Range Sussex

Oct 29, 2017
I just saw these on Sand Hill Preservation Center's site -- first time I've noticed them -- and wondered if anyone has any, and if so, how do you like them?

Here is what SHPC says about them: Range Sussex- Not a true breed but we offer these for those who want an active and somewhat hardy chicken that has the best of both worlds. In 1990 shortly after I started this operation and was gathering up rare breeds as well as breeds I was fond of, I had a disaster. I came home from work one day and found about a dozen chickens that were not mine that someone had dropped off in the ditch in front of the house and they had mixed in with some of mine having flown over the fence into the pens and barn. I quickly gathered them up and isolated them but a few days later I came home to wheelbarrows of dead birds and a few gasping birds. I quickly called the state poultry person and he guided me through the process of figuring it out. Being a biologist helps and we quickly concluded it was LT (laryngotracheitis) brought to me by the dropped off birds. I ordered the vaccine to help slow the spread but was frantic as over 90% of my Sussex perished. I had recently acquired numerous varieties of Dorkings and was fearful the rare genetics would perish fast. I called Craig Russell, a long time poultry expert, and he said no worry Dorkings show resistance. Sure enough he was right and none of the Dorkings perished. Time after time LT would devastate the Sussex but the Dorkings would do fine. By the mid 1990's I decided to see what would happen if Dorkings and Sussex were crossed would the result show resistance to LT. LT is a real problem in this part of Iowa. Interestingly enough it showed true and the crosses handled things well. As an added bonus the crosses showed a greater tolerance to Coccidiosis flare ups, something the Sussex handled better than Dorkings. We have selected these for over 20 years and watched the vigor and tolerances to issues continue to improve and offer them to the backyard enthusiast that wants a hardier bird that tolerates, many issues and cold as well as still goes broody. Egg size is respectable and the eggs are tinted in color. The adults look like a mixed up Silver grey pattern some more uniform than others and some have more rusty salmon on them. This results from using various colors of Dorkings being crossed with the Speckled Sussex. There is a mix of single and rose combs. As a biologist and conservationist I firmly believe in preserving the old and established breeds but also see the need to utilize those old maintained breeds as reservoirs of genetics to make and improve on existing material. We cannot maintain things in isolation and germ free environments and be sustainable in the future. Our modern agricultural philosophy is to maintain things away from the outside world in protected isolated conditions. True biology would indicate that is a recipe for disaster to not allow things to grow stronger through the challenges of the real world. We will not be including these in any assortments other than Mystery.

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