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Sussex!? Marans!?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by country flock, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. country flock

    country flock Out Of The Brooder

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    Next spring I'd like to get a better coop, and new chicks, since we might sell our Silkies. (I love them, dont get me wrong, but they weren't the breed we had in mind... we got them for free from Craigs List as fill-ins till we got another breed that produced bigger eggs :) since I can't live w/ out a FEW around :D)
    So I'm looking for suggestions! :) I'm kind of thinking along the Sussex or Marans line... If you have any pictures or know of any good hatcheries for these breeds or other showy chickens, please post them!!!
    I'd love to know your expert advice! ;)
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I have no experience with Marans.
    I did get a few speckled Sussex hens last spring, cause---eye candy! The color is so pretty!
    But, that was about it. They're less than stellar layers and the eggs are more a medium size. I have some room for just pets, but I'm really in this for the eggs. They're nice birds, calm and friendly and really, really pretty, but if you're looking for lots of large eggs...not so much. Mine haven't shown any interest in going broody, either, that would be a redeeming factor around here. They're on my cull list this year.

    These were hatchery birds, I think from Ideal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  3. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Hi,
    I have had both breeds. The Black Copper Marans have really advanced in quality since 2002. There are the egg shows where you can participate by mailing your eggs in and win prizes and trophies. A lot of fun. But if you opt for that route, you do best to choose your birds from a proven winning line. You can find one by checking the online results of egg shows from both clubs. Marans of America and Marans Chicken Club USA. Choose a strain which has been line bred for generations and is winning consistently in quality competition ( large entry).
    Start with started or grown birds. In Marans especially, do not start with day old chicks or eggs. You want birds which the breeder has culled at least once, better 3 times, or quality. Your cock should be from a dark egg laying hen, as he will pass the dark egg genes on to his daughters. Make sure your foundation trio can be bred to each other without becoming too inbred. In other words, from the same line bred strain but more distantly related. In neither breed do you want to cross strains to found your flock.. I can't stress this enough and veteran breeders in both breeds will also advise this. The variations between strains can erupt as visible defects in the strain-crossed children , even tho those defects are invisible in the parents, having been reduced to their recessive state by talented breeders. But when the strains were crossed recessives from both strains meet up and visible defects are the result...which can take years to fix.
    It is possible to get both an egg winning and show winning bird at the same time, but it is a valuable thing. Spend the most you can afford on your foundation birds. It is the cheapest part of having chickens, smile. My personal favs in Marans are the Texas breeders, Ernie Haire ( 2xlmarans website), Mrs. Robertson, April, and Peggy Taylor. ( they all know each other). I just like their birds a lot. They also do a lot of winning at the big shows. So do many other Marans folk, I just really like those TX birds, smile.
    I know the desire to hatch those eggs is a big temptation, however, if you start with started stock (older chicks or hens at point-of-lay), you will be many weeks closer to hatching your very own chicks, not someone else's.
    Black Copper Marans are a color-balancing breed. The depth and hue of each color effects the depth and hue of the other colors. This is why you need to get your birds from a show-winning strain where that color balancing has already been done for you (in a general sense) by the breeder.
    =====================
    Now about the Sussex, they are my current breed. Speckled Sussex are a tri-color breed and thus the most difficult to breed to feather because of all the color balancing involved. However, we are blessed that several master breeders have brought both the bantam and large fowl of this variety to top winning line status. On Large: Gary Overton, OH; Mr. Tony Albrittion, ID, Walt Reichert, KY, etc. In bantam: Gary Overton "Mr. Sussex", OH; Skytop Bantams, PA http://www.reocities.com/skytopbantams/sussex.html Look at the breed type on "Party", Wow! Just lovely type all thru this strain which is basically a meld of Overton and Mongold. ; Rob Mongold, OH; Adam Leoffel, KY, etc.
    Light Sussex are variable. Several years ago a strain was imported from Australia. Tho done with good intent, the type was quite foreign to APA type. Very large, very fluffy. Many folk are working hard on melding them with the North American lines. Here is a farm in OH which is winning with their Light Sussex ( I do not know the lines behind these birds. Look at the breed type on that hen, "Hottie" Wow! http://sunsetmeadowfarm.com/chickens_and_eggs.html (scroll to bottom). beautiful flat , level back, prominent breast, proper silhouette.
    In Sussex fowl , the physical characteristics are so closely aligned with the breeds; production virtues, that if a bird doesn't look like a Sussex, it literally isn't a Sussex. This breed has rich literary history in English. You can actually read online one of the classic books on the breed by Mr. Sharpe, a legendary breeder/judge who was also actually the originator of the Light Sussex.
    https://archive.org/details/cu31924003091398
    Light, Red and Speckled Sussex are the only 3 varieties the APA has approved to their Standard. The Reds are rare and not yet brought back to show quality, tho several breeders are working hard in that direction.
    One thing I like about the Light Sussex is they are based on the eWh (Wheaton) locus. They are eWh/eWh S/S Co/Co. That is, a Wheaton-based bird carrying the Silver and Columbian genes as homozygous. Why do we care? Because many other black and white breeds which look like the Sussex are based on the eb (Brown) locus. This means there is color balancing between the undercolor and the top color. The hue of the under-fluff affects the clarity of the top feathers. If the hue is too dark in color and/or hue, then black stippling can show up in the white back and saddle feathers. In Light Sussex, because of the eWh base, this doesn't happen. The under-fluff is white to the skin. The only way black stippling will show up in the back and saddle feathers is if the color balancing of the black hackle and saddle is way too dark. That really isn't a problem.
    One really has to work hard at mismanaging breeding to have that problem show up, smile.
    My personal favorites for Light Sussex in North America: JMHO: Walt Boese, Deer Lodge Montana (show line); Sunset Meadow Farm, OH ( show line, website); Waltz's Ark in CO ( don't know if they show but have superior breed type and genetic variety, website); Sandra Ross, Ontario, Canada (show line); Mrs. Robertson, TruNorth Heritage hatchery , Vancouver, British Columbia ( (show line, website).
    There is a parent Club for Sussex, The American Sussex Breeders Association (website, with a Breeder's Directory) and a bunch of different Sussex threads which enjoy popularity here in BYC! You will get more eggs per chicken from the Sussex because in order for the darker "paint" to be applied to the Marans egg, the egg takes longer to be laid and you don't get as many per week per hen. I have had excellent regularity in winter layers in both breeds. In Sussex, the best winter layers are March-hatched.
    Best Regards,
    Karen Tewart
    Waterford English Light Sussex
    in western PA. USA
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  4. country flock

