In 2013, Greenfire Farms imported a line of European light Sussex; the classic black and white Sussex variety most often associated with the breed. The light Sussex is a large dual-purpose bird that is grown for meat and kept for the extra large cream-colored eggs that the hens lay. Our breeding stock are the offspring of light Sussex that took top honors in a national poultry show in Europe, and you can see from the conformation and coloring of their progeny how the parents won these awards.
Our recent import of these light Sussex is but another chapter in a story that began years ago. The brief history of Greenfire Farms is deeply intertwined with the far lengthier history of the Sussex breed. Greenfire Farms imported chickens for the first time in 2007, and the first birds we imported were Sussex from Australia. In a very real sense the Sussex chicken launched Greenfire Farms. Included in this inaugural shipment of Sussex were two varieties previously unseen in America: coronations and silvers. Not only were these varieties new to America, but the Australian birds were unusually large and beautiful examples of the breed. The newly imported birds caused a stir in the poultry world at the time, and their effect continues unabated today.
Of course, the story of the Sussex begins many years before we first imported these birds. In fact, to study this breed is to understand that these birds are engaged in a slow march around the globe that began thousands of years ago. Descendants of the ancient fowl brought to England by Roman invaders, the Sussex chicken could be identified as a distinct breed in Sussex County, England almost two hundred years ago. The breed became standardized in 1903. Sussex hens lay upwards of 250 large, cream-colored eggs each year. With their pearlescent legs, these huge birds have a striking and regal appearance in the barnyard. Their behavior, too, is remarkable. More than most chicken breeds, Sussex exude a quiet confidence and an open curiosity about humans.
These are the many positive attributes of a breed that have helped ensure its survival for hundreds of years and, with your help, are likely to keep it going for at least a few hundred more. With both beauty and practicality Sussex bridge the past and present like few other chicken breeds, and they deserve a special place in America’s chicken coops.
Light Sussex: Unsexed Day-Old Chick