The weirdest beauty pageant of Vietnam

By Kim Thuy   February 26, 2016 | 10:13 pm PT
There is no swimsuit round and no questions from the judges in this beauty contest, just the quest to find the most outstanding purebred Dong Tao chicken, a unique Vietnamese breed famous for its freakishly big thighs and red skin.

Almost 100 chickens, and their owners, from various regions around Vietnam gathered recently to strut their stuff in three competition categories: couples, roosters and hens.


Beauty in the eye of the beholder: onlookers gather to inspect the competing chickens.

To be eligible for the contest, the chickens had to meet several qualifying standards regarding  weight, feather color, and thigh and beak size.

Dong Tao chickens often weigh more than four kilograms and are lavished with special care to ensure they are healthy and attractive looking.


The breed is prized for its firm sweet meat, and in times past was reserved for royalty and ritual offerings. 


These days the chickens are mainly served in gourmet restaurants.

The breed originated in Dong Tao Commune in Hung Yen, a province neighboring Hanoi.

Prices range from around VND400,000 (nearly US$18) to VND500,000 (about $22) per chicken.

In peak season (Tet or summer festival), the price may reach a staggering VND10 million ($447) to VND30 million ($1,300).

The most expensive pair of chickens ever sold went for a whopping VND75 million ($3,3000).


The chickens are raised in spacious enclosurers with plenty of room for exercise.

The contest was first held in Hung Yen in 2015. It is hoped it will encourage more farmers raise purebred Dong Tao chickens and help promote the Dong Tao chicken brand among diners.

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