Megg Miller says lots of people fall in love with the look of a beautiful Light Sussex chook, and though it’s only a moderate egg-layer, it’s one of the best meat breeds you can find.
It’s not mink or even faux fur but the distinct striped ‘collar’ on Light Sussex chooks leaves a lasting impression when you see it for the first time. This black and white striped neck hackle is balanced by a black tail on this impressive looking silver fowl.
Sussex are an old meat breed from England which combine good table properties with a moderate egg lay of around 100-120 per year. Eggs are tinted and of medium size.
The Light is the best-known variety of Sussex chook but others include the Speckled, Buff and Coronation. This last variety displays lavender in the areas that are black on a Light Sussex.
Confusion may occur because there is another breed that looks similar to Light Sussex. This is the Columbian Wyandotte and while the two share the similar plumage pattern, Sussex are taller, larger birds, displaying an upright single comb and have white legs and feet. Wyandottes are squatter, have a rose comb and yellow legs and feet.
Sussex are ideal if you fancy a DIY Sunday roast. They are one of the best purebreds for meat production and can be crossed with a red-plumaged rooster if you want autosexing chicks.
The females are remarkably docile and make reliable broody hens. Being a large-bodied breed, it’s not unusual for a hen to sit on 20 eggs and raise 20 healthy chicks. If you decide to keep a rooster check he does not have attitude. Light Sussex males vary greatly in temperament.
Pros & cons
‘Big’ is the operative word with Sussex chooks: standard adult males weigh in at a minimum of 4.1kg and females 3.2kg. Is this too big for your backyard? Well, consider a bantam Light Sussex, as they are fairly common and are about one-third the weight of the standard birds. The Sussex’s less attractive features include a greedy appetite, bossiness with pen mates and the odd nasty rooster.
Distinguishing features: large size, eye-catching plumage
Egg lay: moderate
Feed consumption: greedy
Availability: good in both standard and bantam forms of Light Sussex
Shortcomings: bossy, high feed consumption