A Guide To The World’s Most Expensive Chicken Breeds (And Their Cheap Alternative)

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

We are naturally fascinated with everything rare and expensive, including chicken breeds. While these breeds are stunningly beautiful, they are not the most affordable option for your backyard. But fear not; you can opt for a more pocket-friendly chicken that looks strikingly similar!

The Most Expensive Chicken Breeds

We have a natural inkling as humans to admire rare, expensive things. Designer handbags, shoes and dogs are all the rage all over the world. According to a Forbes analysis, the more expensive products are, the more in demand they are!

The same is true for chickens. The rarer breeds (usually imported) can cost thousands of dollars per chick. They are associated with being better because they are expensive.

The reality is that these chickens behave similarly and have comparable outputs (meat and eggs) as most other chickens. In general, people want them for their aesthetic value.  

If you fall in that category, a less expensive chicken with a similar appearance might be a better option. As a good designer handbag or sunglasses copycat, you can probably adopt chickens that are much less expensive but of similar appearance.

They will ultimately have a comparable output for you as an owner, whether you are raising them purely as pets, egg producers, or egg and meat producers.

Top 10 Most Expensive Chicken Breed

  1. Ayam Cemani
  2. Dong Tao
  3. Owlbeard
  4. Ayam Ketawa
  5. Bantam Bielefelder
  6. Olandsk Dwarf
  7. Bruges Fighter
  8. Deathlayer
  9. Indio Gigante
  10. Barnevelder

If you’re thinking on splurging on a rare, pricey chicken, hold your horses before clicking that ‘buy’ button. Why not check out some affordable options first and save some bucks?

We’ll address the world’s most expensive chicken breeds and their cheap(er) alternatives.

1. Ayam Cemani

The Ayam Cemani is rare because it is completely black and looks unique. Its bones, organs, skin, feet, beak, tongue, wattles, comb, and feathering are all completely black. Everything but the eggs! 

Credits: @hatchitfarms (IG)

While beautiful, they are fairly unproductive chickens. They are not very large (under 5 pounds), and hens only lay up to 100 eggs yearly. Depending on the string, they can cost anywhere between $70 and $2500 for an unsexed chick.

Furthermore, they aren’t a recognized breed (yet) by the American Poultry Association. 

Alternatives for the Ayam Cemani

If you’re looking for black chickens, do you really need the most expensive model? You can probably pick a different breed. Other alternative black designer chickens will cost much less and will likely even produce more meat and eggs for your family.

  1. Mystic Onyx: These are interesting-looking dark chickens and a cross-breed between silkies and a larger chicken. They may have twinges of red, orange, or greenish hues, but they look almost entirely black. They lay over 200 eggs yearly and have more meat than an Ayam Cemani.
  2. Fibro Easter Egger. These birds have a condition, fibromelanosis, which causes hyper-pigmentation. They are all black as a result! They have all black skin, lobes, and feathers. They are Easter Eggers, meaning they produce colored eggs, from green to blue to even pink or creamy yellow. 
showing the mystic onyx chicken and the fibro easter egger as a cheap alternative for the most expensice chicken breed, the ayam cemani.

Comparing Ayam Cemani and Alternatives

Do you really need the Louis Vuitton, or will a different black handbag look nice enough and even more functional? Think about what you really want from your chickens and how they compare. For more alternatives, check out our ‘Beautiful Black Chicken Breeds‘.

Ayam CemaniMystic OnyxFibro Easter Egger
Eggs60-100 eggs per year220 eggs per year220 eggs per year
Egg ColorCreamLight brownBlue, green, pink, yellow, brown
Egg SizeSmallMediumMedium
Weight3.5-5 pounds5-6 pounds5-6 pounds
HardinessCold and heat tolerantCold and heat tolerantCold and heat tolerant
TemperamentFriendly and docileFriendly and peppyFriendly and docile
ColorPure black, even the organs and bonesBlack, with some orange/red highlightsBlack, with some colors
Cost$70-$2500 a chick$3-$4 a chick$15-$30 a chick

2. Dong Tao

These Dong Tao Vietnamese chickens are famous for having delicious meat and the largest feet of any other breed. The huge feet and legs have scales, giving it the nickname of Dragon Chicken. No other chicken looks quite like them! 

Real Dong Tao’s hail from one of 17 families in a cooperative in the Dong Tao commune in Vietnam. You might only know you have a real pair if you purchase a couple from one of these families. 

a dong tao chicken

They were bred specifically for royals, and are now popular for Tet (Lunar New Year) celebrations in Vietnam. They’re so expensive ($1000 to $2000 for an adult chicken) because they are tricky to breed.

