The only purely British breed makes the Dorking Chickens possibly the oldest pure breed lineage. A Roman writer described birds with five toes of the Dorking Chicken type at the time of the invasion by Julius Caesar. The Dorking Chicken was detailed by Columella, a Roman writer, before the breed was popular in England. Columella spoke of large, broad-breasted hens that were sqaure framed with large heads and has small upright combs. He also stated that the purer breeds were five clawed. The combs are still allowed in two forms the rose and the single. Historically the rose combs were northern as were the Redcaps; Hamburghs etc. and the single combs were southern. They featured in the first Poultry show in 1845 and were used to create the Light Sussex and Faverolles as well as other breeds, they were used to produce excellent table birds.
Characteristics: The Dorking Chicken has a rectangular body set on very short legs. It is five toed and has a relatively large comb, thus requiring protection in extremely cold weather. Dorkings are good layers and are one of the few instances where a bird with red earlobes lays a white shelled egg. Most Dorking hens will go broody, make good mothers and are quite docile. Because of their white skin, Dorkings are not as popular in the U.S. as in Europe.
- Standard Weights: Cock-9 pounds; hen-7 pounds; cockerel-8 pounds; pullet-6 pounds.
- Skin Color: White
- Egg Shell Color: Tinted
- Use: A general purpose meat and egg producing variety.
- Origin: Great Britain
Interested in raising chickens, but not sure which breed might be right for you?
Things to consider:
Geography: Consider geography when selecting a breed. In cooler areas of the country, consider raising heavier birds. In hotter areas, consider lighter weight birds. Some birds have been specially breed for cold climates. Consider these birds if you live in a cold-climate area.
Space: Where will you be raising these chickens? Do you have a lot of farm land for the animals to be raised on, or are you planning to raise them in your backyard? If you have a small space in which to raise the birds, choose breeds with a calmer temperament and avoid birds that are listed as active. Active birds will not be happy in close confinement.
Temperament: When choosing a breed, consider temperament. Some breeds are calmer than others. If raising chickens in a backyard or in the city, you may prefer a calmer breed.