Have you ever seen a Dorking chicken before? This post is dedicated to interesting facts about this beautiful fowl that has its origins in England.
Did You Know?
That you can predict the color of the eggs laid by a chicken by the color of the chicken’s earlobes. However, the Dorking is an exception to this rule, because it lays white eggs, in spite of having red earlobes.
The Dorking chicken was named after the town of Dorking in England, and is one of the oldest English breeds of chicken. It is one of the pure breeds that represents a genetic resource that is unique. It is the only chicken breed that is endemic to Britain. For centuries, the town of Dorking in Surrey and its surrounding areas were prime poultry-breeding areas.
In this article, we shall look at some interesting facts about this beautiful bird that is prized for its meat. We shall place the facts under relevant categories, such as identification, temperament, history, etc.
►The earliest record of these fowl species can be found in the writings of Columella, who was a Roman agricultural historian during the 1st Century AD. He described the breed as, “square-framed, large, and broad-breasted, with big heads and small upright combs…the purest breed being five-clawed”.
►It is believed that the Dorkings were brought to England during the Roman invasion in 43 AD, by Julius Caesar.
►Queen Victoria preferred the Dorking over other breeds of table fowl. In fact, when it comes to quality and flavor of meat, the Dorking has few rivals.
►The most distinctive feature of the Dorking chicken is its extra hind toe, which makes it one among five breeds across the world that have five toes, as opposed to the four toes found in most chicken breeds.
►You can identify the Dorking by its stout, rectangular body, and broad breast.
►It also has unusually short legs for a chicken of its size.
►The chickens are heavy, and weigh anywhere between 8 to 14 pounds, with the males being heavier.
►Adult roosters can weigh up to 9 pounds, while hens weigh up to 7 pounds.
►The Dorkings have a large single comb, the tips of which are prone to frostbite injury, and requires protection.
►These birds have no feathers on their feet.
►They have white skin.
►In spite of their large size and short legs, the Dorkings are good fliers, and are known to roost on trees.
►Dorkings are valued for the quality of their meat that is white and tender, especially the breast meat that is truly of fine quality.
►They are dual-purpose breeds, which means they are bred for both, meat as well as eggs.
►They also make good show birds.
Behavior and Temperament
►These birds are calm and docile. They are playful and can be easily handled. They make great pets and adapt well to human contact.
►They are quiet in nature.
►They are active foragers but love to stay close to home. However, they love to wander in search of “treats”, and hence, need a large space to move around.
►The hens are broody and are excellent mothers, even going ahead and caring for chicks of other species, such as turkeys and ducks.
►They adapt themselves well to confinement. However, you should ensure that you never keep these gentle birds with more aggressive chicken breeds.
Growth and Reproduction
►Dorkings grow relatively slower than most breeds. The birds attain sexual maturity at the age of two years.
►They are relatively good layers, if not excellent, laying about 3 eggs a week and close to 140 eggs a year.
►The Dorking lays small eggs as compared to their size. The eggs are medium-sized and cream or tinted.
►Chicks usually hatch during the months of March and September.
►These birds have a life expectancy of 7 years.
►They need good quality feed to stay healthy and grow.
►There are five varieties of the Dorking, and these include the Red, White, Silver Grey, Dark, and Cuckoo. The Red Dorking is the rarest of these.
►The Silver Grey is the only variety of the Dorking to have survived in the United States.
►There exists a Bantam version of the Dorking, which is smaller than the true breed.
►These birds were crossed with other breeds to give rise to many breeds, including the Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Light Sussex, and Faverolle.
This relatively-rare fowl is included in the RBST Poultry Conservation Trust. Also, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists the Dorking as threatened. This is because of few breeders. The need of the hour is more serious breeders who can help bring the population of the birds to a normal level.