The Ultimate List of Black Chicken Breeds: 17 Cool Breeds
Not all black chicken breeds are created equal. Some types of black chickens are only black on the outside, while others are black to the bone.
Find out what makes each black bird different (and why some are more expensive than a car).
This is our all-black chicken breed list.
- 1. Ancona
- 2. Australorp
- 3. Ayam Cemani
- 4. Black Shumen
- 5. Breda
- 6. Cochin (Pekin)
- 7. Jersey Giant
- 8. Kadaknath
- 9. La Fleche
- 10. Langshan
- 11. Minorca
- 12. Orpington
- 13. Silkie
- 14. Sumatra
- 15. Svart Hona (Swedish Black)
- 16. Valdarno
- 17. White-Crested Black Polish
The Ancona is a small-sized Italian chicken breed that you can get in standard and bantam sizes. These chickens only come in a speckled feather pattern. Yes, it’s not a pure black bird, but it is mostly black with white tips.
They also have white earlobes and a single or rose comb that is bright red. These active Italian chooks are hard to confine and can get flighty. Ancona hens are not good sitters and don’t usually go broody.
Anconas are hardy chickens that are excellent layers, even laying through the winter. They lay large white eggs.
The Australorp is an Australian chicken breed developed from the English Black Orpington.
Australorps have uniform black feathers with a green sheen. They also have slate blue legs while bright red wattles and comb pop over the relatively dark silhouette.
Hailing from the land Down Under, these chooks are chill, docile birds. They aren’t aggressive at all and become great mums with their broody nature.
These dual-purpose chickens are better at producing eggs than they do fried chicken. Australorps is an egg-laying machine – they can lay around 250 medium-sized brown eggs per year!
3. Ayam Cemani
The Ayam Cemani is a very rare native Indonesian breed.
This bird is black inside and out. Yup, even on the inside. Their organs, meat, and bones are black. Even this dual-purpose chicken breed has dark red blood.
On the outside, everything from the tip of their comb to the nails on their toes is black. Genetic hyperpigmentation causes all this blackness. (Plot twist: Their eggs are cream-colored.) (1).
This bird is greatly respected because many believe it holds magical powers and is seen as a good luck symbol.
Of course, the price for all that would be roughly $2,500 US. They are the most expensive chicken breed in the world.
4. Black Shumen
The Black Shumen is a borderline ancient and rare breed originally bred from Bulgaria.
They are on the brink of extinction. The Bulgarian Poultry Breeders Association is trying to restore the breed’s numbers and popularity.
These pure black chickens have prominent combs and wattles, as well as white skin and gray-black shanks.
Black Shumen is a grumpy old bird. They tend to be aggressive, don’t like egg-sitting, and are flighty.
This black chicken breed matures quickly compared to other old breeds. Black Shumen lay small cream-colored eggs, and they have little meat on them.
Another rare breed that comes in black (among other colors) is the Breda.
These birds are unique because they have no combs. The lack of comb comes in handy during the cold Dutch winters that they experience.
What they lack in a comb, Bredas make up for in feather style. They strut around with their feathered legs, vulture hocks, and long, lush hackles.
These birds are not only stylish but also well-tempered and productive. Bredas are calm and docile and great for eggs and meat.
6. Cochin (Pekin)
From the Netherlands, we now move to China to meet the Cochin. This feather-legged breed started the “hen fever” of the 1800s. They come in pure black and other varieties.
Cochins are big feather-legged chickens with pea combs. Frizzling is common for this breed, making their already fluffy feathers ever fluffier!
These dual-purpose chickens are friendly and make great pets. Cochin hens naturally go broody and even egg-sit for other poultry breeds.
You can get standard and bantam-sized Cochins in the United States.
7. Jersey Giant
These American chickens grow to be a whopping 13 pounds!
They have long necks, wide bodies, and clean dark shanks. Jersey Giants also have bright red wattles, combs, and earlobes.
Despite their impressive size and appearance, Jersey’s are gentle giants. They bear confinement well but are good foragers (be prepared to feed these hefty chooks).
The Jersey Giant breed is a cold-hardy chicken that makes a fair amount of extra-large eggs and a filling chicken dinner.
Another completely black chicken breed is the Kadaknath.
Kadaknath chickens are native to India and are also black on the inside. These chickens are like the Ayam Cemani, but they are not related.
The most obvious difference is the comb. Ayam Cemani has pointier combs. Kadaknath chickens come in other colors, while Ayam Cemani only comes in black.
The Kadaknath is a world-famous black meat bird. Some say it’s tastier and more protein-packed compared to other chickens. Kadaknaths are also good layers of brown eggs.
9. La Fleche
Being around since the 15th century in France, the La Fleche is an ancient chicken breed. Today it is an endangered rare breed.
It is trying to bounce back into popularity thanks to its delectable meat. But the La Fleche is a slow-growing bird. Some people can’t wait and lose interest.
These French chickens have a V-shaped comb that looks like devil horns. Having black plumage with this comb-type doesn’t help with the appeal.
In any case, these chickens are rare and unique for more than one reason.
Langshans are heritage chickens that originated in China. They come in a few varieties, including black.
They are one of the breeds of chicken with feathered legs. But unlike the Cochin or Brahma, the leg feathers don’t cover their toe area.
Langshans are tall black chickens and are suitable for either egg production or meat production.
Langshan hens are prolific layers of dark brown eggs.
These birds are active and like to fly. With their calm personality, Langshans get along with most chicken breeds.
These black birds have unique features. Minorcas have pale red faces and large white earlobes. It looks kind of like giant earrings against their completely black plumage.
