Speckled Sussex Chicken: A Favorite Backyard Breed

The Speckled Sussex is a Dual-Purpose Backyard Chicken Breed


A free range speckled sussex hen forages for worms and insects in the green grass

I guess every chicken keeper has a favorite backyard chicken breed. While visiting our farm, a young homesteader asked me which of the breeds I currently have do I like the best. That was an easy answer: the Speckled Sussex chicken.

Origin of the Speckled Sussex Chicken Breed

The Speckled Sussex chicken originated in Sussex County, England more than 100 years ago. It became a famous table chicken breed there because of its pleasantly pleasing pinkish skin and its finesse at fattening up. It’s in the English class because it originated from the UK.

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A Medium Size, Heavy Breed Backyard Chicken

The Speckled Sussex is considered a medium-sized bird in the heavy breeds class. They are an extra large, bona fide beautiful breed of backyard chicken. Since we are sustenance farmers, we have them for their meat as well as eggs. The rooster will dress out between 8-10 pounds on average. The hens will dress out at 6-8 pounds on average.


Speckled Appearance

They are dazzling. No two are just alike. There are innumerable differences in the speckling patterns. The variance of colors and the shapes of those colors is endless.

The base color is a deep, rich mahogany. Their individual feathers have black bars and/or deep greenish-black bars. Each feather tip ends in a white to a creamy buff color. This makes them not only an excellent dual purpose bird, but many people raise them for showing.

With each successive molt, their spectacular speckled pattern changes and the colors intensify. The male is a show-off. He’s gorgeous and he knows it! From his sizable sweeping tail feathers, deep red comb and wattles, to his striking speckled feathers, he is breathtaking.

They have clean legs and single medium size combs.


Keeping Chickens As Pets

Yes, they have an attitude. They are friendly from the time they hatch and easily become chickens as pets (which I don’t do). They are lively, inquisitive, and fun as chicks.

As mature birds, they like to be held, stroked, and talked to. They may even follow you around. They are intelligent and mellow. Because of their mellowness, they tend to be toward the bottom of the pecking order.

They’re seldom aggressive toward the other hens. They’re like “Whatever, you go do your thing and I’ll do mine.” This makes them an excellent first bird for beginners and a favorite amongst us old-timers!

I have noticed that they like to boss my turkeys, but turkeys are way, way laid back. They’re another bewitching story.


A Great Egg-Laying Chicken Breed

The hens mature around 20 weeks of age. They are a proficient egg laying chicken breed. They are said to lay between 200-320 large brown eggs a year. I’ve never numbered them to find out exactly how many my girls lay, but days I don’t get an egg from each one of them are rare.

We count on them during the winter months for eggs. They seem to barely take notice of the temperature and daylight change. The Speckled Sussex lay pretty much year round. The only slow down I’ve ever seen with them is during their molt.

One of the Best Backyard Chickens for General Adaptability

The Speckled Sussex chicken is one of the best backyard chickens for being adaptable. They are heat and cold tolerant. They do well in confinement and in free range settings. They aren’t wasteful eaters.

These hens are very likely to set and become broody as soon as the weather warms in the spring. The Speckled Sussex are the most excellent mother hens we’ve ever had here on the farm.


Our rooster’s name is “Chief.” We named him this because of his size and his ostentatious tail feathers. If we lose him to a predator, as we have in the past, his successor gets the same name. Only the largest of the hatch is kept to replace him.

With any backyard chicken breed, you have those that are just one of the girls. They have no real personality quirks that cause them to stand out. Then you have those who clearly command your attention. You know, the one who runs to meet you, talks to you incessantly, flies up to your shoulder and rides there while you walk around. Those birds. These are the backyard chickens who get names and do not make it to the pot.

My favorite hen is Speckled Bird. She is sweet, inquisitive, intelligent, and even a little feisty.  She follows me around until I’ve put out all the goodies. Then she likes to check the bucket to see what I’ve left for her.

So, what is your favorite chicken breed? Do you have Speckled Sussex? If not, I hope you’ll consider this breed as an addition to your flock.

Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack

Originally published in 2015 and regularly vetted for accuracy. 

  • My SS is sweet as pie to people but Nast nasty nasty to the 2 adults and 5 pullets who are below her in pecking order. She literally spends more time making sure they don’t get any food than she does eating. I’ve had to outsmart her by tossing scraps and scratch in numerous places so far apart that she cannot patrol them all. I wish she was more typical of the breed!

  • Hi, We are moving to the country on a small hobby farm and looking to have some chickens. I think the s/s breed is what we may want. Do you need to have a rooster for eggs to eat or just or repopulate ? ….. Just learning lol.

