A friend (in the blogosphere and hopefully that I will get to meet one day) Narf77 who blogs over at The Road to Serendipidy has asked me to post some pictures of our chickens. So, here goes. 🙂
We’ve chosen to go with silver grey Dorkings, a heritage dual purpose breed of chicken, raising them for meat and for eggs. Dorkings are one of the oldest known breeds of chicken. One of the earliest known mentions of the Dorking was by the Roman agricultural writer Columella during the reign of Julius Caesar. In his text, Rei rusticae libri, he described the breed as, “square-framed, large and broad-breasted, with big heads and small upright combs…the purest breed being five-clawed”. Pliny also described a similar bird with an odd number of toes in his Naturalis Historia. Although Caesar noted that poultry was already raised in Britain prior to his invasions in 55–54 BC, the Red Dorking is believed to have been introduced in Great Britain by the Romans at an early date where much of its development continued to take place. [Source Wikipedia]
This is a great page for photos of Dorking chickens with some fantastic pics of the silver grey Dorkings. These chickens are unusual in the sense that they have this extra toe (5 per foot), but apart from that they are pretty much the image of a classic chicken. The big chest, long drooping tail feathers on the roosters and they’re just so very roostery if you know what I mean. The girls are nice motherly looking hens and they are supposed to be good mothers too. They’re also white egg layers which I believe is unusual as it seems that depending on the colour of the earlobes, a hen will lay brown or white eggs. Dorkings have red earlobes but lay white eggs. Funky. 😛
They’ve a good reputation for tasty meat too and I am very much looking forward to tasting what chicken is supposed to taste like (as opposed to the fast growth hybrid birds we buy in the supermarkets these days that don’t have much flavour). They are a slower growing bird and a friend has assured me we will not see eggs 😦 nor hear any crowing 🙂 for 6 months which means they’re not viable for commercial growers who want fast returns for less feed. I don’t mind though. I like doing my part keeping a heritage breed and as they are considered good foraging birds and they will be free ranging too, they can eat our scraps, chase lizards and eat worms, all of which we have in abundance. Any roosters are on limited time though. Their first crow signals their final countdown (our neighbours won’t tolerate them crowing – full respect). I might be able to source some eggs if I have a broody hen and get her to hatch them for us too. How lovely will it be to watch and wait with the surrogate mumma hen and then hopefully watch the eggs hatching and then her teaching her babies how to be fine hens. I sure hope so. 🙂
And here are some pictures of our little chicks at the moment.
They are peep peep peeping all the time and come running to whichever side of the pen we walk, although they’re still a little leery of the human hand. I’m very much looking forward to having their pen ready so they have more room to run.