Backyard Poultry Forum • View topic - DORKING BREED PROFILE

Backyard Poultry Forum

Chickens, waterfowl & all poultry - home of exhibition & backyard poultry in Australia & New Zealand
Login with a social network:
It is currently Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:15 pm

All times are UTC + 10 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 31 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: DORKING BREED PROFILE
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 2:33 pm 
Offline
Proud Rooster
Proud Rooster
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 9:42 pm
Posts: 399
Location: SE QLD
Here's the breed profile of the Dorking. Please feel free to add or debate any points :)

History
The Dorking is arguably one of our oldest breeds of domestic chicken. Columella, a Roman historian writing at Caesar's time, describes a heavy-bodied five toed fowl seen in Britain. Dorkings were certainly well known as an old breed when Victorian gentlemen started to write of poultry in the 1800's, with many writers noting their utility qualities for both eggs and meat. Along with the Sussex, they were central to the trade in fattened capons supplied to the London market in the late 1800's to early 1900's, and were renowned for their fine white flesh and excellent eating qualities.
Dorkings were one of the original utility fowl taken with settlers to America, becoming one of the most common farm birds in the 1800's. They were also exported to Australia and became known as an excellent table bird in the colony.Their qualities have been utilised in the development many other breeds, including the Lincolnshire buff, the Houdan, and the Faverolles.
With the advent of faster growing crossbred strains of laying and meat birds in the 50's and 60's, the Dorking fell into decline. It has been maintained by a few dedicated breeders, but is regarded as a critically endangered breed. Some of the standard colours have been lost in Australia, and one of the challenges facing breeders today is to redevelop these colours without losing sight of the original dual purpose utility characteristics of the breed.

General characteristics
The illustrations of Weir and Harrison from over 100 years ago are good examples of what these fowls should look like
Image
Image
Dorkings are a heavy breed utility fowl, and their characteristics reflect this purpose.The character is quiet and stately, Dorkings should not be flighty or prone to panic and aggression. They should be large, with a long, deep body, looking rather rectangular when viewed from the side. Breast should be full and carried well forwards. The white legs are short and strong, with five toes, the fifth seperate from and above the normal hind toe, pointing upwards. The Australian Standard calls for mature hens to weigh 3.6-4.55 kg, while roosters should weigh 4.55-6.35kg. Lack of size is one of the issues faced by Dorking breeders in Australia today, with very few fowls reaching the standard weights.
Dorkings are quite hardy birds, and enjoy free range foraging. They lay a moderate number of medium to large sized white to tinted eggs. Dorkings breed well, generally fertility is good and, as long as their nutritional needs are met, egg hatch rates are high. Hens make good broodies and are natural mothers. Silver Grey, Red and Dark chicks can easily be sexed by around 2-3 weeks as their juvenile feathers come through, with the males showing a black breast and females showing salmon/chestnut breast feathering. They are one of the slower growing breeds; while pullets may come into lay as early as five months, they may not attain their full adult size until 18 months to two years old.
Bantams follow the same type and colour definitions as the Large birds, but their adult weights for hens and roosters are 1.020-1.255kg and 1.190-1.415kg respectively

Colours
Silver Grey
Image
Image
The Silver Grey is the colour most often seen in Australia. Males are striking birds with a rich black chest and body with clear silvery white hackles, shoulders and wing triangle. The black tail and flight feathers carry a deep green gloss. Females are predominantly a beautiful ash grey, the feathers delicately pencilled with a darker grey. The hackles are silver with a black central stripe, the breast a salmon to chestnut red. The Silver Grey carries a moderately large single comb.

Red
Image
Image
The Red Dorking is rarely seen in Australia, but persists in a few small flocks. The male again has a black chest, belly and tail, but has bright glossy red hackles and saddle, and deep red shoulders and wing triangle. Females are a rich mahogany red, their hackles gold striped with black. The Red is single combed.

Dark (known as Coloured in USA)
Image
Photo courtesy of Tony Jones
The Dark Dorking has not been seen in Australia for some years. The male's hackles are white to straw coloured, the back white with black, grey or red markings. Underparts are again black. The female has white or straw coloured hackles, a red breast, and dark brown body feathers. The Dark can carry either a rose or single comb. This variety is known as the Coloured in the USA.

White
Image
The White Dorking, being redeveloped in Australia, is a clean snow white all over the body, any straw tinge is considered a fault. The White has a rose comb.

Cuckoo
Image
Photo thanks to Chris d'Orgeix and Feathersite
The Cuckoo is also being redeveloped. It has dark grey or blue bands on the feathers over the entire body, and a rose comb.

There is also historical evidence for many other colours, such as Wheaten, Speckled (known as Spangled in the US), Black and Clay. These colours and others are sometimes seen in the UK and USA.

Image
Speckled pullets, photo courtesy of Lydia Cassilly and the USA Dorking Breeders Group

Image
Crele Rosecomb, photo thanks again th Chris d'Orgeix and Feathersite.

