Black chicken breeds are not a new thing, or even a rare thing, but sometimes their color goes much deeper than their feathers. Some chickens are blacker than others. There are those that have black skin as well as feathers, and there are those that even have black bones and organs!
While it is suggested that there may be over 40 breeds of black chicken in total, not all make good pets, producers or show birds. Here are a selection of black chicken breeds that do!
17 Black Chicken Breeds
Australorps are considered dual-purpose birds, meaning they are good for both eggs and meat. They are heavy breeders, famous for laying over 300 eggs per year. Australorps are also hearty and disease resistant, making them a good choice for backyard flocks. Their black feathers and calm demeanor make them a popular choice for show birds as well.
The Australorps are of Australian origin but are now a popular breed across the western world due to their great success as a utility breed. They were originally the result of cross breeding the Orpington breed with the Rhode Island Red. They do come in blue and white colors, but black is the most abundant, and the only color recognised in some countries.
Ayam Cemani Chickens
The Ayam Cemani is a rare chicken breed from Indonesia, that is all black due to hyperpigmentation caused by a condition called fibromelanosis. Even their internal organs and bones are black!
These birds are prized for their exotic appearance and are often kept as pets or used in shows. They are considered a specialty breed and are not recommended for backyard flocks due to their high price tag and limited availability.
Ayam Cemanis are not known for being good layers, averaging around 80 eggs per year, and are a popular breed for cockfighting in the East, due to their characteristically muscular legs.
Breda Fowl (Kraaikop) Chickens
The Breda Fowl breed – as it is known in the UK, is more commonly known as the Kraaikop (crow head) chicken in its native Netherlands. The name Breda comes from the name of the Dutch village most associated with the origins of the breed.
This breeds most notable physical attributes are it’s ‘crow’ like head and beak, with a tuft of feathers and no comb crest. Thy have upturned nostrils and often have white discs around the ears. Other than this the plumage is black. They also have very distinctive feet, with strong thighs and vulture hocks which give them a very distinguishable walk.
Cochins were originally from China, but they are now a popular breed across the world. They were first brought to Europe in the 1840s, and they quickly became a favorite among chicken enthusiasts after people saw how big and striking these birds were. This event is often referred to as “hen fever.”
The Cochin is a large bird, with males weighing up to 12 pounds and females averaging around 9 pounds. The most identifying characteristic of the Cochin is its lavish, thick plumage of feathers that cover its legs and feet. The skin under these feathers is yellow.
In the UK, there are six identified colours for this bird: black, blue, buff, cuckoo, partridge and grouse, white. Regions vary, and in the USA there are 9 colors that are recognised. These are mostly bred as show birds, but they do lay well and make good mothers. Cochins lay very large eggs.
The Crevecoeur chicken is a rare breed that originated in France. Mores specifically it is a heritage breed from Pays d’Auge, in the Calvados département of Normandy. It is one of the oldest breeds from France.
They are a large breed, and are typically black or dark brown in color. They are distinguishable by the flamboyant crests on their head, earlobes and beard. Crevecoeurs are calm and docile birds, and make good pets.
Interestingly, Roosters have a V comb which is often hidden by their crest. Initially, they were bred for how succulent their white meat was – as well as for their eggs, though they are not the most abundant layers. Sadly though, this is another breed that is currently endangered.
German Langshan Chickens
The German Langshan chicken breed is a large, muscular bird that is known for its dark plumage and exceptional height. This bird is usually bred as a show bird, but does produce a goo quantity of large eggs too.
These chickens have a back that’s contoured, long legs with no feathers, and a tail that’s comparatively small. They also have just one red comb.
There are three other varieties of Langshan chicken – Modern, Australian and Croad – that all trace their origins back to China.
Japanese Bantam (Chabo) Chicken
The Japanese Bantam chicken breed is a small, compact bird that was originally bred in Japan. They are a very old breed, and are considered to be one of the most primitive chicken breeds in the world. They have very short legs, a result of the creeper gene, and very long feathered tails, usually stretching above their heads..
