The best Broiler chicken breeds usually don’t overlap with the most incredible layers.
However, many birds are considered dual-purpose and don’t need to be used exclusively for either meat or eggs.
Sussex chickens are one of those I hear a lot of people wonder if they’re good for meat.
Sussex birds are awesome egg layers, but their size and other characteristics make them a decent meat production poultry breed. At one time, this bird was one of the top breeds for meat production. Many chicken farmers still butcher them as cull chickens once their laying slows down after a few years.
There are many meat quality characteristics to consider if you’re specifically raising chickens for meat.
Keep reading to learn about the profile of a Sussex chicken and why they make such an excellent choice for people raising birds for food.
Are Sussex Chickens Layers or Meat Birds?
Sussex chickens are dual-purpose, meaning they are used for meat and eggs.
If you want to raise chickens primarily for meat, many breeds are available apart from Sussex birds.
When finding the bird of choice for tender meat and short raising time, you will get a different answer from everybody you ask.
While there are plenty of breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds, who are seen strictly as layers, many out there are suitable for meat and egg production.
Many birds, though, are more optimal as either a layer or a meat bird.
Consider, for example, a smaller laying hen who only ways 4-5 pounds at the maximum.
This bird would not make a great Broiler.
To get the most out of your Sussex flock, keep them as layers for a few years until their egg production slows down.
Then use them as cull hens for meat.
The beauty of a dual-purpose breed is that you don’t have to decide to use your birds for eggs or meat.
Not only are they good for either.
But they are good for both.
However, if you want to raise your Sussex chickens for meat, you’ll want to take a different approach than when you raise them for eggs.
Raising Sussex Chickens as Egg Layers
Speckled Sussex is one of Sussex’s most beloved color varieties.
Not only are they winter layers that just won’t quit reliably providing you with excellent egg production, but they are also a beautiful breed with uniquely speckled feathers.
They’re best kept between 6-8 pounds as layers.
As they gain weight, they become more susceptible to health issues and less productive in the egg department.
This breed is a great choice for egg production, though.
You just have to feed them high-protein chicken feed and ensure their feed consumption doesn’t go overboard.
They enjoy foraging and will wander around to scavenge for bugs and other food if you give them the space to do so.
One of the biggest reasons these birds are a favorite breed choice among those who raise backyard layers is their friendly demeanor.
Despite their slightly intimidating body size, Sussex chickens are extremely gentle.
They are safe around children and quieter breeds of fowl alike.
When raising this poultry breed, you won’t have frequent behavior or health issues.
Furter Reading: Sussex chicken egg guide
Raising Sussex Birds for Meat Production
The optimal size of a Sussex chicken is about 7-9 pounds.
7 pounds is ideal for hens, while 9 pounds is ideal for roosters.
However, the range of how heavy these chickens can get when given ample food is much bigger.
While they are no longer the Broilers of choice for most people, Light Sussex (and other color varieties) were once some of the most popular meat birds for a reason.
A beautiful rooster who will reach 10 pounds just by being well-fed is tempting for those breeding for food production.
Using high-protein chicken feed and monitoring feed consumption is still important when you decide to use your Sussex birds for food rather than eggs.
Further Reading: How much and what to feed Sussex chickens
However, you don’t need to worry the same way about them gaining too much weight.
In fact, the goal is for them to gain weight!
You still need to be mindful of their health and not overfeed them.
But feeding your Sussex Broilers more garden scraps and maybe even a little extra Broiler feed is safer when you don’t expect them to keep laying well.
Benefits of Dual-Purpose Sussex Hens
The economical choice is to raise this breed of chicken as both a layer and a Broiler.
Getting a few years of reliable laying (even during cold winters) from a hen before she is sent for meat is only a bonus.
Many breeds of layers aren’t as valuable as meat birds and vice versa.
This chicken is a great poultry breed for both purposes, so take full advantage!
If you aren’t convinced, think of the rest of the breed characteristics we’ve talked about and a few more.
Sussex chickens are:
- Friendly and calm
- Easy to contain with a fence (they don’t fly)
- Hardy and illness resistant
- Beautiful and unique in appearance
There are so many advantages to raising this breed of chicken.
Not only are they a safe bird to keep around your family and other birds, but they are a practical choice for those who live in colder climates.
Drawbacks of Raising Sussex Chickens
Not many people who raise Sussex birds have complaints to offer about this breed.
They are generally extremely lovable and reliable both as layers and Broilers.
The only difference between caring for Sussex and many other layers or meat birds is their dietary needs.
There are not a lot of layers out there that require high-protein diets.
However, these birds need extra protein because of their history as meat birds.
Buying better quality feed is a good way to increase production for many chicken breeds.
If you choose not to feed them the extra protein, your Sussex birds will still be decent layers or, if you so choose, good meat birds.
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