Dong Tao Chicken – The Dragon Chicken!

The Dong Tao chicken is a very rare breed of chicken. It has an incredibly unique appearance and is known an expensive delicacy where this breed originates from in Vietnam.

dong tao chicken
The Dong Tao chicken is rare and expensive (Source: Dan Viet)

The Vietnamese Dong Tao is like no other chicken! Known as the dragon chicken due to their unique large sized scaly legs, these chickens are not only rare but incredibly expensive as well. Read on to find out everything about this interesting breed.

What this article covers

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Overview of Dong Tao Chicken Characteristics

Lifespan6-7 years
Weight10-13 lbs
ColorFemales: White or white with brown
Males: Multi-colored – black, brown and orange
Egg Production1-2 per week.
Egg ColorWhite
BroodyNo
NoisyNo
Suitable for hot environmentsYes but not extreme heat
Suitable for cold environmentsNo
Suitable for wet environmentsNo
Child friendlyYes
Cost of ChickenUp to $2,500!

 Dong Tao History and Use Today

Dong Tao Chickens originate from Đông Tảo, a village in Vietnam. They used to be solely bred only for royalty or for ritual offerings.

These days they are still predominantly bred in Đông Tảo but now are bred for their meat, known as an expensive delicacy in Vietnam. 

Dong Tao meat is described as firm, sweetmeat with a pink brisket and thigh meat.

They are difficult to breed due to their large legs that make hatching difficult. Mother hens can accidentally break their eggs due to the size of their bulky feet. Breeders usually take the eggs and keep them in an incubator. It takes eight months to one year until the chickens reach maturity to be slaughtered for their meat. 

This is part of the reason why Dong Tao chickens are so expensive and can reach up to $2,500 per chicken.

This video shows how the Dong Tao chicken is prepared and cooked as a culinary speciality in Vietnam

The Personality of a Dong Tao Chicken

Dong Tao chickens are friendly and affectionate. They don’t mind being handled and will sit in your hands ready for petting. They generally get along with other chickens and love foraging.

Dong Tao roosters are great at protecting their ladies and will not hesitate to become aggressive if they feel the need to defend. They are generally calm and friendly though when no threat is at hand.

Dong Taos do best when allowed to free range. It’s great for them to use their big legs and get some exercise and stretch them out.

This Dong Tao chicken is huge! (Source: Bao Anh Vietnam)

Appearance of Dong Tao Chickens

These are certainly a unique and interesting chicken breed to look at and are like no other chicken breeds we have seen!

The legs of Dong Tao chickens are thick and scaly and incredibly unusual for a chicken their size. 

Female Dong Tao Chicken feathers can be all-white or white mixed with light brown. The male roosters are multi-colored in auburn and red, grey, white and black. Baby chicks are white and have black wings.

The bulky wide feet of both females and males are covered in reddish scales and are the focus of their nickname ‘The Dragon Chicken’

The biggest pair of Dong Tao Chicken legs are said to weigh 2.2 lbs per leg (1 kilo). 

The famous super sized chicken feet! (Source: Bao Anh Vietnam)

Dong Tao Chicken Nutritional Requirements

When well cared for a Dong Tao chicken can reach a lifespan of 6-7 years. At their full size a Dong Tao chickens weighs between 10-13 pounds. 

Dong Tao chickens need a high percentage of protein in their diet. They require a high protein chicken crumble or pellet as well as access to foraging for insects and other outdoor goodness. 

Chicken farmers and breeders in Vietnam give their Dong Tao’s mixture of crickets, rice bran, bone flour, chicken grit as well as supplementing with vitamins and minerals. 

Some breeders and farmers in Vietnam are very particular about their Dong Tao chickens and want to ensure the meat they are producing is high quality and up there with the best on the market. 

Crickets are a popular food for Dong tao’s

Egg Laying Characteristics of a Dong Tao Chicken

Dong Tao reach egg laying maturity at 16 – 24 weeks old and average about 60 eggs per year which is pretty dismal when you compare with other chicken breeds. 

Dong Tao chickens are not used for egg production purposes. Dong Tao hens are not particularly broody. In fact, they usually want very little to do with their eggs once they hatch. Apart from their sizeable legs and feet this is why the eggs need to be transferred into incubators for care. 

A clutch of Dong Tao eggs for hatching purposes will cost you around $55 for 6 eggs.

Dong Tao chickens are born with big feet already (Source: Bao Anh Vietnam)

Health Considerations for a Dong Tao Chicken

Dong Tao chickens need specialist care. They need warm environmental conditions to thrive and due to their bulkiness, need regular exercise. 

Their living environment needs to be kept well maintained to ensure they are kept clean and also to enable them to move around properly as due to their leg size, they are not as agile as other breeds. 

With adequate care Dong Tao chickens are generally able to keep good health

Pros and Cons of keeping a Dong Tao Chicken

Pros 👍Cons 👎
FriendlyExpensive to buy!
Unique to look atHard to find outside of Vietnam
QuietDo not lay many eggs
Take a long time to mature
Need extra care due to their uniqueness

Interested in other unique chicken breeds? Check out our article on the loveable Silkie chicken.

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AUTHOR

The team at My Chicken Guide are chicken enthusiasts! Our team has over 20 years experience in raising and caring for chickens. Our head writer is a qualified Environmental Scientist with a passion for sharing accurate and scientifically based knowledge on chicken care.