Dorking Chickens

Dorking Chicken

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Overview 

The Dorking Chicken is one of the oldest pure British breeds and is named after the southern county of Dorking. A Roman writer described birds with five toes of the Dorking Chicken type at the time of the invasion by Julius Caesar.

Despite having a British name, the Dorking is thought to have originated from Italy as there are accounts from a Roman farmer called Columella from as far back as 4 AD. Columella spoke of large, broad-breasted hens that were square 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.

One of the only breeds with red earlobes that produce white eggs. 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.

Males weigh around 9lbs (4.1kgs) and females weigh 7lbs (3.2kgs)

Eggs 

Size

Medium sized eggs

Color

White or tinted colored eggs

Production per year

140 per annum

When do they start laying eggs?

From 6 months but can take up to 2 years.

Dorking Characteristics 

Temperament / Are they good as pets?

They are quiet and generally calm, they need space to forage so wouldn’t make good backyard pets. They also don’t scratch much meaning they are great for your backyard/garden if you want to keep them free range.

dorking rooster

How do I tame Dorking chickens?

When they first hatch, try holding them so they get used to human contact. If you have bought older chickens you can tame them by putting feed in the palm of your hand and letting them eat out of it.

How many do I need to buy?

At an absolute minimum you need 2 chickens as they get lonely by themselves, an ideal small flock number would be 6.

Dorking chicksdorking baby chicks

How much space do they need?

The Dorking chicken needs lots of space as they don’t like being confined. You should have at least 250 square feet per chicken.

Will they mix with my other chickens?

They should mix well with any other chickens.

Appearance

There are five standard colors of plumage for this breed: red, silver, white, brown and cuckoo, the silver is the most popular. They can have either a single or a rose comb and have a yellow beak streaked with a light pink. They have a large red wattle and well developed red earlobes.

Male comb: 6 even points standing upright, the middle two are the longest.

Female comb: they have a medium sized comb with 6 distinct points the comb falls to one side as shown in the picture below.

Dorking chicken

 

Feeding 

What should I feed them?

When you first get your chickens they need to be fed growers mash, this has around 19% protein and everything they need vitamin wise to keep them healthy whilst they develop.

Once they are at 6 weeks they can be fed chicken pellets, which have 15-16% protein.

At 18 weeks gradually start giving them growers mash or growers pellets, this has all the nutrients they need to help them with making eggs and has around 16% protein.

How much should I feed them?

Each day a chicken can eat from 2.9oz (80g) to 4.2 oz (120g). To see how much your chickens will need give them ¼ of a pound (113g) and then adjust the amount accordingly.

You can either feed your chickens after meals or just place feed in the feeder for them to have when they want.

What can’t they eat?

There are lots of things that chickens should not have. The theobromine in chocolate and the phytohemagglutinin in beans are toxic to chickens and therefore they should be kept far away from them.

Food that has gone off (i.e rotten) shouldn’t be given to chickens as they contain nasty bacteria that can make them unwell. In the UK you can’t feed your chickens kitchen scraps as it is illegal.

What do I need to keep chickens? 

A coop is the main piece of equipment you’ll need for your chickens. The coop should be 1.1m2 or 11 square feet per bird. The coop should have a perch for each of them to nap on at night and some laying boxes for them to lay eggs in, these should be wooden.

You should have a fence that goes around and over the coop to keep your chickens safe once you shut them in for the night. They need at least 250 square feet per chicken extra to roam around in the day. They need access to water at all times, the water container should be tall enough that they can’t step into and sturdy enough they can’t knock it over.

Place the water away from sunlight as the chickens prefer cooler water. There should be grit for the chickens to use as they please, especially when they reach laying age as it helps them produce eggs.

Breed Tips

  • Lay well throughout the winter and are quite hardy
  • The comb on large males can freeze, so watch out if you live in a very cold climate
  • Adaptable to a variety of settings