According to The Dorking Club, "The Dorking is one of the oldest British breeds being descended from stock brought to Britain by the Romans. Columella's "Book of Husbandry", written in 50 AD, mentions five-toed fowls, which is one of the distinguishing features of the Dorking. It was developed in Victorian times mainly as a table bird, having delicate white flesh with a long body and short legs."
Types: Bantam, Largefowl
Varieties (Rose and Single Comb): Black, Colored, Crele, Cuckoo, Dark, Red, Spangled, Silver Grey, White
Uses: Eggs, Meat
Bantam: 32- 36 oz
Largefowl: 7 - 9 lbs
Personality: Sweet and calm natured. In a mixed flock, the Dorking is often lower on the pecking order.
Broody: Yes, excellent mother
Preferred climate: Any, but the Rosecombs are more suitable for colder climates.
Handles confinement: Yes
Egg production: Good (3/week)
Egg color: White or Cream
Egg size: Large
What else you should know:
Some bloodlines have low fertility and overall vigor. Single combed males are not suitable for cold environments and will develop frostbite if left in an unheated coop.
great forager, great meat birds, docile temperaments, great mothers, hardy variety
small farm egg, big red combs, cold winters
silvergray Dorking, lovely pets, extremely rare bantam, decent dual purpose, Roman times
Homesteading with Dorkings
There was a period for about three years, that I raised Red Dorkings. I considered the breed to be at its best, when assessed for their meat quality. These birds are without a doubt, one of the best tasting quality meats, I have ever eaten. I am yet to raise another fowl within twenty years, that had the taste and texture of a quality Dorking.
The birds develope rather normally for heritage meat, fowl. Which, means they are best butchered around six or more months of age. The hens also start laying around the same time, and are decent layers of medium sized cream eggs. The girls often go broody in the spring and summer, and make excellent mothers.
Personality wise, the hens tend to be timid and easily bullied. If I didn't provide my flock with a calm environment, they usually where flighty and seriously underweight from the SOP. If kept properly, they where happier, friendlier, and much heavier birds.
The roosters are wild men, that will seriously bounce off the walls if their coop is to small. I had to separate them from the poor pullets, because they simply couldn't handle the stress. I never got attacked by one of these boys though, and I certainly raised a fair number of them.
The chicks are total bullies and where awful feather peckers. This was the reason I actually parted with the breed. They literally wanted to "eat" chicken. So, I separated them from my other breeds, used red lights, but it still didn't put an end to the issue. So, I gave up on my Dorkings.
I really didn't have any health issues with my birds. Fertility often was very heavily influenced by the weather. I hatched best in mid spring, but before and after hatch rates where depressing.
I do want to say, that Dorkings are a challenge to find and purchase. Many people feel they have no choice, but to order chicks form McMurry or Sandhill. Which, is fine! But, if you want a meatier, heritage bloodline, get on a small farmer’s waiting list. They are hidden, but there are still some Dorking breeders out there..
From RhodeRunner Sep 25 2013 4:49PM
Best Chicken Ever!
The title says it all: Hazel was probably the best chicken I'd ever owned. A silver-gray Dorking, she was easy to handle, got along with every other animal on the farm (mean roosters and moody pigs included) and never had a problem with visitors poking at her, invading her privacy or peeking on her at random times.
Hazel was very broody and made a wonderful mama to all the chicks she hatched in her five year run. We're not exactly sure how old she was when she came to us, as she was a reject from another farm that had been foreclosed upon, but she lived out her life in peace and quiet here on the farm.
She was a very beautiful hen - very striking feathers and a keen intelligence in her eyes. It was clear she'd been bred well and that was a trait I wanted to continue with her chicks, so I was careful to keep her away from the roosters unless I wanted them to mate (Snowball, our Cochin, was a little persistent and snuck in more than once, however! Thankfully the chicks all seem to have inherited their mother's temperament, as Snowball is a mean little sucker).
Out of all the chickens I've owned, I'd recommend this breed to just about everyone, children included. They're great beginner birds, though the noise and the mess can be a little off-putting at first.
They're so easygoing and mellow that they make great show birds, although I only showed her in an informal capacity for educational events and Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) training events. Even so, Hazel was calm in public and tolerated noise, touch and visual stimulus exceptionally well.
She required little as far as management went, but really did take up a lot of space in the coop. She liked to have her own "personal space bubble" that was bigger than most of our other hens, which proved problematic until we built an addition just for her and her chicks. When she retired to the coop, she liked to have her space, despite being so easygoing when out in the yard.
Hazel never had a health problem until the day we found her dead - a coyote had gotten on the farm and tried to get her. While he didn't succeed, her injuries were too great and the only real humane choice we had was to put her to sleep. I think she would have survived had she been a little less heavy-breasted and able to get away quicker, but I'll never know.
No real problems to speak of, and I can't speak to the meat quality or commercial value of these chickens as that's not how we keep our chickens at the sanctuary. She was a great layer and even when not producing chicks, her egg quantity and quality was excellent..
From Freelancer00101 Dec 24 2013 4:24PM
Silver Grey Dorking: beautiful but not ideal for cold winters
I have been raising chickens for roughly three years now and have a flock of 25 free-ranging birds. My goal for my flock is to have as much diversity as possible, in colour of feather, breed and colour of egg. I also look for chickens that are good egg layers and grow large enough to make for good eating.
Every year I order new chicks in the spring and experiment with various breeds. Last year I included five Silver Grey Dorking chicks in my order. I ended up with three hens and two roosters.
Right from the start I found these to be strikingly beautiful birds. They grew quickly and tended to be larger than some of my other breeds of the same age. They were relatively easy to handle, being on the tame and quiet side. Overall I was pleased with them as chicks and looked forward to them growing up and strutting their stuff.
Sadly a mink found its way into my coop one night and killed most of my chicks, including my three Silver Grey Dorking hens. The two roosters survived.
These boys grew to be massive birds and attained their full size much more quickly than my roosters of other breeds. If I was looking for a heritage meat bird, this is one breed I would consider buying again. Purchased as day-olds in late April, they were easily of eating size by fall.
I wasn’t interested in eating my roosters and so I let them stay in the flock.
It was caring for them over winter that made me change my mind about buying more of this breed. Where I live winters can be harsh and this bird is not well-suited to the climate. The roosters sport fabulous big red combs, which sadly became badly frost bitten as the temperature plummeted.
Overall this breed has much to commend itself: striking plumage, quick growth to a substantial size and an easy going, gentle nature. They don’t fare well in winter, however, and I wouldn’t recommend them if keeping them year round is the plan and you live in a cold region..
From HeleneMarie Jan 19 2015 10:14PM