Sussex Chicken

Gallus gallus domesticus

Last updated: September 23, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Microfile.org/Shutterstock.com

These chickens are curious and love to investigate anything new, especially if it contains a delicious treat. They love to follow their keepers around the yard and will be your companion when gardening.


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Sussex Chicken Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Galliformes
Family
Phasianidae
Genus
Gallus
Scientific Name
Gallus gallus domesticus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Sussex Chicken Conservation Status

Sussex Chicken Locations

Sussex Chicken Locations

Sussex Chicken Facts

Prey
Insects, worms, and rodents
Name Of Young
Chick
Group Behavior
  • Flock
Fun Fact
These chickens are curious and love to investigate anything new, especially if it contains a delicious treat. They love to follow their keepers around the yard and will be your companion when gardening.
Biggest Threat
Humans
Most Distinctive Feature
White and black plumage
Incubation Period
21 days
Age Of Independence
6 weeks
Predators
Foxes, dogs, wolves, weasels, and minks
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
Common Name
Sussex chicken
Origin
United Kingdom
Nesting Location
The ground

Sussex Chicken Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
8 years
Weight
7 to 9 pounds
Age of Sexual Maturity
8 months
Aggression
Low

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Sussex chickens are a dual-purpose breed originating from the United Kingdom. They come in eight colors recognized for both bantam fowl and standard-sized. These chickens were also traditionally raised as table birds, specifically for meat production. However, they were replaced by modern industrial chickens. Today, people still keep them as dual-purpose birds. While it’s important to research several breeds before investing in one, Sussex chickens make lovely family pets. They are sweet-natured and tolerant of children.

Sussex Chicken History

The Sussex chicken derived its name from the area where it originated, Sussex, England. In 1845, they were considered a prized table fowl named the Kentish fowl and one of the most popular chicken breeds in the United Kingdom. Therefore, these chickens contributed to the development of Great Britain’s commercial strains. While they were initially brownish-red in color, different crossbreeds created several varieties of Sussex chickens.

After the creation of modern industrialized chickens, there seemed to be little hope for the Sussex chicken, and many thought they would go extinct. However, they persevered thanks to traditionalists, who valued their positive traits.

Sussex Chicken Amazing Facts

  • Sussex chickens are sexually mature and can lay eggs between 16 to 20 weeks old.
  • They are medium-sized chickens, as hens weigh approximately 7 pounds, while roosters can weigh around 9 pounds.
  • These chickens are often described as alert and docile; while those two traits might contradict, it’s accurate as they are a friendly and attentive breed.

Sussex Chicken Scientific Name

The Sussex chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a member of the order Galliformes, which consists of ground-feeding, heavy-bodied birds, including:

These birds are vital contributors to their ecosystems as they distribute seeds and keep insect populations from getting out of control. Humans often raise species in this order for their eggs and meat. However, others are hunted as game birds. There are 290 species in Galliformes, and they inhabit every continent on the planet except Antarctica.

Sussex chickens belong to the Phasianidae family, which consists of 181 species. Most of the members of this family are omnivores and eat insects, plants, and seeds, as they are ground-dwelling birds. In addition, they have short, blunt wings and plump bodies. Hens lay eggs in nests on the ground, and they can produce a large number of eggs. Chicks do not need much attention once they hatch, as they can feed themselves. Due to the amount of species in this family that are hunted or raised for sport or food, many breeds have been introduced to foreign ranges.



Sussex Chicken Size, Appearance & Behavior

Sussex chickens come in several colors, including:

  • Brown
  • Buff
  • Light
  • Red
  • Speckled
  • Silver
  • White
  • Coronation

But besides their coloring, these chickens are graceful with long, wide, flat backs and rectangular builds. In addition, their tail stands at a 45-degree angle. Furthermore, they have a medium-sized single comb that stands upright. Light-colored Sussexes have orange eyes, while darker varieties have red eyes. They have white skin and legs, and their earlobes are red. Roosters can weigh around 9 pounds, while hens are smaller, only weighing 7 pounds.

Light Sussex chickens have white bodies with black wing tips and tails. Their necks are white with black stripes, giving them a striking appearance. The hackle feathers (around their necks) are black with a thin white border around the edges.

Sussex chicken isolated

Sussex chickens are very laid back and friendly.

©Erwin Bosman/Shutterstock.com

Behavior

Sussex chickens are very mellow and non-aggressive, and it’s not just the hens that are placid. Roosters are relatively docile as well. Additionally, they are self-assured and confident. Owners can spend hours watching them strutting around their yards with pride. However, due to their docile nature, carers need to monitor them carefully when around other breeds because they fall at the bottom of the pecking order and can get bullied.

These chickens are curious and love to investigate anything new, especially if it contains a delicious treat. They love to follow their keepers around the yard and will be your companion when gardening. Sussex chickens are an excellent breed for novice owners as they are laid back, friendly, and hardy, making them tolerant to all sorts of climates.

