Pipd's Peeps: The Dorkings

All about my wonderful, sweet, beloved Dorkings!
  1. pipdzipdnreadytogo
    Pipd’s Peeps:
    The Dorkings

    cover pic.jpg

    In the spring of 2013, I eagerly awaited my annual chick order. This was the year that I decided to try out various white egg laying breeds and decide which was a good fit, personality-wise, for my flock. I wanted white eggs for the variety in my egg basket, but also so that my niece and nephew could have white eggs from my flock to dye on Easter rather than getting those insipid store-bought white eggs. I had ordered a Campine, a Lakenvelder, a Fayoumi, an Ancona, a couple varieties of Leghorn, and my very first Silver Gray Dorking, the breed I was most looking forward to raising. On the way to pick them up, however, tragedy struck—I got the call from the hatchery that the Dorkings hadn’t hatched well, and there weren’t enough for my order.

    By 2014, I had raised the remaining white egg laying breeds and had mostly resigned myself to having crazy, flighty birds in my flock if I wanted those white eggs. But I had desperately wanted a Dorking, in love with their beautiful feather pattern and the idea of a docile white egg layer, and so I gave it another go, this time ordering two. The trip to pick them (and their broodmates of other breeds) up was a long one, with the nagging fear that history would repeat itself and I would again be Dorking-less. We soon arrived at Meyer Hatchery, and there, waiting in their little box with the air holes punched out, were my Dorkings—four of them. Somehow, my order had been doubled.

    If I had known then what I do now, I would have taken all four of those babies happily. However, I didn’t want to push the number of birds I could fit in my coop at the time, and so rather than accepting those extra two Dorking pullets, I declined, taking just the two I had ordered. This is possibly the biggest regret of my chickening life! We arrived home with those two precious Dorking pullets and the few other chicks I had ordered along with them, and it didn’t take long at all before I was head over heels for Dorkings.

    Elda and Kit babies.jpg
    Kit and Elda, my first two Dorkings

    What do I love about Dorkings? I love that they’re big into cuddling! I love that they make me laugh every day with their quirky vocalizations and random antics. I love that they are absolutely gorgeous! I love that they’re so calm and laid back about pretty much anything. I love that they always know when I need to be cheered up with some hugs. And, of course, I love that I can collect white eggs from my flock without having to keep buying crazy birds! Hands down, after more than a dozen years of chickening and having raised many, many other breeds, Dorkings are my favorite!


    Elda is the bird that started it all. She and her sister, Kit, were my first two Dorkings. Elda was always the cuddlier of the two of them, though Kit spent plenty of her own time getting pampered and hugged. Elda has always been a solid bird, and is referred to as my primary therapist in the flock. She has time and time again proven that she knows when I need her. Regardless of what she is doing at the time, if I’m the least bit upset about anything when I enter the chicken yard, she will hurry over to let me hold and hug her.

    Elda pics.jpg
    Elda, waiting at my feet for me to pick her up, and enjoying some cuddles.

    Elda is a very laid back bird and doesn’t seem to be overly fond of any type of food or really anything in particular other than cuddles. Over the years, there is just one thing I have seen Elly express complete dislike of, however, and that’s my call duck, Crash. When Elda was ill in the fall of 2015, she and Crash were roommates, and Elda hated every moment of it! To this day, she gives Crash dirty looks whenever she’s around.

    Crash versus Elda.jpg
    A staredown: Elda versus Crash

    Sadly, it was during that winter that we lost Elly’s sister Kit, to a hawk, the first daytime predator I had ever lost a bird to. Kit and Elda were very close, even in the end, and Elly’s never been as close to any other bird in my flock since.

    Elda and Kit.jpg
    Elda (sitting) and Kit during their first winter.

    A summary of Elda:
    Hatch Date: May 18, 2014
    Origin: Meyer Hatchery in Polk Ohio
    Variety: Silver Gray
    Personality: Sweet and cuddly, of course!
    Likes / Dislikes: She likes cuddles, and dislikes Call Ducks
    Eggs: White and pretty round

    Callette and Lydda

    The year after losing my Kit-Kit to a hawk, I decided I needed more Dorkings. I didn’t just want them, I needed them. Since I adored these birds so, I decided to get a trio to attempt hatching some at home. In the spring of 2016, I brought home my three new Dorking babies: the girls Callette and Lydda, and a young cockerel named Don. Donnie was a sweet little guy, not too pushy and shaping up to be a decent flock rooster, but another chick of a different breed had been missexed, and that young cockerel was a bully. One hot summer day, having been bullied away from the water source in the chick pen, Donnie succumbed to the heat and sadly, I was unable to revive him.

