Posted Jan 19, 2015
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.