Onagadori Care Guide

Horizon Structures Presents Rare Chicken Breed Care Guide Series…

Want to have a show-stopping flock? Consider the Onagadori! The Onagadori chicken is a type of breed native to Japan that’s active and curious, with a medium body and gorgeous, long tail feathers. Despite its intelligence and docile nature, Onagadori is one of the rarest birds to find as it’s considered critically endangered.

OnagadoriPhoto credit: pipanews.com

Before buying or adopting an Onagadori, ensure you are aware of its care requirements. Here are some tips to keep your chicken happy and healthy:

Onagadori Overview

Onagadori translates to “honorable fowl” in Japanese, with good reason! This breed is historically from the Nayoga province of Japan, with records of their species going as far back as the Edo period (1603 – 1867). Due to their unique appearance and luxurious plumage, they were particularly popular with wealthy landowners and were even pets of samurai!

Despite their popularity, the breed is quite rare now due to nearly going extinct a few years into the Meiji era (1868 – 1912) and, consequently, are an expensive bird to get since few breeders exist outside of Japan.

Japanese Onagadori hens are fiercely maternal and will defend against any perceived threat to their chicks, sometimes to the death, so they require considerable efforts to ensure they’re protected from predators.

This breed is highly intelligent and has shown incredible memory retention! They pick up commands quickly and are very docile; some owners even keep them as indoor pets! Despite their plumage, they’re relatively easy to care for and hardy birds that are great for families with small children.

This breed lives an average of 10 – 15 years and will lay approximately 25 eggs yearly, so it shouldn’t be raised for egg production.

Onagadori variations

Photo credit:  https://domesticanimalbreeds.com

Onagadori Appearance

Onagadori chickens are known for their long colorful plumage, and their appearance is often compared to that of a peacock. The colors and patterns on their feathers can vary greatly, depending on the breed. Some common colors include blue, green, black, brown, and white.

What sets them apart from other ornamental breeds is their long, sweeping plume of tail feathers that will typically average 2 meters (~6ft) in length.

Onagadori is fairly small in size, with hens weighing an average of 3lbs and males 5lbs.

Onagadori Temperament

Onagadori are active and curious birds. They love to play and will constantly be exploring their surroundings. They’re extremely intelligent and have been used in animal cognition tests for years.

One important thing to keep in mind is that Onagadori are docile and not broody but have very high maternal instincts and are extremely protective of their eggs and chicks. If you have young children around, it’s essential you teach them how to navigate caring for the birds while they’re near hatchlings.

Onagadori Care

Japanese Onagadori birds are considered a small-to-medium breed that’s active, curious, and loves to explore. They’re heat-tolerant birds that don’t do well in colder climates, so it’s best to raise them in warmer areas or as inside pets.

Regarding feeding, the Onagadori requires a diet high in protein, or they’ll become lethargic and withdrawn. Care should be taken to ensure their tail feathers are kept clean and free of mites or lice. Some breeders will use light silk ribbons to tie the feathers, though this isn’t a permanent solution.

onagadori care

Onagadori Coop Needs

Coop Size

The rule of thumb is a minimum of 4 sq ft per bird, but Onagadori have the extra complication of their long tail feathers. Some keepers opt to have this breed as an indoor pet where it’s easier to keep them out of dust and mud. However, they still require the typical things of all breeds: nest boxes, perches, and areas to run around, so we recommend a spacious coop that can accommodate this ornamental chicken breed.

Egg Laying

These hens are not typically prolific egg layers, producing an average of 50 eggs per year, and aren’t particularly broody (meaning they don’t like to sit on their eggs to incubate them), so you won’t need many nest boxes to accommodate your flock.  A six-nest box coop (like our Quaker model) is a good option for a small flock.

nest coop


Since Onagadori aren’t great at handling cold weather, considerations will need to be taken to ensure they’re warm and cozy in their coop. Adding an electrical kit with a heated roost are fantastic options that will keep your flock happy.


The biggest consideration is how to keep their tail feathers clean. Many breeders prefer to build coops with high perches so their feathers can hang freely without getting soiled.

Another important consideration is their recreation area. These birds are intelligent problem solvers that need plenty of space to forage and play. Some breeders even offer a “petting zoo” with a variety of enrichment items such as branches, rocks, and twigs. If you’re just getting started keeping chickens and want to go a traditional route for ease, we recommend a coop with an attached, fenced-off run areas, such as our Combination or Tractor models.

tractor model chicken coop


Staring your own Onagadori flock is a fun and exciting project that will give you years of enjoyment, as these beautiful birds make great pets. However, they require careful attention to their needs to maintain a healthy environment. Luckily, we’re here to help! Contact us to learn how we can create a perfect coop for your new flock that ensures your Onagadori are happy and well-kept for years to come.

