is really popular.
The birds popularity can be explained by their thriftiness. The meat is delicate, she lays a lt of eggs, and she is a great forager and is tolerant of a wide range of climates.
Rest assured, she will keep your hen food bill down as she is a good forager when allowed to roam the pasture. It is a docile and friendly hen that is well suited for little kids and families and will enjoy being one of the family.
Speckled loves to chat with you, they can become firm family favorites and even enjoy private lap time with you,
The SS is a mellow bird and as such is very suitable for a 4H project for young farmers and for farming.
The Speckled Sussex is a astonishing hen to look at with her lovely camouflage feathering. The variety of Sussex hen was endangered until some years ago.
The up rise in backyard chickens keeping has rescued this breed of hen from obscurity and now the American Livestock Breed Conservancy list it as ‘recovering’.
Lots of folks have seen that this heritage bird has lots of potential when given the chance!
This old time breed is being discovered by a good number of new groups of chicken keepers and enjoys a resurgence of popularity. This is one of the best things happening to an almost untraced chicken whose ancestors rolled with the Romans!
If you have a Speckled Sussex chicken we would love to hear your experience with you. Do not in any way feel shy. Leave your comments in the section below…