Japanese Bantams come in many different colors, including black, black mottled, white and red. They have a small head and can have a large crest. One type of this breed, the Shinguro Chabo or ‘black-skinned black’, is similar to the Silkie breed in that it has black skin as well as a completely black plumage.
The Java chicken is a breed that, despite it’s name, originated in the USA. It was originally bred from an unknown stock of Asian birds, and is one of the oldest American breeds.
Javas are large, sturdy birds that make great meat and egg producers. They’re perfect for homesteads, and backyard keepers. It’s hard to understand from this, why the Java chickens are currently considered to be a critically endangered breed.
They are distinguishable by their earlobes, wattles and comb on their head, which are all red in color. They come with either a full black, white or mottled plumage. Java chickens are calm and docile birds, and make good pets.
They were originally bred for their eggs, though they are not the most prolific layers. Java chickens are also good for meat production, as they have a good amount of breast meat, but they are slower to develop than other breeds.
Jersey Giant Chickens
The Jersey Giant chicken breed is a large, beefy bird that was originally bred in the US. They are one of the world’s largest chicken breeds, and are known for their excellent meat production.
Jersey Giants come in a variety of colors, including black, white and blue. Black Jersey Giants are larger than White feathered birds. They have a small head with a large crest, and a long tail. They are a very docile breed, rarely aggressive and make good pets.
These birds are a hardy breed, doing well in colder environments, but they do eat a lot of food for a chicken and take a fair amount of investment to reach maturity.
Their primary use is for meat production, as they have a lot of breast meat, but they are another slow developing breed. However, they can also be used for egg production, laying around 3 per week.
Kadaknath (Kali Masi) Chicken
The Kadaknath chicken breed is a rare, black chicken that is native to the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. They are amongst the only black chickens in the world that are not the result of crossbreeding.
Kadaknaths are a medium-sized bird, are a very hardy breed, and can tolerate hot and humid climates well. They are mainly raised for their meat, which is considered to be one of the best in the world.
These chickens are completely black, including their skin, feathers and beaks. They are similar in appearance to the Ayam Cemani, although not related. They share the same condition that produces black organs and bones, as well as skin and feathers. They are an active and alert breed.
Their popularity as a meat bird has resulted in a major decline in the population of these birds in the last few decades. Breeding programmes have been introduced to try and revive the population.
La Fleche Chickens
The La Fleche chicken breed is a rare French bird that is known for its black plumage and was prized for its quality of meat in the early 20th Century. However, it is a slow layer and a slow grower, and therefore mostly overlooked for more productive birds. As such, today they are an endangered breed.
The La Fleche originated in France during the 1400’s in the village of La Fleche, from which it gets it’s name. The most distinct characteristic of these birds is their V-shaped comb. Due to their landrace background, they are not very tame and their behavior is quite wild and unruly. While they don’t lay many eggs, they do lay large eggs.
The Minorca chicken breed is a black chicken that is known for its large size and calm disposition. These chickens originate from the Island on Minorca, as the name would suggest, but are actually endangered on that island today.
This bird has a bright red comb, face and wattles, white earlobes and a smooth, consistent black plumage. Other colors are recognised regionally, but most often they are black. The Minorca chickens are usually bred as show birds. They do produce a fair amount of eggs though, around 120 per year.
These small to medium sized chickens are a good choice for those who are looking for a chicken that is easy to care for and does not require a lot of space.
The Orpington is a British hybrid breed, originating in the late 19th Century. The original Black Orpington was introduced by William Cook in 1886, as a result of crossing Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks.
The breeding intentionally included a black chicken to replicate the color in a hybrid, that would exhibit well, hiding the atmospheric soot and pollution in London that would otherwise leave a stain on the birds coat.
