Dorking chicken is one of the best breeds to keep if you want a calm bird. It is super friendly and will do well when integrated with other chicken breeds.
These chooks are excellent foragers and will roam on your backyard looking for tasty grubs, insects, seeds and small weeds to munch on.
Dorkings are very rare and you will only get them with few dedicated chicken breeders. Do you want to know more about these five-toed chickens?
In this article, I am going to take you through their features, history, temperament, hardiness and many more. This will be of great help to you before you make a call to order some dorking chicks.
Dorking Chicken Background
Dorking chicken is one of the oldest breeds that originate from England. These chickens trace their ancestry from the Counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey in the UK.
It was first developed as a landrace and named after the famous town of Dorking. The counties where this friendliest chicken breed originates were popular with producing chickens of high quality that offered high quality meat.
The history of dorking chickens is a bit mixed up. Columella a famous Roman scholar had described five-toed birds which they are believed to be dorkings.
It is believed that the Romans brought these chickens from Belgium when they invaded her in the 43 A.D. In Belgium, they were loved for the much meat they produced just like Bresse chickens.
The history of dorking chickens is long. Some also believe that Phoenician traders brought with them these chickens where they bartered them with tin.
In England, these chickens were very popular for their flavorful meat. They were very common in hotels and restaurants and it was hard to find anyone selling them live.
However, as time went by, farmers shifted for commercial chickens that could either produce more meat, eggs or even mature faster.
Dorking Chicken Breed Standard
Dorking chickens enjoy recognition in the Poultry Club of Great Britain as well as on the American Poultry Association of standard perfection.
The APA recognized them in 1874 while the PCGB recognized them way back in the 19th century. Only three color varieties are recognized by the APA namely: White, Silver and Grey.
Just recently in 1995, the red color variety was also included in the APA. There are bantam varieties of dorking chickens which were added in the APA in 1960.
Bantam dorkings are found in three color varieties namely: White rose comb, Silver and Grey.
Apart from the three recognized colors, these fancy chickens are also found in other colors like Cuckoo, Speckled and Black.
Characteristics of Dorking Chickens
Dorking chicken is a large fowl that is well-fleshed and good for the pot. A mature rooster weighs 9lbs while a hen weighs 7lbs.
The weight of this bird plus it’s the number of eggs it will lay makes it to automatically qualify as a dual purpose chicken breed.
Dorking roosters have a large comb that is tad-like and often flops on one side. In the white color variety, the comb is of rose type but in other colors the case is opposite.
Combs, wattles and the earlobes are red in color. The single comb will be large and with well-marked peaks on it. Eye color will vary with some being orange, reddish or black.
The beak is short, strong, slightly curved and its color will vary from white, black or a blend of both black and white.
The feet and skin are white in color. On each foot, there are five well-spaced toes with short claws on them. Dorking chicken legs are short and have no feathers on them so watch out when buying.
Temperament and Hardiness
Dorking chickens are calm, docile and will exhibit extreme friendliness to you. They make good chicken pets where even the roosters pose no threat to your children.
If you want a bird that will offer affection and company, then, this is the right breed. Dorkings will chat and keep you engaged with stories as you go on with your daily chores.
They will not stop eating from your hand until that scratch is over. Brand them cute chicken names and make a habit of bringing them chicken gifts as way of extending friendship.
Dorking roosters are not very cold hardy because their large combs will suffer from frost bites. However, if you live in a cold area, you can heat your chicken coop to keep them warm during winter.
On the tropics, they will, do well if there are plenty of shaded areas to shelter on a hot day. In addition, plenty of cool drinking water will help cool the bodies and keep them well-hydrated.
Dorking chickens will do well on free range and also when confined. However, free ranging has proved to be the best way for them.
Ranging will help lower the cost of feeding them because they will use this time to collect their own food on the backyard.
However, have someone to be on the lookout just in case possums, wolves and chicken hawks are around looking for free lunch.
Dorking chickens will do well when integrated with other chickens. But, let them live with calm breeds like Salmon feverolles, Silkie chickens or Serama chickens because mixing them with assertive breeds like the Rhode Island Red will make them get bullied.
On the pecking order, these chickens rank at the bottom. This means that they are not ready to take up a fight from other hen breeds.
Egg laying and Uses
Although Dorking chickens can offer much meat, they will lay a substantive amount of eggs enough to keep your egg tray full.
However, female dorking chicken will not start to lay until they are 5-6 months old. This is much later compared to hybrid chickens like Golden comets and earlier than most heritage breeds like the Jersey Giant.
