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.
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
Below are some quick links. Click any of them to go straight to that section – or just carry on reading for the full guide!
Overview of Dong Tao Chicken Characteristics
|Color||Females: White or white with brown|
Males: Multi-colored – black, brown and orange
|Egg Production||1-2 per week.|
|Suitable for hot environments||Yes but not extreme heat|
|Suitable for cold environments||No|
|Suitable for wet environments||No|
|Cost of Chicken||Up 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 👎|
|Friendly||Expensive to buy!|
|Unique to look at||Hard to find outside of Vietnam|
|Quiet||Do 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.