The Orpington chicken breed comes in two recognised size standards. It is a docile bird that is known for its excellent egg-laying abilities. Historically, Orpingtons were better egg layers than they are today. They used to be able to commonly lay over 350 eggs per year, but todays stock produce roughly half of that. It’s believed this is the result of breeders choosing stock for appearance rather than productivity.
These chickens are typically black with a thick, soft plumage that also covers the head and neck. They were originally intended to be bred for food and as a show bird, but are more or less exclusively a show bird now.
The Silkie chicken breed is a domesticated chicken that is named for its characteristic silky plumage. The downy undercoating of a Silkie’s feathers is so soft and silky that it feels like silk to the touch. This makes them very popular as pets and show birds.
They are a lightly built bird with a small head and a short, stout neck. They have blue earlobes and black skin. Their bones are also black. Their beak and legs are black too, or dark grey, depending on the color of their plumage.
Silkies come in several colors, including black, white, blue, buff and partridge (a mix of light brown and white).
Silkies are considered a bantam breed in many countries, and as you would expect, are a relatively small bird. They don’t lay many eggs, but they make excellent mothers to the eggs they do lay. This chicken is mostly bred as a show bird.
The Sumatra chicken breed is a relatively rare breed that originated in Indonesia particularly the island of Sumatra. They are a large, black chicken with a deep, greenish tint to their feathers. Though they also come in white and blue varieties too.
These chickens are not the most social breed, acting more like a game bird than domestic fowl.
Their most defining features include the very large, feathery tail which tends to be larger with males. They don’t have large wattles, and in some cases don’t have any at all.
One thing that stands this breed out from most others, is that it maintains a relatively good ability for flight.
These are mostly ornamental birds, as they do not make good producers, averaging about 100 eggs a year. Though they do maintain production over winter.
Svarthöna (Swedish Black) Chickens
The Svarthöna chicken breed is a Swedish breed of black chicken, thought to have originated in the 17th Century in Norway, by crossing the Ayam Cemani with the Kadaknath breed. Of the population native to Sweden, all ancestry leads to one group introduced to the country in the 19th Century.
Svarthona chickens are mostly kept as a pet or for ornamental purposes. They are relatively small birds with roosters weighing up to 2 kg. They lay up to 2-3 eggs per week, but the eggs are small. Hens of this breed make great mothers to their chicks.
Svart Hona chickens are not as popular as some other chicken breeds, but they make excellent pets and backyard chickens. They are calm and docile birds that can be easily tamed.
The Valdarno chicken breed is a rare, dual-purpose chicken breed from Tuscany, in central Italy. They almost went extinct in the 20th Century, being a very popular bird for livestock. They are a medium-sized bird with males weighing about 2.5 kg and hens 2 kg.
Valdarnos are good egg-layers, averaging around 200 medium sized eggs per year. They are also good for meat as they grow quickly and have a thick, dark flesh.
The Valdarno chicken is primarily black, with dark green lights in its plumage. Its legs are a dark slate colour, and the beak is also black. It has a medium-large comb that’s red, wattles of medium length that are also red, and pale white skin. Though smaller than the Minorca chickens, they have similar white earlobes.
This breed is considered quite hardy and adaptable, doing well in both cold and hot climates.
Black Chicken Facts
What makes some black chickens organs black?
Some black chicken breeds have a genetic condition that causes them to produce too much melatonin, resulting in fibromelanosis. This can cause hyperpigmentation in these breeds, or in some cases the results are far deeper than just causing black skin.
This condition can cause the bones and organs of some chicken breeds to be black, as well as the meat. In some countries, this black chicken meat is considered a delicacy. There is no evidence that this condition causes any harm to the effected breeds.
What is the blackest chicken?
The Ayam Cemani is generally considered to be the blackest chicken breed. Although there are others that share the same genetic characteristics that cause them to be black inside and out. It helps that these birds have fully black features on the outside too, whereas others may have a red crest or different colored earlobes.