Breeds

Things To Know Before Buying an Ayam Cemani

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The Ayam Cemani is one of the world's most mysterious chicken breeds due to its black appearance, high price, and rareness. If you consider keeping an Ayam Cemani, you'll add a chicken superstar to your flock. However, there are some special care tips and things to remember when keeping an Ayam Cemani.

We'll start by addressing the key takeaways on this special breed:

  • Ayam Cemani hens lay up to 100 eggs per year
  • Indonesian rare and relatively expensive breed
  • All black chicken, including bones and internal organs
  • Hardy breed, easy to care for
EggsBetween 60 - 100 eggs per year
Egg ColorTinted
Egg SizeSmall
Weight3.5 - 5 lbs
HardinessCold & heat
TemperamentDocile and friendly
Beginner-friendlyYes
ColorBlack

Things to know before buying an Ayam cemani

Pros:

  • Extremely good looking
  • Docile and friendly
  • Hardy in all climates

Cons:

  • Rather pricey
  • Not good egg layers
  • Small eggs

Other things to consider:

  • Eggs are cream-colored, NOT black
  • Not Broody
  • Pay attention to fake Ayam Cemani

Pros Of the Ayam Cemani Breed

1. Extremely Good-Looking

Some people refer to the Ayam Cemani as the 'Lamborgini in poultry', and they're not entirely wrong. A purebred Ayam Cemani is gorgeous, with its extremely dark color and proud upright stand. They're not (yet) recognized by the American Poultry Association, so no breed standards are found. But the Ayam Cemani Breeders Association filed a draft standard to the APA, but until today the breed is not recognized.

It's believed the Ayam Cemani occurred by selective breeding wild landrace chickens with a natural mutation, the black pigmentation. A landrace breed is a species not specially bred to look a certain way but results from natural selection and random pairing. Other landrace chicken breeds are Deathlayer, Hedemora, and Swedish Flower Hen.

Feathering on a Ayam Cemani rooster
Credits: @hatchitfarms (IG)

The mutation known in the Ayam Cemani, and responsible for its from head to toe dark color, is called fibromelanosis (fibro). Everything in this breed is black; its organs, bones, skin, beak, tongue, wattles, comb and feathering. But the eggs are cream-colored; the statement of Ayam Cemanis laying black eggs is false and an urban legend. There are no chicken breeds in the world that lay black eggs.

Breeders strive towards creating and preserving the true Ayam Cemani, completely black-colored with no other colors present or faded plumage. The feathers, however, can have a green sheen, but no color other than black should be found. Roosters weigh around 5 pounds (2.3 kg), and hens tip the scale at 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg), making them lightweight but medium-sized chickens.

2. Docile and Friendly

Don't let their mysterious and scary looks deceive you; Ayam Cemani chickens are family-friendly birds. They're docile, friendly, and gentle towards children and other chicken breeds. The breed does great kept in confinement, but ensure they have enough space to roam around and scratch their feet.

These black beauties are not especially known for their free-ranging abilities, so you don't need a large backyard to keep this breed. Check out our 'Coop Size Calculator' to calculate the coop and run size.

3. Hardy in all climates

Ayam Cemani chickens can be kept in any climate, as they're both cold and heat-hardy. But they're also a healthy breed that doesn't require much care other than water, food, and shelter. This makes them a beginner-friendly breed, low in maintenance, and easy to care for.

An Ayam Cemani Rooster
Credits: @hatchitfarms (IG)

Their large comb and wattles can be prone to frostbite. Always take precautions when freezing temperatures are on their way. There's no need to provide a heated coop during winter, but applying vaseline on their wattles and comb each evening to protect it from freezing is something you can do.

As with all chickens, Ayam Cemani does better in cold weather than in hot temperatures. An ambient temperature of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24°C) or below is best for all chickens. Take extra precautions to secure your chickens when extreme weather is on the way, like storms or heat waves.

Cons of the Ayam cemani breed

1. Rather pricey

Ayam Cemani chickens are the most expensive chicken breed in the world because of their rareness and stunning looks. Depending on the strain where the chicken originates, prices vary between $70 and an incredible $2500 per unsexed chick. However, these high prices are only paid for extremely pure birds from a famous line of ancestors.

