Another example of a beautiful Heritage Breed with a great temperament is the Silver Grey Dorking. Historical accounts suggest that these birds date back to 54 BC at which time they were introduced in Britain by the Romans. From that day forward, this breed has been present in England and is a bird renowned for not only its demeanor but also its delicious meat.
Silver Gray Dorkings, which are thought to be among the oldest known breeds of domestic poultry, have been categorized as an English class of bird. They are known to be good egg producers, laying 4-5 white eggs of medium size per week, but they may or may not sit on those eggs. Some owners say they will not while others claim they will and make excellent mothers, so expect varying motherly tendencies between birds.
Photo: Ross Farm
As far as appearance goes, these medium sized birds have white skin covered in gray feathers of different shades in the case of hens while roosters appear to have more of a black and white coloration. Atop their heads is a single comb with 6 points that flops to the side on hens. Their bodies are long but sturdy, making them an excellent choice as a meat bird, for which they are prized. Legs are clean (no feathers) and short with five toes are present on each foot although the fifth toe should not touch the ground. In addition to Silver Grey, other colors of Dorking to exist, such as White, Red, and Cuckoo, which possess a rose comb.
Photo: Alberta Chickens Etc.
Photo: Alberta Chickens Etc.
The main reason for which these birds were utilized is for meat. Although they make a good dual purpose bird, their meat is known for its exquisite taste, at times having been referred to as gourmet. As far as taste goes, they are amongst the most favored of all Heritage Breeds. There is a drawback to the excellent taste, however, which is the slow growth rate. They take approximately 19 weeks to mature, at which point males typically weigh close to 9lbs and females weigh 7bs. Silver Grey Dorkings are not big eaters and are thus not big growers. Most of their feeding needs can be met through free ranging, which is a something the breed seems to enjoy, and they are both heat and cold hardy enough to do so during much of the year.
Photo: St. Andrews
Another quality the Silver Grey Dorking offers is a wonderful temperament. Owners far and wide speak highly of the temperament of both hens and roosters alike. Do not let this worry you when it comes to roosters, however, as they are watchful of their flock and quick to alert others of danger. Easily tamed and mild mannered, the Silver Grey Dorking is a great breed to raise around children or even other breeds of birds as they tend to be low on the pecking order and avoid conflict. However, they can be more susceptible to injury if a fight should occur due to their short stature.
Photo: Backyard Chickens
As it currently stands, this breed is classified as threatened but they are available for sale from online outlets such as this one. This lovely breed is something it would be a shame to lose, so if you are interested in Silver Grey Dorkings, do your research in order to decide if your needs are compatible with this breed and consider bringing one (or more) home. While for some of us a slow growing bird is a drawback, once you get a taste of the Silver Grey Dorking, you will believe without a doubt that good things come to those who wait.