Ayam Cemani Chicken Breed Guide: Origin, Weight, Meat / Egg Production and More

Ayam Cemani Chicken Breed Guide

Ayam Cemani Breed chickens are not just black; they are black, inside out. In fact, the only white in them is their eggs. But aside from that, why are they dubbed as the world’s most expensive chicken breed? And why should you spend your hard-earned money to buy this all-black chicken? Well, this comprehensive guide will teach you everything about them so read them carefully from start to finish.

Origin of Ayam Cemani Chickens

The Ayam Cemani chicken breed got its name from two Indonesian words. Ayam means “chicken” while “Cemani” is the original Java term for “thoroughly black.” These Indonesian chickens are literally all-black, not only what you see from the outside such as skin and feathers but also their internal organs, meat, and bones!  Some hundreds of years ago, many locals believe that the meat of Ayam Cemani chickens has some mystical powers. As part of their religious beliefs, offering its meat as a sacrifice is said to bring luck, especially to mothers who have just given birth. In some areas, people have been eating this chicken to ease an unsettled conscience.

This black coloration is due to a unique genetic condition called fibromelanosis or hyperpigmentation. This causes the proliferation of black pigment cells of the chickens. Although the exact origin of this Indonesian chicken breed remains unknown, the black pigment is believed to have existed in many chickens in Asia more than 800 years ago. Many scientists concluded that the Ayam Cemani chicken breed is just one of the seven species of Indonesian jungle fowls. They also believe that Dutch colonists were the first ones to describe this unique breed back in the 1920s. Nevertheless, a certain Mr. Tjokromihardjo from Grabag, Magelang is considered as its major founder and breeder.

Mr. Tjokromihardjo’s descendants carried the tradition and one of his sons is the current owner of one of the biggest commercial layer farms in Java, Indonesia. During the late 1990s, some Ayam Cemani chickens were brought to the Netherlands. And in the early 2000s, Dutch breeders exported them to Europe and their popularity skyrocketed. Some historians claim that Ayam Cemani chickens have no other variety. On the other hand, some early Indonesian breeders believe that is just a color variety of the Ayam Kedu breed, which got its name from the Kedu region where it originated. This breed was said to have three varieties – Kedu Kedu, Kedu Cemani, and Kedu Hsian.

The KeduKedu is a large chicken with white skin, black feathers, and a large, black or red comb. On the other hand, Kedu Cemani is a medium-sized chicken that has all its parts (inside and outside) being black. Meanwhile, Kedu Hsian is believed to be the result of the two varieties. This breed has partridge coloration, white skin, and a red comb. Ayam Cemani chickens have no bantam versions and no other variety. The Ayam Cemani Breeders Association has already set the requirements of Standard of Perfection for this breed and submitted them to the American Poultry Association (APA). But as of posting, the APA has not yet recognized this unique breed. Greenfire Farm in Havana, Florida is said to be the first breeder of Ayam Cemani chickens in the US. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to ban direct importing of Ayam Cemani from Indonesia since 2015 due to concerns over avian flu. This is only one of the reasons why it’s rare and became more expensive in America.


How Much is an Ayam Cemani Price and Why Is It Very Expensive?

As mentioned above, Ayam Cemani is known for being the most expensive chicken breed in the world. An average-sized Ayam Cemani chicken price is between $2,500 and $5,000! But no, this for sale chicken is not made of gold. This breed is very expensive because they are very rare but the demand is getting higher and higher.

Also dubbed as the Lamborghini chicken, this unique Indonesian chicken is very hard to breed. Ayam Cemani hens are only capable of laying about 80 eggs a year, or 1-2 eggs a week! They usually lay 20-30 eggs per cycle and may spend 3-6 months on break before they start laying eggs again. There’s also no guarantee that the eggs will be hatched.

On the other hand, Ayam Cemani baby chicks now cost around $200 each, as compared to $2-3 for a chick of the ordinary breed. This means they are 100 times more expensive than the other breeds! There are also other black chickens such as Swedish Black chicken (Svart Hona) and Kadaknath chicken but Ayam Cemani is incomparable.


