Black feathers are just as timeless as the little black dress. They’re effortlessly gorgeous, tend to come with a little sparkle, and they’ll never go out of fashion. Every girl should have one!
Black chickens have no particular perks or problems compared to any chicken. So, if you’re specifically searching for a black feathery friend to grace your garden, I’ve got to assume it’s simply because you love the way they look.
I don’t blame you! Who wouldn’t want some of these little black beauties bustling about?
Black chickens aren’t as common as other color varieties like white, brown, speckled, and red. The only reason for this is that black coloring is genetically ‘less likely’ than any other color.
Most black chickens are varieties of chicken breeds that come in multiple colors and they tend not to be completely black. Some accessorize those shimmery black feathers with a sexy red like the Orpington or a punky white crest like the black Polish chicken.
There are a handful of rare chicken breeds that are black to the bones…literally. I don’t just mean feathers and feet, they have black eyes, crests, tongues, internal organs, and meat.
Black is one of the least common chicken colors. Most entirely black chickens are very rare, whilst some black varieties are a little easier to come by, but they’re all a little bit special.
Just because black chickens are rare and fancy, that doesn’t mean they’re not beginner friendly.
There are some stunning luna ladies out there who would make the perfect pets, broody mommas, and egg-cellant layers🥚. You just need to know what you’re looking for! Picking your perfect chicken is no mean feat and can’t be done based on color alone.
Whether you buy black, brown, white, or red chickens – the most important choice you’ll make is how to care for them. Chickens don’t come with instruction manuals, so it’s down to you to make sure that you've got the knowledge you need to raise a happy, healthy flock.
67% of new chicken keepers that we asked said they didn’t make it through their first 12 months without facing a scary chicken health or behaviour issue that they didn’t know how to handle. Chicken health declines fast, so waiting for a problem to occur is often too late to avoid heartbreak.
Most chicken health issues are preventable or curable IF you spot the signs in time. Chickenpedia’s Chicken Health Course will teach you all the early signs and symptoms to watch out for, so that you can act fast and keep your backyard buddies safe. Now’s the time!
Ok, back to the black beauties that you come here for…
- The Top 10 black chicken FAQs answered
- Meet the famous Ayam Cemani!
- The Most Popular Black Chicken Breeds
- Black Chicken Name Ideas
- Black Chicken Pros & Cons
BLACK CHICKEN FAQS
Are Black Chickens Rare?
Entirely black chickens, like the Indonesian Ayam Cemani, are very rare. Other black chickens are more common, like the black varieties of Orpingtons, Jersey Giants, and Silkies.
Overall, black is still one of the least common color varieties of chicken. As you read on, you’ll realize how rare these sooty-faced sweeties are. Let’s change that and get black back on the chicken map and into America’s homesteads!
How Many Types of Black Chicken Are There?
The American Poultry Association recognizes 46 black chickens, including chicken breeds that are only ever black, and black varieties of chicken breeds, including bantams.
There are more black chicken varieties that aren’t recognized yet by the APA or don’t class as an official breed, so there are still more than enough black-bottomed birdies for you to choose from.
Which Chicken Breeds Are Completely Black?
There are only four entirely black chickens. Most people have heard of the infamous Ayam Cemani, but the Vietnamese Black H’Mong and the Swedish chicken, or Svart Hona, are also entirely black breeds. The black variety of the Silkie is the fourth entirely black chicken (and the cutes in my opinion).
Of course, not everything is black and white when it comes to chickens! The Kadaknath chicken is also considered an all-black chicken, though it’s said by some to be more of a slate grey. Talk about 50 shades of grey!
What Makes Black Chickens Black?
Some black chicken breeds are naturally melanistic, meaning that due to genetic variations they have more pigment production in their skin and feathers than other breeds. This tends to apply to breeds of chicken where the black variety was the original color of the breed, and selective breeding has resulted in the newer, lighter color choices.
Those gorgeously gothic-looking chickens that are black through and through have a unique genetic mutation called Fibromelanosis. They are occasionally said to be ‘suffering’ from Fybromelanosis but rest assured their health or happiness is not affected in any way, and they look amazing, so I’m not sure suffering is ever the right term!
