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Dorking - Chicken
OriginBritish, likely to have been introduced by the Romans.
ClassLarge Fowl, Heavy, soft feather
ColourRed, White, Cuckoo, Dark, Silver Grey
CombSingle (cuckoo and white have rose combs
EggsMedium, white, approximately 100 per year.
Weight, cock6.4 kg
Weight, hen4.6 kg
Sitter?A reliable broody.
The Dorking Breed Club
It is possible the Dorking Breed came into this country with the Romans in AD47 as birds with matching characteristics had been recorded in that era. The red, dark and white are believed to be the colours most similar to those original fowl. The Dorking was standardized in Great Britain in 1865 and is one of few breeds with a fifth toe. The breed was once prized for its rectangular body shape and wide breast that made it ideal for table purposes and to create hybrid table birds such as the now non-existent Dorbar. Egg laying ability is only moderate with only 100 to 150 eggs laid per year. The red Dorking has been used for exhibition since the late 19th century and so no longer has its original utility traits. The Red as with other colours of Dorking is now primarily an exhibition breed.
It is possible that the female of the red variety once had a full breast of laced feathers and this has been illustrated although perhaps falsely on a painting by Harrison Weir late in the 19th century. There are currently a few breeders involved in selective breeding to regenerate this feature. Also, oddly, the breed sometimes has quite short legs and there is some thinking to believe that the Scots dumpy had been used to shorten the legs in the 19th century to suit exhibition requirements.
Unfortunately as a whole the rare colours of Dorkings such as the Red, Cuckoo and White are no longer hardy as in traditional thinking. They can sometimes struggle to gain weight when young and can lose large amounts of weight when in moult. Due to their rarity and the process of breeding birds for exhibition they have lost much of their vigour and the rarer colours have been known to die young or randomly, more so than many other breeds. However, of all the Dorking colours the Red is certainly the most striking and has true traditional appeal. The red has proven to be very popular and given plenty of ranging space, well drained or dry soils and comfortable housing is certainly worthwhile to keep.
When searching for Red Dorking breeding stock be sure to find pullets that lay large normal shaped eggs. Small round eggs are produced by some lines as the birds have not been selected for egg quality. These round eggs often lead to poor hatching as chicks simply do not have room to grow.
Cuckoo is now the least commonly seen colour with as few as 20 birds remaining (2008)
Bantam versions exist in all colours, but only in very small numbers.