ANCIENT & RARE
The earliest record of Dorking chickens can be found in the writings of Columella, a Roman agricultural historian during the 1st Century AD. He reports that Julius Caesar encountered the Dorking during Roman conquest of Italy in 54 B.C. when he brought them to England. He described the breed as, "robust body, square built, fully breasted, large heads, with upright and bright red combs... the purest bred have five toes".
Named after the town of Dorking in England, it is a pure breed that represents a unique genetic resource. No other chicken contributes to the Dorking genes, yet their genetics help make up most domesticated chicken breeds.
The Dorking breed entered the official poultry world in 1874 with its inclusion into the Standards of Perfection book. This rare bird is included in the RBST Poultry Conservation Trust, and The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy categorizes the Dorking as “threatened.” Fewer than a 1000 breeding Dorking chickens live in the US.
In this country 3 varieties of Dorking chickens are recognized by the standard: the White, the Silver-Grey, and the Colored. The White Dorking is bred with a rose comb only, the other two varieties with either rose or single combs, although the greater number have single combs. All Dorking chickens have white legs, white skin, long bodies, short legs, full breasts, and 5 toes. It is one of only five chicken breeds in the world that have 5 toes. Most only have 4. The fifth toe grows on the back of the foot and slopes upward.
The Silver-Grey Dorking chicken descended from the Colored Dorking variety. The hens have a silvery white neck, slate-grey back, salmon-red breast shading off to gray towards the sides, slate grey body, dark gray tail, and ash grey thighs. Both cock and hen are clad in a handsome plumage. Dorking roosters have striking eyes, a large upright 6 point comb, and medium red earlobes.