POULTRY NOTES. (By a Fancier.) DORKINGS, The Dorking is undoubtedly a thorough English breed, having attained a high standard of perfection as a table fowl long before the poultry fancy had been heard or though of, and in my opinion it is still the best table bird, notwithstanding the improvement of some varieties, and the introduction of others which exceed the Dorking in weight but lack the quality. To trace the origin of the Dorking seems a very difficult task. In the palmy days of the Roman epicures. Columella gives his ideas of the “ points,” which should be a guide in selecting poultry, “ square frame, large and broad chest, large head, and above all, the five claws'* This description proves that the Dorking, or something essentially the same, was known to the Roman gourmands many centuries ago, that the breed mentioned by Columella was introduced into England by the Romans, and the Dorkings of the present day are the descendants of those birds will scarcely admit of a doubt. It is now fully thirty years since I first took an interest in the breeding and exhibiting of Dorkings. In those days the leading varieties were grey, silver-grey, and white, the majority being rose combed birds, and I may here observe that the white always bred true to the rose comb, whereas the greys produced rose and single combs. The above varieties have had to give way to what is now known as the “ Colored Dorking,” a larger and darker fowl, for which we are indebted to Mr John Douglas, who says, ‘5 Dorkings in 1857 were considered a good show weight, if the cocks attained nine pounds and a half, and the hens seven and a half. The hens were then either of a grey or brown ruddy color ; and the cocks always showed a great deal of white in the tail, with breasts inclined to be speckled with various colors, not any standard color, as shown at the present dav”
The first and only time I made a cross was with a dark grey cock, which had come from India, weighing thirteen pounds. This bird was a model singlecombed Dorking, in all but the fifth toe, which was absent. Some of the pullets from this cross at seven months old weighed nine pounds, and cockerels ten pounds and a half; while at eighteen months several heris reached ten pounds and upwards; cocks coming up to thirteen pounds ; and one bird in particular, when two years and six months old, weighed as much as fourteen pounds and a half, which was the heaviest weight I ever obtained in the Dorking fowl.
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