Dorking Chicken

Gallus gallus domesticus

Last updated: February 14, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© iStock.com/Mironmax Studio

They are docile birds, so do not mix them with dominant breeds like Cornish chickens and Old English Game.; otherwise, they will quickly fall to the bottom of the pecking order.


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Dorking Chicken Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Galliformes
Family
Phasianidae
Genus
Gallus
Scientific Name
Gallus gallus domesticus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Dorking Chicken Conservation Status

Dorking Chicken Locations

Dorking Chicken Locations

Dorking Chicken Facts

Name Of Young
Chick
Group Behavior
  • Group
Fun Fact
They are docile birds, so do not mix them with dominant breeds like Cornish chickens and Old English Game.; otherwise, they will quickly fall to the bottom of the pecking order.
Biggest Threat
Over-commercialization
Incubation Period
21 days
Predators
Foxes, weasels, and minks
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
Common Name
Dorking chicken
Origin
United Kingdom
Average Clutch Size
-1

Dorking Chicken Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Red
  • White
  • Silver
  • Light Grey
  • Dark Grey
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
7 Years
Age of Sexual Maturity
2 years
Aggression
Low

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The Dorking chicken has a great lineage that dates back centuries. They are native to England, but there are theories that they actually originated in Italy during the Roman Empire period. These chickens are famous for their meat and eggs but are extremely rare.

There are so many positives about these birds, from their appearance and characteristics to their productivity, and it’s hard to find something wrong with them.

Dorking Chicken History

There is speculation about where Dorking chickens originated due to writings found about these birds by a Roman agricultural historian named Columella during the 1st century AD. He describes them as ” broad-breasted, large, and square-framed, with small upright combs and big heads; the purest breed being five-clawed.” Therefore, researchers believe that Dorking chickens arrived in England during the Roman Invasion led by Julius Caesar in 43 AD.

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These chickens have little competition when it comes to flavor and quality. In fact, they were Queen Victoria’s preferred table fowl.

Dorking Chicken Amazing Facts

  • Dorking chickens are excellent fliers and like to roost on trees despite their short legs and large size.
  • Because they are used for both meat and eggs, these chickens are known as a dual-purpose breed.
  • Dorking chickens are good layers and can produce between 160 to 180 eggs annually.

Where to Find Dorking Chicken

The Dorking chicken goes back really far in history, with mentions in historical documents dating back as far as 43 AD. Once the Roman Empire started spreading throughout Europe, soldiers moved their families into the new territories, and with them came livestock, including the Dorking chicken. The British people embraced this chicken because of its juicy, tender meat and its ability to produce relatively large, flavorful eggs. As a result, Dorking chickens are often described as love at first bite. In fact, butchers sought out these chickens above all available yard fowl because of their popularity.

They derived their name from the market town of Dorking in Surrey, England, as Londoners generally bought their fowl at this location. Its popularity quickly spread throughout the area. This bird remained the favorite choice for centuries until the Sussex chicken arrived and replaced it.



Dorking Chicken Scientific Name

The Dorking chicken’s scientific name is Gallus gallus domesticus, and they belong to the order Galliformes, which consists of birds that are easily identified by the following features:

  • Many members of this order have bright crests and ornamental tails
  • They have blunt wings
  • These birds predominantly feed on the ground
  • Galliformes have strong legs
  • Their appearance resembles a house chicken
  • One of the families in this order, Megaods, builds mounds to incubate their eggs.
  • Many of these fowl-like birds prefer being grounded. However, they can fly but will only take flight if scared and only for a short period.
  • This order includes birds like turkeys, chickens, and fowl

Dorking chickens are members of the Phasianidae family, which contains a diverse group of birds with over 214 species and around 50 genera. Popular birds, like turkeys, grouse, partridges, Old World quail, and francolins, form part of this family.

Members of this family are small to large, terrestrial, blunt-winged birds. Some species of Phasianidae have elaborate courtship displays, where males show off by strutting about, spreading their tail feathers, and displaying colorful wattles and plumage to attract a mate.

Dorking Chicken Size, Appearance & Behavior

The Dorking chicken comes in five recognized color varieties, red, white, dark, silver-gray, and cuckoo. What most people don’t know about Dorking is that the various colors of their plumage can contribute to the color of their eggs.

Adult males can weigh between 10 and 14 pounds, and hens’ weight generally ranges from 8 to 10 pounds. However, there are different varieties of this breed, so weight varies. For example, the bantam Dorking weighs between 8 to 11 pounds. Bantams are the least popular breed and are only available through breeder registries and poultry forums.

Dorking chickens have rectangular bodies and short legs when compared to other chickens. In addition, these chickens have a single comb that is always erect, making them susceptible to cold weather. Dorkings have red earlobes, which is surprising since most chickens with the same feature produce colored eggs. Their necks are short but solid and stout, with full, long wattles, which are usually red along with the comb.

The red Dorking is a combination of black and red feathering, while the white Dorking is snow white with no tinted feathering. The cuckoo color consists of dark gray on a light gray background. There are other colors of Dorking, but these are few and far between.

Dorking chicken in a meadow
Dorking chicken in a meadow.

©iStock.com/PatrikStedrak

Behavior

The Dorking is well-known for its personality and gentle nature. Owners have described these chickens as sweethearts. Not only do they get along with chickens and other animals, and they make wonderful pets to humans, as they are pretty friendly in general.