More rare breed chickens…
The Ayam Cemani
The Dong Tao

Ayam Cemani Care Guide

Horizon Structures Presents Rare Chicken Breed Care Guide Series…

ayam cemani

Ayam Cemani is a rare breed of chicken that is known for its dramatic all-black appearance. While it’s typically a hardy breed, this gorgeous bird needs special care if you want to keep it healthy and happy. Here’s what you need to know about Ayam Cemani care to ensure your new flock thrives for years to come.

Ayam Cemani Overview

The Ayam Cemani breed originated in Sumatra, Indonesia, where it’s rumored to have magical capabilities that connect the living with their ancestors and is considered a good luck charm! The breed is famous for its all-black feathers, face, and skin (some feathers will have a blue/purple iridescence under certain lights).


Its crow is distinct and is actually used as a foghorn on boats, even today!

They’ll live an average of 6- 8 years and are considered intelligent, friendly birds with an even temperament.


Despite their goth look, the Ayam Cemani chicken has a gorgeous iridescent sheen under bright light, with some referring to it as “peacock-like.” The most-prized chickens have black matte coloring on their feathers, eyes, wattles, and combs.


The roosters are typically around 5 – 6lbs, while the hens are slightly smaller, usually around 4lbs. Their eggs aren’t black but instead a muted pink or cream, and hatchlings take around 21 days to come out of their shells.

The most prized (and therefore, most expensive) birds are entirely black, with waiting lists that can be years long! If you’re less picky or on a budget, consider looking for “lower grade” Cemanis, as it’s common to find “lesser” quality birds with grays, greens, and blues throughout their feathers or comb.

Despite their broad chests and muscular thighs, these chickens are rarely raised for meat.


The Ayam Cemani breed is a fairly relaxed bird, but they’re not considered “cuddly.” Many families have reported their flocks were tolerant of human kids and were able to be hand-fed easily.  However, they appear to have good maternal instincts and will protect their young if they sense a threat.

They are considered an intelligent breed and can recognize their owners.

Ayam Cemani Care

When it comes to caring for your Ayam Cemani, you’ll want to keep in mind that they originate from Indonesia, so they are relatively heat-tolerant. Surprisingly, though, this breed seems hardy in winters, too, so long as their coops are well-maintained.  Make sure they have plenty of fresh water and a warm place to sleep and don’t expose them to extreme temperatures. They also need plenty of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables.

Coop Considerations for Ayam Cemani Flocks

Coop Size

A minimum of 4 square feet per bird is necessary for a comfortable and healthy coop. Ayam Cemani should be allowed access to the outdoors often, but ensure their area is covered when it rains or snows.

Since the Ayam Cemani chicken is a medium-sized bird, many of our coop options are excellent choices. If you plan to have a small flock of 2 – 10 chickens, the Lean-To and Tractor models are great ways to get started keeping Ayam Cemani chickens.

chicken coop ayam cemani

However, if you want to give them the best experience with maximum space that lets your flock grow organically, consider the Combination coop with an included fenced-in run area that gives them the room they need to feel happy without worrying about predators or weather.

Egg Laying

These hens aren’t significant egg layers, usually clocking in around 80 eggs per year, and seem to have cycles where they’ll take a break after 20-30 eggs that last around three-to-six months. A coop with at least six nest boxes, such as our popular Quaker model, would be perfect for a starting flock.

Despite being considered excellent mothers to their young, Ayam Cemanis aren’t typically big on nesting, so you’ll probably need to incubate eggs artificially, maintaining a temperature of around 99.5F (37.5C) degrees with humidity around 50% – 55%, increasing it to 60% for the last few days of incubation.


While they originate from tropical climates, Ayam Cemani is a hardy bird that can handle a broad spectrum of seasons. The key to keeping a flock during winter is ensuring their coops maintain a consistent temperature that’s dry and warm. You may want to consider adding an Electrical Package with the Heated Roost option to your coop build that ensures you’ll be able to keep the perfect temperature year-round.


Opinions vary on whether or not this breed should be considered “flighty” as it often comes down to the individual bird. However, it’s always a wise idea to keep a fenced-off area that prevents them from getting away and makes it difficult for predators to get in, so consider adding a chicken run that’s directly attached to your coop.

