There’s a lot to love about Sussex chickens!
They’re easy to contain, family-friendly, dual-purpose birds who don’t require much of any special care.
So, it makes sense they’re such a popular breed among backyard chicken keepers.
But since they grow so large, it’s essential to know what food they need.
Being a larger poultry breed, you must give your Sussex chicken a high-protein feed of at least 21% protein. Expect them to eat up to ¼ pound of food per day. Consider rationing their food rather than giving them free access to food because Sussex birds gain weight easily, which is often bad for production.
There’s a lot more to know about these layers before you purchase.
Keep reading to learn best practices for feeding your Sussex birds and how their care compares with other egg layers and meat birds.
What Kind of Feed Do Sussex Chickens Need?
Let’s start with the basics:
Access to water is always crucial to any breed of chickens’ health.
Especially in the summertime, make sure your flock has plenty of cool water.
This is important for maintaining their body temperature and keeping egg production up.
While your Sussex is a hardy chicken and can technically live off the same food as your other birds, the best diet for them contains extra protein.
Many of your birds probably eat a feed with a protein percentage of about 17-18%.
However, your Sussex friends need access to food with a higher percentage.
21% will be alright but go higher if possible!
We like this feed from Amazon, which boasts 19% protein for baby chicks.
As far as chick starter goes, it doesn’t get much higher than this.
We recommend using this feed, which has 24% protein for your mature Sussex layers!
You’ll notice this feed is not marketed for chickens but for game and show birds such as turkeys.
This is common for high-protein feeds because many chickens don’t need as much of this nutrient as your Sussex birds.
The more protein you get in their diet, your Sussex birds will feel better.
Other Ways to Give Your Birds Enough Protein
Layer feed is usually not up to snuff for these guys, so you may have to buy their feed separately from your other birdies.
Another choice for people who want to avoid buying separate feeds is to order some treats with extra nutrients instead.
We recommend something with impressive protein content, like these treats on Amazon.
Aside from the complete layer feed, you probably would like to spoil your friends with some treats anyway!
Don’t fret too much about giving them protein at every turn.
It’s always fun to give your birdies a wide variety of snacks.
Feed Sussex chickens scraps from your garden!
They love veggies, as most chickens do, and this is a great snack for chickens for beginners.
However, when treating your Sussex chicks, you must be careful not to go overboard.
This breed isn’t prone to most illnesses but becomes overweight easily, especially when given access to ample food.
Are You Overfeeding Your Sussex Chicken?
The ideal weight for a Sussex hen is 6-8 pounds. Once they start getting too big, their production will slow down.
Your beautiful roosters weigh a little more, ranging from 8-10 pounds.
Don’t worry too much about how many pounds your bird weighs, though.
Just keep an eye on their health.
Larger birds are more prone to foot problems and other illnesses than their smaller counterparts.
Sussex birds are heavy enough to have difficulty flying even in good shape.
But as their body size increases, so does their difficulty with flying.
Heavy birds rarely fly.
When your birds are often outside in the summer months, foraging for bugs and other food to eat, go easy on the garden scraps and other treats.
Consider giving them a few extra treats in the colder months to make up for the lack of scavenged foods in their diet.
There’s no golden rule to tell you if your bird is eating too much or too little.
We want our chickens to be fed well without overdoing it!
Giving them protein-heavy food will help combat overeating, so be sure to take our advice on this front.
But also keep an eye on their egg production.
If your bird isn’t healthy, it will be clear in its laying!
Sussex birds usually have excellent egg production and lay eggs in light colors, ranging from light brown through cream, depending on the variety of Sussex you have in your coop.
If the nesting boxes aren’t as full as usual, your birds may be over- or under-eating.
Assess their current diet and make changes as needed.
Other Contributors to Laying Problems
Their diet is certainly not the only possible reason your birds would be laying less.
Remember, chickens need so many hours of light daily to keep production up.
They also need access to water, space, and safety.
Sometimes predators or other chickens who act like bullies harm the production of chickens with a more docile nature.
Sussex birdies fit the category of docile!
Further Reading: When do Sussex chickens become aggressive or friendly?
If you’re getting fewer eggs per week than usual from your Sussex chickens, there are several possible causes.
Take inventory of all these things before changing up your flock’s diet.
Feeding Sussex Compared with Other Chicken Breeds
There likely won’t be many issues with your Sussex birds so long as you provide them with the right type of food and nurture their active nature by giving them plenty of space.
However, there are a few more things we want you to remember about these sweethearts.
For one thing, Sussex chicks are gentle birds!
If it comes time to compete for resources, they will likely not come out on top compared to other breeds of chicken like Rhode Island Reds or more aggressive breeds.
Unlike the Rhode Island Red, the Sussex is quieter and less of a troublemaker.
Make sure your birds are never put in this position!
When you raise Sussex chickens for meat, remember they also don’t eat as Broilers (leaders in meat production) do.
Broiler feed tends to be high in protein but not as high as we recommend for your Sussex hens.
Sussex chickens are unique to any of these birds because of their ability to detrimentally gain weight quickly.
Some farmers choose to ration their Sussex friends’ food and feed it to them regularly rather than letting them have constant access to food all day.
Any extra work this poultry breed takes will be well worth it.