Onagadori: Everything You Need To Know

The Onagadori is one of the oldest chicken breeds that trace their ancestry in Japan. These long tailed chickens are very rare and you will be very lucky to come across one today.

Few dedicated breeders today have these birds mainly in Japan. Onagadori chickens require special care because of their long fancy tail feathers.

In this article, I am going to take you through everything you need to know about the Onagadori chicken.

This will help you find our whether this is one of the breeds to include in your coop. So, let’s indulge and learn more!

History of the Onagadori Chickens

The Onagadori is an Asiatic breed of chicken. It traces its ancestry in Kochi Pefecture, Shikoku Island Southern Japan.

History does not provide much information about these chickens and it not clear who was involved in the development of these long tailed chicken breeds.

However, few sources attribute that the Minohiki, Shokoku and Totenko chickens contributed their genes.

Before there were banned exports on these chickens, few birds were lucky to find themselves oversees in Britain, Germany and in the United states.

In Germany, the Onagadori were crossed with other local birds to develop the modern day German Phoenix chickens.

The year 1952, these chickens were officially recognized as a National Natural Treasure for Japan. Therefore, no export of these birds or their eggs is allowed.

These chickens are available in three recognized color varieties in Japan. The three varieties are the Black-breasted white, Black-breasted red and the White.

Onagadori chickens are not recognized by the American Poultry Association. There are very few birds of this breed in the US with dedicated bird hobbyists.

The FAO has listed them as endangered and are almost extinct with less than 1000 species remaining globally.

Onagadori Chicken Characteristics

These chickens are easily identified by their unique tail feathers. The feathers will grow long mostly in roosters reaching a span of 12-27 feet long.

They are small to medium sized chickens that are light in weight. Onagadori roosters weigh about 5 pounds while the hens only weigh 3 pounds.

Their light bodies make them good flyers and adept fence jumpers. Additionally, these chickens will roost on high perches or on fences.

These chickens have single combs with five well-marked peaks on them. Combs and wattles are deep red in color so is the face.

The earlobes are white while the skin is yellow. Onagadori chickens have dark beaks but sometimes they can be of a horn color.

Eyes are dark or bay while the legs and feet are grey in color. The legs are clean with no feathers and have four well-spaced toes on each leg with short claws.

Body feathers are tightly packed like those of game birds. However, the roosters will have long saddles and hackles plus that long fancy tail.

The tail is made up of 16-18 feathers which will never molt and keep growing long. These chickens delay to molt and a full molting cycle can take about 3 years because new feathers keep growing.

Temperament and Hardiness

Generally, these chickens are quiet and not noisy like Hamburg’s are. They make good pen birds that can be kept on an urban setting where silence is highly valued.

These chickens are very friendly and make good pets. They allow to be handled and will not mind taking those tasty blueberries or dried mealworms from your hand.

I tend to believe that these chickens can make good pets. However the personality of one bird may vary from the other so do not be surprised if they behave differently.

Onagadori chicken poses no threat to your kids or other chicken breeds when integrated. However, they are not very savvy and make easy picks for chicken predators like possums and hawks.

These birds are hardy and will do well on every type of soil. However, their long tails can easily be picked on by other chickens or kids so take care.

Onagadori eggs and uses

If you are looking for a breed that will lay lots of eggs, this is not the type. These chickens take long to mature and you will have to wait for long before you get eggs.

However, female Onagadori chicken will give you 100 eggs per year. Their eggs are medium in size and have a light brown shell color.

The hens seldom get broody but make good mothers. If you want to hatch some Onagadori chicks, you better power on your egg incubator or use broody chickens like Silkie and Cochin bantams.

Chicks and chickens for sale can also be bought from few dedicated breeders who have these fancy chickens.

I am pretty sure that they are pricy because of the rarity factor. So, be ready to dig deeper in your pocket if you want to own one.

In most cases, Onagadori chickens are raised for ornamental purposes. This is because they have long tail feathers that give them a fancy appearance.

However, this does not mean that their meat is not edible. They can be butchered for meat but their small size will only feed a small family.