Since the Ayam Cemani is an easygoing bird, many of the amenities we recommend help you maintain the flock easily. Adding automatic doors allows you to automate their routines with wifi or on a timer, a perk that comes in handy during brutal winters! Litter trays and feed rooms go a long way toward streamlining your chicken’s care and are no-brainers for those serious about maintaining a flock for many years.

chicken coop interior


The Ayam Cemani breed is a showstopping bird that’s docile, friendly, and intelligent. If you’re interested in keeping a flock of these gorgeous chickens, ensure they have ample space to run and a warm, cozy coop that gives them the perfect environment to lay their eggs.

If you’re ready to care for an Ayam Cemani flock but aren’t sure how to get started, we’re here to help! Check out our current stock of readymade coops, or contact us to build a customized coop designed for this unique breed of chicken.

More rare breed chickens…
The Onagadori
The Dong Tao

Dong Tao Care Guide

Horizon Structures Presents Rare Chicken Breed Care Guide Series…

One of the most unusual and sought-after breeds has to be the Vietnamese Dong Tao chicken. This breed of chicken is known for its thick legs and unique color variations, but its intelligence and calm demeanor mean you’re sure to fall in love with this striking bird.

dong tao chicken

While the Dong Tao chicken is exciting to keep, there are a few things you need to know to take care of them properly, as their rareness on the market means you’ll have a harder time finding information on how to keep them healthy and happy. This guide will discuss some of the most important things you need to know about Dong Tao chickens to have a thriving flock.

Dong Tao Chicken Overview

Originating in the Khoai Chau district of Dong Tao, Vietnam, this breed of chicken was originally reserved for royalty and rituals.

dong tao map

The Vietnamese Dong Tao chicken is one of the more exotic breeds currently available on the market, with prices ranging in the hundreds for a single bird. These birds are known for their impressive leg muscles (where they get their “Dragon” nickname from!) and coloring variation, which can include blues, purples, and even greens.

The Dong Tao is an intelligent bird with a keen sense of hearing and sight. They also enjoy a good amount of sunlight and fresh air. As hens, they’re not great egg layers, producing around 1 – 2 eggs per week.

They are, however, raised for their meat as their rareness means they’re considered a delicacy. In addition to their culinary potential, Dong Tao chickens make great pets for people who enjoy working with animals. They are gentle creatures and are known for being very intelligent.

Dong Tao Appearance

These birds are striking, with their bright colors and muscular legs. They average around 16 inches in length and can weigh as much as 5.5 lbs.

Their colorings are typically a mottled mix of blues, greens, browns, reds, and black. Their combs and wattles are almost always some shade of red.

dong tao chicken red

Photo credit:  https://cs-tf.com/dong-tao-chicken/

Their legs and feet, however, are the first thing you’ll probably notice. They have powerful, thick legs and feet, which are used to tread water and jump. Their legs often look swollen and crackled, but this is normal, and one of the breed’s distinguishing characteristics.

Dong Tao Behavior

These birds are gentle creatures that enjoy being around people. They get along well with other animals, including cats and dogs. They’re curious by nature and will explore their surroundings.

However, these birds love to roam and will become bullies to other small animals and chickens if kept in too small an enclosure.

Dong Tao Diet

Dong Tao chickens are foragers and will eat a variety of things, including grass, insects, and other bird feed. They should be fed a balanced diet with hay, fresh grains, legumes, and seeds. A ratio of one cup of food per egg laid is ideal.

dong tao chicken diet

Dong Tao Care Tips

  • Provide a large, secure enclosure for your Dong Tao chicken. They love to roam and will become bullies if kept in too small an enclosure.
  • Feed them a variety of foods, including seeds, vegetables, and fruits. They’re also opportunistic feeders and will eat just about anything they can find.
  • Watch their water supply closely – these birds are notorious for getting thirsty quickly and may drink excessively from the wrong source (such as from a dirty water bowl). Make sure their drinking water is clean and fresh.
  • These birds will need lots of enrichment to stay happy. They’re extremely intelligent and get bored quickly. Provide them with various toys, such as nesting materials, swings, and perches.

Dong Tao Coop Needs

Coop Size

Dong Taos need more room than your standard breed because of their opportunistic feeding habits. A minimum of two square feet per bird is recommended, but three square feet is better. They can be kept inside as pets; however, they may become destructive if cooped up too much.

