Over the years of poultry keeping I have kept many breeds of chicken, but never the Speckled Sussex.
Enter Saffron, our newest addition to the crazy flock. She is a beautiful curvaceous spotted beauty queen. Presently hanging out, funnily enough with our smallest of girls, two Belgians and two Silkies. There are no discriminations amongst this group: size, colour and breed goes unnoticed. Tolerance, companionship and garden exploration are the foundations of this group.
This particular pen of ladies are kept very close to out backdoor and allowed to roam around our flower garden surrounding our clothesline. This area encompasses our pond, native beehive and children’s play area amongst other things. They do a marvellous job of keeping the grass down, removing pests and leaving only relatively small manure deposits!
The only problem I’ve struck with our beautiful new Sussex, is her fancy for newly planted lobelia seedlings!!!
My children and visitors are so taken with Saffron’s beautiful plumage and delightful gentle nature that I am considering expanding the Sussex clan to 2 or 3 and maybe even a rooster…here we go, another breed to add to the list. I suppose there could be worse things to be addicted to. Chook ownership isn’t all that bad an addiction, all things considered.
Most people are very familiar with the Light Sussex, which has white plumage and striking black neck feathers. They have that real old-fashioned chook look to them and are easily obtained throughout Australia. The Speckled Sussex though is a rusty red colour all over with black and white spots. Saffron is also blessed with one of those really fluffy bottoms. Keep in mind though the Speckled Sussex may be a bit more difficult to locate.
The Low down on the Sussex: The Sussex hails form England and is classed as a dual-purpose bird, meaning that they are good as egg layers as well as meat birds. They also make good mothers and will happily sit on eggs if allowed. Being rather heavily feathered the Sussex flourish in cold climates but apparently may be more affected by heat stress in warmer climates. Being in Brisbane I’ll be keeping a close eye on her during our sticky January and February months. Making sure she has ample cool water, shade and that her movable pen is located in an area that receives good air flow.
Saffron has become a firm favourite with my daughter and even though we did not hand raise her, as I mentioned before she has a wonderful gentle and friendly nature. So there just may be the sounds of little Sussex cheep cheeps in the near future. Time to dust the incubator off again!!
This story was originally published in the Earth Garden publications book Chook Wisdom