Well dressed, curious, chatty and always keen to entertain - this chicken is the Oprah of the poultry world.
I have to hold my hands up and admit it - I'm biased. This is one of my very favourite of all chicken breeds. Let me try to explain why, starting with just admiring how very pretty they are. There's no mistaking that speckledy feathering.
22 week old pullets. The beautiful feather markings become more spectacular the older the birds are.
The Speckled Sussex has a long and illustrious family background. Sussex is a county in south-eastern England and that's where this chicken comes from originally. It's one of the oldest known breeds - there's evidence that the Romans found a similar breed when they invaded England over two thousand years ago.
For that reason it's known as a 'heritage' breed. There's a school of thought that the Speckled variety was the original, sold for its meat at markets in England around the early 19th Century. It was formally accepted as a standard variety in the early 20th Century and is now the most popular variety of Sussex in the United States, although the Light is more common in England.
From the moment they're born there's no mistaking the feathering of this breed. As a youngster, the dark chestnut-coloured markings, particularly around the eyes, are like a chipmunk - although some chicks will be lighter in colour. Have a look at this video-clip for examples. Along the back there are stripes of light and darker brown.
Three days old and the markings are unmistakable.
As the bird grows older the adult markings start to show. When the feathers come in they're a beautiful mahogany colour, with some tipped in white and others separating out in black.
With age and with each moult, the white tips tend to multiply and the birds become more and more speckled - giving the breed its name.
Four weeks old and the spectacular feathering is showing clearly.
The Speckled Sussex is one of the most spectacular looking chicken breeds and for that reason, it's popular not only as a backyard chicken but as a show bird.
This breed perfectly fits the rhyme about "Sugar and spice and all things nice ..."
Cute, sweet, friendly, chatty, entertaining - there just aren't enough "nice" words to describe this hen. You'll find her running to greet you in the mornings, sitting next to you as you work in your garden, chatting away as you sit in your garden together, singing a kind of warbling song when she's feeling particularly contented. There's no greater antidote if you're feeling a bit down.
Even at 4 weeks old the Speckled Sussex likes to chatter!
Always first to want to know what's going on, the Speckled's natural curiosity can sometimes get the better of her. If you're wanting time to yourself this is probably not the bird for you - she'll want to know what you're up to all the time!
Their calm and docile personality means that they're adaptable to most kinds of living arrangements. They love to forage so make great free-rangers, but they're calm enough to be able to cope with a more confined space too - ideal if you don't have a lot of room.
The Speckled Sussex is a good egg layer and will keep laying even during cold weather, when many other breeds will stop. You can expect one adult hen to lay around four or five large, light brown eggs each week.
A very typical look of curiosity - who could resist that face?!
The Speckled is so good-natured that she will naturally speaking be close to the bottom of the pecking order in a flock. An eye just needs to be kept to make sure she's not being bullied mercilessly by the less good-hearted types!
A beautiful Speckled Sussex rooster, aged 22 weeks.
The Speckled itself doesn't have any specific associations or clubs - it's part of the generic "Sussex" group. This link is for the American Sussex Association on Facebook - a lively community of Sussex-lovers with members from all over the world. (It's a 'closed' group to make sure it's kept strictly to chicken-lovers, so you'll need to request to join).
For further, more detailed information about the breed, show standards and reputable breeders, try this link to the American Sussex Breeders Association.
The UK has no club website. The address for the UK's Sussex Club can be found on this page of the website of the Poultry Club of Great Britain.
Here's a short video of some Speckled Sussex chicks at just one day old. You can see very clearly the distinctive 'chipmunk-like' markings. Enjoy!
All the images on this page, unless otherwise stated, were taken by Dan Tappan at Flick'r and are used here with permission under the Creative Commons licence. They can be re-used provided that attribution is properly given and the link maintained. Thanks for your generosity, Dan!
If you're looking for a type of chicken which is good for the whole family, either of the two below are good choices. Just click on the pic to go to pages like this one about these different breeds.