Dong Tao Chicken: A Rare and Expensive Vietnamese Delicacy!
Would you be willing to pay $2,000 for a chicken? Well, if you want to purchase a purebred Dong Tao chicken, this is the price you have to pay! These rare breeds of birds are high in demand but short in supply. This explains their exorbitant price.
Dong Tao chicken, also known as “dragon chicken,” is a popular Vietnamese breed. It is the world’s most expensive poultry, prized for its meat as well as its unique appearance. While the origin of this rare chicken breed is not known, a majority of the birds are exclusively grown in the Khoai Chau District on the outskirts of Hanoi.
Dong Tao chickens have big heads with short and curved beaks. Their legs are horribly deformed and unusually bulky. The enlarged legs account for nearly one-fifth of their body weight. The stout bulbous legs are covered with peculiar reddish scales. They are as thick as a human wrist, which is quite unusual for birds of that size.
Prized for their low-fat meat, the Dong Tao chickens were bred exclusively to serve royal families. Nowadays, their delicious meat is served in expensive restaurants that cater to the elites. This Vietnamese delicacy can be cooked in different ways: boiled, fried, stewed, or served with lemongrass.
Why is the Dong Tao chicken so expensive?
Not all Dong Tao chickens are commercially viable. In fact, out of 500 chickens, less than 5% of the birds qualify to be sold.
Many criteria have to be met to make these birds worth their price. While their enlarged feet are the most noticed feature by many, the overall appearance and health of the chickens need to be of excellent standards. In addition, their shiny black feathers, symmetrical wattles as well as earlobes are graded to determine their worth.
Breeding Dong Tao chickens is not easy. These birds are quite sensitive to weather changes. The Dong Tao hens lay fewer eggs than other chicken breeds. Due to their unusually large feet, the hens often break the eggs with their legs. Hence, the eggs are stored in an incubator. Moreover, the hatching process is quite difficult, and the chicken breeders need to assist the hens during this process.
Once the chicks hatch, the birds need to be properly nourished and taken care of for eight to ten months before they are ready for slaughter. One kilogram of purebred Dong Tao chicken meat costs around 350,000 to 400,000 VND (Vietnamese Dong), which is $15 to $17!
Why is the Dong Tao chicken meat so delicious?
A male adult Dong Tao chicken weighs around five to six kilograms. To make these thick-legged dragon chickens suitable for sale, a lot of work goes into taking care of them in terms of breeding, feeding, and raising them. The birds are fed a special high-protein diet that consists of corn and rice. Their legs are washed gently in a mixture of salt and tea. In addition, the taste of the meat largely depends on the physical activity of the chicken apart from feeding nutritious food. The bird has to be given all the freedom to roam around. The more the chicken walks, the tastier the meat.
This Vietnamese chicken breed is more than just a delicacy!
Dong Tao chickens were thought to be bred for cockfighting, given their strong legs. They were presented exclusively to royal families. Nowadays, they are traditionally given as gifts for special occasions, such as the Vietnamese New Year, known as “Tet.”
Dong Tao chickens are not just famous for their meat. Due to their exotic appearance, the best-looking birds are retained by farmers to make them strong contenders in beauty contests across Vietnam.
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