BREED NAME: Totenko
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The Totenko chicken is a long-crowing long-tailed Japanese chicken. To the untrained eye it would be easy to confuse Totenko with the German Phoenix as they have very similar type and origin.
Which breed(s) are these? Breed standards now demand that the Phoenix have slate colored legs and that Totenko have olive green. If it weren’t for this and a more fanned tail in the Totenko chicken, they could easily be the same breed.
The Totenko is lighter, more graceful and refined in stature, but Japanese focus has been first and foremost on the long-crowing trait and beauty second.
Until recently the Totenko was denied entry into German Poultry competitions. Once leg color standards of perfection were established for German Phoenix and Totenko, the Totenko was finally accepted as a unique breed.
TOTENKO, The Facts:
Class: Light Size: Standard Male: 5 Ibs. / Standard Female: 4 Ibs. Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: White lobes with red wattles and single comb. Color: Red hackled (Black Breasted Red or BBRed), red-brown eyes
Place of Origin: Japan
Conservation Status: Rare
Special Qualities: Grouped with long-crowers: Kurokashiwa, Tomaru, and Koeyoshi, the Totenko has been declared a “natural monument” by the Japanese government since 1936. It is the longest crower of the group.
Well known in Kochi Prefecture and believed to have been developed in Shokoku, the Totenko is an elegant breed. The breed is not always known for hardiness, especially in flocks outside Japan, though some have better success than others.
According to Julia Keeling, Secretary - Asian Hardfeather Club, she has not experienced the same fragility as others: "I would just like to say that although I keep reading about how fragile this breed is, I have never found it to be so myself, nor was it in Japan!
What I would say though, is that the breed does not appear to do at all well, or breed successfully, if caged. My own flock are very hardy indeed, but are allowed to free-range and roost in an open shelter.
They forage so successfully that they require minimal extra food. They lay prolifically and breed so successfully I must constantly cull surplus chicks emerging from hedges and sheds. So, although it is not the breed for those with limited space (or with neighbours!), it is certainly not delicate if kept in the right conditions."
If the nature of the Totenko chicken is just as similar to the German Phoenix as they are in physical attributes, I would have to agree with Ms. Keeling.
I kept a free ranging flock of German Phoenix bantams and during the summer it sometimes seemed that chicks were coming out of the woodwork. One day they were literally raining from above as a day old clutch was bouncing out of the barn loft into the thick straw below.
Even with its elegant flowing tail and saddle feathers the breed has not spread in popularity world-wide and seems to be limited outside Japan to about 13 breeders in Germany, Italy and England.
Some breeders fear the Totenko would lose its long-crowing abilities if popularity in show demanded more focus on appearance.
TOTENKO chicken is considered very rare and beautiful and its crow a song unto its self.