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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.