Q- Is every rooster non-molting?
A- No, each rooster is different and one may express the trait and his brother may not.
Q- Is it possible to get non-molting offspring from a rooster if he does not express the trait?
A- Yes, the non-molting gene (mt) is recessive, requiring two copies of the gene to be expressed. It is possible that a father carrying one copy of the gene can pass the trait on to the offspring if the mother also carries the trait. The trait is not detectable in females except by test breeding and observing / testing male offspring.
Q- Will roosters kept on the ground produce long tails?
A- Traditionally they are kept in Tomebako and let out to walked daily. They may also be kept in 6'x6'x8' individual stalls with thick bedding. Hens must be kept out of sight. They will prompt a hormone induced molt in the males.
Q- How long do roosters go without molting?
A- Two years or longer. Four years is preferred. During this period the coverts, sickles, and saddles should not molt. Retrices molt normally. Males have their first molt at 18-24 months of age. This first molt is to acquire adult plumage. The adult plumage is the actual non-molting growth.
Q- How long do hens' tails get?
A- Usually 8-10". Sometimes up to 12".
Q- Do they require special care apart from other breeds of chickens?
A- Yes, very much so. Both sexes must be kept above 50ºF during the winter. The high concentrations of green jungle fowl (Gallus varius) genetics makes them somewhat more fragile to cold temperatures.
Q- Do they require a special diet?
A- Yes. All grains high in, or containing different forms of, glutenin are to be avoided. This includes *corn, milo, millet, wheat, and barley. *Gliadin may also be a factor since corn has been shown to cause severe food allergies and a slow death.
The only grains they should be fed are whole oats and brown rice - no other kind of rice, brown rice only. These grains have not shown to be problematic.
Q- Why can they not have gluten?
A- It is a long term toxin that they can not pass. It can lead to death within two years.
Q- How much protein do they require?
A- 19-20% over all. Plant proteins such as soy should be used in moderation. Soy contains phytoestrogens and can decrease fertility in males. Opt instead for meat protein such as fish meal that is a more easily utilized protein, but use no more than 8 Lbs per 100 Lbs of feed. Too high of protein can lead to permanent kidney damage.
Q- Any other special foods?
A- Yes. Nira, daikon greens, cranberries, raw or lightly broiled eel, and hard boiled egg may be fed as treats. Raw green cabbage should be fed to solitary males daily. It is a goitrogen and slows the production of hormones that would induce molt.
Q- Do both sexes receive cabbage?
A- No. Only solitary males are usually fed cabbage. Do not give cabbage to any breeding fowl. The goitrogenous properties of the cabbage may decrease fertility.
Q- Are they difficult to breed?
A- They readily breed and brood young on their own, but the genetics are fickle and widely variable. A basic understanding of genetics is a must. Three genes control the tail growth - one recessive, one dominant, and one co-dominant. Each must work together. Not only that, but each portion of the tail - sickles, coverts, and saddles must each contain a copy of each of the three genes. In addition to that, the retrices must contain copies of two of the three genes. This totals 11 genetic components in the tail alone that must be selected for in the parents and resulting offspring.
Q- Are non-molting long-tail fowl something anyone can raise?
A- No. They require more time than most people can afford them. Solitary males must be walked and exercised daily and have fresh cabbage blended with their feed every day for best tail growth. With proper care non-molting long-tail fowl can live to 8 to 12 years of age. Without proper care, they may fail quickly. It is almost an exact science that requires time, resources, and a deep devotion to the fowl.
For more information about non-molting and, the more easily kept, molting long-tail fowl see Long Tailed Fowl, the new book by David Rogers and Toni-Marie Astin. Details.