Why we like them: For us, they are an amazing unique bird that is an ultra-rare must have. In a photograph, the Ayam Cemani is like stepping into the dark side of poultry on a Halloween night. Watching the sun dance off the natural oil in the Ayam’s black plumage is extraordinary. You will be memorized by the holographic shimmers of translucent luster of beetle greens and purples. This ultra-rare chicken is known for being all black (black comb, waddles, black legs, toe nails, black beak, tongue, black muscle tissue, organs, and black bones. Thanks to their black color which absorbs sunlight, they do great in cold, harsh climates.
Feather Colors: The reason these rare chickens are pure black is because of a genetic condition called fibro melanosis which is caused by a mutation that affects how pigment producing cells work.
The goal for rare breed enthusiasts is to improve the breed to have offspring consistently completely black. We have enriched our flock of Ayam Cemanis over the years by only using the blackest parent stock. While our flock is known for their exceptionally black features, specifically the genetic trait of fibro melanosis, it is important to understand the fibro melanosis gene is a recessive trait.. Part of the rarity is in that the distribution of the black pigment in offspring cannot be guaranteed.
Egg Color/ Frequency: The only part of this bird that isn’t black is the egg. Eggs are a beautiful latte-colored. They lay in cycles of 30 days on and 60 days off which contributes to the scarcity of this bird.
Personality: They are an active breed that does well in cold climates. They are able to fly higher than other chicken breeds which helps them escape predators.
History: The Ayam Cemani originated on the island of Java, in Indonesia, and they’re prized for their black meat mystical powers, and are an important part of traditional culture there. They are often used in opening ceremonies to offer good fortune.
ADutchman, Jan Steverink first imported the Ayam Cemani out of Indonesia to Europe in 1998. Since then, it has been imported to the United States.
In 2011, a Sweden study concluded a gene called endothelian-3 (EDN3), was involved in the regulation of melanocyte cells which produce pigments. Researchers found around 10 times as much EDN3 expressed in the skin of adult Ayam Cemani chickens than in other breeds. The bottom line is that in these breeds of chickens, the gene that regulates pigmentation is in overdrive in the Ayam Cemani, resulting in the black coloring.