Our color theme for this article is black chicken breeds!
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.
Ayam Cemani 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.
Just about everyone loves silkies! They are so cute and cuddly – they look like a stuffed toys.
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 they can produce 3-4 brown, medium-sized eggs each week when they do lay.
Cochins are breeds prone to drizzling, 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 on Cochin Chickens.
Australia’s Orpington! This friendly and productive bird has 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. Australorps 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 want a big, fluffy hen that 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. If you want more information, please see our article about the Orpington.
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 consider 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. You should provide shade and cool water 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 needs 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 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 that doesn’t reach its full potential until the second year.
It is a very docile and curious bird that can be quite shy with people until they 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.
The Svart Hona likely 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 hens weighing around 3lb. They are freezing, 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 from the 15th century and was generally found around La Flèche, near Paris.
The comb is also arrow-shaped, hence the name. It has also been called the Devil’s bird because the comb looks a bit like two horns.
The bird’s flesh is outstanding and has a following in the ‘Slow Food’ crowd, which has helped the bird make a small comeback 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 weighs 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. They like to forage but will tolerate confinement. They are usually quite docile but not cuddly.
Winter hardy but not comfortable in heat and humidity.
This is another breed of black chickens that is critically endangered, which is one factor influencing the fact that they didn’t make our list.
When you see this black chicken breed, you will notice wild crests on their beards and heads. The roosters also have a V-comb, but you can’t always see it clearly from its spot behind the crest.
Crevecoeur’s don’t lay a lot of eggs. Instead, humans originally bred them for meat, which is known for being tender.
If you do get your hands on a Crevecoeur, you can participate in conservation efforts. The good news is that these chickens are peaceful and do well in confined spaces.
Despite their name, Java chickens aren’t actually from Java. Americans bred them from chickens that came from the Far East.
They do, however, have the distinction of being the American breed of chickens that is the second oldest.
Java chickens used to be very popular with farms and homesteads alike, but their slow growth made farms choose other chickens over them.
That being said, if you have a homestead chicken coop, Java chickens are worth considering. Hens are broody and typically lay about three large eggs each week.
While this black chicken breed prefers having the freedom to roam and forage, it can also tolerate confinement.
Because of their docility, Java chickens are a great choice for your backyard.
In terms of appearance, these chickens may be all black, or their feathers might be black and white. When the sun hits them just right, their feathers look green.
As the name implies, Sumatra chickens come from Sumatra and Borneo and Java, Indonesian islands.
While you can still regularly find Sumatra chickens in their native areas, they are occasionally found in the United States.
However, they are usually kept for exhibition or ornamental reasons, not producing eggs.
On top of that, they aren’t sociable with humans. Instead of being docile, friendly chickens, you are more likely to compare their personality to game birds.
They make up for their personality with a regal demeanor. Males also have long flowing tails and are larger than females.
How to Choose From the Black Chicken Breeds
With so many breeds of black chickens, how do you choose which one you should choose to raise? There are a lot of factors to consider.
Start by considering how hard you are willing to work to get the chicken. As mentioned, some of these breeds are much rarer than others.
That makes them harder to get, but it also means that you can help with conservation efforts if you choose to raise them.
You will also want to think about why you want the chickens. If you want a steady supply of eggs, then make sure to choose one of the breeds known for its egg-laying.
If you want an ornamental chicken, then choose based on appearance.
Don’t forget to consider the breeds’ overall personality as well. For example, if you want docile and sociable chickens you can interact with, you will likely avoid some of the more aloof or wild breeds.
On top of that, think about your backyard setup. Remember that some breeds do better with confinement than others.
As such, make sure that your space fits the preferences of your chosen breed.
Summary of Black Chicken Breeds
We have showcased 14 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…
Common Questions about Black Chicken Breeds
All of the above information mostly focused on exploring various breeds of black chickens, but you may have other questions about this darkly colored poultry.
The following should clear them up for you.
What Breed Is a Black Chicken?
If you come across a black chicken, it may be any of the above breeds. You will have to look for other features to determine which breed it is.
Do Black Chicken Breeds Lay Black Eggs?
Some black chickens might lay black eggs, but not all of them will. There is never a guarantee that a black chicken will produce black eggs, but you shouldn’t be surprised if they do. The possible color of the eggs tends to vary by breed.
Why Are Black Chickens So Expensive?
To put it simply, black chickens are expensive because they are so rare. With only a handful of black breeds of chickens, they are far less prevalent than white chickens.
On top of that, many of the black chicken breeds don’t lay very many eggs. This combination leads to white chickens being much more common than black ones.
What Do Black Chickens Mean? Why Are They, Black?
The most common reason a chicken will be black comes down to genetics. Black chickens have more melanin.
The breeds on our list above are naturally melanistic, but you may also find the occasional melanistic bird in other non-black breeds.
Does Black Chicken Taste Different?
If you plan on raising your black chickens for meat, you may be curious how it tastes. Most people agree that it will taste the same as any other chicken, although the flesh may differ.
Just remember that you should raise not all of the chicken breeds mentioned above for meat.
Specifically, if you plan to raise chickens for meat, don’t choose one of the critically endangered breeds.