Light 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.
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.
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 after 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 raising 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.)
do you think?
I’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.)
clean, pure water.