    Callette and Don.jpg
    Callette and Donnie

    Callette and Lydda lived on, however, and they fully lived up to my expectations for Dorkings. Of course, they distinguish themselves in personality from Elda; Callette is bold and curious, while Lydda is quirky and reserved. Callette is often flying up to new heights to poke around. She acts as if she wants to lay an egg in an exciting new location, but when it comes down to it, she always hurries right back to the coop to lay after all! I’ve found her everywhere from the wood pile to under the empty feed bags, and even on top of the AC condenser!

    Callette on ac condenser.jpg

    Lydda, meanwhile, could be described as… hungry. Okay, she’s not an overeater, but many of the times I catch her on camera, she’s eating something!

    Lydda choices.jpg

    Lydda is a bit more reserved than the other Dorkings, but that doesn’t mean she’s not just as cuddly. She’d just prefer to hang back until the other birds have cleared away. She’s never been the bold type, and she’s a bit jumpy about squatting for me even when I’m just walking by. Lydda is always muttering in her funny little voice, while the other Dorks tend to say it loud and proud! Of course, if Lydda has an egg to lay, all bets on volume are off!


    A summary of Callette and Lydda:
    Hatch Date: May 16, 2016
    Origin: Meyer Hatchery in Polk, Ohio
    Variety: Silver Gray
    Personality: Callette is bold and curious; Lydda is quiet, but quirky
    Likes / Dislikes: I’m not sure they have dislikes! But Callette loves poking around in new places, and Lydda loves food.
    Eggs: White; both are more traditionally egg-shaped than Elda’s, but quite similar to one another’s, though Lydda’s tend to be larger

    The Sand Hill Dorkings

    Since falling in love with the breed, one variety of Dorking has always stood out to me as something I want to see walking around my yard, and that is the Colored Dorking. In 2016, I decided to finally send an order into Sand Hill Preservation Center, including Colored Dorkings and Red Dorkings, for 2017. Like my first experience with Dorkings, unfortunately, those Colored Dorkings just weren’t laying early in 2017. Instead, I was sent a refund for them, and Dark Gray Dorkings to fill out the order along with my Red Dorkings.

    Dark Dorkings.jpg
    The Dark Gray Dorkings when they arrived. Tessa and Echo are the two with eyeliner.

    To be honest, the Dark Grays are not my favorite. They are visually beautiful birds, but they are lacking basically everything about Dorkings that I love. They’re smaller than my Silver Grays and differ in body structure. Rather than round, deep-bodied birds, they are trimmer in appearance, though quite heavy for their size. Worse yet is their personality, shy and skitterish with no intention at all to be around humans. Still, they are pretty birds and make for nice yard candy. From a distance, of course!

    Tessa and Echo.jpg
    Tessa and Echo. They made telling them apart easy with their combs; Tessa's falls to the right,
    while Echo's falls to the left.

    A summary of Echo and Tessa:
    Hatch Date: April 3, 2017 (estimated)
    Origin: Sand Hill Preservation Center, Calamus, Iowa
    Variety: Dark Gray
    Personality: Distant and skittery, particularly Echo
    Likes / Dislikes: They definitely dislike people…
    Eggs: White, with just a slight tint to them that makes their eggs distinguishable from the other Dorkings’

    The Red Dorkings, on the other hand, are lovely, big birds with the sweet personalities I had come to expect from my Dorks. Unfortunately, of the six I ordered, only one was a pullet, my sweet Perdita. And, even more unfortunate was that she had been trampled by her broodmates during shipping and this had injured her leg, an injury that never resolved itself. Perdita gets around fairly well, hopping on her good leg or limping with her bad one, but she’s quite fond of being held so she can rest that bad leg and relax for a bit.

    Perdita then and now.jpg
    Perdita, as a baby and now.

    Out of the many roosters, I kept only two. Dante didn’t feather in the appropriate coloration, but is otherwise healthy, calm, and gentle. Darwin, on the other hand, is colored correctly and perhaps a bit full of himself compared to Dante, but also fairly calm, if a bit excitable. Darwin also isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, having proven this on numerous occasions of flying into things or tripping over his own feet. What can I say, he got his name for a reason!

    Darwin and Dante.jpg
    Darwin (on the left) and Dante

    A summary of Perdita:
    Hatch Date: April 3, 2017 (estimated)
    Origin: Sand Hill Preservation Center, Calamus, Iowa
    Variety: Red
    Personality: Quiet, but sweet
    Likes / Dislikes: She loves being held!
    Eggs: White, and the smallest of all my Dorking hens’ eggs

    A summary of Darwin and Dante:
    Hatch Date: April 3, 2017 (estimated)
    Origin: Sand Hill Preservation Center, Calamus, Iowa
    Variety: Red
    Personality: Dante is calm and quiet; Darwin is a bit of a show off, but also quite calm
    Likes / Dislikes: Darwin looooves crowing, because he’s so impressive when he does, right? Dante likes quiet walks with the ladies along the fence row.