Common Faults
The most common fault in Australia is a lack of size and type. Many breeds have been proposed to outcross to to try to regain some substance, these birds must be chosen with caution to avoid any further deterioration in Australian Dorking genetics. Rigorous selection within the breed will yield results over time.
Red flecking and shading in the wing and shoulder of the Silver Grey is often seen, this is a result of autosomal red required to deepen the salmon breast of the hen. The breeder must select pairs carefully to attain a balance between clear shoulders/wings of the male and the richness of the salmon breast feathering of the female.
Black striping in the hackle of the Silver Grey male is a common fault and should be selected against
The fifth toe should be seperate from the others and pointing upwards. Again, selection is the key. Complete absence of the toe is a serious fault.
White earlobes are a fault, although some judges will tolerate some degree of white colouration.
Some strains have been known to be aggressive and highly strung. These birds should never be bred from.

In summary
The Dorking is a magnificent bird and a pleasure to keep. Breeding these fowls is a real challenge, but can be very rewarding. They truly are a heritage breed worthy of the efforts to maintain them.
A breeders' network has recently been formed to promote the breed and bring interested people together. Already we have members in all states of Australia, and we hope in time the group will grow and evolve into a club with strong support. Please visit http://australiandorkings.webnode.com/

References and links
Feathersite http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGD/Dorks/BRKDorks.html
USA Dorking Breeders' Club http://dorkingbreedersclub.webs.com/
Dorking Breeders' Group of Australasia http://australiandorkings.webnode.com/
"Dorking Poultry, Fowls and Chickens" by Jan Irving http://erinrac.com/poultry/dorkingbook.htm
Tony Jones on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/flambard/

_________________
Dorking Breeders' Group of Australasia http://www.australiandorkings.com


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:02 pm 
Offline
Prime Pekin
Prime Pekin
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:46 pm
Posts: 3318
Hi Anna,

who said children slow you down? Well done a very interesting and informing profile, i hope it bring the resurgence the breed requires.

cheers

Christian

_________________
Interested in Plymouth Rocks, Breeder of Light Barred Standard


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:39 pm 
Offline
Gallant Game
Gallant Game
User avatar

Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 3:01 pm
Posts: 553
Location: Humpty Doo NT
Thanks for that Anna
Very interesting and great photos.
I have four eggs in my incubator hoping they will all hatch but still looking for more.

_________________
Cheers Rum Pig

It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:14 pm 
Offline
Wyandotte Warrior
Wyandotte Warrior
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2007 12:40 pm
Posts: 3935
Excellent article Anna, Well done!

I would love to see this breed return to it's former glory. I feel the priority must be to bring the silver grey back to the size and type that makes the breed unique before working on other colours. The rush to breed other colours has , unfortunately been the downfall of faverolles in Oz. We now have a situation in Oz where there is a swag of Fav colours but how many get anywhere near the size and type required? Very few, I'm afraid.

I wish you well.

_________________
denisL


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:38 pm 
Offline
Junior Champion Bird
Junior Champion Bird

Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:02 pm
Posts: 741
Location: Canungra QLD
Hi
Can I ask a question?
How come is it that some types are rosecomb and others single comb if they are all Dorking?




Cass

_________________
Breeder of Blue laced gold Wyandottes and Silver laced Wyandottes, in standard size.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:50 pm 
Offline
Great Game
Great Game

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 11:57 am
Posts: 1267
Location: Hamilton Vic
Cass

Several breeds have both rose and single comb types standardised (eg Rhode Island, Leghorn, Ancona to name a few).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:58 pm 
Offline
Junior Champion Bird
Junior Champion Bird

Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:02 pm
Posts: 741
Location: Canungra QLD
Thanks for that, I never realised there is such variation within standards :o .

_________________
Breeder of Blue laced gold Wyandottes and Silver laced Wyandottes, in standard size.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:30 pm 
Offline
Gallant Game
Gallant Game
User avatar

Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:30 pm
Posts: 551
Location: Gundaroo
Thanks Anna, my first Dorkings should hopefully hatch in a weeks time :biggrin:

_________________
White Leghorns, Barnevelders, Shire Horses & Dexter Cattle
A forum for all aspects of farming, gardening and sustainable living.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:28 am 
Offline
Proud Rooster
Proud Rooster
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 9:42 pm
Posts: 399
Location: SE QLD
Thanks all, they're a great breed and I think well worth the effort. Another pic of the dorking in the habitat it has been developed for:

Image

This was a six month old cockerel. He dressed out at just over 2kg from memory. The indian crosses are chunkier, but the purebred seems to have more flavour.

_________________
Dorking Breeders' Group of Australasia http://www.australiandorkings.com


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:20 pm 
Offline
Champion Bird
Champion Bird
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:27 pm
Posts: 793
Great article Anna what a great day it will be to see the Dorking in its former glory on the show bench. Yes I agree with you Denis concentrait on getting the silver grey right first otherwise you will only end up with only heaps of crossbreds.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:29 pm 
Offline
Proud Rooster
Proud Rooster

Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:34 am
Posts: 326
Why was My comment on Dorkins deleeted ????

