Having all types of chicken breeds accessible and ready for purchase was not always the case for backyard chicken owners. Now with relatively efficient ways to purchase and start raising any type of chicken breed you prefer, people have been more deeply exploring breeds that are exotic and hard to acquire, and those that have different hardiness traits. Let’s explorer two black breeds that are both very popular but for two completely different reasons. Black Chickens are all the craze.
Ayam Cemani Rooster
Black Inside and Out
Ayam Cemani’s are a relatively modern breed from Indonesia and have been labeled as the true “black chicken” with even their internal organs, feathers, and skin being black.
This black trait comes from a dominant hyperpigmentation gene called fibromelanosis which is a unique feature in this bird. You can find detailed information on this trait at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381777/
While the birds originate from Indonesia they are now accessible in certain U.S. locations. I don’t know how you feel about consuming dark poultry but culturally this is very accepted in Indonesia and this breed of chicken is a great luxury. The cost of one Ayam Cemani can run up to several hundred dollars.
Unfortunately if you are looking for egg production from the Ayam Cemani I recommend you look elsewhere. They only lay an average of 70 to 90 eggs per year which pales in comparison to strong laying black chicken breeds such as the Black Australorp.
The Ayam Cemani is a nice breed for show and for a very specific poultry market, not for egg production. An absolutely beautiful bird none-the-less.
Black Australorps date back to the 1880s when they were first developed out of Black Orphingtons. Bred primarily in Australia, they were originally called “Australian Utility Orphingtons” which was shortened to “Australorp.”
Now my experience with the Black Australorp has only been positive. There is so much to talk about that they deserve their very own post. I want to mention though that last winter I had a horrible experience with predators. I like to keep a mixed flock for many reasons, especially for my personal note taking and observations. Over several attacks the Black Australorps were the most resilient and defensive, I had no Black Australorp losses! But not only that, after the ladies were startled I had a dip in egg production, but with careful observation the Black Australorps were still laying eggs at a better rate than all the other hens and it was business as usual with them. I would recommend this breed for the true free range chicken keepers. I have never had a rooster of this breed but am exploring the option: I can only imagine the outcome.
Egg Laying Australorps
As far as egg laying, these birds are amazing layers. With an average egg production of 240 to 260 eggs per year they are strong layers, winter hardy, and don’t need very much attention. They are definitely on the top of my recommended breeds for beginners and for intermediates.
Too many people want to achieve, for example, egg production but get caught up by how beautiful a bird can look, even if it is not a very good egg layer. There are so many chicken breeds available and we always encourage people to educate themselves on all the different types of chickens breeds. Once you know what you want to achieve in keeping chickens, then you can choose the breed that fits you best.
Claire Woods is the editor at The Happy Chicken Coop and is a fourth-generation chicken keeper. Her love for chickens has helped educate millions in the proper care and upbringing of all the countless types of chickens. She has also authored the book “Backyard Chickens: A Practical Handbook to Raising Chickens” and looks forward to contributing more in helping everyone in this great adventure of raising chickens.