    country flock Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow thanks for all the help! :) I doubt I'll do it for show, just pets and eggs! ;) I was also thinking about Welsummers... A very traditional bird which I here looks great on a farm. I think it'll definately be between those 3 breeds though.
     
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    =======================================
    My point exactly.
    Because the hallmarks/features of these breeds are so closely aligned with their production virtues,
    the better quality birds you get, the better they will produce for you. If you are interested in these breeds because
    of what the historical literature says they will produce for you... then the better quality birds you buy, the closer they
    are to the Standard... the more their production values will approach what the historical literature says. Like produces like.
    Best,
    Karen
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  6. country flock

    country flock Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh okay! I see what you mean now! :)
     
  7. country flock

    country flock Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, now I'm leaning more towards Welsummers than I thought... The problem with Sussex is that you can only buy them straight run. :( Last time we bought 3 and they were all roosters...very disappointing. Gorgeous birds though! :love
    As for Marans... I believe I'll be ordering from My Pet Chicken and because of my zip code, my minimum is 6 chicks of a large breed. Unfortunatley, the price of that many Marans clashes with my budget. :( Once again, beautiful breed!
    Welsummers, however, are affordable, even with the 6 chick minimum. The roos are strikingly handsome and the hens are, I think, rather charmingly quaint. :)
    Not TOTALLY decided yet though. Any more input?
     
  8. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    Why not some of each? I've had some of all three, some from a hatchery, some not. The hatchery birds may not lay the really dark eggs that Marans and Wellies are known for, and in general hatchery birds will be on the small size for their breed. I personally like the egg color variety offered but having several breeds of hens. For great egg productio the hybrids are best, but I prefer good looking dual purpose breeds, including a rooster or two, to produce a nice farm flock of my own. Have you considered Australorps and Ameracaunas? So many choices! So little space! Mary
     
  9. country flock

    country flock Out Of The Brooder

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    So many choices!  So little space! 
    [/quote]


    Now there is someone who can read my mind & put my thoughts into words! :goodpost: I'll admit, a big mix of random breeds is a whole "nest" of fun and excitement! But...one of the reasons I want these chickens is for pets, eggs, and purebred chicks. But the more (breeds), the merrier. But... Now I REALLY don't know what to do! :rolleyes: It's not your fault. :) Let me ask my mom & dad once and see what they think! Bye for now! :frow
     

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