Dorking pullets that are ready to start laying will often remain near nesting boxes. Perhaps scouting for a suitable spot to lay her eggs.
In a year, a dorking hen will lay a clutch of 170-190 medium to large eggs. The egg shells are creamy white or lightly tinted with the inside egg being white with a single yellow egg yolk.
They are very reliable egg layers and will consistently continue supplying you with eggs even during winter when most hens have taken a break.
Apart from being faithful egg layers, these chickens easily get broody. They will sett after laying a clutch of 35 eggs and when the chicks hatch, Dorking hens make good mothers.
Some dorking keepers have said that their hens will go on to take care of their baby chicks until they are big and can find their own food.
Perhaps you are out there wondering where to get dorking chicken and chicks for sale? Well, these chickens are rare and expect them to a bit pricy.
They can be bought from dedicated dorking chicken breeders or from reputable chicken hatcheries like Murray McMurray.
Dorking chicken meat
Because of their body size and weight, dorkings are good meat birds because they can offer much of it enough for a big family.
These birds have a white skin and their carcasses pluck clean where the pin feathers are less seen. The meat has some strong chicken flavors than that of other chickens.
Dorkings have more meat to bone ratio and the most sourced parts like the breast fetch good prices when the bird is butchered.
Another nod to these chickens is that their meat is tender, delicate and light allowing you to prepare it in different dishes you may wish to.
A cockerel will take about 5-6 months to reach market weight meaning these chickens will not keep you waiting for long before you convert them into cash.
Dorking chickens have a lifespan of 5-8 years. However, they can live longer than 8 years or less than 5 years depending on the quality of care they get.
Free ranging chickens are likely going to live for a short period of time compared to those raised when confined in deep litter coops and chicken cages.
When roaming on their own, they are likely going to be hunted down by predators or contract diseases that are easily spread by wild birds.
In addition to this, free ranging hens may not get enough food with all the balanced nutrients as it is required for proper growth and development.
Chickens raised as pets are likely going to live for long because they will get good care thus, living a happy healthy life.
Dorking chickens are healthy, strong and robust birds. They are hardy and will do well in both hot and cold areas as long as they get the right shelter.
However, ecto-parasites like chicken lice and scaly mites are a serious to their health. They hide under the feathers and in chicken bedding where they lay eggs and multiply.
To control these parasites, dust your hens with diatomaceous earth powder. You can also mix small amounts of DE with the chicken dirt bath.
Diatomaceous earth works by removing body oils and moisture from the parasites bodies dehydrating them to death.
Gape worms and thread worms are another threat to your Dorking roosters. To deal with them, raise your birds in confinement because they will collect worm eggs when free ranging.
Also, seek advice from a qualified bird vet near you on the right chicken wormer to administer.
During the winter season, Silver Gray Dorkings, Red Dorkings and other varieties with single combs are going to suffer from frost bites.
Keep them indoors in a heated chicken coop to keep them safe. On a hot summer day, ensure they have enough shaded areas and plenty of clean drinking water to keep their bodies cool.
Dorking chicken facts
- Dorking is a dual purpose chicken breed.
- They are an old breed that originates from England.
- These chickens have five toes just like Silkie chickens.
- Dorkings are calm, friendly and docile birds that make good pets.
- They easily get broody and make sweet mothers.
- Female dorking chicken begin to lay at the age of 5-6 months.
- In a year, dorking hens will lay a clutch of 170-190 eggs
- They have cream eggs or light tinted which are medium to large in size.
- These chickens are excellent egg layers during the winter season.
Is Dorking the right breed for you?
Dorkings are a good choice to add on your backyard. They will do well on free range and help control those insects, slugs and notorious weeds from your garden.
These chickens are a dual purpose breed that will offer you both meat and eggs. They have high quality meat that is rich in flavors like that of button quails.
Dorking chickens are calm, sweet and placid birds that make good pets. The roosters are extremely docile and you can trust with your kids.
These chickens are not rowdy and will do well when integrated with other rooster breeds. However, only raise them with other calm chicken breeds because rowdy ones will harass and bully them.
Your dorking hen will easily get broody and when she hatches, she takes good care of her chicks until they are fully feathered. These chickens accept to foster the young of other hen breeds.
Final Thoughts on Dorking Chicken
Dorkings are good chickens that will do well when allowed to roam on their own. This will help lower the cost of feeding them because they will find most of their food.
However, they are very rare and only a few of them are now remaining with few dedicated breeders and chicken hobbyists.
The Livestock Conservancy lists them as rare and their status is threatened. If they are not bred back to numbers, future generations may not get a chance to see them