Image of Silver Gray Dorking pair from Sun Bird Farms
The Dorking is a beautiful, yet uncommon breed. The name comes from a place (Dorking, England) and is not in the least sense implying that they have a low intelligence level. However, Dorkings did not originally come from England, contrary what the name implies; Their breeding lines go back much farther than that…
Dorking Chicken Breed History
There is some historical evidence to suggest that Dorkings actually originated in Italy during the time of the Roman Empire… That would place them among the oldest chicken breeds. The Dorking was introduced to England a few hundred years ago where they gained popularity, particularly in Dorking, England, where they where bred as meat birds.
Dorking Breed Physical Characteristics
The APA (American Poultry Association) recognizes three Dorking color varietions: Silver Grey (as pictured above), Red and Colored. Non-APA variations include: Barred (Cuckoo), Speckled, Crele, Dark, White, Dun and Black.
Dorkings have the polydactyl gene, which means they have extra toes. (I go into a little more detail on polydactyly in my post on Silkies because that is another breed that carries the gene.)
Dorking chickens lay ~140 eggs per year. Though that is less than some classic egg-layer breeds (such as Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rocks, Australorps and Leghorns), they are good winter layers (like Faverolles). Also, like Faverolles, Dorkings are known as meat birds for their exceptionaly flavored meat. However, since Dorkings weigh 7-8 pounds (which is lighter than some broiler varieties), they are not popular in the commercial meat industry. They also do not have a rapid maturation rate. Due largely to these factors, their main popularity is in their dual-purpose qualities.
Dorking Chicken Temperament
Dorking chickens are generally very docile, generally easy to handle and have a friendly disposition. These factors make them well suited for backyard chicken keeping, especially around children. However, they are not commonly available at local feed stores and usually have to be preordered.