“…in hyperpigmented chickens, virtually all of the body’s cells express EDN3, creating up to 10 times as many melanoblasts and leading to bones and innards that look like they’ve been dipped in tar." (The National Geographic)
What is Fibromelanosis?
Fibromelanosis is a genetic mutation that causes an excessive accumulation of melanin in the tissues.
In entirely black chickens, this pigmentation is so over the top that even their internal organs, their tongues, their eyes, and even their heart are black🖤.
What Color Eggs Do Black Chickens Lay?
Black chickens don’t lay black eggs. Depending on their breed they lay cream, white, and brown eggs of all different shades and sizes.
Are Black Chickens Hard to Keep?
Being black doesn’t add any complexities to how hard chickens are to care for.
Black chickens do make great backyard birds and pets, but that has nothing at all to do with the fact that they are black. It’s just sheer coincidence that most of these breeds are fabulous inside and out, and the fact that every chicken is perfect for someone.
Are Black Chickens Expensive?
Entirely black chickens are rare and in turn more expensive than more common varieties of chickens.
The Indonesian Ayam Cemani and the Swedish Svart Hona chickens go for $100 for just one unsexed chick! The Kadaknath chicken will set you back a sizeable $2500 for a pair of pullets!
Are Black Chicken’s Eggs Edible?
Black chickens don’t lay black eggs, and even if they did, they would still be safe to eat. The eggs laid by black chickens are not only edible, but tasty, and said to be egg-stra nutritious!
I know we don’t like to dwell on the thought of chicken meat too much, but if you’re curious about black chicken meat – yes, it’s edible, yes it tastes a little different (richer), and yes, it is a bit healthier than white chicken meat as it has higher levels of the antioxidant, carnosine.
Which Black Chicken Breed is Best?
There is no such thing as the best black chicken, they’re all stunning and unique in their own ways.
However, if you put me on the spot to pick the best black backyard breed, I would recommend:
1. The Black Silkie:
She is the most affordable and accessible of black chickens. A great layer, a marvelous momma if you’re thinking of breeding, and petite enough to suit most homes.
2. The Black Australorp:
if your priority, after black feathers, is eggs. They’ll lay up to 300 eggs a year!
3. The Black Jersey Giant:
for the perfect poultry pet with produce! They’re just so calm, friendly, and docile. They’re beginner-friendly black chickens, and great layers.
ENTIRELY BLACK CHICKENS
The Ayam Cemani is a rare, beautiful, entirely black breed of chicken. Its black color extends beyond its skin, feathers, legs, and beak to its meat, bones, and organs. It has a black heart, and even the Ayam’s blood is darker than that of most chickens.
The Ayam’s gothic looks are caused by Fibromyalgia.
“The Ayam cemani chicken may be the most deeply pigmented creature on earth.” (The National Geographic)
Ayam Cemanis are Indonesian, ornamental chickens. They’re regal-looking chickens that are highly respected in Indonesia and believed to have magical, spiritual powers. They’re thought to be able to communicate with the dead. Spooky!
Ayam hens weigh 3.5 - 4.5lb and roosters weigh 4.5-6.5 lb.
It’s only fitting such a unique bird should have an equally unique laying cycle: they’ll lay for about 20-25 days and then stop for a while, meaning they only manage to lay 60-100 large cream eggs a year.
Ayam Cemanis are the most expensive breed of black chicken with an unsexed chick costing around $100 and mating pair costing around $5000!
Whilst Ayams are expensive and rare, they make great pets if you can manage to find them. They’re hardy, heat-tolerant and easy to handle, and of course eye-catching!
THE SVART HONA
Svart Hona is Swedish for ‘black female’, but there are of course Svart Hona roos out there too! They are sometimes called Black Sweedish chickens since it’s easier to say.
Svart Honas are entirely black, inside and out, due to fibromelanosis. They have a beautiful bottle-green shimmer to their jet-black feathers.
They’re small birds that weigh 3 – 7.5lbs. Svart Hona hens will lay 250 large, off-white eggs a year, which is impressive for such small ladies.
Svart Honas originated in Mozambique and were then brought to Sweden where the breed was finely tuned.