They are picky about temperature and need heating when it is below 15 degrees Celsius. They are also prone to disease. Yet another issue is that their large feet and legs end up crushing eggs. To hatch correctly, the hens need some help from their owners or need to be incubated. 

According to breeders, the chickens themselves require a special diet (rice, corn, and free-range insect eating) and specific instructions for exercise to produce foot and leg muscles. They can get as big as 15 pounds. 

Alternative to the Dragon Chicken: Indio Gigante

Indio Gigante’s don’t have amazing dragon legs; otherwise, they share a similar appearance and won’t break your bank! An unsexed chick will cost around $70. 

Indio Gigante translates to “Giant Indigenous” in Brazilian Portuguese. They are a cross-breed with a local indigenous chicken. 

Credits: @hensonoxney (IG)

They are one of the largest chickens in the world, and will be the first pure breed chicken to hail from Brazil if their breeder association gets their petition through within the next few years.  Roosters are over a meter tall and can be up to 4 feet. 

Dong TaoIndio Gigante
Eggs60 per year160 eggs per year
Egg ColorOff-whiteWhite, beige, blue, green or red
Egg SizeLargeLarge
Weight9 to 15 pounds6 to 11 pounds
HardinessCold tolerant, though warmer temperatures betterCold and heat tolerant
TemperamentFriendlyFriendly and tranquil
ColorPurple skin covered by shiny, multicolored feathers Any color feathers, usually brightly colored, always with yellow/orange feet and legs 
CostUsually have to purchase adults from Vietnam, $2,500 a pair $70 per unsexed chick

3. Owlbeard

These birds look majestic and even ancient, yet maybe you can’t place why? You probably saw them in a famous painting! Likely the oldest Dutch breed, Owlbeards are famous in a number of different Dutch masterpieces dating back to the early 1500s.  They have a distinct look – no wattle, a beard and muffs, a v-shaped comb, and a generous and stately curve in the back. 

Credits: Greenfire Farms

They’re in high demand for their capacity to make your backyard look like an art museum. Since they’re imported from the Netherlands, and so many people want them, they can be pricey. Expect to pay $70 for a chick.

Owlbeard Alternative: Easter Egger Bantam

Easter Egger Bantam varieties can add some similar flair to your backyard, at a much lower price point. They have the same style of muffs and ear tufts with a missing wattle and unique comb. What makes them fun, too, is the fact that they lay a variety of colored eggs. 

OwlbeardEaster Egger Bantam
Eggs150-200 per year200-280 per year
Egg ColorWhiteBlue, green, creamy yellow, pink, brown
Egg SizeLarge to jumboMedium to large
Weight4 to 6 pounds5.5 to 6.5 pounds
HardinessCold tolerant, will lay in the coldCold or heat tolerant
TemperamentTame but activeFriendly with personality
ColorComes in a variety of colors, bright contrast patterns  A variety of colors
Cost$70 per unsexed chick$16 per sexed chick

4. Ayam Ketawa

These are Indonesian chickens that, until recently, could only be owned by the royal family. They are revered for their crow. They do not cock-a-doodle, but laugh. Their name means “laughing chicken” in the local language. 

an ayam ketawa rooster
Credits: Greenfire Farms

Breeders actually subclassify the breed based on the length and style of their laugh. Indonesia holds an annual award for the best crow in each category.  

They vary in color but have long, silky feathers.  Roosters have especially flowery neck feathers, often red, giving them quite a regal appeal. 

Alternative for the Ayam Ketawa: Phoenix

The Phoenix chicken does not have the amazing laughing crow of the Ayam Ketawa, but they do have beautiful long red neck feathers. If you are considering adding an Ayam Ketewa to your family but are more interested in the looks than the laugh, you might consider a Phoenix.

a phoenix rooster with his long tail
Credits: @littlecabinbigwoods (IG)

Phoenix chickens might even be more aesthetically appealing than Ayam Ketawa, with long, flowy tail feathers that catch the eye from anywhere on your patio. They also have interesting personalities, known for their independent nature, that can make them fun to watch.

They were partially derived from Japanese Onagadori chickens bred for such qualities, with up to 27 feet long tails. 

They are more of a pet than a producer and might not be the best for children. But if you like their look and their personality, they could be a match for you. 

