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Light Sussex chickens

Light Sussex chickensLight Sussex are one of the new breeds of chickens we experimented with in 2011.  My conclusion is --- they're very sweet chickens, but not very farm-worthy.

Sussex chickens are a bit like Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rocks, but from the Old World.  They were a common backyard bird in England, and are supposed to lay about the same number of eggs per year as an Australorp (250).  Meanwhile, the chicks are supposed to mature relatively quickly into broilers.

Note all of the "supposed to"s in that last paragraph.  Unfortunately, Sussex are now being bred for looks rather than utility, so you can't expect them to be either great egg-layers or hefty broilers.  I can't report firsthand on egg-laying abilities since ours are just now starting to lay, but you can read my analysis of Sussex as broilers here.

Sussex chicksBehavior
Our Light Sussex are extremely tuned in to people.  They follow me around just like my Golden Comets did, which means they'd make a great backyard bird...as long as you don't have a garden.

Unfortunately, our Sussex are also very inquisitive, and are tough to scare.  They find every hole in our fence long before the other chickens do, and always seem to end up in the garden (or outside the front door.)  While I was able to train the Australorps and Marans to stay out of the garden by chasing them away a few times, the Sussex think it's a game when I run Light Sussex foragingafter them shouting.

Sussex are reputed to be good foragers, and they do seem to be about on a par with my other birds...now.  However, the motherless chicks I raised couldn't seem to figure out how to eat grubs, which makes me wonder a bit.  (On the other hand, our motherless Australorp chicks also had a hard time learning to eat Japanese beetles, so there might just be a learning curve involved.  For those of you who don't watch your chickens daily, Japanese beetles and grubs are chicken candy.)

We chose the Light Sussex because they are supposed to be better layers, but in retrospect, I think we might have been better off with one of the darker color variations.  I've heard from readers who swear by Speckled Sussex, and I suspect that this breed might not be such a hawk magnet as our Light Sussex.  Is it a coincidence that we've had two hawk attacks since we started Sussex in the woodshedraising Light Sussex, but none before?  (Possibly --- although the hawk went after a Sussex the first time, he was trying to eat an Australorp when I chased him off the second time.  Yes, the Australorp did survive.)

What do you think?
Thrifty Chicken BreedsI'd be curious to hear about your experience with Light Sussex.  If you felt they lived up to the  hype, where did you get your birds from?  (Ours came from a private chicken-keeper in Pennsylvania.)

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock healthy with clean, pure water.

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So what's the next chicken for you to try?

After much contemplation we will be sticking with our sexlinks. By alternating between buying red and black each year, and the plan to keep the eggs layers for two years, we will be able to easily identify which ones will be going in the crock pot.

Comment by Heath at lunch time on Monday, February 20th, 2012

We're enjoying our Australorps and Marans so far. They don't give as many eggs as a modern hybrid, but do forage very well. I'll give them another year or two before I think about replacing them.

Meanwhile, I am pondering a more broody hen so that we don't have to keep using the incubator. The Marans are supposed to go broody, but I'm not holding my breath. Harvey Ussery recommends English Game Hens, and I might try them next year if none of our current flock go broody.

Comment by anna late Tuesday morning, February 21st, 2012

Hi, I believe you are the gal that I bought a light Sussex rooster from a couple of month's back. He was about five months old at the time , I just wanted to let you know that we named him ROCKET THE ROOSTER and we love him , as well do my ladies. HE is very gentleman like to them and took very well to my flock of hens!!!!!!!

Just wanted to say thans!!!!!

Comment by aaron Wednesday evening, August 28th, 2013
aaron --- Nope, wasn't us, but I'm glad to hear that Rocket the Rooster is doing well. We don't sell chickens, only chicken waterers. :-)
Comment by anna at lunch time on Friday, August 30th, 2013

I've had Light Sussex in my backyard for a few years now and I like them so much I'd like to comment on them.

Most of mine I purchased as chicks from Papa Brooder, and I have three hens hatched from eggs purchased from IttyBitty Cows.

My LS are not as heavy as they look, but they are still good sized, with some cockerels weighing in at 8+ lbs. These LS did mature quickly, unlike my SS which were incredibly slow to put on weight.

My birds free range and CAN be good foragers, but, as you mentioned, they are very tuned in to people; mine prefer to free range on doorsteps.

The hens here are good if not excellent layers, and their eggs are good size. They tend to go broody, however, so egg production falls significantly behind that of some popular hybrids. The hens that have hatched eggs have been good mothers, and they are good Broodies as well.

We have hawks - and falcons - here, and they do not predate on the large birds but seem rather to target smaller young pullets and cockerels. A feral cat has killed some of the smaller white birds.

The roosters in my line of LS are extraordinarily good to their hens; they relate to people in positive ways and have never been hostile to any human. I keep several, and they can coexist in a flock (relatively) peacefully.

I agree that they may not be the ideal breed for a homestead, but for a backyard chicken I think they are the most perfect breed.

Comment by Laurie Viets at lunch time on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

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