Long Tailed Fowl, the new book by David Rogers and Toni-Marie Astin. Buy Now

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Project Onagadori -

a breeding program to preserve a very rare breed.

For a better understanding of the traits pure Onagadori must exhibit, see the complete translation of the Japanese standard.

Photos of birds produced during the '07 breeding season


Shown below at 12'

Shown at right is Hakuro. Having been testing a while longer than his brother, Hakuraikou, Hakuro has now grown to a length of 8' 2". He began growing at a rate of approximately 4"per month. His growth rate has increased over the past few months and is now growing at a rate of 5" per month. It's hoped that this rate will continue a while longer. It's normal for the growth rates to fluctuate according to seasonal and environmental factors.

Hakuraikou's development

Left: Hakuraikou at two years and 11 months of age. His longest tail feathers are 6' 6.75" and 6' 9". The adult feathers grew in two stages. He grew some during year one and others during year two. The longest feathers were grown in during year one and are one year ahead of the others. Usually, in cases such as this the adult feathers from year one would have been pulled out during the acquisition of the rest of the adult plumage during year two. Doing that would ensure that all feathers reach roughly the same length at the same time.

This is Hakuraikou at 20 months of age. His saddles are still growing and are shown here at 27.25" in length.

His tail length is still 4Ft due to the longest pair of feathers still being juvenile feathers that have stopped growing, but have not yet been molted out. The rest of the tail is re-growing as adult plumage and quickly catching up to the juvenile feathers in length.

It is hoped that his tail and saddle feathers will remain growing for three more years. During which time, his future mates will be produced for him.

Hakuraikou, at 14 months of age, possessed 18 inch saddle feathers. These fall within the measurement of 1/3 to 1/2 the length of the coverts as per the Japanese ideal with the current length of the coverts.

The final lengths of 4 foot saddle feathers and 12 foot coverts before first molt of the adult plumage would be the absolute ideal. Only time will tell if he will or will not meet those lengths.

These saddle feathers first started growing at 2 months of age and at a year later most still continue to grow.

Many of the coverts in the 14 month photos are missing due to the gradual switch over to adult plumage in that region of the feathering.

This is Hakuraikou at 1 year of age. His coverts and saddle featheres remain in blood-feather.

Hakuraikou out for a walk on jess and leash at 1 year of age.

Hakuraikou at 9 months of age.

Hakuraikou at 10 months of age, still in blood-feather.

Yellow-legged recessive white cockerels at 4.5 months of age, 2.5 Lbs.
(Looking down, planning to join their uncle and cousin on the ground)

Blood-Feathers: Lightly pigmented birds such as this recessive white male clearly show the rich blood supply that fills the quills of feathers in the tail.

Photos from the '05 breeding season

Below, left: A 9 month old female offspring. The photo does not show the extent of multiple feathering that she has. Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz.

Below, right: Same hen photographed in 2009, at a mature weight of 3 Lbs, having some hefty looking spurs too.

Below: The sister to the two birds above. She is six months of age in this photo. Looks pretty much the same at 9 months. Her tail actually appears short due to the length and profusion of the coverts and saddles. Her tail actually starts just in front of the ends of the wings.

Pictured above are offspring from the yellow-legged recessive white line that we acquired. Some of the combs lop, but that really seems to be their only bad point so far. More long-rage rearing will tell more on resistance, but so far so good.

They have remarkable flight characteristics. The offspring acquire total controlled flight at only three weeks of age. Slow motion playback of recorded flight reveals that the wings move in the horizontal figure eight with the tips going out beyond the head on the downward stroke as typical of other flighted birds. Not a typical chicken thing at all.

The multiple feathering and tail angle is like nothing else. The body feathers are fine and lacy around the edges. Very wispy and soft.

Other information can also be found in Long Tailed Fowl, the new book by David Rogers and Toni-Marie Astin. Details (link opens in a new window)


Below: Long Tailed Fowl, the new book by David Rogers and Toni-Marie Astin. Buy Now Available for shipment worldwide.

Our goal is to breed up true modern Onagadori. Selecting very carefully for health and feathering, making as many family lines as possible so that inbreeding will never be required, are the most fundamental things at this point. Coloration and comb size can all be fixed after the main points of the breed are set.

We are in frequent communication with Japanese Onagadori breeders. They are quite helpful and very polite people. We have great respect for them. It is their, and our, desire that this breed be preserved. Not any just one breeder can do this on their own. It truly takes a group effort of swapping information on what we all know and understand about the breed and sharing our experiences with it.

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Last Update: Jan 30, 2009