Speckled Sussex Breed Guide: All You Need To Know

The Speckled Sussex hen is an old and well-loved breed.

They are a beautiful coloration of the Sussex chicken who are known for their egg laying abilities.

Similar to many older heritage breeds the speckled Sussex fell into obscurity after the introduction of high production industrial breeds.

Today however they are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as backyard chicken keepers discover the benefits of keeping this lovely heritage hen.

Want to learn more about this beautiful speckled hen? Then keep reading…

Speckled Sussex

Speckled Sussex Overview

Speckled Sussexs have a long and notable history not only in their homeland of England, but all over the world.

This breed was known back in the Roman era and since then have gradually been refined into the chicken we know today.

They are a color variety of the Sussex.

This Sussex are loved by backyard chicken keepers because of their temperament and egg laying ability.

She can lay 4-5 light brown eggs each week.

The speckled Sussex in particular is loved for their feather patterning – no two hens are alike.

Their feathers have a rich mahogany base color with stunning white or buff tips.

Overall they make the perfect backyard hen because they are kid and people friendly, relatively quiet and are very effective at foraging.

Speckled Sussex
Beginner Friendly: Yes.
Lifespan: 8+ years.
Weight: Hens (6lb) Roosters (8lb).
Color: Mahogany with speckles.
Egg Production: 4-5 per week.
Egg Color: Light Brown.
Known For Broodiness: Yes.
Good With Children: Yes.
Cost of Chicken: $3-5 per chick.

Why We Love This Breed

Pros:

  • They are well known for their calm and docile temperament.
  • She loves to be with humans and will let you cuddle her.
  • Sussex are dependable egg layers.
  • They are very friendly and will get along with other breeds.
  • Speckled Sussex chickens are well suited to live in cold climates.
  • They love to forage so their feed bill is not too expensive.

Appearance

Sussex Chicken

This is a large breed that has wide shoulders and a curvy but rectangular shaped body.

Their body is long and deep and their tail is held at 45 degrees to the body.

You will notice they have a single 5 pointed comb – in addition they have wattles and ear lobes. All three should be a lovely deep red color.

Their eyes are a shade between red and orange and their pointed beak is a horn color.

Finally their skin should be slightly pink and their shanks should be white.

Be careful if you see one with yellowish shanks because this is not a pure speckled Sussex.

Size and Weight

As previously mentioned the Sussex is quite a large bird.

Roosters will weigh around 8 pounds and hens will be 6-7 pounds.

You can also find bantam varieties which weigh 36oz (rooster) and 30oz (hen).

Color

Whilst the Sussex comes in several color variations the Speckled Sussex is a beautiful rich mahogany color.

Their feathers have a deep green barring closer to the tip and each tip has a white or buff coloring. When the sunlight hits these feathers they have a beautiful iridescence too.

What Is It Like To Own A Speckled Sussex Chicken?

A Speckled Sussex Hen

You will often find the Speckled Sussex outside foraging.

The love to free range and this exercise helps to prevent obesity (which they can be prone to).

If you do have to keep them confined make sure there are various things like perches and tree stumps to keep them occupied.

Of course you can expect lots of eggs too as this breed is a dependable egg layer.

Overall this is a beautiful family chicken that likes human attention and is very friendly.

Personality

The Speckled Sussex is a gentle and friendly bird.

She is well suited to a family setting as they are usually great with kids – the only exception here is the roosters who can have aggressive streaks.

Hens have a steady and dependable temperament and are not prone towards panicky or flighty behaviors.

They will like nothing more than to have a chat with you while being held and petted.

You will find they like to follow you around the garden if they think you have treats.

All of these traits make them a perfect fit for an urban backyard where the consideration of neighbors will guide your selection of hens.

Egg Production

As the Speckled Sussex belongs to the Sussex family they will be good layers.

You can expect around 4-5 eggs each week or around 250 eggs each year (depending on the exact strain).

These are a slightly tinted or light brown color and she will usually start laying at around 20 weeks old.

She does have a tendency towards broodiness though so the exact number of eggs they lay will depend upon how broody your ladies are. Other than broodiness the Sussex is a dependable layer and will only stop laying during the molt.

Egg Production
Eggs Per Week: 4-5 Eggs
Color: Light Brown
Size: Medium

Noise Levels

This breed is fairly quiet so they are well suited to urban backyards.

The only time you hear this chicken will be during the egg song or when a predator is close.

She is a quiet, steady and docile hen that is not prone to flightiness or nervousness. They do like to talk to their owners but they really are not loud or obnoxious.