  • We’ve been raising chickens for about six years, trying out various breeds like Marans, Orpingtons, Brahmas and Light Sussex ( Sussex Hermine) for example.
    They’re great birds for meat and eggs and we’ve been selling their chicks for two or three years now; in fact we’ve decided not to bother with other breeds for the foreseeable future.
    We changed from Hermines to Tricolores (as they’re called here in France) after realising the light-coloured birds were easy targets for hawks hunting through our woods. Since swapping breeds we haven’t lost any – long may that continue.

  • Had my first speckled Sussex rooster last year. He was so nasty and aggressive. Are there any nice ones? Did I do something wrong?

    • You get good and bad roosters, it’s probably just his make-up. We had a Copper Black Maran who was an absolute menace to everybody including his hens. Our current SS roo is fine with us but can’t stand the turkeys. His predecessor got on with one and all including the goats. Luck of the draw.

  • It is a Rooster’s job to be aggressive. That said, we have had really good luck with Barred Rock Roosters and spectacularly bad luck with attacking Ameraucana Roosters. We do handle the roosters a lot when they are young and establish that we are at the top of the pecking order. A left alone Rooster is an aggressive rooster. They seem to get worse as they get older so we keep track of their age and if they get too mean, it is time for a new one. Our barred rocks tend to die young throwing themselves in the way of predators protecting their hens, so that could be a factor. Our flock is free range.

  • I have two speckled Sussex with three Barred Rocks. The Sussex by far are agressive to the other chicken, one in particular. I’m thinking of looking for a home with other Sussex as it causes the chickens stress, and me stress as well.

  • At this point I still have my sussex girls , two just a normal , usual colour (white with a bit of black on neck and tail ) and one gold speckled ( tried hard to get that but whatever ) , now honestly ? Good layers ? yes they do give eggs daily yet compare that egg for once with an other egg by just holding it into your hand and move it , don’t make it a scrambled but if you shake them ?? no thx , lost my appetite ! plus you can perfectly taste anything they had eaten the day before , I really don’t like the taste of their eggs and they are so watery yikes , besides that I had never EVER had ONE normal sussex hen , they always make the life of other hens miserable , they are DIRTY if you compare them to any other breed too , they poop where ever they want to , even if you just putted some fresh scraps or whatever in their yard they got plenty space , no they always have to poop just RIGHT INTO the freshly put down dish , and they often get eggbound , well not really eggbound just stubborn , not willing to lay and if they do ? they start to eat all eggs they can find ! I’m really done with this breed , noisy they are for no reasons , no matter how soft you talk to them and how long you have them , they always have to start making eccessive noises if they do not get want they want as if I am doing them harm , so I really do no longer want this breed , am trying to get them rehomed because a marans is such a nicer and cleaner breed and they always get scared for their lives thanks to this so awesome breed the sussex , they chased one of my broody hens with her pullets , my marans looked like she was in minority and there are 8 marans plus a rooster of that breed and only 3 sussex girls , well , the poor marans AND chicks got pecked to death and I arrived too late , so now I’m after three years really done with this breed . Not ONE of those can be just normal without hurting other hens or screaming or stinking , anyone interested ? I give them for free , really

  • I have to say my favorite breed is a Turken. I got one because I ordered with a coworker. I didn’t want to take one of those ugly birds. They have become my favorite birds. I ordered more of them. Have a sassy personality towards other chickens but absolutely sweet towards people. If you can get past their looks they are wonderful back yard birds. They lay between 220-280 a year. I started out with a light brahma, salmon favoralle, a well summer, a Turken and a couple Plymouth barred rocks. I originally wanted only barred rocks. So glad I took that ugly bird.

  • I have 2 Speckled Sussex. Lucy and Ethel…Lucy is my favorite. She literally follows me around everywhere. She is nosey and friendly and loves me. I have never had a hen like her. Ethel is getting friendlier all the time, but she had an issue when she was very young and fractured her leg. I had to care for her daily for this, and of course a fracture hurts! She was a little afraid of me for a while after that, but now that her leg is healed she is coming around too. I would highly recommend this breed, wish I would have gotten them sooner!

  • I have 2 Speckles, Sugar and Spice. Spice does her thing and is simply one of the girls, no excessive behavior traits good or bad. Sugar is in charge of the 4 other girls, Spice, 2 Buff Orpingtons, and a Easter Egger. She is also not excessive in good or bad traits. I’d get more Speckles in the future, really nice birds. The white spots look cute almost clownish to me. They lay eggs nearly every day.

  • Mary A.

    I feel so lucky to have 2 SS hens! They are beautiful. Jersey Girl is the most colorful and they are both great egg layers. They do not mind being independent of the group and cause no trouble at all. I’m looking forward to the color changes molting will bring!

  • I have 4 speckled hens/pullets that are laying small eggs. When will they start laying large eggs?

  • My Speckled Sussex are 5 months old and have been laying eggs, but they are small. When will they start laying large eggs?


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