Egg Laying

Dong Tao hens usually lay one egg per week, but some may lay up to three. Consequently, they don’t need many nesting boxes – just one or two. A six-nest box coop, such as our Quaker model, is a good option for a small flock of chickens since it’s easy to maintain and can be used in urban and rural settings.


Dong Tao chickens are from an area south of Hanoi, where the climate is hot and humid. Their ideal temperature range is 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Accordingly, they do best in a warm environment with a humidity level of at least 50%. They can tolerate some colder weather but should be introduced long before the first frost so their plumage can grow as they become acclimated to the temperature changes.


Dong Tao chickens need large enclosures to explore that lets them be active while safe from predators. For a breed so intelligent and playful, we recommend having the enclosure directly attached to your coop, such as our Cominbation or Tractor models. This way, the chickens can roam freely but can always be close to their coop mates.

chicken coop

If you’re located somewhere that sees colder temperatures, we strongly recommend a heated roost to protect your flock from harsh winters.


Maintaining a flock of these rare birds is a joy, and with a bit of preparation and attention to detail, your Vietnamese Dong Tao chickens will thrive in their new home. Just be sure to provide them with the proper environment and toys to keep them entertained and happy! When you’re ready to build your coop, you can compare our current coops or contact us to help create a custom coop perfect for your new feathery friends.

More rare breed chickens…
The Ayam Cemani
The Onagadori

4 Policies Your Kennel Needs to Have

Credit: Unsplash


It can feel tricky when you’re deciding the rules for your boarding facility. You want to find a balance between ensuring your business is protected while not scaring off new customers due to unreasonable or too-strict requirements. We’ve pulled together four essential policies your commercial boarding kennel should have, plus a few ideas for what to include.


Vaccinations and Vet Info with Emergency Waiver

Your terms and conditions for kennel boarding should first include the baseline requirements every new dog must have before they can stay with you. While there may be wiggle room with the rest of your policies, this one should be non-negotiable.

Having vaccination records for your boarding clients ensures you can keep nasty things like kennel cough or other diseases out of your kennels. Here are a few vaccines that are both easy to get from the vet and effective for good dog kennel health and safety:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Bordatella (Kennel Cough)

It’s also good to require flea and parasite preventative treatment for your boarding guests. If your customers don’t have up-to-date treatments, you can offer flea collars at your facility for an extra charge, too!

Lastly, it’s good to require information on the dogs’ veterinarian if something should happen. It’s also important to consider what you’ll do if a dog has a medical emergency and your customer can’t be reached. Many facilities will have an emergency waiver that authorizes veterinary treatment up to a certain dollar amount if the client cannot be contacted. Having this policy in place ensures you’re not stuck with a difficult choice regarding the emergency care of a dog.


Last-Minute Scheduling and Cancellations

Things happen in life that cannot be helped, so offering last-minute scheduling or cancellation options for your clients is a good idea. By having these in place at the beginning of a boarding contract, you and your client will both be protected from misunderstandings.

Consider the cost of having staff on-call or at your kennel for sudden boarding requests and factor that into your last-minute scheduling price. You should also consider having a non-refundable deposit put in place that accounts for your costs incurred when there’s a last-minute cancellation. Most kennels will have a window of around 48 – 72 hours that allows for a refund, minus the deposit, and anything canceled after that is typically paid in full.


What Is (and Isn’t) Included During Boarding

What’s included during a boarding stay varies from kennel to kennel, so it’s best that you explicitly list what your clients should expect. Here are a few questions to answer in your policies:

  • When and how are the dogs fed during their stay?
  • How should customers prepare the food? Should it be in individual bags for twice-daily meals, or will you have a free-feed policy that requires a whole bag of food?
  • How are the days structured for your boarding guests? Will they have playtime with other dogs?
  • Are the play areas monitored by webcams? Will there be a way for your clients to watch their dogs while staying with you. If so, what are the privacy policies they’ll need to follow? Boarding facilities with webcams will often have them password-protected and only available during certain hours of the day.
  • What happens if the dog becomes aggressive or hurts an employee or other dog?
  • Can dog owners leave toys or other trinkets from home? If so, what happens if they get lost during the stay?
  • What is the treat policy? Will you be giving out treats during the stay. If so, what kind? Dog owners will want to know this for dietary reasons.
  • Are there specific dietary requirements you need to know about before boarding? If so, how can your customer let you know? How long are these requirements kept on record?


