Sussex chickens are believed to have been first bred in Britain (in the area that was to become England) around the time of the Roman invasion of AD 43 making them one of the oldest known breeds. Originally bred as a table bird the Sussex has since become a dual-purpose bird, working for both meat and egg production. The original colours were the Brown, Red and Speckled, and the Silver is the latest variety. The breed was prized as table fowl more than one-hundred years ago and, more recently, the Light Sussex was very popular for the laying trials of the 30s.
Today they are a popular breed for exhibitions as well as a backyard breed. The breed has made a huge contribution to the poultry industry and is even an ancestor to the modern broiler. The Coronation Sussex was bred to celebrate the coronation of King George.
The Sussex was bred to be a dual purpose bird and is one of the most productive breeds of poultry. They lay large eggs that are cream to light brown in colour. A person owning a hen of this breed should expect approximately 240 to 260 eggs a year.
It is a good producer of meat and all of the varieties are a good choice to have for this purpose. The chicks mature quickly for heavy breed.
The Sussex chicken, whatever color, should be graceful with a long, broad, flat back and a rectangular build, the tail should be at a 45 degree angle from the body. The eyes should be red in the darker varieties but orange in the lighter one and they sport a medium sized, single, erect comb. The earlobes are red and the legs and skin white in every variety. Cocks should weigh approx 9 lbs, and the hens (females) 7 lbs.
The Sussex chicken is an alert, docile breed that can adapt to any surrounding, they are comfortable in both free range or confined spaces and in the presence of humans. The breed sometimes (but not very often) goes broody, They are good foragers.