Unlike other chickens, Dorkings typically become very attached to their owners. And while children must never be left alone with chickens, Dorkings can be supervised around children due to their tolerance and patience. Additionally, they are docile birds, so do not mix them with dominant breeds like Cornish chickens and Old English Game.; otherwise, they will quickly fall to the bottom of the pecking order. Therefore, stick to more placid breeds like the Rhode Island Red chicken and the Sussex chicken. However, like puppies, Dorking chickens need to be socialized from a young age. When raised with other animals, they will become good members of any flock and won’t cause any issues.

While Dorking hens are broody, they make incredible mothers because they are devoted to tending to their chicks. In fact, they are so good they even adopt abandoned chicks from other bird species. For example, if another hen pushes her chick out of the nest before they are ready, the Dorking will rescue the chick and raise it as her own. In addition, they also keep their own chicks in the nest for much longer than other chickens.

Dorking Chicken Diet

Once your Dorking reaches 8 weeks old, feed them a balanced diet of grains, chicken pellets, grain mix, or chicken mash. You should feed them in the early mornings to get enough nutrients to roam around for the rest of the day. However, feed Chick Starter to baby chickens under the age of 8 weeks old. Laying hens will need extra calcium and protein in their diets to provide quality eggs and to keep them in good health. Furthermore, treat your Dorking with table scraps like vegetables and fruit. If you really want to spoil them, serve these scraps in ice cubes on a sweltering day. What you feed these chickens will come back to you through nutritious fertilizer for your vegetable garden and flowers.

Dorking Chicken Predators and Threats

These rare chickens are actually really good at avoiding predators. They typically forage close to their homes or shelters instead of roaming too far. In addition, they can fly, which helps them make a quick getaway. Lastly, they are a large breed, so they are less likely to be preyed upon by birds of prey. However, they can fall victim to foxes, weasels, and minks.

Unfortunately, Dorking chickens are endangered due to the over-commercialization of the breed. They were so popular they were nearly consumed to extinction.

Dorking Chicken Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Dorking chickens grow a lot slower than other breeds and only reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years old. However, they are considered good layers and can produce between 160 to 180 eggs annually. While their eggs are not small, they are surprisingly small compared to the Dorking’s size. These chickens lay medium-sized, white, cream, or tinted eggs. The eggs need to be incubated for 21 days before they hatch, which usually occurs between the months of March and September. When fed top-quality feed, these chickens can live for around 7 years.

Dorking Chicken Population

Unfortunately, there is no information regarding the Dorking chicken’s population size, but the breed is considered endangered.

Raising Dorking Chickens

These chickens are a perfect breed for first-time owners as they are friendly and interact well with humans and other animals. In addition, they are excellent free-range birds as they love to forage. They can spend the whole day finding seeds or the occasional bug. Owners will really see them thrive when they have a good coop and space to forage.

Dorking Coop

Dorking chickens require a suitable coop with plenty of roosting space for the hens to lay their eggs, and the roosters need their own space to roost. However, each coop will need to be built specifically for the type of Dorking you plan on keeping. For example, the single comb variety is more prone to the cold, so they will need an extra warm and toasty coop.

Easy to Keep

The Dorking chicken is a beautiful specimen, so naturally, they make a great show bird. Their plumage is marvelous, and they carry themselves well as if they have so much pride. Furthermore, they are a great option as a pet, as they don’t stray too far while foraging and interact well with kids. However, because they are better flyers than other chickens and can be nosy at times, they can get into a lot of mischief. But, they won’t make a nuisance of themselves.

Dorkings are hardy birds and by no way a delicate breed. But, they do not thrive with inbreeding systems, which causes them to degrade. These chickens can survive in any climate but will need more protection and warmth in colder areas as their single combs are susceptible to frostbite. Therefore, if you live in a cold environment, the rose comb variety is a better choice. Unfortunately, they are harder to find, but with patience and perseverance, you will be rewarded with a friendly, gentle bird that provides delicious eggs and meat. In addition, by supporting breeders, you are helping to save these chickens from extinction.

All in all, the Dorking is one well-rounded chicken, so it’s understandable that they are in such high demand, but commercial trade should be monitored closely due to their decreasing numbers.

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About the Author

I am a 33-year-old creative and professional writer from South Africa. Wildlife is one of my greatest passions and led me to become the writer I am today. I was very blessed to work with an abundance of wildlife (mainly big cats) and captured my unique experiences in writing. But I wanted to take it further, and I ventured into the freelancing world. Now, I get to spend my days writing about animals; what could be better?

Dorking Chicken FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Dorking chickens good layers?

Dorking chickens are good layers and can produce between 160 to 180 eggs annually.

What color eggs do Dorkings lay?

These chickens lay medium-sized, white, cream, or tinted eggs. The eggs need to be incubated for 21 days before they hatch, which usually occurs between the months of March and September.

What are the top 5 egg laying chickens?

Chicken breeds that lay the most amount of eggs include:

  • White leghorns
  • Sussex chickens
  • Gold lines or hybrids
  • Plymouth Rocks
  • Rhode Island Reds

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. The Happy Chicken Coop, Available here: https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/dorking-chicken/#Dorkings_and_Dorking_Rooster_and_Free-Ranging
  2. Poultry Keeper, Available here: https://poultrykeeper.com/chicken-breeds/dorking-chickens/
  3. Chicken Scratch, Available here: https://cs-tf.com/dorking-chicken/

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