A broody hen is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.
Whether you want one or not, it’s important to know if your hens have a propensity for going broody.
Sussex chickens are pretty docile, but does brooding affect them?
Sussex chickens are one of the broodiest hen breeds. This is especially true for the Speckled and Light Sussex varieties, with Speckled being the most common type of Sussex found in backyards and on farms.
Keep reading to learn more about Sussex chickens’ egg production, signs they’re going broody, and ways to deal with a broody hen.
What Is a Sussex Chicken’s Egg Production Like?
Your Sussex chickens will start laying eggs around 8 months old.
This is late compared to other breeds, but they make up for it by being good egg layers.
Your average hen will produce 4 to 5 eggs a week, totaling 200 to 250 eggs in a year.
Their eggs are large and brown.
If you have different strains of Sussex, you will notice some strains lay slightly more, and others lay slightly less.
Are Sussex Chickens Likely to Go Broody?
Commercial farms need a steady supply of eggs, so modern backyard chickens have been bred over time to be less broody.
A broody hen will stop laying eggs until her nest hatches, typically around 21 days, and her chicks are raised.
Since raising chicks takes weeks or even months, a broody hen won’t lay any new eggs for more than 3 months.
If you are a homesteader and want to increase or maintain your flock size, you want a few broody hens in the mix.
This way, you have a reliable stream of eggs and meat without relying on a local grocery store or hatchery.
As a bird for beginners and a meat bird, Sussex chickens are great!
Further Reading: Sussex chickens as meat birds: Does it work well?
Sussex chickens are one of the most broody chicken breeds, making it an excellent choice to have some in your backyard flock.
The instinct to brood can happen anytime after they reach egg-laying age.
However, they are more likely to wait until spring and warm weather before going broody.
Just like there is variation among different breeds of chickens, there is also a difference between the different Sussex varieties.
Speckled and Light Sussex chickens are the most likely to become broody.
Once the chicks have hatched, this broody chicken breed makes excellent mothers.
How to Tell if a Hen Is Broody
A broody hen is easy to spot, even for the average backyard chicken owner.
If you notice an individual bird having some behavioral changes in the spring, it’s likely she’s starting to go broody.
Broody hens are grumpy and want to do nothing but incubate their eggs.
Because of this, there are some tell-tale signs she’s going broody:
- She wants to stay in her nesting box. She won’t leave it and pecks you when you attempt to move her out of it.
- If you manage to successfully get her out of the nesting box, she goes running back to it immediately.
- She puffs out her feathers to make herself look bigger and more threatening.
- She plucks out her chest feathers. Contact from the skin to the egg transfers body heat better than the feathers do.
These are normally not aggressive birds and make an all-around great pet chicken, but even the nicest hen will get crabby when it’s brooding.
How to Deal with a Broody Hen
Broody hens are more aggressive than usual since they protect their unhatched eggs.
Chicken keepers have to be prepared and know how to handle these birds.
If you have too many chicks or want to keep your flock size as is, you might want to prevent more than one or two hens from going broody in a year.
Luckily, there are a few different ways to deal with a broody hen.
Leave Her Alone
For the most part, just let her do what she wants.
Once a day, wear protective gloves and remove her from her nesting box to ensure she eats and drinks.
It might be tough for the backyard chicken keeper to step back, but sometimes this is what you need to do when you breed chickens.
Depending on the size of your coop and your hen’s aggressiveness, you might want to provide a separate nesting area for her.
Sometimes broody hens will peck at other chickens laying eggs nearby.
Further Reading: Why are Sussex chickens sometimes aggressive and sometimes friendly?
Replace Her Eggs
If you want to hatch some eggs of a different variety, carefully replace your Sussex eggs with fertilized eggs from a hatchery.
Then, take the eggs she laid and do with them what you will, depending on whether a rooster has fertilized them.
Letting a hen incubate eggs is much easier for you than doing it yourself with a heat lamp.
Just sit back and let nature do its work, and then you will have a fantastic mother hen to raise and teach the newborn chicks.
Cool Her Down
A brooding hen has a higher body temperature.
Cooling her down can break her broodiness and get her to leave the nesting box.
One method is to dip her bottom side in cool water, although this might be a wives’ tale from some poultry keepers.
The effectiveness of this method is questionable because it is temporary.
The hen will dry off and potentially return to her box as if nothing happened.
A better method is adding ice or frozen vegetables, like peas, to her nesting box.
This also cools her down, like the previous method, but the effects last longer.
Sitting on something cold and hard is uncomfortable, making her more likely to leave the nesting box.
Both of these methods should only be used during the summer.
A wet chicken will develop frostbite or hypothermia during the winter.
Make Her Uncomfortable
An uncomfortable broody enclosure will break her instincts after 3 or so days.
Put her in a wire cage or dog crate with food and water, and she’ll stop showing signs of broodiness.
This method should be reserved for cases where her broodiness is causing health issues like malnutrition.
How Many Varieties of Sussex Are There?
You have a variety of colors to pick from.
There are 8 different Sussex colors.
Only 3 of them are recognized by the American Poultry Association.
|Color Variation||Description||Recognized in the U.S.|
|Speckled Sussex||Mahogany with white and black speckling||Yes|
|Light Sussex||White and black on neck and tail||Yes|
|Brown Sussex||Darker brown||No|
|Buff Sussex||Light brown||No|
|Silver Sussex||Black feather with silver around breast feathers||No|
|White Sussex||All white||No|
|Coronation Sussex||White feathers with light blue neck and tail||No|