    Myrna and Kita

    Myrna and Kita (who was named after her late sister, Kit) are the youngest additions to the Dorking squad, a moment-of-weakness addition to a moment-of-weakness chick order from Meyer Hatchery. In the late spring of 2018, I had had a poor hatch with my own bantam Cochins and was afraid that all three were cockerels. I decided to get a few more Cochin bantams to brood with them with the hopes of acquiring at least one or two pullets. Since Meyer doesn’t sex their bantams, and I was expecting only to get that one or two pullets out of the lot of them, I figured I may as well get some guaranteed pullets as well. A few weeks later and it became evident that I had gotten a lot more pullets than expected—7 total in the brood, when I expected only 3 or 4 at the most including the two Dorkings!

    Dorking Cochin group pic.jpg
    Kita and Myrna, along with their Cochin broodmates Sylvie, Bryony, Roxy, and Vira,
    perched on a fallen branch.

    Still, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to get more Dorkings, and Myrna and Kita certainly don’t disappoint. They’re young still, but so far Kita seems bold and adventurous like Callette, while Myrna is more the quiet and reserved type, ironically a rather lot like Kit-Kit was. Both love their cuddles, though, and are happy for lap time if they can get to me before the rest of the Dorkings do!

    Myrna and Kita.jpg
    Myrna and Kita enjoying some cuddles before going outside to play.

    A summary of Myrna and Kita:
    Hatch Date: May 21, 2018
    Origin: Meyer Hatchery in Polk, Ohio
    Variety: Silver Gray
    Personality: Myrna is quiet and reserved, while Kita is bold and adventurous
    Likes / Dislikes: None are evident so far, other than they definitely don’t like being around the Marans pullets that were added to the flock a few months before them!
    Eggs: To be determined!


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Recent User Reviews

  1. path.otto
    "Another chicken to admire!"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 19, 2018
    Although I'll probably never have more than the 9 chickens I started out with; I see so many breeds that I would love to have! I've never heard of a Dorking so thanks for the fun article describing your acquisition of them over the years and their great personalities!
  2. jchny2000
    "Love your take on dorkings!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 19, 2018
    Your pictures are awesome as always, thank you!
  3. N F C
    "Enjoyable Read"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 18, 2018
    Fun to read and great pictures!


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  1. Phaedra Winters
    Amazing article! Are you considering getting some colored dorkings anytime soon? I have heard good things about them too
      pipdzipdnreadytogo likes this.
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    2. Phaedra Winters
      You are a lifesaver! Thank you so much! And yeah, as beautiful as the silver grays are, I wasn't planning on getting any from them since they have two different strains and I have a Silver Phoenix hen- which is the exact same coloring as the greys; I like to have a variety of color in my flock... somehow I ended up with 70 chickens. But on a 50 acre farm that's not bad. I also am debating between their single and rose comb dorkings; have you had any experience with rose combs? I don't think you have based on the article but figured I should ask just in case.
    3. pipdzipdnreadytogo
      No problem! :) I understand wanting a variety! I did have just one rooster with a rose comb. They aren't like other rose comb breeds where the comb is smallish and close to the head. My rooster's comb was HUGE (this is a younger picture of him; his comb was even larger than this by the time he hit a year old https://www.backyardchickens.com/attachments/theodore-close-up-jpg.1198913/)! Anyway, if you have particularly harsh winters where you live, the rose comb varieties may fare a little better against frostbite, but they can and do get frostbite as well just because of how huge they can get. Otherwise, there's no real difference between the rose comb and single comb varieties, at least not that I've experienced or heard of.
      Phaedra Winters likes this.
    4. Phaedra Winters
      My goodness! That is certainly a huge comb he has. For sure gorgeous though. I'm thinking with our winters I will definitely go with the colored rose comb dorking. They'll be a beautiful addition to our farm. Thanks for all the advice with dorkings!
  2. Biddybot
    Very enjoyable read! Love the personal touch, just the detailing of the individual bird's personalities. It gives one a far better understanding of and appreciation for Dorkings rather than a general discussion of the breed's temperament. Just may look into these when my current brown egg layer flock dies off...

    By the way, do you know the Dorking poem? A bit of old English doggerel, I think...not sure where it comes from, exactly... Just in case you've never come across it, it goes something like:

    A white grub is a horrid thing
    Uncovered when you rake
    But to my Coloured Dorking
    It beats a sirloin steak

    Thanks again for a good article!
      pipdzipdnreadytogo likes this.
    1. pipdzipdnreadytogo
      I hadn't come across that before. I love it! Thanks for sharing! :)

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