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Poultry Pick: Unveiling Our Feathered Favourite
People often ask, “What kind of chickens are those?”
Poultry. Who knew there were so many kinds?
When we decided to start homesteading, I knew we would have chickens, and I knew I would get a heritage breed.
I’m partial to heritage breeds because I know they come from a long line of traditional livestock breeds that have been raised for centuries. They are well adapted to living in this world with all kinds of weather and challenges. Heritage breeds are built with resilience and the ability to adapt. Not only is that exactly what I need, but it’s also exactly how I’d like to be. Now that we have a year of experience (One whole year! That’s a lot, right? Ha!), raising a heritage breed chicken doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges, but it does mean that you and your chickens will persevere, and your flock will grow and flourish, just like you will.
Many people choose a chicken breed based on the colour of eggs they will get, the number of eggs laid per year, or the colour or pattern of the feathers. I choose our chicken breed because of its disposition! Yes, chickens have attitude.
My favourite place to read about heritage breed chickens is at Breezy Bird Farms. They sell many kinds of heritage breed hatching eggs and ship them all over the place, and their descriptions are informative and very interesting.
Drumroll—Our Feathered Favourite…
Long story short, the Light Sussex Chicken was for me! The Sussex is described as alert, docile, but a confident and friendly chicken that is easy to handle. Sounds perfect.
All about Light Sussex Chickens
Sussex chickens are England’s oldest breed of chicken. They are dual-purpose poultry that originated from Sussex, England.
They have a long and distinguished family background with a kind and curious nature that makes Sussex chickens the perfect chicken for novice chicken keepers and those wanting to add a friendly hen to their backyard menagerie.
The Sussex was traditionally reared as a table bird for meat production. In the early part of the twentieth century, it was one of the principal breeds kept for this purpose until it was replaced by modern industrial hybrid lines.
Sussex is an alert, docile breed that adapts well to any surroundings. However, they mate and breed better in larger spaces rather than in confinement.
The Sussex is also reared for showing. And yes, I have watched Chicken People and directly learned how to bathe my chickens. They love it! I ought to write a post on that — it’s actually enjoyable, for everyone involved.
A Light Sussex Disposition
You’ll never be alone with a Light Sussex chicken, as these birds make wonderful companion birds. They love to forage and are very good at it! They gather much of their needs from the garden, which makes them thrifty hens. They are intensely curious and will undoubtedly follow you around, “helping out” in the garden or waiting for treats.
They simply enjoy being part of the family, foraging alongside you and taking a turn about the garden grounds. They love it when you rake or hoe, and you won’t get a thing done because they will be right there! But you will have a marvellous time, and so will they.
You will find during yard work that they will be underfoot and can’t wait to discover what is under everything you pick up and in every hole that you dig. They are equally content mingling with their fellow fowl friends in the garden, the coop, or the chicken run and finding their place in the pecking order of society.
Light Sussex Chickens:
The Sussex chicken is graceful with a long, broad, flat back; a long and straight breastbone; wide shoulders, and is a rectangular bird.
Hens lay large light brown eggs.
Hens lay approximately 180-200 tinted eggs per year; some layer strains may give up to 250. The eggs weigh about 60 grams.
Chicks grow quickly for a heavy breed. Cockerels can be harvested at 6 months of age and are approximately 9 lbs at harvest. Hens are 7.5 lbs at harvest.
Hens can go broody in the warmer months—although ours went broody in November last year before the winter settled in. This May we do have a broody hen that is sitting on about 6 eggs. This is a first time for all of us and I hope it’s successful! We shall see! It was successful!
Wintering Light Sussex Chickens
They have a tendency to get frostbite in the winter because their combs and wattles are so large. Prevent this by making sure your coop has good ventilation and choosing chicken waterers that prevent the wattles from getting wet. Using a chicken water drinking cup or nipple waterers may be a good option. That is what we are going to try this winter instead of our regular waterer and see if that helps. I think we’ll try and make something like this poultry drinker here. Although winter went quite well for all of us if you have any tips for us to help prevent frostbite, we’re always interested!
Where did you find your Light Sussex Chickens?
It was a challenge! We couldn’t find Light Sussex chickens in all of New Brunswick, and our shipment of hatching eggs from Breezy Bird Farms didn’t do well at all. There are no guarantees when putting hatching eggs through the mail, especially in March from Manitoba to New Brunswick. The odds aren’t great. We tried, and we failed.
Then one day, I was happy to find a heritage breed chicken farm in Quebec by searching on Kijiji. I had to search “Light Sussex poulet.” That’s French for “Light Sussex chicken.” You’re welcome.
We drove all the way to Saint-Pie, Quebec, to this wonderful farm and bought our first Light Sussex Chicks and drove 7 hours straight home.
We are always excited to visit their farm! It’s named: La Basse-cour de Manon Fortin and it’s worth the drive. They are just wonderful, happy people, and their chickens look so happy too! It’s a really nice barn. We’re farmers now—we check out people’s barns 😉 If you ever get a chance to visit this farm, do! Make sure you know French or bring someone who does – that will help a lot!
We’ve been back another time to get more Light Sussex chicks for ourselves and another heritage breed chicken for our friends! And now we are completely fortunate to have our flock of Light Sussex chickens multiplying on their own! Sometimes we list hatching eggs for sale in our shop for local pick-up. It’s very exciting.
Our journey with Light Sussex chickens has been an adventure and these chickens are cherished members of our homestead, adding joy and eggs and wholesome experiences into our lives.
As we watch our flock grow and thrive, we’re pretty thankful for the resilience and adaptability of these heritage breed chickens and it’s definitely rubbing off on us!
So, if you’re considering adding a heritage breed to your backyard chicken coop, we highly recommend the Light Sussex! And who knows, you might find yourself raking, hoeing, and exploring the garden with these delightful companions by your side… err… under your feet 😉