Dong Tao chicken: Everything you need to know

The Dong Tao also commonly referred to as the Dragon chicken is one of the most unique varieties of chicken I know and I have ever heard of.

Have you ever seen chickens with giant huge legs that can weigh as much as 1kg? Then that is why you need to go through this article to know more.

In this article, I am going to share with you some helpful information that gets into detail about the Dong Tao chicken breed.

Let’s roll and help separate facts from fiction.

History of the Dong Tao chicken

This rare Vietnamese chicken breed traces its origin in the village of Dong Tao, Khoai Chau District near the capital Hanoi in Vietnam.

It is one of the oldest known heritage chicken breed that has been domesticated to date. The people of Dong Tao named this giant chicken dragon after their village to demonstrate the love they had for it.

This giant chicken breed was raised as a dual purpose where it could offer much meat and lay a good number of eggs that could meet their demand.

Some chicken enthusiasts raised Dong Tao roosters for cock fighting and showing where they could earn a token after their birds won the competition.

The huge feet with these chickens provide maximum stability and power when fending off other roosters in chicken fighting competitions.

These chickens were also valued as a unique delicacy with their meat being used to prepare different types of Vietnamese cuisines that could sell at high prices.

Chicken Dong Tao were sometimes back bred exclusively to be served to the royal family and the mandarins.

Features of the Dong Tao chicken

Dong Tao chickens are very unique and different from many other known chicken breeds. These chooks are huge and have thick dragon legs which have the same thickness as the human wrist.

This huge chicken is heavy and mature late at 8 to 12 months than other chickens that reach sexual or market weight at 22 to 24 weeks.

These birds have a small rose comb, large wattles and earlobes. They are different because they have a long dewlap that sags loose on the neck.

The comb, wattles, dewlap and earlobes are deep red in color.

The beak is short, strong and of a cone shape and of a yellow or horn color. Eye color is mostly bay but this may vary between individual birds.

They have big legs that are red and featherless. On each dragon chicken foot, there are four thick toes that are well spaced.

Their knees are awkward as they don’t pop out but instead cave in giving them a funny posture and an awkward walking style.

The body is held high on the long feet making these chooks tall with a heavy body that has thick muscles covered in feathers.

According to sources, Dong Tao hens are white while the roosters have some colorful feathers. Because these birds are highly sourced more than the supply, they are very expensive to buy.

Temperament and Hardiness

Dong Tao chicken can intimidate you and scare you easily because of their huge body size. However, this is very different because they are very calm, friendly and qualify to be raised as pets.

Just like Serama chickens are, these birds pose no threat to your children because they cause no harm being around them.

Dong Tao chicken will give you company and follow you around as you go on with your daily chores. They will appreciate it much if you hold them on your lap to cuddle.

These birds will come to you running if you call them sweet chicken names and toss tasty treats like peanut, mango or raisins.

Dong Tao chicken breed is strong, robust and hardy doing well even when the temperatures plummet or drop below freezing.

Their rose combs are not susceptible to frost bites and their thick dragon feet will be fine in the snow. The thick body muscles are covered in fat that acts as insulation against cold helping to them warm.

Dong Tao chicken eggs and uses

Dong Tao chickens are a good dual purpose breed. They are heavy and have thick muscles offering much meat enough for the market.

A mature rooster weighs 6kg while a hen can offer 4.5 kg of carcass. Dong Tao chicken meat is dark when cooked than the normal chicken meat but not as dark as that of a Silkie rooster or Ayam Cemani chicken meat is.

In addition to this, these chickens will consume your feeds for long because they mature late. A Dong Tao chick takes between 8 to 12 months to lay her first eggs or be ready for slaughter.

Although Dong Tao chickens are good for meat and raised as a dual purpose chicken breed, they offer very few eggs.

In a year, hens lay 60 to 80 large creamy white eggs. These eggs are very delicate because the hens easily crush them with their large feet.

Broodiness and Free range

Dong Tao hens are very broody and this desire is expressed after they lay a clutch of 10-15 eggs. They make good mothers and will take good care of their brood.

However, they will not be given the opportunity to hatch the eggs because they will crush them all with their huge feet even before they become chicks.

In this case, most farmers who raise them often rely on egg incubators to hatch the eggs and later raise the chicks without the help of the mother hen.

Chicks for sale can be found from a few dedicated breeders but expect them to be pricy because they are very rare.

Breeding these birds takes a little bit longer because mature Dong Tao pullets and roosters reach sexual maturity at the age of 8-12 months.

They will be fine if you let them range because they are known to love crickets and other tasty insects. However, raising them in confinement and in mixed flocks they will equally do well.

I am not sure whether the roosters are predator savvy but caution is important when they are out ranging because of predators like hawks and possums.

Lifespan of Dong Tao chickens

These chickens are members of the jungle fowl family who have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years. They may live longer than the specified time depending on the care they receive.

Dong Tao roosters may not live for long if they are meant for meat. However, those raised for showing, cock fighting and as pets may live until they succumb to old age.

Hens will live until they are not able to lay as expected when they are culled and their fate will end up on the plate as a pricy meal.

Female Dong Tao chickens are likely to suffer from egg binding and cancer which may reduce the number of years they will live.

Health Issues

Dong Tao chicken is a healthy and robust bird that can do well in a cold climate. This chicken is strong and resistant to common poultry diseases.

Because Dong Tao chickens are known to do well in cold climate, they are very sensitive to temperature changes.

When it is hot, these birds are likely to suffer from heat stress and will require enough shaded areas to shelter from direct sun.

They will also drink a lot of water to keep their bodies cool and well hydrated. During such times, ensure they have multiple chicken waterers with enough clean drinking water.

Common chicken lice and mites will often attack these dragon chickens where they hide under their colorful feathers.

Using small amounts of diatomaceous earth powder in their dust bathing sand will help control these parasites.

Thread worms and gape worms in chickens is a common problem with these big chickens. Using the right dewormer or chicken wormer as recommended by a qualified bird vet will help control them.

A good and warm chicken coop with dry chicken bedding will make sure these birds live comfortably, are secure and safe.

Why is Dong Tao the right breed for you?

If you do not mind digging deeper in your pocket, this expensive chicken breed is an awesome addition in your back yard.

These chooks have weird looking feet and those that have a phobia for reptiles will not dare touch them. They are heavy and will provide enough amount of meat for a big family or market.

They are calm, cool, friendly and are the kind you will raise as pets. These chickens are not noisy and qualify to live in an urban setting.

Dong Tao chicken breed will utilize those kitchen scraps like left over celery chops and black berries that would have ended in the compost.

Raising these chickens will keep your vegetable garden enriched with their nitrogen rich manure and also help you control those slugs and worms that destroy your crops.

Final Thoughts

Dong Tao chicken is a rare bird that is common in Vietnam where they trace their origin. Although they have been exported to other world parts, their numbers are still very low making the price of the eggs and chicks remain high.

With dedicated breeding, the numbers of these dragon chickens can rise to substantive numbers that will help lower the prices down.

What do you know about Dong Tao chicken? Share your thoughts on the comment section.

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