It is a docile, gentle, friendly and alert breed and makes a good broody. It is a good choice for the beginner. They prefer free range but cope with confinement.
- The Sussex breed that we know today dates from around 1900 though it existed and has been husbanded commercially for at least 50 years prior to that date.
- The original birds were probably speckled, red or brown and were shown in the first ever general poultry show in 1845 under the names ‘Surrey Fowl’ and ‘Old Sussex or Kent Fowl’.
- The Sussex was developed from the backyard fowl that roamed around the farms of Surrey, Kent and Sussex.
- The second half of the 19th century saw a huge growth in the poultry fattening industry in the south east to supply London’s rapidly expanding population.
- The Sussex was developed to take advantage of this market by crossing with the Dorking, Brahma and Cochin.
- The exhibition standard was established in 1902 with Red, Speckled and Light varieties recognised.
- The following year, in 1903, the Sussex Poultry Club was formed.
- Later followed the Silvers, the creation of Captain Duckworth in the 1930s and the Coronation created by Robert Whittington
- During the first half of the 20th century before the advent of modern hybrids the Light Sussex and the Rhode Island Red were the most commercially important breeds and the Sussex has remained popular as a backyard breed.
- The Sussex is a heavy soft feather breed.
- It has a broad flat back and has a stocky appearance.
- Its tail should be at a 45 degree angle, it has red earlobes and dark orange or red eyes, but white skin and legs.
- The bantam is more numerous than the large fowl.
- Eight standard colour varieties exist- Light (the most popular), Speckled, Brown, Silver, White, Buff, Red and Coronation. Some varieties such as the Brown, Buff, Red and particularly the Silver, have become very rare.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit www.rbst.org.uk to see how you can help.