Mister and Miss Chicken: Inside the poultry beauty contest in Vietnam

By Ngoc Thanh   January 3, 2017 | 11:00 pm PT
Farmers bring their best birds to the first national contest for the Dong Tao chicken breed, which is prized for its meat.

This week more than 100 chickens from every corner of the country have gathered in Dong Tao Commune, Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province, about 30 kilometers from Hanoi, for the first nationwide beauty contest for the Dong Tao chicken breed, better known as the dragon chicken.


The breed has an imposing figure and thick legs. A Dong Tao rooster can weigh up to six kilograms (13.2 lbs) and has legs as huge as a wrist. The contest has three categories -- pairs, roosters and hens, aiming to find out the best looking and healthiest birds of the breed.


Toan, a local breeder with six years of experience, brought a nine-month-old pair weighed up to seven kilograms (15.4 lbs) each to the contest.


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


The fowl was once bred exclusively for the country’s royal families.


An eligible candidate must be at least eight months old and fertile.


“I might have second thoughts about selling the rooster for VND40 million ($1,760)," said Nguyen Van Cuong, who won the first prize with a one-year-old purebred rooster.


“The contest is not about big prizes. It is more about creating a playing field for Dong Tao breeders who want to a place to network and see with their own eyes the most outstanding purebred chickens across the country,” said Le Quang Thang, chairman of Dong Tao breeder association.


Thang said these dragon chickens are among the most expensive because the breed is in high demand but short in supply. He noticed at least three which can cost a staggering VND20 million each.

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