Sussex Chicken Diet

Luckily, Sussex chickens don’t need specific food, so it’s relatively easy to care for them. However, they need around ΒΌ pound of food daily. There are two ways to feed these chickens, schedule feeding or free feeding. However, free-feeding them is recommended as they do not overeat. They can eat a regular 16% feed for most of the season. But they need more protein during the molting season, so increase their feed to 18 to 20%. In addition, they need an oyster shell in a separate container. Should you decide not to free-feed your Sussex chickens, they will need a bowl of insoluble grit to aid digestion.

Sussex Chicken Predators and Threats

While some chicken breeds are predator resistant, the Sussex chicken is not one of them. Instead, they have natural predator awareness and great fleeing instincts but require protection during roaming and overnight security in any setting. Their predators include:

  • Foxes
  • Dogs
  • Weasels
  • Minks
  • Birds of prey

Sussex chickens don’t have any threats. They were in high demand during the 19th century and nearly consumed to extinction. However, since the dawn of modern industrialized chickens, Sussex chickens basically became obsolete. So at the moment, their numbers are recovering.

Sussex Chicken Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Sussex chickens were so popular because of the large eggs they lay. Their eggs are light brown in color, and they start laying them at around 8 months old, much later than other types of chickens. They are also the perfect breed if you want eggs all year round, unlike other breeds that will stop laying eggs in the winter. However, they will produce fewer eggs in the colder months but should be back to normal once the temperature rises. In fact, the only time they will stop laying eggs completely is when they are molting and need extra nutrients to replenish their plumage, meaning they are unable to produce eggs.

Sussex hens will lay most of their eggs in the first few years, and as they get older, they will produce fewer eggs. This usually happens at the age of five. These hens are broody, and owners can use them to hatch fertile eggs. Surprisingly, they are fiercely protective if they are allowed to mother chicks. However, studies have shown that the Light Sussex is the least broody of the Sussex varieties, but it will vary.

Babies

Sussex chicks are the most adorable yellow, small, and fluffy munchkins. However, they will start to develop black markings on their necks and tails within the first two weeks of life. Also, in their first six weeks, they will feather out and begin to show their true colors. Once this happens, they are ready to venture out on their own.

Lifespan

Sussex chickens have an 8-year lifespan.

Sussex Chicken Population

There is no information on Sussex chicken’s population size because so many varieties are distributed worldwide. However, they were considered endangered at the peak of their popularity, but today, their numbers are recovering nicely.

Raising Sussex Chickens

Taking care of Sussex chickens is relatively easy as they do not have any serious health concerns or food requirements. All in all, they are a breeze to house and won’t take up a lot of your time.

Health Issues

Sussex chickens are vigorous and healthy and do not need any special treatment to thrive and survive. However, they do contract the usual parasites like worms, lice, and mites. But, they are easy to treat and preventable with regular checks. In fact, some owners treat these conditions regularly, but many wait until they see symptoms; neither way is wrong, and it’s up to you how you would like to raise your chickens. Due to parasites developing resistance to certain medications, you should change treatments at least twice a year if your chickens often pick up parasites.

You need to pay close attention to roosters if you live in a cold climate, as their combs are prone to frostbite. However, applying petroleum jelly to their combs can significantly decrease their chances of getting frostbite.

Coop Setup

Because Sussex chickens are so big, you must ensure their coop is large enough. Therefore, you need 4 square feet per bird. In addition, raising them with more dominant breeds requires at least 6 square feet per chicken, making it harder for them to fight over space. When it comes to roosting space, the more, the better, but they need a minimum of 8 inches each. This gives them the freedom to spread out in the warmer months and cuddle together during winter.

Sussex chickens require regular-sized nesting boxes, approximately 12×12 inches. However, you do not need a nesting box per chicken; instead, you can have three chickens per nesting box. Furthermore, the nesting boxes need to be placed in the darkest corners of the coop, as hens like their privacy while brooding.

Run and Roaming

As mentioned above, Sussex chickens like to roam and thrive as free-range chickens. In fact, they are free-range experts and will gather most of their nutrients from the prey they catch in the yard. But a run is also perfectly acceptable if you lack the space.

As Sussex chickens are not the best flyers, a 4-foot wall will contain them. However, if they are housed in a small enclosed area, ensure there is plenty of structures where they can run and hide from birds of prey, like hawks.

When keeping these birds in confinement, they need free-range privileges a few times a week. Therefore, they require at least 8 square feet of space per bird. Additionally, when kept in a run, they need some sort of stimulation, like perches located at different levels, tree stumps, swings, or piles of leaves.

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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

Sussex Chicken FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Sussex chickens good layers?

Sussex chickens can lay between 180 to 200 eggs annually. However, they can lay up to 250 eggs per year.

What color eggs do Sussex hens lay?

Their eggs are light brown in color, and they start laying them at around eight months old, much later than other types of chickens.

What are Sussex chickens good for?

Sussex chickens are a dual-purpose breed originating from the United Kingdom. They come in eight colors recognized for both Batam fowl and standard-sized. These chickens were also traditionally raised as table birds, specifically for meat production.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Chickens and More, Available here: https://www.chickensandmore.com/sussex-chicken/
  2. The Happy Chicken Coop, Available here: https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/sussex-chicken/
  3. The Feather Brain, Available here: https://www.thefeatherbrain.com/blog/sussex-chickens#eggs=

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