You’d think this all-black chicken is photoshopped, but this creature is as real as it gets.
The Ayam Cemani is the most unique chicken in the entire world. This bird isn’t just dark-hued; it’s actually all black down to its bones!
Indigenous to Indonesia, these fowls’ internal organs and muscles are black, but their eggs are cream in color. They’re so spectacular and exotic that they’re dubbed as the “Lamborghini of poultry.”
According to Paul Bradshaw, owner of Greenfire Farms, the best-known and most reputable breeder of Ayam Cemani, this blackness is due to genetics.
“The source of all this blackness is a gene mutation that emerged in Asia centuries ago and eventually made its way to Europe,” he told Gizmodo. “The mutation produces about ten times as much melanin as you’ll find in a normal chicken.”
Aside from being a biological wonder, these striking birds have long been regarded as spiritual creatures. Centuries ago, the Ayam Cemani were kept by elites or used in rituals in the Indonesian island of Java.
They were never eaten as their unique coloring was regarded as a sign of their otherworldliness.
Even as chicks, the Ayam Cemani is black. When exposed to bright sunlight, the Ayam Cemani’s black feathers glow with iridescent greens and purples, giving its appearance a “riveting” effect. They look magical, so it’s no wonder why native Indonesians attributed mystical power to these fowls.
In traditional Javanese culture, “the world is occupied by spirits, good and bad, whose power can be mobilized to help people to gain power, reputation, and wealth.
For these purposes, one should offer Cemani chicken, as the ghost and spirits love Cemani chicken’s meat and blood,” writes Veronika Kusumaryati. She is studying toward a Ph.D. in the anthropology department at Harvard University.
The United States Department of Agriculture bans the direct importation of live chickens from Indonesia due to concerns over the avian flu. Still, Greenfire Farms in Northern Florida has managed to legally bring the breed to the country. Here, the chickens were used for aesthetic purposes.
“We were asked by New York magazine to supply an Ayam Cemani model for their holiday gifts issue,” Paul recalled. “And after we flew him to New York our rooster patiently allowed himself to be draped with million-dollar jewelry and trussed with a red ribbon while he was photographed under bright lights. He was unbothered by all the attention, and he soon jetted back to Florida for a happy reunion with his flock of hens. Ah, the life of a supermodel.”
The Ayam Cemani lays about 60 to 100 eggs their first year, and their typical laying cycle lasts for about 20 to 30 eggs. The hen will then stop laying for three to six months. Their eggs are usually large in proportion to the size of the hen’s body.
Despite their hypnotic appeal, these birds are pretty easy to handle because they’re low maintenance.
If you want an Ayam Cemani of your own, we must warn you: a bird this beautiful won’t come cheap. Greenfire Farms sells one unsexed egg for $199 plus shipping and handling, while juvenile males and females cost $400 apiece.
Check out the gallery below to see more photos of this extraordinary bird.