Ayam KetawaPhoenix 
Eggs100 per year150 per year
Egg ColorWhite to light brownCream or tinted
Egg SizeSmall to mediumSmall
Weight5 to 7 pounds4 to 5.5 pounds
HardinessNot cold tolerantHeat preferred
TemperamentFriendly and docileFriendly, a bit aloof
ColorMulticolored, usually males have red neck feathersThree colors – silver, golden, or black-breasted red  
Cost$60 per unsexed chick$5 per unsexed chick

5. Bantam Bielefelder

The Bielefelder was developed in the 1970s in Germany. Soon there was a Bantam version, a smaller chicken that is renowned for its docile temperament and large egg productivity.  If you have limited space but still want a decent amount of productivity (or just like the smaller chicken), these are a great variety to keep. 

Bielefelders are auto-sexing. That means that a breeder can tell the sex of chicks apart by their color.  They’re expensive because they are not usually bred abroad and must be imported from Germany. 

Bantam Bielefelder Alternative: Bantam Welsummer

The Welsummer is a Dutch breed known for good egg yields, serving as producers for egg exports in the early twentieth century. The Bantam variety produces even more eggs than the Bielefelder, with a similar body size, at a much lower price point. They are also an “autosexing” breed. 

Bantam BielefelderBantam Welsummer
Eggs160 per year180 
Egg ColorBrownDark brown
Egg SizeSmallSmall
Weight2-3 pounds2-3 pounds
HardinessCold and heat tolerantPrefer cold, but can stand heat with some shade
TemperamentUndemanding and robustFriendly, but loud
ColorReddish over a crele (black and white base) feather, or a modified silver varietyBrown, with bright red combs
Cost$100 for a female chick$15 per sexed chick

6. Olandsk Dwarf

There are only a few hundred of these chickens remaining. They come from a small island in Sweden, where British garden hens (as the Swedes called an imported variety of chicken) adapted to the cold climate. 

They’re a natural dwarf. People cherish having them as a rare, natural, small breed with unique coloring. 

Alternative Olandsk Dwarf: Belgian d’Uccle Bantam

The best physical features of the Olandsk Dwarf are its fun mottled feather look and its quirky small size. If you want another less expensive option with those features, you might invest in the Belgian d’Uccle Bantam

a belgian d'uccle bantam rooster

They have interesting muffs, beards, and feathered feet. The millefleur color pattern occurs naturally and mimics the color patterning of the Olandsk Dwarf. It shows as a mix of blue, black and brown speckles on a white background.  

Olandsk DwarfBelgian d’Uccle Bantam
Eggs200-250 per year150 per year
Egg ColorWhitish, tintedWhite or cream
Egg SizeSmallsmall
Weight1 to 2.5 pounds1.5 to 2 pounds
HardinessGreat for the coldEnjoy cold
TemperamentFriendly, activeEasygoing
ColorNo standard, but usually white with spatterings of red, black and grayMany different color varieties
Cost$50 for an unsexed chick$15 for a female chick

7. Bruges Fighter

These are Belgian gamefowl related to the Liege Fighter. The breed is hundreds of years old and known for its fighting quality. They have a unique black skin and metallic feather combination, reminiscent of an Ayam Cemani, but with red counterparts in the feathers and comb. They’re endangered in their native Belgium now.  

Alternative: Old English Game

They’re very similar breeds, though Old English Game are much less expensive! Old English Game have 28 different color variants recognized by the American Poultry Association, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a unique rooster. 

an old english game bantam
Credits: @hensonoxney (IG)

Some are even bluish-black if you want one resembling a Bruges Fighter. You can probably get a breeder to help you source young roosters with those colors. 

They’re mostly kept for their looks, with long tail feathers and a pleasantly arrogant demeanor. They come in three sizes too, which is helpful if you’re looking for a smaller show rooster! 

Bruges FighterEnglish Game
Eggs150 per year160-180 per year
Egg ColorTintedWhite tinted
Egg SizeLargeMedium to large
Weight8-12 poundsCarlisle, the larger variety, is 6-8 pounds. The smaller Oxford only reaches around 4 pounds. 
HardinessCold tolerantCold and heat tolerant, though heat not preferred 
TemperamentFriendlyTough and spunky but friendly
ColorCan be a variety of colors28!
Cost$60 for unsexed chicks, $100 for juvenile male$12 for unsexed chicks

8. Deathlayer

Deathlayers probably got their name from a mix-up in translation over time, tracing back to their German heritage. Many attribute the name, directly translated from German, to the fact that they are profligate layers until the day they die.

a deathlayer chicken
Credits: @hensonoxney (IG)

It fits well with their plumage. Roosters have fantastic feathering, often a stark white head and black body, reminiscent of Marilyn Manson or maybe Kiss? Hens usually have beautiful white heads and black bodies with pencil markings. 

They’re expensive because they’re rare and a very old breed (over 400 years). They are endangered but have been recently introduced to the United States as a means to support breeding and protection.

