A Heritage Chicken Breed – The Sussex!
The sussex chicken has its original in the United Kingdom. It was developed as a dual purpose breed, both for meat and for the production of eggs. Many of us will remember our grandmothers having a few sussex in a pen in the backyard, usually light sussex which have white bodies with a bit of black around the neck, in the wings and in the tail. They have a reputation for the being the typical heritage chicken.
Some Important features of the breed
As a breeder of sussex we need to know a little more about what we want in a good one. When looking at examples of sussex chickens, one should firstly look at the ‘type’ or the shape of the fowl. It should be wide or broad it should be deep and long with a flat back. They should look longer than they look deep. Sometimes in the standard fowls they can get a bit shorter in the back and we should keep looking for that lovely long back and select those birds for breeding.
As sussex were a meat bird, size is also important. As long as the bird is balanced and proportional there is no upper limit for size. Basically, the bigger the better.
The breast is meant to be broad and square, and carried well to the front with a long, straight and breast bone.
The tail should be of medium size and be carried at about an angle of 45 degrees. It should rise from the very flat back.
Shanks should be set wide apart and be stocky and strong
The thighs should be short & stout.
The legs have close fitting scale and should be healthy and straight
Each foot has four toes that are straight and well-spread.
The neck on a sussex should be gracefully curved with a fairly full hackle.
The head is medium sized with a smooth face that is not excessively feathered.
The beak is short and curved and should be white or horn in color.
The sussex eyes are prominent, full and bright. The color should be orange in the Light and red in the Speckled.
The sussex comb is single and of medium size. The serrations are even, erect and fitting close to the head. There is a tendency for the front of the comb to fold in some birds and this should be avoided if possible.
The earlobes and wattles are of medium size and have a fine texture.
The sussex wings should be carried close and straight alongside of the body. A nicely tucked up wing doesn’t show black.
Sussex skin is white, and of medium texture. This is related to its history as a meat bird.
The sussex in all of its colours is a beautiful bird to keep and relatively easy to keep when compared to some other breeds of chickens. There are very good examples of Australian sussex available for those that live here.