Plenty of breeders in the US sell hatching eggs or day-old chicks. And although the breed is more expensive than a hybrid bird or Leghorn, paying $70 for a unique bird isn't insurmountable and is definitely worth the price if you're looking for a unique bird to add to your flock.

If you're not up to spending $70 on an unsexed chick and are only looking for a dark chicken breed, maybe the Mystic Onyx is something to consider. The breed is entirely black from head to toe, just like the Ayam Cemani, although they can have red flares in their feathers. Hoover's Hatchery developed Mystic Onyx chickens by crossing meat chickens with Silkies. Their price is much lower; you can purchase a sexed chick for around $5.

Ayam Cemani rooster
Credits: @hatchitfarms (IG)

2. Not good egg layers

As the title suggests, Ayam Cemani chickens are not known to be prolific layers. They lay between 60 and 100 cream-colored eggs yearly, significantly less than most egg-laying breeds. Their egg production consists of laying cycles, where each cycle ends after 20 to 30 eggs are laid. A new laying cycle starts after three to six months, meaning you won't enjoy their eggs for quite some time.

We have to be honest; the Ayam Cemani is mainly an ornamental bird used to participate in poultry shows or for its beautiful looks. If you're looking for an excellent egg layer, the Ayama Cemani is not for you.

3. Small Eggs

Not only are Ayam Cemani chickens not the best egg layers, but their eggs are also small in size. Some chicken keepers refer to Ayam Cemani eggs as Silkie-sized eggs, meaning they're tiny for these medium-sized birds. As mentioned, the Ayam Cemani is not your number-one choice if you're looking for a tremendous egg-laying breed.

To consult a list of the best egg-laying breeds, check out our 'Breed' page. All birds included in our 'Top egg layer' list lay more than 200 eggs per year, and some even more than 300!

Other things to consider before purchasing an Ayam Cemani

1. Eggs are cream-colored, not black

We've mentioned it before, but because there is a lot of misinformation online, we want to be very clear on this. No chicken breed in the world lays black eggs. Ayam Cemani hens lay cream-colored eggs. Black chicken eggs found online are chemically or artificially colored.

We urge you to be critical of any photos or videos you see on social media. Videos of chickens laying black eggs should be reported as animal abuse, as they were colored and afterward pushed back inside a chicken's body.

To learn more about this common misconception, read our article 'Black Chicken Eggs Myths Busted'.

Illustration on how black chicken eggs do not exist.

2. Not broody

For most chicken keepers, a breed that's rarely broody is a blessing. Broodiness can weaken a chicken, and it will also temporarily stop egg production. If you're not planning on hatching eggs, it's best to choose chicken breeds that rarely are broody.

We've created an extensive list of common chicken breeds categorized by the frequency of broodiness. To consult the list, check out our complete 'SOS Broody Chicken-Guide'.

On the other hand, if you're looking to breed with the Ayam Cemani, you might need an incubator to hatch the eggs or use another breed for sitting on the fertilized eggs.

3. Pay attention to fake Ayam Cemani chickens

Unfortunately, a sold Ayam Cemani does not always turn out to be a true Ayam Cemani. Find yourself a trustable breeder with experience and trustworthy reviews. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Because of their high price and rareness, Ayam Cemani chickens are a wanted species on the counterfeit market. Fertilized eggs sold as Ayam Cemani turn out to be regular hybrid eggs, or other black breeds like the Mystic Onyx are sold as Ayam Cemani.

A trustable seller of day-old chicks is Greenfire Farms, a non-commercial hatchery specializing in rare breeds. Or go to the official Breeder Directory of the Ayam Cemani Breeders Association to find a trustable breeder near you.

Summary

An Ayam Cemani is a stunning-looking chicken with its all-black appearance. They're rare and, therefore, more expensive than other chicken breeds. They're not good egg layers, laying only between 60 to 100 small-sized eggs. But the breed is very hardy, low in maintenance, and beginner friendly, making them a suitable ornamental backyard bird.

Although these chickens are entirely black, including bones, organs, and skin, the eggs are cream-colored. There are no chicken breeds that lay black eggs.

Credits Featured Image: @hatchitfarms (IG)

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Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.

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