Alternative for that Deathlayer Chicken: Egyptian Fayoumi

These look very similar to the Deathlayer, though they might not be quite the rock star! They are believed to be an ancient breed, though the varieties in the United States are not recognized as pure breeds. 

They have the same silver-penciled and gold-penciled look as Deathlayers. Their skin is slate-blue. They’re smaller than Deathlayers if you prefer a smaller chicken, but they like a free-range life. 

DeathlayerEgyptian Fayoumi
Eggs200 – 250200
Egg ColorWhiteCream white
Egg SizeMediumMedium
Weight8-12 pounds3 to 4.5 pounds
HardinessCold or heat tolerantNot cold tolerant
TemperamentFriendly and activeFree spirits
Beginner-friendlyYesNo, like to live free range and roost high up, in trees
ColorVaries, often black bodies with white feathering on the head, pencil markingSilver pencil or gold pencil
Cost$60 for an unsexed chick$6 for a female chick

9. Indio Gigante

We already mentioned this lovely breed as an alternative to the Dong Tao, but Indio Gigantes are still one of the most expensive chickens out there, at $70 a chick.

If you want to think about an even cheaper variety, you might consider a root to the Indio Gigante, the Malay. Indio Gigantes were created by crossbreeding large gamecock Malayoid variety chickens with local chicken breeds, caipira.

Alternative for Indio Gigante: Malay

Malays are one of those types of Malayoid gamecock varieties and have a similar appearance to the Indio Gigante. Some might even find their stance even more interesting! They hold themselves upright, and while not similar to a dragon, they look almost like a dinosaur. 

a malay chicken

They’re another one to consider if you’re seeking a fierce, majestic, large bird for your backyard. You might have trouble finding purebreds from Malaysia due to import/export regulations, but many countries and regions have bred versions of Malays over the years.

Some of those varieties might even be preferred, as they have fewer issues with disease from inbreeding.

Indio GiganteMalay
Eggs160 eggs per year120 eggs per year
Egg ColorWhite, beige, blue, green or redLight brown 
Egg SizeLargeMedium to large
Weight6.5 to 11 poundsUp to 7.5 pounds
HardinessCold and heat tolerantPrefer heat, warm, can tolerate some cold
TemperamentFriendly Fighters, can’t be around other chickens
Beginner-friendlyYesNo – need space, height, not good for children with sharp beaks
ColorAny color feathers, usually brightly colored, always with yellow/orange feet and legs Multiple varieties, small wattles and combs
Cost$70 per unsexed chick$20 hatching eggs

10. Barnevelder

These birds are just as their nickname “Barnies” implies – they’re friendly, plump backyard chicken pets that your whole family will love. They’re also dual-purpose, good for eggs and meat. The decent bloodlines that produce dark brown eggs are expensive because they are “uncommon” in the United States.

Barnevelder chicken close up
Credits: @arm_the_animals_ (IG)

Many people like Barnevelders for their double-laced coloring, meaning they look like they have blackish-blue feathers interwoven with brownish-red feathers, creating a beautiful coat.

Barnies Compared to Wyandottes

The Gold Laced Wyandotte is much less expensive and has a similar black-laced coat with a brown ground color. This gives the birds a similar stunning scalloped pattern all over their body.

BarnevelderLaced Wyandotte
Eggs200 per year200 per year
Egg ColorBrown to dark brown(Light) Brown
Egg SizeLargeLarge
Weight6-8 pounds6.5 to 8 pounds
HardinessLike coldLike cold
TemperamentFriendly Friendly, but active and assertive
ColorFour – double-laced silver (for bantams), double-laced blue, black, and white.Varies, laced coloring is common
Cost$60 $5 for a female chick


Do you really need the most expensive chicken breed? Or is their look-a-like the best option?

After comparing all options, you might decide you still want the expensive breed. Some are too unique, like the Dong Tao. There are really no alternatives if you want fat feet and Vietnamese heritage. 

Investing in expensive breeds is also a great idea if you want to help conserve endangered ones. There are many more varieties out there that can use your help in that case. 

If you just want a certain kind of famous expensive breed for its looks and/or temperament, however, there are many other more economical options out there for you!

Almost all of these breeds have a doppelganger species, a luxury copycat that will serve the same purpose. Sometimes, the alternative is even better, with a higher capacity to produce or a better temperament for your family.

There are hundreds of chicken breeds in the world! If you want to get to know them all, rare or common, heritage or hybrid, go to our ‘All Chicken Breeds & Types Worldwide: List of 500+ Breeds‘.

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.