What do Ayam Cemani Chickens Look Like?

Photo of Ayam Cemani Chicken
Photo of Ayam Cemani Chicken

As mentioned above, Ayam Cemani chickens are all black, inside and out. This includes the beak, tongue, comb, neck, skin, tail, bones, tissues, and even internal organs. They also have black plumage all over their body but may have some metallic sheen with hints of purple and green. Nevertheless, their blood is not black, but rather ruby red. Ayam Cemani roosters have a large, wide chest that is about 13.42 inches (34.1 cm) in diameter and about 4.92 inches (12.5 cm) long. They have a thin back, a pair of sturdy medium-length wings, and their body is slant from the neck. Their tail is carried on their body at an angle of 45 degrees. Their legs are well-set apart and each foot has four toes.

These males have a straight and upright, single comb with five distinct points and deeply serrated. They have a medium-sized but well-curved beak, oval earlobes, and a narrow but strong neck. Their medium-sized wattles are smooth and have no wrinkles, while their neck is long and narrow but strong enough to hold their head. On the other hand, hens have a more rectangular body, a wide but flat back, and flat wings. They have almost the same beak, earlobes, and comb as males. Both of them have the same wing size and sharp claws. However, the male’s claws measure about 3.94 inches (10 cm) long while a hen’s claws measure about 2.36 inches (6 cm) long.


How Heavy are Ayam Cemani Chickens?

Ayam Cemani chicken weight is average-sized as compared to many domesticated chicken breeds. An Ayam Cemani roosters may weigh between 4.4 and 7.7 pounds (2 and 3.5 kilos), while Ayam Cemani hens weigh between 3.3 and 5.5 pounds (1.5 and 2.5 kilos). On the other hand, cockerels weigh about 4 pounds (1.8 kilos) while pullets weigh about 2.5 pounds (1.1 kilos)


How do Ayam Cemani Chickens Behave?

Judging from their color alone, you might think that Ayam Cemani chickens have bad behaviors. On the contrary, these unique birds are quite docile and gentle. However, they are shy and are not very friendly and sociable as the other friendly breeds. You can carry them sometimes but don’t expect them to sit on your lap for a long time. Ayam Cemani chickens look proud and confident but not really in the high rank of the pecking order. They can do well in confinement and free-range as well. But because they are relatively small and lightweight, they can easily fly away over low fences. Nevertheless, they are not flighty as compared to other flighty chickens.

This all-black chicken breed is also known for being smart, intelligent, and sociable to other breeds. They are not likely to start a fight but they will not back off from aggressive breeds. Nonetheless, both roosters and hens are very protective of their baby chicks. Ayam Cemani hens tend to go broody at least twice a year and are incredible mothers. Ayam Cemani hens are generally quiet and are likely to be noisy only when they are laying eggs or when they are afraid. On the other hand, roosters have a very unique crow. As a matter of fact, their rhythmic sound is usually used as foghorns or warning to local fishing vessels. This is also what makes them so intriguing and popular.

Are Ayam Cemani Chickens Heat Tolerant or Cold Hardy?

Ayam Cemani chickens don’t have fluffy feathers and do very well in all kinds of weather. They can easily handle the freezing temperature during winter and are not usually prone to frostbite. Similarly, they have no problems during summer. In fact, most of them can even handle an outdoor temperature of 100°F as long as they have a shade.


What and How Should You Feed Ayam Cemani Chickens?

Despite their hefty price, Ayam Cemani chickens need no special food. However, the best food for them is organic feed and they should be fed at least twice a day. Give baby chicks concentrated starter feed. But once they are already one month old, you can start feeding them with some grains, bran, and parched rice. Ayam Cemani chickens are great foragers so you can save money from feed. You may also want to give them some fruits and vegetables, and even some treats or chicken scratch, but avoid them from being overweight. Hens may not be great layers but they still need calcium for their eggs. But more importantly, give them enough supply of fresh and clean water.