For the second time, the Roman origin of the Dorkins is a Victorian myth. The oldest five toed chicken remains ever found in the UK is dated by archaeology to as late as 1520. This is about the same time that the first Asiatic types were been brought back to the UK by explorers.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:06 am 
Offline
Prime Pekin
Prime Pekin
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:46 pm
Posts: 3318
Hi TM,

Anna has provided references for her breed profile, you came in and speculate with no references and hearsay, also the tone of you comment was aggressive.

Cheers

Chrsitian

_________________
Interested in Plymouth Rocks, Breeder of Light Barred Standard


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:09 am 
Offline
Site Administrator
Site Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 8:44 am
Posts: 31506
Location: Morayfield, SEQ
If making a statement it may enhance your credibility if you give your reference.

I'm not an historian and none of the references I have here give a definite answer, rather an opinion:

Verhoef & Rijs (2008) "How the dorking arise is hard to say. Still, it is certain that this is a very ancient English breed. As early as Roman times, there were descriptions of chickens closely resembling Dorkings. It is remarkable that despite all of the giant breeds originating in Asia, there is no real evidence that the Dorkings - which with their weight of 4 to 5kg (9-11 lbs) certainly fall into this category - have Asiatic blood. Being a giant among poultry, this breed was already recognized at the beginning of the nineteenth century, finding its way to other countries a couple of decades later.

Lewis (2010) Dorkings were thought to have been brought to England by the Romans; there is a description of a hen with five toes by a Roman farmer and agricultural historian, Calumella. (I suspect this is a less reputable reference)

Hams (2004) "Old Poultry Breeds" The Dorking is held by some to be the breed of fowl the Romans found when they conquered Britain, but a reading of Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis suggests that those fowl were nearer in type to the Old English Game. It seems likely, however, that the post-conquest settlers brought with them a bird similar to the Dorking. In his work De Re Rustica ('on rural matters'), the first-century Roman author Columella described a breed of fowl very like the now nearly extinct Old Red Dorking - almost identical to it in colouring. His description that 'the breeding hens be of robust body, square-framed and broad-breasted, large-headed with small erect bright red comb' confirms the standard of the modern Dorking. The five toes he specified remain an essential characteristic.

Stevens (1991) Genetics & Evolution of the Domestic Fowl:
The early nineteenth century saw an influx of Asiatic breeds such as Cochins, Brahmas, Langshams, Silkies and Aseels brought in by the sea routes. There is evidence that a few breeds were in existence before the nineteenth century. The Dorking, or at least its ancestor, is believed to have been in Britain in Roman times. It has a fairly distinguishing feature in having five toes on each foot.

edit: I see Christian thinks like I do with regard to references. :thumbs:

_________________
image
Backyard Poultry Forum


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:07 am 
Offline
Proud Rooster
Proud Rooster
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 9:42 pm
Posts: 399
Location: SE QLD
Terrier Man, you make a valid point. Hard archeological evidence from Roman times of a fifth toe on a chicken's foot would be quite hard to find, I think. I would love to know the details of the archeology from 1520 you describe, were the 5 toed remains found in the south of the country?
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=qcN ... wl&f=false
This is an English translation, printed in 1745, Of Columella's "De re Rustica". If you scroll through the text (go down to page 342), you will find reference to "let them be of a right good colour, of a strong body, square, large breasted....they are reckoned the most generous which have five toes". This is the statement that all the historical claims about the Dorking are based, and yes, maybe it is a stretch to claim the bird described here is the Dorking as we know it today, but I'd have to take a stab at it being prominent in the modern Dorking's ancestry.

_________________
Dorking Breeders' Group of Australasia http://www.australiandorkings.com


Last edited by Anna on Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:06 am 
Offline
Clever Cockerel
Clever Cockerel
User avatar

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:35 am
Posts: 1677
Location: Cambewarra
Hi Anna

Thanks for such a great post. I have two Dorkings who are just wonderful birds. ( they are my husbands favorites ). At some stage I would love to breed them but at the moment I am concentrating on other breeds.

I have crossed them this year with my Barnie Rooster and all have come out with 5 toes. I am looking foward to seeing what they grow up to look like.

Here are a few pics of my girls Louise and Penelope. They are about 15 or 16 months old and lay nearly everyday.


Image

Image

Image

Image

_________________
Double Lace Gold and Blue Laced Barnevelders, Large BLS. Gold. BLG and SL Wyandottes, Pekins in many colours, 3 Rabbit, 2 Horses, a cat, fish, a Llama, a Alpaca, a Kelpie, a Maremma and a patient husband
http://shoalhavenpoultry.com.au/


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 31 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC + 10 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 19 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
©2004-2014 Backyardpoultry.com. Content rights reserved
freestone