Dorkings


Dorking History
 
The Dorking is an ancient breed tracing it's lineage all the way back to the Roman Empire and the birth of Christ. It was first introduced into Brittian with the Romans and became a favorite of many, eventually taking the name of the region where it was most popular. Thus evolved the Dorking breed.
 
The Dorking evolved as primarily a meat breed, but is also a decent layer of medium to large eggs, lays through the winter and can be an exceptionally vigilant and protective hen when broody. As a meat breed, the meat is fine textured and well flavored and has been a winner of several taste tests in recent years. The Dorking of today isn't as large as its ancestors of even 50 years ago but still retains all the finer points of the breed, so now it's up to Dorking enthusiasts to bring it back up to its ideal size.
 
Dorking roosters should mature near 9 pounds and hens near 7 pounds. They have a long and low structure a friend once referred to as 'barge-like'. Their legs are relatively short with the thighs hidden well up in the body feathers. They are fairly slow growing with roosters reaching their full size by 2 years old. Hens typically start laying between 5 and 6 months old.
 
Dorkings Today
 
The APA recognizes 6 varieties; (single combed) Silver Grey, Colored, Red, Single and Rose Combed Cuckoo and Rose Combed White. A large part of the problem with Dorkings is that there are so few sources of quality birds.
 
The primary sources people get their birds from are hatcheries. Murray McMurray is probably one of the best sources for Silver Grey Dorkings. Sandhill Preservation Center has the best readily available Red and Colored Dorkings I've seen, though if you are willing to wait and hunt around, the Roger Tice and Dick Horstman lines of Reds are my preference. Cuckoos are few and far between, so I have no frame of reference for them at all. The Whites, however, are best gotten from Yellow House Farm. YHF is not a dedicated hatchery, but a farm dedicated to preserving and improving a few select breeds. His White Dorkings are exceptional, in my opinion.
 
Now to my own birds...
 
My Dorkings have suffered heavy losses over the last few years and it has been a struggle to recover from that. I lost my primary Silver Grey boy 'Big Guy' and my primary Red rooster 'Big Red' in the fall of 2014. Since then I've tried some other roosters from similar lines, but they were less than spectacular and most of the offspring were culled.
 
Last year I concentrated on growing out some new cockerels and letting the hens I had left enjoy themselves free ranging and doing what they do best. Eating bugs and laying eggs!
 
This year I have those hens paired up with the best of the boys I grew out. My numbers are still low, but they are laying like crazy right now, and I'm hatching everything I can! My red hen is currently in with the Darks, but her chicks should be easily identified by the time they feather in, if not at hatch. These will be utilized in a project pen to work on a red version of the Dark, down the road.

I still haven't come across my next 'Big Guy' but I'm hopeful. So I keep hatching and growing out all the boys I can, in the hopes that one of them will knock my socks off! That's also why I kept FOUR boys from last year. Two Dark and two Silver Grey. They will be rotated through the breeding pen so I can see which rooster gives me the best offspring. Maybe I'll find that magic combination that just works. 
 
Cross your fingers that I have my next 'Big Guy' growing out for next year.
 
bigguy-660.jpg
"Big Guy" gone but not forgotten
 
Updated 04.30.2017