Facts About This Breed

  1. The Speckled Sussex comes from England.
  2. During the second world war they were an an essential source of food.
  3. They come in other colors too such as white and red.
  4. Roosters will weigh around nine pounds and hens around seven pounds.
  5. The speckled is the oldest color variation of the Sussex chicken.
  6. They are chatty and sociable which makes them perfect for families with children.

Speckled Sussex Care Guide

Speckled Sussex Chicken

Health Issues

This is is a hearty and robust hen.

They can tolerate a wide variety of climates from snow to heat as long as they have suitable accommodations.

Fortunately they are not prone to any particular diseases other than the usual common ailments associated with chickens. Parasites (both internal and external) can cause problems so check regularly for lice, mites and worms.

Also they are known for being fairly broody – whilst this is not a health issue it is something you should be aware of. Sussex hens will usually sit diligently and then become good mothers to their chicks teaching them everything they need to know to be a chicken.

Feeding

Laying hens can be given a generic 16% layer feed.

In addition to this they will need calcium in the form of oyster shell.

When she starts to molt you need to increase the protein content of their feed to 20%. This will help them feather up quickly without depleting their protein store.

Also if they are kept in a pen you will need to add some chicken grit to help with their digestion.

Free range chickens will not need added grit except for the winter months when the ground is frozen.

Coop Setup

Speckled Sussex Chicken In Snow

Each one of your Speckled Sussexs will need at least 4 square feet of coop space.

They are not known for pecking or squabbling but during the long cold winters boredom will inevitably set in and mischief may ensue.

Making sure to have enough space inside will help reduce this behavior.

As for perch space make sure they each have 8-10 inches.

If they share roosting space with more assertive breeds then make sure there are separate perches so they can keep to themselves.

Finally for nesting boxes that standard 12×12 inch box will be fine (any larger and they will share nests).

You should have one nesting box for every three hens.

Although there will always be one favorite box that they all want to use!

Run and Roaming

Speckled Sussex love to free range and their color helps to camouflage them from predators.

She is an efficient forager and will find lots of snacks to supplement her diet. If you have problems with ticks in your area then chickens like the Sussex will quickly reduce the population.

If you cannot let them free range then they will tolerate being in a run.

Make sure they each have 8 square feet of run space.

You will also need to give them variety of toys to stop them from getting bored. Think about plenty of perches at various heights, tree stumps, swings and quiet areas for the more timid members of the flock.

If you can allow them free range for a few hours this will keep them happy and fit.

Speckled Sussex Breed History

White Sussex

The origins of this breed are truly lost in the mist of time.

When the Romans arrived in Britain in 43AD they found a chicken breed in the southern areas of England along with the old 5 toed bird (possibly the Dorking).

These birds may have been traded by the Phoenicians who were known to have traded all along the south coast of England as far as Cornwall.

The Romans eventually taught the local English population to farm and eat chickens.

Of course it was the hen crazy Victorians that really elevated the speckled Sussex to the pinnacle of their fame!

The breed was refined and polished over the years and was introduced as a Sussex or Kentish fowl in the first poultry show in London in 1845. It was here where the first of the Sussexs (the Speckled Sussex) was shown.

Victorians loved to experiment and improve the current chicken breeds. It was because of this hen fever that certain poultry lovers became alarmed that the heritage breeds (such as the Sussex) were in danger of extinction.

One such man was Edward Brown a noted writer of the time. His speech before a group of poultry enthusiasts inspired E.J Wadman to form the Sussex Club and start to preserve the breed.

As factory hens were introduced the speckled Sussex fell from favor as it was not able to keep up with the egg production and growth of the newer birds and thus began a slow but steady decline.

Fortunately this was noticed by the Livestock Conservancy and very successful efforts were made to save the breed.

These days she is enjoying new found popularity in backyards all over the world!

Summary

This breed is very well suited for backyard chicken keepers.

They are a reliable egg layer that will keep you well supplied with eggs and if you wish to raise your own chicks the girls are good broodies and mothers.

If you let them free range they are economical to feed as they will supplement their diet from natural sources too.

She also has a lovely temperament and will tolerate being picked up and held.

Overall they are a lovely heritage breed that has survived many ups and downs over the years and have have proven that they still has a place in the modern world.

Let us know about your Speckled Sussexs in the comments section below…

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and are interested in backyard chicken health and care. Her work has been shared on HuffPost, Mother Nature Network, Community Chickens, Mother Earth News and many more outlets. Today Chris keeps 11 chickens including 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Silkies. She is our backyard chicken expert at Chickens And More, and shares her knowledge on raising healthy, happy chickens with our readers. You can contact Chris at chris@chickensandmore.com

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