Buy Dong Tao Chicken and Eggs
Dong Tao Background and History
Dong Tao Chicken is served in luxury restaurants. It is prized for its delicate and delicious meat. Dong Tao Chickens (ga Dong Tao in Vietnamese) are raised for meat, for eggs, and also as pets. They are very popular in Vietnam.
But Dong Tao Chickens were once bred only for royalty and their mandarins (bureaucrats), or for ritual offerings, starting in Đông Tảo, in the Khoái Châu district, about 18 miles from Hanoi, not far from Hoa Lu, the ancient royal capital of Vietnam.
Because these very large chickens with thick, scaly, dragon-like legs and feet are very rare, and because they take 8 months or more to reach maturity—chickens more typically mature in 16 to 24 weeks, a female-male pair of Dong Tao Chickens can sell for as much as $2,500.
Breed Standard of Dong Tao Chickens
Dong Tao Chicken is considered unique among dozens of chicken breeds in Vietnam.
The legs of Dong Tao Chickens grow as thick as a human’s wrist. The size of their legs is not just unusual for chickens; it is rare for any kind of bird their size
- They are large birds that can be wider than a human holding one.
- Their height is as tall or taller than a bottle.
- Female Dong Tao Chickenfeathers are a beautiful all-white, or white mixed with light brown, while roosters are multi-colored in auburn and red, grey, white and black. Chicks are white with black wings.
- The feet of both females and males are covered in reddish scales, which is what gives them their resemblance to dragons.
- Many delicious dishes are made from Dong Tao Chickens, which have firm, crisp, sweetmeat, pink brisket, and well-developed thigh meat.
The biggest pair of Dong Tao Chicken legs possibly on record, are soaked and preserved in alcohol. Each leg weighs 1 kg (2.2 pounds).
Part of the reason for the high price per chicken is that it can take 8 months to 1 year for a Dong Tao chick to mature. Typically chickens reach sexual maturity and begin laying eggs at 16 to 24 weeks.
Dong Tao Chickens can be bred specifically for meat or for their eggs.
- Dong Tao hens are good mothers, are attentive to their eggs and sit on their brood much like other mother chickens normally do.
- However, with their large legs and feet, Dong Tao hens sitting on their brood can be a bit dangerous.
- Dong Tao hens lay 10-15 eggs for about 2-3 weeks, rest for a few weeks, and then do so again.
- Dong Tao hens lay approximately 60 eggs per year.
- With scientific methodology, 70 eggs per year may be possible.
- Egg color is typically tinted white.
- Hatching can be a challenge. In smaller operations, breeders may manually assist hens in laying their eggs, so that with their big feet, they won’t accidentally crush the eggs. In larger operations, Dong Tao breeders often use incubators.
- Eggs can be shipped around the world to incubate, based on rules or restrictions that apply for each country.
- Feeds Dong Tao Chickens rice and corn if you want them to produce eggs.
Because of difficulties raising Dong Tao broody hens for their eggs, raising Dong Tao Chickens for meat is more common. However, Dong Tao chicken hatching eggs can be purchased in the United States for $51-$55 per half dozen.
Dong Tao Chicken Characteristics
Although Dong Tao chickens are highly prized, they are extremely difficult to breed and remain rare in Vietnam and internationally. They require stable, steady weather to lay consistently, and although some of these chickens can adapt to cooler weather, productivity falls. Even at peak productivity, hens only lay around 60 eggs a year. They also generally require careful monitoring and incubation as eggs left in the coop are likely to be crushed. They also grow slowly, requiring about eight months to reach maturity.
Despite the difficulty in breeding and raising Dong Tao chickens, they are still sought after because of their delicious meat. Although the light meat of the chicken is excellent, it’s really the dark meat that drives up demand. Their rich, oversized thighs and drumsticks are said to be incredibly delicious and have a perfect texture, while the large feet are considered a delicacy.
Appearance & Varieties
Dong Tao chickens are very large, with roosters reaching up to 13 pounds and hens ending up around 10 pounds. Both males and females have enlarged feet and legs covered with reddish scales, and males tend to have even more dramatic enlargement.
Female Dong Taos are generally pure white or white with brown speckles. Chicks have white down and black wings. Roosters can come in multiple colors—a red or auburn with a black breast is the most common. Auburn with a smattering of black, white, and gray feathers is also common, and occasionally roosters are white or mostly white. Both males and females have bright red pea combs and wattles.