Why Đông Tảo chickens are so expensive

  • Dong Tao chicken, often known as dragon chickens, can sell for over $2,000.
  • Each one can take years of raising and special care, and the best are even entered into beauty competitions across Vietnam.
  • The birds can weigh as much as 5kg and are traditionally given as gifts at Tết, Vietnamese new year.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This is a Đông Tảo chicken, often known as dragon chickens. These thick-legged birds can sell for over $2,000. Each one can take years of raising and special care, and the best are even entered into beauty competitions across Vietnam.

So, what does it take to raise a Đông Tảo chicken, and why are they so expensive? Đông Tảo is a rare breed, exclusive to one small village on the outskirts of Hanoi. Giang Tuấn Vũ is a third-generation Đông Tảo chicken farmer. He's been looking after these birds for over 20 years.
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The majority of these chickens are still raised in Đông Tảo Village. While the exact origins of the breed are unknown, they've been around for hundreds of years and were thought to be bred originally for cockfighting due to their thick and strong legs. These days, the birds are a more decorative breed that's often eaten for its unique meat.

The dramatic look of Đông Tảo chickens means that they've been important gifts for years. Originally presented to royalty, they're now reserved for special occasions, such as Tết, Vietnamese New Year.

That means that from the 500 chicks, just 15 could qualify to be sold as gifts. So, what are the criteria that these chickens need to meet to be worth thousands of dollars?
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When preparing the chickens for sale or competition, a lot of work goes in to looking after them. And roughly a month before, they're fed a special high-protein diet, and their legs are washed gently in a mixture of tea and salt. Physical appearance isn't all about the feet, either.

Every part of their look is equally important when it comes to grading, from symmetrical wattles and earlobes to uniformly covered shiny black feathers. Narrator: While many of the birds are sold off around the holidays for their meat, the really high-value chickens are often kept by the farmers and entered into beauty contests. The longer the chickens live, the larger their features, and so grade A Đông Tảo chicken could live for six or seven years.
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While the chicken's popularity is mostly still contained to Vietnam, interest around the world is growing, and in April 2018, 802 Đông Tảo chicken eggs were seized by police at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul after they were found being smuggled into the country in a custom-made suitcase. These eggs were valued by police at $2,000 each and show that no matter the price these chickens reach, there will always be those willing to pay.

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