There are various rare breeds, such as the Dong Tao chicken breed, that are surprisingly extensive.
Backyard chickens are common sights on small homesteads and farms. It is easy to believe that they are more affordable and suited for any environment.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about the Dong Tao chicken breed. Keep reading to learn more.
Dong Tao History And Background
Dong Tao chicken is a common delicacy in several luxury restaurants. The chicken is slightly prized because of its delicious and delicate meat.
These chickens are common in Vietnam and are mainly raised for eggs, meat, and as pets too.
These chickens were once bred for their mandarins (bureaucrats) and for royalty or for ritual purposes.
The breed originally came from Dong Tao, in the Khoai Chau district, which is located about 17 miles from Hanoi and not far from Hoa Lu. The latter was the ancient royal capital of Vietnam.
Since they are large chicken breeds with scaly, thick, and dragon-like legs and feet are very rare, a male-female pair can sell for as much as $2500. It can take about eight months or more to reach maturity.
Today, Dong Tao chickens are ranked among the rarest chicken breeds globally, including countries such as the United States, Poland, Japan, and Germany. Several compulsory rituals were required during the Vietnam festivals.
The Dong Tao chickens were among the many integral parts of the rituals, especially during New Year’s family reunions.
Dong Tao Breed Standards
Dao Tao chickens are considered unique among several chicken breeds. Their legs grow as thick as the wrist of a human being.
The color of these chickens varies depending on gender. Hens usually have white feathers, while roosters have colorful feathers. Therefore, you can easily distinguish between a Dong Tao rooster and a hen.
The combination of their color does not matter a lot like their legs. Their skin color is reddish-white, and their comb is like a pea comb. Dong Tao hens lay tinted white eggs.
Dong Tao chickens usually have different phenotypes as they vary from color to color. They have pretty large bodies, and the appearance of their legs, comb, and feathers make them unique among other chicken breeds.
The breed has large legs, which are the same as dragons’ legs. They have red wattles, pea combs, and earlobes.
Personality And Temperament
Although the Dong Tao chickens appear to tear someone apart, they are good-natured birds with a calm temperament. They develop trust with humans, especially their keepers, easily and quickly.
The birds can be cold-sensitive since it usually takes time for their full plumage to grow. However, they can easily manage fine walking around in the snow once all their feathers have developed. They become sensitive when the climate changes.
They tend to have awkward knees that are bent inwards. This seems to work in their favor as it helps in balancing between their huge feet huge legs.
Generally, chickens can fly over fences as high as 5 feet or more. Most chickens usually do this in search of food and will eventually return to their coop after finding it.
Dong Tao chickens can fly, too, regardless of their weight and size. However, they can hardly fly over heights of 3 feet or more.
Dong Tao Chicken Egg Laying
Besides being good meat producers, Dong Tao chickens can also be raised to produce eggs. The hens are usually good mothers and are always attentive to their eggs.
They will sit on their brood most of the time, just like most other chicken breeds. However, they can break their eggs while sitting on the brood because of their large eggs and feet. You can use an incubator to hatch your eggs if you have one.
Dong Tao hens can lay 10 to 15 eggs for about two weeks rest for a few weeks before they start to lay eggs again. This is considered less intensive when compared to hens that are raised for commercial egg production.
Depending on the climate, such hens produce about 170 to 320 eggs in a year. On the other hand, Dong Tao hens lay about 60 eggs in a year. They can reach 70 eggs if the scientific methodology is applied.
They lay tinted white eggs. Hatching can be a problem. Breeders can sometimes help their hens lay eggs manually so that they do not crush the eggs accidentally with their large feet.
In large operations, breeders typically use incubators. You can ship Dong Tao eggs from different parts of the world to incubate.
However, you will have to be aware of the rules of restrictions that apply to every country when shipping. You can feed your hens on corn and rice to increase their egg production.
Raising Dong Tao chickens for egg production comes with several challenges, unlike raising them for meat production.
Therefore, it is uncommon to find farmers raising this breed for egg production only. The price of Dong Tao chickens hatching eggs is $50 to $55 per half dozen in the United States.
Health Issues And Care
Despite its unusual bulk nature, the Dong Tao is considered a healthy chicken breed. However, they are known for being very sensitive to changes in weather.
Once a particular climate pattern, such as snow or cold weather, settles in, they will adjust very well. They have stout but fragile legs that you will have to take care of.
The chickens are usually healthy from a young age and are not born with any hereditary health issues. However, you will have to monitor them closely and treat any common poultry diseases that may come along.
Besides, they are susceptible to various parasites such as mites and lice. You should check them for these parasites and treat them from time to time.
Feeding and Nutrition
Dong Tao chickens are fond of feeding on insects. You will occasionally find them dining on crickets which is among their favorite foods. They can be also raised in a free-range environment for up to 2 years on a diet of natural bran.
You should offer your Dong Tao chickens enough commercial poultry feed to help in their growth and increase productivity.
Their diet should mainly comprise rice bran, borne flour, fish flour, corn, and a premix of minerals and vitamins.
Benefits of Raising Dong Tao Chickens
Dong Tao chickens are widely known because of their amazing appearance. Raising these chickens comes with several benefits. Here are some of them:
A Good Chicken Breed for Meat
The birds are good sources of poultry meat. They are generally heavy and huge; thus, a single chicken can supply enough meat for several people.
In addition, most breeders and keepers of these birds have said that they have sweet and delicious meat compared to most other breeds of chicken.
They Take Less Time to Mature
Dong Tao chickens are normally good in growth. Compared to most other chicken breeds, they take less time to attain maturity.
They can grow into their full form by the time they reach 27 weeks. Some may also take 15 to 21 weeks to mature.
There Dragon Feet is a Center of Attraction
Many chickens of different breeds have tiny and thin feet. This is not the case when it comes to Dong Tao chickens.
They have huge dragon feet that can quickly attract any bird enthusiast. If you are looking for a chicken breed that will attract your kids or friends, then this is one of the best options for you.
Challenges That Come With Raising Dong Tao Chickens
Raising any chicken breed comes with various challenges at some point, and Dong Tao is not an exception. Here are some of the problems you will likely encounter when raising this breed.
They Do Not React Well To Climate Change
Dong Tao chickens do not show a good response against a change in the climate. Extreme temperature changes can lead to their death. Generally, you will find it challenging to raise your birds in different weathers.
High Cost of Raising the Breed
The cost of raising Dong Tao chickens is usually high as compared to most other chicken breeds. If you are planning to raise these chickens, you will have to be well prepared to invest huge sums of money.
Your Dong Tao chickens will need enough water, food, and decent shelter to cope with the climate.
Why Are Dong Tao Chickens Expensive
Despite the popularity, Dong Tao chickens are rare. Besides being highly susceptible to climate changes, they require more maintenance as compared to most other chicken breeds.
They are clumsier than smaller chickens because of the size of their legs. If you consider the number of eggs they lay and how delicate they are, you can see why human help is important for the successful hatching of chicks.
Dong Tao chickens are colorful and have enormous heads, feet, and legs. Although they are not good egg producers, they are considered by many as good meat producers.
They are known for their tastier meat. Since they are highly susceptible to climate changes, they will require good maintenance and care.