Though plump and heavy, Mr. Ket’s cockerel jumped easily onto a hedge full of yellow flowers, puffed up his chest, raised his head, and crowed majestically. With the morning call over, he jumped back down to strut his stuff before a gaggle of admiring hens.
“It’s right that he struts like that, he’s no ordinary cockerel. He’s a Ho cockerel,” said Mr. Ket, a 67 year-old man from Phung Cong village in the Hung Yen province and one of the few remaining Ho chicken breeders. There are others who share his passion for this relatively rare bird: When cultural researcher Le Thanh Bao was in the army, he marched the Ho Chi Minh Trail with two Ho chickens in his backpack. He says that they originated 500 to 600 years ago in Ho village, Bac Ninh province but today they are mainly found in a few villages along the banks of the Red River in the Hung Yen province where the weather is cool, the alluvial soil rich, and the rice green and lush.