It’s thought - since they are so similar to the super-unusual Ayam Cemani – that they’re probably descendants who found their way from Indonesia to Mozambique.
“We have evidence that it is a complex rearrangement in the genome… The mutation underlying fibromelanosis is very peculiar, so we are sure that it occurred once.” (Leif Andersson Uppsala University in Sweden).
The Svart Hona chicken is extremely rare. There are only around 400 left in Sweden. The breed made its way to the US in 2012 but is equally hard to get hold of here. The few genuine breeders often have empty nests.
If they were easier to get your poultry-loving paws on, Svart Honas would make lovely pets as they’re friendly, inquisitive, and make great mommas. They’re light and flighty, so best suited to free ranging rather than smaller, urban backyards. If you spot some, go for it!
THE MOST POPULAR BLACK VARIETIES OF CHICKEN
THE BLACK SILKIE CHICKEN
Black Silkie chickens are the most popular entirely black chicken. Whilst other color varieties of Silkie are available, they all have black skin and excessive black/blue internal pigmentation as a result of fibromelanosis.
Silkies are small, ornamental, Asian chickens. They’re a true bantam breed, meaning they’ve always been pretty and petite. Silkie hens weigh just 32 oz and silkie roosters aren’t much heavier at 36 oz.
Black Silkies lay 2-3 small, white eggs per week, so around 100 eggs per year. What they lack in egg performance, they make up for tenfold in their temperament.
Silkies don’t just look like teddy bears, they’re friendly, affectionate, calm, quiet, and cuddly.😍 They are a fluffy treat for the eyes and the fingertips!
Black silkies are a very popular black chicken choice since they make great pets and don’t require a large amount of space. They’re also the best chicken mommas about! They’ll hatch pretty much any egg they see.
Marco Polo mentioned black-boned chickens in his memoirs when traveling to Asain in 1298. He described them as having “have hair like cats, are black, and lay the best of eggs.” Black Silkie? I think so.
BLACK JERSEY GIANT
The Jersey Giant is the largest purebred chicken in the United States. All Jersey giants are, well, giant, but for some unknown reason, it’s the black variety that seems to grow the largest.
Black Jersey Giant hens weigh up to 11 lbs and roosters weigh 13 - 15 lbs fully grown. Roosters can stand at around two feet tall. Yep. Honestly!
Black Jersey Giants are a savvy black chicken choice for beginners. They’re low maintenance, docile, friendly, cold hardy, and they lay all year round. They’re big-bottomed girls though, and they need that extra space to thrive, so aren’t suited to small, urban yards.
Most stats will say that Jersey girls lay 3-4 large brown eggs a week, but we asked over 100 owners, and 50% of them said they lay 5-6 a week!
How well you care for your chicken, whatever their breed or color, will impact their health, happiness, and in turn, their productivity! If you want the best for your chickens, and their eggs, then get cracking with Chickenpedia’s Chicken Health Course. You will never regret the knowledge you have when you need it most. Feeling lost and helpless when your pets are sick is the worst feeling in the world, which you can avoid by completing the Chickenpedia health course. Prevent is key to longevity!
Orpington chickens are available in a rainbow of colors, and the most popular is buff, but black is where it all began. Mr. Cook made a simple observation that still makes black chickens a smart choice today…
“Black is the oldest colour of the Orpington breed which can be traced back to 1886 when a poultryman called William Cook who resided in Orpington in Kent decided to create a new utility chicken… Apparently, Cook selected a black bird that would exhibit well by hiding the dirt and soot of London.” (OrpingtonChickens.co.uk)
The Black Orpington’s plumage is jet black with a gorgeous green sheen, a black beak, deep black eyes, and dark legs. You’ll see a pop of color from their bright red combs, faces, and wattles.
Orpingtons are large chickens, with hens weighing 8-10lbs and roosters 10-12 lbs. They look huge, like the Jersey Giant, but a lot of what you see is feather fluff!
Orpingtons are renowned for their pet-worthy personalities. Like a lot of larger breeds, they’re mellow, calm, docile, friendly, and affectionate.
Orpingtons are broody and make great mother hens if you are thinking of breeding. They are good layers too, popping out respectable 150-250 medium-sized, light-brown eggs a year. The only time you’ll see a grumpy Orpington is when you try to take her eggs.