Onagadori rooster meat is rich and full of flavors just like quail meat. It can be prepared in different ways depending on how you want.

Onagadori Chicken Lifespan

The good thing with these chickens is that they can live longer than most chicken breeds. Living things that take long to mature have a longer lifespan. Ostriches, elephants and humans are a good example.

Onagadori chickens have a lifespan of 8-10 years. This period of time can lengthen depending on the quality of care they get.

A normal chicken will live for 5-8 years. However, most egg laying chickens like the Red sexlinks and Cinnamon queens will not live for more than 3 years.

This is because their bodies are quickly worn out and exhausted for making many eggs. Onagadori hens are not prolific layers and can live longer than them.

However there are certain factors that will determine how long a chicken will live. These factors include:

  • Health
  • Diet
  • Parent gene
  • Environmental conditions

In most cases, these birds are raised in closed raised pens. They are provided with feeds and clean drinking water.

They are safe and secure in confinement and will not face common predators that hunt free ranging chickens down for food.

Health Issues

Onagadori chickens are hardy, healthy and robust birds. They can do well on both cold and hot climatic areas as long as they get the care they need.

However, their large combs will suffer from frostbites in cold winter months. They will need a chicken coop heater to keep them warm.

You can also smear Vaseline jelly on those combs and wattles top insulate against the biting cold. Additionally, add a thick layer of bedding material to keep them warm against that cold concrete coop floor.

Chicken lice and scaly mites are common parasites that infest these birds. I addition to this, they will also need to be dewormed because of gape and thread worms in chickens.

Adding small amounts of diatomaceous earth in their dirt bath will help eradicate mites and lice. Call a qualified bird vet in case you notice any change in their health.

Tips on raising Onagadori chickens


Food is very important if you want to raise these Japanese roosters. They require a well-balanced diet to provide them with all the nutrients they need.

Additionally, a high protein diet is very important. Remember that they have long tail feathers which are made of keratin a special type of protein.

Protein for chickens can be derived from commercial feeds, mealworms, scrambled eggs, fish, lentils, nuts and sunflower seeds.

Their feeds should be put in clean chicken feeders and not tossed on the ground. Tossing their foods can lead to worm infestation because they will ingest the eggs.

The feeders will ensure no feed spillage, wastage and keep it clean from dirt and poop they kick in when scratching the ground.

Have several feeders to give all the birds an equal feeding opportunity. This will minimize cases of chicken bullying and feather picking.


Your flock will need plenty of clean drinking water throughout. Water helps keep their bodies well-hydrated and cool on a hot summer day.

The chicken waterers will need to be hanged to discourage these birds from roosting on top. Additionally, this will help keep the water fresh and clean free from beddings.

During winter, a heated poultry waterer will help keep chicken water from freezing. This waterer will also make it a few degrees warmer for them to drink.

Avoid using large and open waterers for the chicks. This will prevent cases of falling in and drowning when trying to drink.

If the waterers are not shallow, add rocks and pebbles to act as islands. Also, clean these waterers regularly to avoid algae growth which can lead to health issues.


Because of their long tail feathers, breeding in these chickens can be a serious challenge. The hens should be clipped to facilitate successful mating with the roosters.


Onagadori chickens require a well-raised pen if their long tails have to remain clean. The coop will keep them safe from predators and harsh weather.

It is inside the coop where these birds will lay their eggs and hatch chicks. Put enough nesting boxes and line them with chopped straw or nesting pads.

Make sure there are enough perches for these chickens to roost on. The floor should be made of concrete so that predators like dogs cannot burrow and kill them for food,

There should be enough ventilations so that air will circulate in and out freely. This will discourage ammonia buildup which can be a recipe for respiratory issues.


Onagadori chickens are good birds to add in your pen. They have long tails that are very fancy and make good pets for chicken fanciers.

These birds make good mothers and can be used to foster the young of other chicken breeds. They will take care of those leftovers and table scraps making sure nothing goes to waste.

If you are lucky to have several birds, some can be sold to generate cash. They can also be butchered for meat if you want some from these ornamental chickens.

Do you have Onagadori chickens? Talk to us.

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