Ayam Cemani Egg Production

Ayam Cemani Chicken Egg
Ayam Cemani Chicken Egg

Some people keep asking on How much egg Ayam Cemani breed can produce per year? , As mentioned earlier that Ayam Cemani hens are poor egg layers and are likely to lay 60-100 eggs a year. They usually lay 20-30 eggs only per laying cycle. After the cycle, you still have to wait for 3-6 months before they will start laying eggs again. Their eggs weigh about 45 grams. But no, their eggs are not black. Instead, they are cream.


Ayam Cemani Meat Production

Ayam Cemani Chicken Meat
Ayam Cemani Chicken Meat

First of all, you are very unlikely to see Ayam Cemani meat in supermarkets. Aside from being very rare, they are very expensive. Interestingly, the blood is more expensive than the meat. As mentioned earlier, lots of Indonesians treat this breed as a sacred food. It is being believed to help cure some diseases and bring good luck, especially to mothers.

Ayam Cemani meat tastes like ordinary chicken. However, some people who have tasted it said it is spicier than other chicken meat. In general, this black meat is soft and tender and is easier to cut. But don’t be surprised if the meat is still black when cooked. In fact, this black pigment is being believed to be the reason why the taste is so unique.

This black meat is also known for having lower cholesterol than regular chicken meat. It also contains various antioxidants that help promote body functions, along with a high level of calcium for stronger bones. Indonesians love to fry Ayam Cemani chickens but in many parts of the world, people prefer to have them as chicken soup.


Do Ayam Cemani Chickens Have Health Issues?

Despite having genetic hyperpigmentation that has no cure, Ayam Cemani chickens are indeed very healthy. Being all-black does not affect their health, whatsoever. In fact, they are also not prone to frostbite during winter or heatstroke during summer. Nevertheless, they might be infested with parasites if not well taken care of.


How to Take Care of Ayam Cemani Chickens?

How to Take Care of Ayam Cemani Chickens

You might think that taking care of the world’s most expensive chicken breed is challenging. But actually, it’s not. Just like other breeds, Ayam Cemani chickens need sufficient space, a well-ventilated coop, a spacious nesting box, and medium-height roosting bars, a complete and well-balanced diet, and a regular supply of clean water. However, make sure that the next generation is still pure black. Otherwise, you will lose your credibility. To achieve this, baby chicks should have two of the fibromelanistic genes present from their parents. Therefore, you should use only those that are the blackest birds among them and you must never mate them with another breed.

To avoid accidental mating with other breeds, it’s better if you have a separate coop for them. And because Ayam Cemani chickens are in the middle of the pecking order, you should avoid them from getting hurt. You should also provide a shade on their dust bath and make sure that the environment is clean and dry and safe from predators. The breeding of Ayam Cemani chickens is the same as breeding ordinary chickens. But if you want to have fertilized eggs by a particular rooster, separate your hen from the other roosters for at least 3 weeks. Note also that hens are not good sitters so you will need a reliable incubator. Just like other breeds, their eggs will also be hatched in 21 days.


Ayam Cemani Chickens Pros and Cons

Now that you have a better idea about Ayam Cemani chickens, let’s summarize their pros and cons.


Advantages of Raising Ayam Cemani Chicken

  • Very unique appearance
  • Docile, gentle, and friendly
  • Relatively small, easy to manage
  • Can manage well in any weather condition
  • Adaptable to free-range and confinement
  • Great protector of baby chicks
  • Great investment

Disadvantages of Raising Ayam Cemani Chicken

  • Very, very expensive
  • Very poor egg layers
  • Very rare, hard to obtain
  • Not good sitters
  • Prone to bullying
  • No bantam version



Obviously, this breed is not for you if you have a tight budget. But if you can afford them, it’s really a very good investment. However, there could be some scammers out there. So make sure you buy only from reputable breeders. Be extra careful if a seller is selling them for a very low price. They may be not selling true Ayam Cemani chickens.


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