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.
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.
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.
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.