You need a big chicken coop for these relatively large flighty chickens. Minorca roosters weigh up to 7 pounds.
Despite its size, chicken keepers don’t have them around for their meat. Some say it’s dry and stringy (3).
They aren’t ideal meat birds, but they are reliable egg-layers. Minorcas are also friendly birds that get along well with most backyard flocks.
You can buy a Black Minorca from our top hatchery pick with a minimum order of 3 baby chicks.
The Orpington is a popular English breed.
Although buff is the most popular variety, this breed comes in black. The Black Orpington became the parent stock for developing the Black Australorp.
Their back feathers reflect a green sheen under the sun.
They are big and puffy chickens that make a good meat source. Egg production is not as great as the Ausrtalorp, but they are still decent egg layers of large brown eggs.
Orpingtons are a favorite addition to backyard flocks because of their lovable personality. They are docile and affectionate chickens that make good pets.
The Black Silkie variety is one of four purely black chicken breeds. Their skin and meat are both in black.
On the outside, they are fluffy chickens. Their feathers have a unique structure that doesn’t lay flat on the chicken’s skin.
Thanks to a genetic mutation, the Silkie’s plumage looks more like silky soft fur than feathers (4). In case you were wondering, that’s where the Silkie gets its name.
Silkies make interesting backyard chickens and an even more interesting chicken dinner. Like the Ayam Cemani and Kadaknath, their meat is highly sought-after for its black shade and intense flavor.
Long and flowy tail feathers define the Sumatra chicken.
This Indonesian breed is almost all black, with a hint of purple on the face and small to no wattles. Their dark shanks have spurs, which people thought made them good for fighting. As for their tail feathers, they are completely black.
It turns out Sumatras are not cut out for it and do better as an ornamental breed.
But wait. There’s more to this black beauty than looks. Sumatras have good egg-laying abilities. Despite being a tropical breed, these chickens are reliable winter layers.
Sumatras are also active chickens that make good mothers to their chicks.
15. Svart Hona (Swedish Black)
Svart Hona translates to “black chicken.” This breed was originally bred from the Ayam Cemani.
Their black feathers are the result of the same mutation in the Indonesian Cemani. Their skin, meat, and bones are completely black too.
Physically, there is very little difference between these two breeds (5). Production-wise, the Swedish Blacks are better layers. This is thanks to the Orpington line mixed in them.
Svart Hona hens are good brooders and can lay around 250 small white to cream eggs per year.
The Swedish Black breed is a rare find for your backyard flock but is available in the United States hatchery sites.
The Valdarno is one of the black Mediterranean breeds of chicken. They look like Minorcas because of those white earlobes.
Although smaller than the Minorca, the Valdarno is an excellent meat producer. Their meat is so famous that the breed almost went extinct (6)!
The flesh is rich and flavoursome
Today, people strive to breed this chicken back to sustainable populations.
Luckily, Valdarnos are fast-growing chickens that lay large white eggs. They are active, hardy birds that thrive in outdoor settings.
17. White-Crested Black Polish
Capping off the list, we have the White-Crested Black Polish. From the name, you can tell that this chicken is not solid black.
Their big crests have white feathers that contrast the rest of their black plumage. This impressive headpiece is the reason why the Polish are a popular ornamental breed.
Unfortunately, this notable feature is not practical. The poor birds can’t see well and become skittish. Owners have to whistle before approaching the chicken, so they don’t get spooked.
Polish chickens make good pets because of their docile personality.
The solid black chicken breeds are: Ayam Cenami, Kadaknath, Swedish Black and Black Polish.
Every aspect of these four breeds is a result of genetic hyper-pigmentation. This not only affects the feathers but the entire anatomy of the chicken.
All these chickens are rare. Their black meat is in high demand because it has an intense flavor.
These black chickens are already rare in their home countries. So It’s extremely hard to source solid black chickens, especially in the United States.
A black chicken like the Ayam Cenami costs anywhere between $99US for a single chick to – $5,000US for one adult chicken (7).
That’s a lot of money to spend on a chicken! But why are they so expensive, and more importantly, why do people buy them?
Breeding difficulties, importation rules, and high demand fuel the price for black chickens to skyrocket. People buy them simply because they can.
No. Black chickens don’t lay black eggs. So, what color egg’s do black chickens lay? Egg color depends on the genetics and breed of the chicken, not the feather color. For example, Orpingtons, no matter the variety will always lay brown eggs.
You may think, well, what about easter eggers? These guys are chicken mongrels with a mix of genetic traits. Depending on what gene is dominant, they will lay that color and only that color.
- What Does the World’s Most Expensive Chicken Taste Like?. Retrieved from: https://nedhardy.com/2020/06/24/what-does-ayam-cemani-taste-like/
- Poultry Breeds – Jersey Giant Chickens. Retrieved from: https://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/poultry/chickens/jerseygiant/index.html/
- Minorca. Retrieved from: https://insteading.com/chickens/breeds/minorca/
- A cis-Regulatory Mutation of PDSS2 Causes Silky-Feather in Chickens. Retrieved from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148213/
- Swedish Black Hen. Retrieved from: https://greenfirefarms.com/swedish_black_hen.html
- Valdarno chicken with smoked potatoes and truffle. Retrieved from: https://www.greatitalianchefs.com/recipes/chicken-smoked-potato-recipe
- The Truth About The World’s Most Expensive Chicken. Retrieved from: https://www.grunge.com/182859/the-truth-about-the-worlds-most-expensive-chicken/
Tana grew up around island farms and pine forests. Her love for nature lead to her degree in Biology and mission to lessen her environmental impact. Now she grows food in her backyard and shares what she learns from Eco Peanut with others.