Black Orpingtons are cold-hardy, quiet, easy to contain, friendly, and reliable layers. They’re totally loveable, I think that’s why her body is heart shaped.
The Australorps ‘full name’ is the Australian Utility Black Orpington. They are the Australian take on the English Orpington, and you can probably guess from their name what the original color was!
Whilst Australorps aren’t a rare breed now, it’s not that long since they were. They’re now considered a recovering breed.
Black is the most common color variety of Australorp. They have beautiful, iridescent, close-knit black feathers which look oil-like with a greenish sheen to them. Black Australorps are full breasted with solid, deep bodies. They have black feathering, black beaks, black eyes, and black or slate-blue legs. They aren’t entirely black though: their wattles, earlobes, and combs are red and their skin (including the soles of their feet) is white.
In the US only the original Black Australorp is recognized by the American Poultry Association, but there are more varieties available to buy in the US, and more are recognized in other countries.
Black Australorp chickens are heavy birds like their predecessors, Orpingtons, who were primarily meat birds. Australorp hens weigh 6.5-9lbs and roosters weigh 8.5-10lbs.
Australorps are cracking layers and lay 250 -300 medium/large pale brown eggs a year.
Australorps make great pets. They’re friendly, manageable, easy to care for, not problematic or demanding, they mix well with other breeds, and they are egg-septional layers. It’s a big old thumbs-up for pet potential!
BLACK LA FLECHE
Talk about the Devil wears Prada! Sometimes called ‘The Devil’s Bird’, the French La Fleche chicken appears all black apart from its devil horn red comb and white cheeks. This is quite a strong cluck look! There’s no mistaking the La Fleche for another chicken breed.
Black is the only color this Parisian-chic chick will wear, and her feathers are deep black with a green iridescent sheen.
The black La Fleche is a medium-sized chicken, with hens weighing 6-7lbs and roosters weighing 8 – 9lbs. They’re the opposite to the fluffy Orpington, they look lighter than they are thanks to their sleek feathering.
The La Fleche hen is a decent layer too, and you can expect 200 eggs a year. No. They don’t lay deviled eggs!
This might be the one time I let you judge a cluck by its cover. I’m not saying they’re devilish, but they do rate themselves quite highly and would rather be admired by you than handled by you.
Guess what, another rare black chicken! The La Fleche is currently listed as critical by The Livestock Conservancy after its numbers declined in the 1940s. They’re finding their way back, but they need some fans!
If an affectionate pet isn’t as high on your wish list as a cat-walk-worthy show chicken, then you might be the person to help bring back the La Fleche!
Cochin chickens are walking feather bombs. They’re large, stocky, head-to-toe bundles of feathers that insist on being cuddled. You simply cannot help but stare at these birds, they are adorable.
There are lots of varieties of Cochin and, whilst the black Cochin wasn’t on the radar for a while, it’s getting more and more popular with hobbyist chicken keepers.
Black Cochins are very heavy chickens with hens weighing 8.5 lbs and roosters weighing an impressive 11 lbs. Their feathers and beak are black, but their combs, wattles, and earlobes are red, and their legs and skin should be yellow.
Cochins are very cold-hardy thanks to their stocky build and massive feathery coats, so they prefer to lay in the winter like the Brahma. They’ll do a great job at stocking up your larder in the colder months when other hens might be taking a winter break.
Black Cochins are moderate layers. You can expect 150-180 medium-sized, light-brown eggs a year.
Black Cochins have beautiful souls. They’re super-calm and docile making them a brilliant beginner breed, affectionate family pets, and kid-friendly cuddle material.
Minorca chickens are the largest chickens in the Mediterranean class. There are a few color varieties of Minorca, but the original black is quite a sight.
Black Minorcas have black feathers, shanks, beaks, and eyes. Their black ensemble is offset with their characteristic large, white earlobes. As Minorcas age, the white color spreads to their faces.
Minorca hens weigh 7.5 lbs and roosters weigh up to 9 lbs. The hens have a trick up their sleeve, too: they lay the largest white chicken eggs available, and up to 220 of them a year!