Safety Measures

Having safety measures listed in your policies will not only help dog owners feel more at ease but ensure your employees have a thought-out plan should something happen. A few ideas to consider:

  • What is the fire safety protocol? Does the local fire department know where the dogs are boarded? Are there sprinklers installed?
  • What are the operating hours? Are there ways someone can access the facility at night? How secure are the dogs?
  • What first-aid kits or training are on hand should something happen?
  • Where is the nearest vet, and what is your relationship with them?


Final Thoughts

Running a business that includes kennel facilities requires thinking through how you’ll manage your boarding guests. By creating policies like the ones mentioned above, you’ll protect your business should something happen and give your customers better peace of mind for how well your business is run.


Looking to expand or start your kennel business? Let Horizon Structures help!

Horizon Structures Commercial Dog Kennels



Which Kennel Size is Right for Your Business?

Whether you’re just launching a new kennel or are upgrading and expanding, it can feel overwhelming to make a final decision on which kennel size will be right for you. What if you build a kennel that’s too small? What if it’s too big and difficult to maintain? These are both real concerns that you’ll have to balance during your build phase.

Luckily, we’re here to help! We’ve built hundreds of structures throughout North America and have seen how successful kennel businesses around the country weigh these factors. Here are a few tips for picking the right size kennel for you.

Plan for What You’ll Need

While we hope you’ll become the next Martha Stewart of kennels and create your own empire, it’s best to start out choosing a kennel size that will best accommodate your immediate surroundings.

Take into account the amount of space you’ll need not only for housing your boarding guests but also the space you’ll need for storage, your employees, and playtime for the dogs when they’re out of the kennels.

In addition, you should also take into account the demographics of the area you serve and how many clients you can realistically expect. If you live in a small town with a few hundred residents, then it’s safe to say you can stick with something like our 14×30 size. If, however, you serve a large city where you have the potential to a dozen dogs at a time, then it’s best to start with a medium-to-large size kennel like our 24×60 kennel.

Make Sure You Can Maintain Your Kennels

Wear and tear is a regular occurrence, especially when dealing with animals, so you must consider the amount of maintenance your kennel will need. It’s best to maintain a clean, professional environment so that your clients feel safe leaving their pets in your care.

When deciding on the right size kennel, make sure you understand the maintenance requirements and can keep up with the cleaning and repairs as needed. You may need to hire additional help to maintain the larger-sized kennels. If your business isn’t yet bringing in enough profit to account for those additional costs, it may be best to start on the smaller end and upgrade as your business becomes more profitable.

Decide Which Amenities You’ll Provide for Your Boarders

Giving your boarding clients a luxury experience can help set your business apart from competitors, so it’s crucial that you consider which amenities you’ll be able to provide and what sort of space they’ll require. Dog runs, a grooming area, and even a storefront that offers treats and leashes or collars can be great additions that appeal to pet owners (that also boosts your income).

Think about your strategy for setting your business apart from other kennels. What does that look like, and what sort of space will you need to make that happen? Perhaps a kennel with an office space or a receiving area is better suited for your business than a basic structure.

What Can You Reasonably Afford?

Last, but certainly not least, is factoring the capital you have to invest in a new kennel structure. Make sure that you take into account what it will cost you to create a new kennel. How quickly can you expect a return on your investment, and what prices will you need to charge to make that happen? We’ve seen clients who run the gamut when it comes to pricing; some are upscale, luxury kennel experiences, while others are more economical. It all depends on what value you can provide your clients and the demographics that you’ll be able to serve.

Special Considerations for Breeders and Dog Handlers

If you’re using kennels for temporary boarding for your breeding or dog showing business, there are a couple of extra considerations you should take into account when deciding on a kennel size:

What sort of extra space will you need to accommodate your unique business?

Breeders and dog handlers need additional amenities that would normally be optional for a boarding facility. Consider having spaces available for grooming and basic veterinary care. Having these planned in your kennel space will make it much easier for your business to run smoothly and will show your clients the extra care taken to ensure safe spaces for dogs.

How many dogs will you care for at any given time?

Many professional breeders will opt for smaller kennel facilities as they don’t require so many rooms for their dogs. Consider the average number of dogs you’ll be working with prior to dog shows or while breeding. Will you need an expansive structure or should you instead opt for something like a 5-dog kennel that is customized to your specific needs?

Ready to Get Started?

You can receive our complete kennel price list to help give you a better idea of what your new kennel might cost, or check out our current kennels on sale if you’re ready for immediate delivery.

Whatever you decide, don’t let yourself get dragged down by the details. If you’re getting overwhelmed trying to determine what kennel size is right for your business, then give a few of these tips a try or talk to us as we’re always happy to help.