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The Dorking is possibly the oldest recorded lineage of any pure breed poultry. This hen is thought to be the original ‘British’ breed, at one time the most popular chicken kept in England. This old five-toed breed has known many names in its long history and takes its present name, Dorking, from a market town in the south of England.

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Columella, a Roman writer, detailed the Dorking chicken at the time of the invasion and conquest of the Britons by Julius Caesar in 55 BC.  He wrote of large, broad-breasted hens that were square framed with large heads, small upright combs and five clawed toes.  (very few modern chickens have five toes; most such as the Faverolle have been bred from the Dorking. Chinese Silkies are the other distinct pure breed with this characteristic).

The Romans brought the Dorking from the Kentish coast to all parts of Britain, and then introduced it to Italy and Gaul.  The first significant poultry show in the world was held in the grounds of London Zoo in 1845, and Dorkings were featured here.  
Pure bred Dorking are hardy birds even at very low winter temperatures and produce excellent table birds with a large breast and, despite its large size, is very lightly boned. Dorkings were used to create the Light Sussex and Faverolle as well as other modern meat breeds. 

As an egg layer, this hen is consistent in the first few years but will go broody if allowed, making good mothers. The eggs are a good size and are white to cream in colour. These hens love to forage and range and if allowed will cover a lot of area from an early age. Surprisingly for a large breed, they can fly well.

Even today, Dorkings retain their historic character, remaining perhaps the best breed for natural production that has ever existed. When you look at Dorkings, you are looking at history!