Minorcas aren’t very maternal and won’t go broody, but this is great news if you want to enjoy all those whopper white eggs without the worry of raising chicks.
Minorca owners adore their chickens and speak highly of the breed. They’re fun, friendly, nosy, and attentive chickens and will happily form a bond with their humans. They’re clever and alert, but relaxed and not edgy.
“The Black Minorca is a dream breed to keep, breed and handle. If they are kept in large areas say 50 by 100 feet or so they will stay within a five foot fence, unlike Leghorns and Sumatras.”(Richard Schtrok of the APA)
Wow! The White Crested Black Polish chicken is quite a monochrome sight. You can’t miss the fact that this black chicken isn’t completely black, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Polish chickens aren’t endangered, but they are on the watch list.
Polish chickens are medium-sized, tall, and slim. Polish hens weigh 4.5 lbs and Polish roosters weigh 6lbs on average. They stand – rather elegantly - at 12-15 inches in height. No doubt those hairdos add an extra inch or two on top!
Black polish chickens are primarily an ornamental breed, as you may have guessed. They lay 150 -200 Bright white, small eggs a year and can make fascinating additions to your flock.
Black polish chickens are fun, friendly, and fairly low maintenance, but they’re also a bit skittish, noisy, and not the best layers. They might not be quite right for families with young children, but if you love to show your birds, then what on Earth are you waiting for?
Here we have another big softy here, like the Jersey Giant.
Langshan chickens come in four different strains, and three different colors: black, blue, and white. The black Croad Langshan is a very large, rare, Chinese chicken. It’s on the watch list with the Livestock Conservancy.
Black Langshan hens weigh 7.5lbs and roosters weigh 9.5lbs. Black Langshans have a majestic vibe about them. They stand very tall and proud and hold their head high. Whilst they’re not the heaviest breed, they are the tallest of the non-game chicken breeds.
Black Langshan chickens have black feathers, dark brown eyes, and red wattles, earlobes, and combs. Their feathered legs and feet are characteristic of Asiatic chicken breeds, like the Brahma and Cochin.
The Black Langshan hen lays around 150 large brown eggs a year, and they are sometimes very dark brown with a purple tint.
They mix better with other more confident breeds than some big softies do as they will stand their ground if picked on, or more to the point, pecked at.
Langshan hens and roosters have wonderful temperaments and make sociable, friendly, calm, fun homestead chickens, so long as you have the space.
BLACK CHICKEN NAMES
So, what to call your little black bombshells? Check out some of these color-inspired chicken names below.
Nothing that’s quite right? Your next step…the most comprehensive, categorized chicken name list ever!
BLACK CHICKEN PROS & CONS
Black chickens look stunning and add something unique to your flock. There is nothing prettier than watching the sunset over a flock of iridescent black feathers.
Black chickens make great show birds because they are just stunning, and oh-so fancy.
There are a few things to consider about these little (and large) black gems though:
Some counties have restrictions on keeping exotic birds, and a lot of black chickens are considered exotic due to their rarity.
If you do manage to find the rare black breed you have your heart set on, you’ll need to be cautious that you’re getting the real deal. Since black chickens sell for big bucks, there are some naughty folk out there selling hybrids at high prices.
Sorry to poultry preach, but picking a pet based solely on its looks is never a smart start to a relationship. If you find a black chicken whose breed characteristics suit your needs that’s great, but as they are, please don’t base your final decision on color alone. Check out Chickenpedia’s <chicken breed> course before you check out a chicken!
GOING BACK TO BLACK?
There are so many dark divas out there to take your poultry pick from that if you have your heart set on a sooty -colored soul mate you will be able to find the right Black Breed for you.
Check out the Black Sumatra, the Black Valdarno chicken, the Crevecoeur, the Java…oh, or the Black Shumen Chicken!
There are a HUGE number of chicken breeds out there to pick from. Whatever you want from your chicken, wherever you live, and whatever your budget, there's the perfect chicken breed for you. It may or may not be black.
Chickenpedia is like a people-poultry dating site: they have an awesome course to help you find the right breed for you. Once you've found the perfect match, then like every relationship, it’ll need nurturing. Chickenpedia can walk you through all the stages of your chicken’s life, health, and changing needs.