5 Key Benefits of Owning a Dorking Chicken

Dorking Chicken Featured Image
The Dorking Chicken is bred for its quality meat and also lays around 200 eggs per year. In addition, they're beautiful and make a great addition to a well-manicured garden. 

Many people struggle with picking the right breed of chicken to match the needs of their home or garden. With so many varieties of chicken available, and each of those varieties exhibiting a wide variety of traits, learning about what each breed of chicken brings to the table is essential.

In this article, we will be focusing on a breed that is best known for the quality of its meat, but has many other traits that make it a welcome addition to any flock: The Dorking Chicken.

1. A Rich and Reliable History

Dorking Chickens originate from southern England, and are named after the town of Dorking located in the county of Surrey. One of the oldest breeds of chicken in the world, Dorkings were first brought to England in the early first century by the Romans. A well-known Roman writer at the time named Columella mentions that five-toed chickens, matching the description of Dorking chickens, were at the time considered to be of a superior breeding stock. 

However, Dorkings are no longer a native breed of chicken in Italy. It is speculated that the Romans traded the majority of their five-toed chickens with other parts of Europe, and that the Dorking was gradually created through cross breeding within England.

Dorking Chicken canvas

Dorkings grew in popularity in the markets of London in the early twentieth century, where they became the primary source of poultry meat in the area. Even though they have since been surpassed by the Sussex breed as the prominent producer of meat, the Dorking is still bred for its high-quality meat to this day.

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2. Bred for Quality Meat

When it comes to finding a breed of chicken that is great for cooking, it is hard to beat the Dorking. Since they were initially bred for market, Dorkings continue to prove their worth as a delicious source of meat production. They are considered to be exceptionally tender and flavorful when compared to the majority of other breeds, making them the ideal table bird.

Dorking Chicken on grass
Dorking chickens are very dense and make a great eventual addition to your dinner table

Most Dorkings grow to be about 8lbs. in weight, which is remarkably large and allows for its entire body to be perfect for cooking. The breast, wishbone, wings, and thighs are considered the most valuable parts of the Dorking, all of which deliver in terms of flavor and tenderness.

Since Dorkings are native to England, they are most often used in traditional English cuisine. However, Dorkings have been traded internationally since their first rise to popularity, and are now used in a wide variety of ethnic dishes because of how delicious and versatile their meat is.

3. Unique and Rare Characteristics

Dorking chickens are not only tasty, but also very stunning to look at. They are found in a variety of colors, but the three main varieties are white, colored, and silver-gray.

The American Poultry Association officially recognized these colors when they included the Dorkings to their Standard of Perfection in 1874. Since then, three bantam varieties, the silver-grey, colored, and the rose-comb, were introduced in 1960 and the red color variety was recognized in 1995. There are other colorations such as cuckoo and speckled which are only recognized in England.

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Dorkings are a strong, stocky-looking breed that have a broad breast and short legs. They are known for their prominent, red single comb and long red wattle, and are one of very few breeds that also have red earlobes.

Group of Dorking Chickens
Dorkings are beautiful birds to admire

Silver-gray Dorkings are the most striking color combination, as they have wonderfully bright silver feathers on their backs that cover stark black feathers on their breasts, tail and legs. The high contrast between these light and dark grayscale tones allows the vibrant red from the comb and wattle to come through brilliantly.

As mentioned before, Dorkings have five toes on each of their feet, which is a rare trait of many chicken breeds. While the Romans saw the fifth toe superstitiously as a good sign for breeding, the additional toe doesn’t have any significant impact on the breed’s health or ability to produce meat.

4. Hens and Egg Production

While Dorkings have been raised especially for their meat, they also are decent egg layers, making them significantly proficient at egg laying when compared to other heritage breeds.

Egg Production150-200 per year
First Laying6 months old
Laying Span5 years approximately
Egg ColorWhite or cream
Egg SizeMedium to large
Lays in Winter?Yes

Dorking hens are exceptional layers and also mothers. They are fairly resilient to cold weather conditions and will continue laying eggs throughout the winter and cold season.

Roosters have large combs which can make them susceptible to frostbite, while hens have smaller combs and wattle which allow them to face colder climates with lesser risk of health issues. 

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The hens can also become very broody quickly, which makes them excellent mothers. This natural maternal instinct makes Dorkings some of the best chickens for breeders who are looking to raise chicks. Even younger pullets are known to care for younger birds in the flock.

5. Friendly Personality

Even though they are best known to be raised for quality meat, Dorkings are also incredibly tender of heart. They are known for being very friendly and calm, which is great for flocks that don’t have many aggressive breeds. Both male and female Dorkings are good foragers, so they will naturally take to free-ranging.

Dorking Chicken on eggs
These birds enjoy raising more chicks in the flock

Dorking hens will also extend their natural broody nature by helping raise chicks of other breeds as well. This makes them an asset in mixed flocks that have hens of other breeds that might be less prone to raising their own chicks. Dorking hens also grow very attached to the chicks they raise and will continue looking out for the younger birds of your flock as they grow older.

In conclusion, Dorkings make for an all-around wonderful breed of chicken to add to any flock. While their primary asset is in the quality of meat they can provide, they also make for great company and also for great egg production.

If you’re looking for a breed that is fairly hardy, docile, easy to raise, and will mingle well with your other birds, then look no further than the Dorking chicken.

Leland

Raised in Wisconsin, Leland has spent most of his life adjacent to the rich farmlands of the Midwest. He has visited many farms while exploring his home state, which eventually led him to work directly with farmers on a variety of projects. Between building furniture with Amish-milled wood and helping a local farmer construct a greenhouse, Leland developed a deep interest in homesteading and wants to one day have farmland of his own. Leland is able to combine his love of writing and recent passion for agriculture by writing articles focused on a variety of aspects of farming and homesteading.

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