The estimable, five-toed Dorking chicken is one of the oldest European breeds. So old, in fact, that there are ancient Roman writings discussing it! Though it contributed to the bloodlines of several common breeds, the Dorking itself is a very rare breed in its own right.

There’s a reason the Dorking has been around for so long! They are good foragers who love to range, they are able to lay eggs even during the winter months, and they’re docile.

One of the most notable traits of these meat chickens beyond their temperament is their intensely flavorful flesh–in taste comparisons with other breeds, it often wins the competition.

Some sources do indicate, however, that their meat-producing qualities have slackened in recent times as breeding has fallen in favor of exhibition.

The sweet, calm personality of these chickens will certainly endear them to your heart, but not the hearts of your more aggressive birds.

In a mixed-breed flock, it would be best to pair the gentle Dorking with other mild-mannered breeds like the Speckled Sussex and Buff Orpington hens that they contributed genetics to.

Characteristics

There are a few other features of this meaty breed that stand out from the rest. Though their legs are short for their size, they are one of only five chicken breeds that sports a fifth toe. The Ancient Romans declared that this was a trait of only the finest chickens. It is also unique in that its red earlobes don’t match its white egg color–all other chickens with red earlobes lay colored eggs!

Dorkings Take A While To Grow

Unlike the modern broiler chicken which has been developed to reach butchering weight in a mere eight weeks, the Dorking can take up to two years to reach sexual maturity. “Slow food” appreciators declare that what you lose in time you more than make up in flavor and nutrition, so it is up to the keeper what is a better use of resources.

Though they are generally hardy birds, the large single comb some sport is susceptible to frostbite. A few of the colors also have a rose comb, so chicken keepers in colder climates may want to try to track it down. Be aware, however, that the rarity of this old breed may make it very hard to find.

What’s The Yield?

Since the Dorking is a larger chicken, you can expect roosters to reach 9 pounds and hens to hit 7 pounds. Though they were developed as a meat bird, they function decently as a dual-purpose chicken to those who choose to gather their eggs! Though the hens have a tendency to go broody, they usually lay at least 3 medium-sized, white eggs a week.

If you choose to keep one of these gentle hens as a backyard pet, you can expect around seven years of calm, feathery companionship.

Julius Caesar: Chicken Contouisser

Apparently, Julius Caesar was quite the chicken-appreciator. In addition to stealing Campine chickens from Belgium during his conquests there, he’s credited with bringing the ancestors of Dorking chickens to England, where the five-toed beauties soon populated the countryside.

Pictures Of Dorking Chickens

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