Our color theme this week is black!
There are some gorgeous ‘Goth’ chickens out there, so we decided to showcase some for your pleasure.
The majority of these chickens can be found quite easily on hatchery sites or even private sellers. There are of course, several more black breeds but they are much rarer and not easy to locate…and expensive!
We hope you enjoy our selection and perhaps you have room in your flock for one or two of these ‘black beauties’.
Originally from Indonesia, this chicken has a black heart – literally! It is one of the few melanistic chickens known to us.
It is highly revered in its’ own land as it supposedly has magical powers and can communicate with the spirit world. It is said to be a good luck charm.
Feathers, skin, and internal organs – all black. The blood is also said to be a darker red than normal.
Although only recently brought to Europe (1998), they are becoming increasingly popular here in the US partly driven by the novelty of being totally black.
Their plumage can shimmer a beetle green iridescence in the sunlight, a beautiful sight.
Eggs are cream colored and medium in size. The Ayam Cemani has a cyclical laying pattern where they will lay 20-30 eggs, then stop for a while before they start again! In this manner they will lay around 80 eggs per year. You can read our complete guide to Ayam Cemanis here.
Next up on our list of black chicken breeds is the Silkie. Although not quite as black as the Ayam Cemani, the Silkie has black flesh and bones.
Silkies are loved by just about everyone! They are so cute and cuddly – they look like a stuffed toy.
The hens are often kept for their brooding ability – it is often jokingly said that a Silkie could hatch a rock. They are diligent about setting and make good mothers to their offspring.
In the egg department they can lay around 100 small cream tinted eggs per year.
They are very friendly and child safe; kids love to cuddle them.
The Cochin has been around for a long time but was introduced to English society back in the 1840s. They were presented to Queen Victoria who adored them. These birds were in part responsible for the ‘hen fever’ that swept the UK and US in the late 1800s.
They are very cuddly, head to toe feathers – perfect for cuddling and lap time. In fact, many Cochins these days are kept as pets rather than ‘working girls’.
The Cochin is not renowned for prolific laying although when they do lay they can produce 3-4 brown, medium sized eggs each week.
Cochins are one of the breeds that are prone to frizzling and a frizzled Cochin is a sight to see!
They are calm, friendly and enjoy being pampered by their humans. If you want more information on this delightful breed, please see our article.
Australia’s Orpington! This friendly and productive bird is loved the world over. It has a sweet personality and is a prolific layer of beautiful large brown eggs.
They are super easy to care for and low maintenance in general. They will often get attached to their humans and enjoy some cuddle time with you. They are good with kids being gentle and calm birds.
Excellent layers, they will produce 5 medium light brown eggs weekly. They are dual purpose hens, but rarely used for meat these days. If you want an in depth look at Australorps please see our article.
The original Orpington bird was black. The breed was created back in Victorian times as a good layer and good table fare.
This dual purpose hen is just as useful now as it was then. A hen will lay in the region of 4-5 large, brown eggs each week and as a table bird it is ready at around 22 weeks.
However, if you just want a big, fluffy hen than enjoys lap time and cuddles, the Orpington could well fit the bill.
They are calm, docile and regal. Quiet enough to be in a small backyard, and most definitely non-aggressive. fIf you want more information on the Orpington, please see our article.
This is probably one of the largest breeds you will ever see. The Jersey Giant lives up to its name. Hens will grow to 8-9lb and roosters to 11-13lb!
They are a dual purpose breed, raised for meat and eggs. The hen will lay 3 extra-large brown eggs per week and will occasionally go broody.
They are slow to mature, taking around 6 months to reach full size, so if your budget is limited you may want to take into consideration the amount of feed they will eat.
Jerseys are gentle giants, very easygoing and docile, suitable as a family bird.
They like to forage in the yard although they do tolerate being confined. They are winter hardy in the Northeastern states but don’t do quite as well in the heat. Shade and cool water should be provided for them.
The Minorca is from the Spanish island of Minorca in the Mediterranean Sea. It is thought they were originally brought there by the Moors when they invaded Spain.
In its homeland it is considered in danger of extinction, the ALBC has it on a ‘watch’ list. It is primarily an egg laying bird and will put out 4 large, white eggs weekly.
Minorcas are said to thrive with human company and enjoy foraging. However, care does need to be taken with them as they are also described as ‘flighty’. They are hardy birds except in the depths of winter when their prodigious combs may suffer from frostbite.
Although classified as a large breed they are on the smaller end of the scale with hens weighing in around 7lb.
This unusual bird originated in Holland. Its history goes back a few centuries.
An unusual looking bird, it has feathered feet, vulture hocks and no comb. Needless to say, the no comb helps tremendously in cold climates.
It’s a large bodied bird with strong legs and a distinctive gait that can best be described as ‘paddling’. The hen’s full weight will be around 5-6lb. They give a decent amount of eggs – 4 large, white per week.
This is a slow growing bird which doesn’t reach its full potential until the second year. It is a very docile and curious bird which can be quite shy with people until they get to know you.
This bird is critically endangered worldwide. There are a few breeders here in the US and several in the Netherlands.
Literally ‘black hen’, the Svart Hona comes from Sweden. Like the Ayam Cemani, it too is melanistic.
It is very likely that the Svart Hona originated in Indonesia. How it got to Sweden is a bit sketchy, but it is thought that some birds were brought to Norway by seafarers back in the 17th century.
They have not gathered the same following as the Ayam Cemani and yet it lays more eggs. It is considered a rare breed but is available in the US.
The hens will lay around 250 small, white or cream tinted eggs/year; so approximately 2-3 eggs per week. Hens have a slight tendency towards broodiness and they make great mothers.
It is a friendly and small bird with the hens weighing around 3lb. They are very cold hardy but can occasionally get frostbitten combs, especially the boys.
If you want an unusual and fairly rare bird for your poultry yard, the La Flèche might just be it. It is an ancient fowl – reputedly from the 15th century and was generally found around the town of La Flèche, near Paris.
The comb is arrow shaped also; hence the name. It has also been called the Devil’s bird because the comb looks a bit like two horns. The flesh of the bird is said to be outstanding and has a following in the ‘Slow Food’ crowd which has helped the bird to make a small come back recently. It is listed as ‘critically endangered’ by the ALBC.
As a slow grower it became unpopular compared to the faster growing poultry of recent years. It takes 10 months for a bird to reach its full growth potential when a hen will weigh around 6.5lb.
The La Flèche is also kept as an ornamental bird, it does bear confinement well but its personality is somewhat wild and untamed. The La Flèche tolerates heat but not cold.
Next on our list of black breeds is the Langshan. The original Langshans came from China and were later imported to England. The breed was split into four different types by breeding practices – Croad, Modern, German and Australian.
The Langshan most easily found in the US is the Modern. In the UK the Croad can be found fairly easily.
It is a large bird – hens weigh around 7lb with beautiful black, shimmering plumage. They have some light feathering on their legs.
They will lay 3 large, dark brown eggs per week and the Croads’ eggs will often have a pink/light mauve tinge to the shell.
Langshans are good flyers, like to forage but will tolerate confinement. They are usually quite docile but not cuddly. Winter hardy but not comfortable in heat and humidity.
We have showcased 11 different black breeds here for you. Many of these breeds come in a variety of colors other than black too.
As we have mentioned, some of these breeds are critically endangered because they no longer can keep up with the rapidity with which the newer hybrids produce eggs and meat.
If you are a ‘slow food’ fanatic some of these breeds could be well suited to your tastes. We hope you enjoy our selection and perhaps might choose some of them to join your flock.
Let us know which one is your favorite in the comments section below…