Onagadori (“noble chicken” in Japanese) is a rare breed of chicken, known for its extremely long tail, the length of which can reach 10 meters, making even peacocks ashamed.
Of the 17 breeds of chickens considered a national treasure of Japan, onagadori is the only one with a “special” status. Since she received this status in 1952, the export of onagadori chickens and eggs has been banned, so very few, if any, individuals can be found outside Japan. This breed is famous for the non-dominant and therefore incredibly long tails of roosters, which, when kept in the best conditions with a high level of animal husbandry, can grow throughout the bird’s life.
photo: The Fabulous Weird Trotters/Facebook
The history of long-tailed chickens dates back thousands of years, but the Onagadori breed is believed to have been bred in the XVII century in the Japanese Tosa province on the island of Shikoku. Its exact origin remains unknown, but experts believe that it originated from other long-tailed breeds such as Shokoku, Totenko and possibly Minohiki.
photo: Diandra Dills/Wikimedia Commons
Roosters of the Onagadori breed owe their tail to mutations of the “nm” (“non-linear”) genes, which allow them to always have their tail feathers, as well as the “gt” and “sg” genes, which cause the rapid growth of exactly the same feathers.
Photo: Beautiful Post/Facebook
Interestingly, onagadori chickens usually shed, while roosters never shed their tail feathers, and the rest of their plumage is shed every 3 years. In fact, this was one of the reasons why this breed of chickens was initially disliked by European breeders, because it meant that the birds would keep their battered and damaged feathers for a long time instead of constantly updating them.
photo: Ömer Kılıçoglu/Facebook
Due to the fact that the Onagadori breed also had problems adapting to the European climate and habitat, breeders began to cross them with local breeds in order to preserve part of the Onagadori genetics, creating new, more stable bird breeds. This is how the German Phoenix breed appeared. It is very similar to the onagadori, but it sheds more often than the Japanese bird.
photo: σf Tn ѕρlєиdσυя ιмαgιиαтισи/Facebook
To be considered a purebred onagadori, a rooster must have a tail at least 1.5 m long. Considering that under normal conditions, onagadori tail feathers can grow by 90 cm per year, roosters with tails several meters long are very common. The current record is 11.3 meters.
In addition to the length of the tail, onagadori roosters are also evaluated depending on the “Kawari-honke” (Kawari-honge). This is a special type of feathers in their tails, the widest of them. The number of such feathers can vary from 1 to 4, so if a bird has all four kawari-honke feathers, then it is very popular among breeders, therefore, it costs a lot of money.
Currently, the Onagadori breed is included in the list of endangered species: in total, about 250 birds are kept by 250 breeders. One of the reasons that led to this may be poor egg production (about 25 eggs per year).
Onagadori is just one of the many charming breeds of chickens that we wrote about on Bugaga. If you are interested, pay attention to the most pompous breed of chickens, the all-black chicken and other beautiful birds that you have not seen yet.