The Ayam Cemani is a captivating breed that has long intrigued poultry fans. Originating from Indonesia, this distinctively all-black fowl is not just unique in appearance but also in its genetic makeup and history.
Moreover, its adaptability makes it a good option for growers who want to try something new in their flock. In fact, this chicken can thrive in various conditions since it can handle both hot and cold weather.
Yet, note that this breed is more than just its resilience. Luckily for you, this article provides a comprehensive look at the Ayam Cemani breed, including information on its egg-laying traits, disposition, lifespan, and more.
Ayam Cemani Chicken Overview
|Black with an iridescent blue, green, and purple sheen
|Typical Coop Space:
|4 square feet per bird
|Flighty, friendly, gentle
|Tolerant of hot and cold temperatures
|Ornamental, meat, eggs
|1–2 eggs a week; 60–100 eggs a year
|Cream with a slight pink tint
|Small to medium
|Suitable for Beginners:
Ayam Cemani Origin and History
Starting with this fowl’s name, note that “Ayam” means chicken. Meanwhile, “Cemani” refers to the color black or a village in Java — an island situated between Sumatra and Bali.
While their background and history are unclear, it’s believed that Ayam Cemanis have surfaced in Java in Indonesia. Yet, some suspect the Ayam Bekisar chicken, a mix of a red and green jungle fowl, is their ancestor.
Originally, the true Ayam Cemani chickens were seen as more than just a poultry breed.
Owing to their entirely black appearance — containing black feathers, skin, meat, and even black internal organs — they were treated as good luck charms and used in traditional medicine by the Javanese.
By the 1990s, these fowls’ unique features led to global interest, and breeders began transporting breeding stock to Europe and the United States.
Ayam Cemani Appearance and Breed Standard
Generally, the Ayam Cemani has a distinctive look that sets it apart from your common chicken.
Still, one should note that it is not recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) yet. Instead, it is represented by its own breeders’ group, the Ayam Cemani Breeders Association (ACBA).
In fact, this organization has even created a Standard of Perfection for this rare chicken.
According to them, Ayam Cemanis must have a single, five-pointed comb, a curved beak, small earlobes, and smooth wattles — all of which should be completely black due to the hyperpigmentation gene.
Not just their facial features but their skin and feather colors are black as well. However, don’t be mistaken: under direct sunlight, their plumage displays an iridescent sheen, dancing in hues of blue, green, and purple.
In addition, you will notice that the Ayam Cemani chicken’s tail is held high, specifically at a 45-degree angle. Further, its legs and toes have no feathers and are well-separated from each other.
Watch this clip to see a flock of muscular Ayam Cemani chickens in action:
Ayam Cemani Size and Weight
The Ayam Cemani chicken breed is medium-sized, suiting well into many chicken keepers’ flocks. In other words, this black-colored fowl is not too big or too small and will not take up excessive space in your coop.
When looking at weight, Ayam Cemani hens typically range between 3.5 and 5.5 pounds. In contrast, the roosters are a bit more prominent, weighing in from 4.4 to 7 pounds.
However, remember that the size of a particular hen or rooster can still vary, depending on its age or whether it has been subjected to poor living conditions.
Moreover, genetics, ventilation rate, and overall care play important roles when determining how big your Ayam Cemani chicks will grow over time.
Ayam Cemani Temperament and Behavior
Ayam Cemanis are often praised for their friendly nature. As a matter of fact, whether mixed in a flock with a Silkie, Barred Rock, or Marans, they tend to get along with other chickens quite well.
They’re also pretty gentle, making them great companions for chicken keepers familiar with unusual breeds. However, they do have a flighty side, which might make them a bit challenging for beginners to manage.
Contrary to some breeds, the Ayam Cemani isn’t your typical lap chicken. I once tried introducing one to my young niece, only to realize they aren’t the best pets for kids due to their restless demeanor.
Additionally, the roosters of their kind, while being an eye-catching part of the flock, exhibit high energy and can be somewhat territorial. This is especially true if they are not well-socialized with humans early on in life.
Egg Production and Broodiness of Ayam Cemanis
Although Ayam Cemanis begin laying eggs as early as five months of age, they aren’t known as great egg layers. Typically, they lay only roughly 80 eggs per year; however, the actual number can vary from 60 to 100.
In addition, an interesting aspect of their laying pattern is the cycle. After producing about 20 to 30 eggs, they will often stop laying for an extended period of time — about 3 to 6 months.
On top of that, contrary to some myths, the Ayam Cemani doesn’t produce black eggs. Instead, they are cream-colored with a tinge of pink.
Also, these eggs are relatively large compared to the size of the hens that produce them.
From my experience raising these avian wonders, I’ve noted their low broodiness level. They don’t sit on their eggs and are rarely interested in hatching their young.
Noise Levels of Ayam Cemanis
In general, the Ayam Cemani is considered a moderate noise producer. As with other breeds, it makes various chicken sounds, from clucking to crowing and squawking to chirping.
However, it is worth noting that Ayam Cemani hens are less likely to produce loud noises than their male counterparts. Most of the time, they will only make soft clucks and purrs.
When it comes to roosters, though, many people find them to be a bit noisy. Due to their circadian rhythm, they tend to crow at different times throughout the day or night.
That said, it’s essential to understand that noise levels in Ayam Cemanis can differ significantly. For instance, genes, individual personalities, and living conditions can all affect how much noise a particular fowl makes.
So, if you’re considering adding new chickens to your coop and noise is a concern, this rare breed can still fit right in.
How to Take Care of Your Ayam Cemani
If you have read many Ayam Cemani care guides and still need clarification about the best way to manage this breed, this section will help.
From dietary requirements to temperature conditions and coop setup, all the information you need is here.
Lifespan and Health Issues
The Ayam Cemani is normally expected to live 6 to 8 years. Fortunately, with proper nutrition, environment, and maintenance, this breed can live much longer than that.
However, it is interesting to note that due to their fibromelanosis — which causes their skin to be darker than usual — many people believe these chickens are more susceptible to heat stress.
Yet, since Ayam Cemanis originated in Indonesia, it is safe to say that their skin color does not negatively impact their ability to cope with hot temperatures.
Regardless of this fact, remember that they are still prone to common chicken health issues, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, bird flu, and gout.
Feeding is essential to raising any breed of chicken, and the Ayam Cemani is no different. Yet, it should be noted that age is the most critical factor in determining what type of food your poultry requires.
For baby Ayam Cemanis, a chick starter feed that contains 16% protein will do the trick. This formula can be supplemented with dried shrimp and mealworms for added nutrients.
Once they mature into pullets and cockerels, switch to a 20% protein grower feed. They’ll need more nutrients at this point in their life due to their rapid growth rate.
Meanwhile, if you’re feeding an adult Ayam Cemani, a complete laying feed with about 18% protein should be sufficient. You can also give it treats such as oyster shells for additional calcium.
On another note, one sign of malnutrition in these birds is if their breast bones don’t appear plump. In this case, consult an avian expert to determine whether or not your fowl’s diet needs some adjusting.
Coop Setup and Roaming
Like other chickens, the living space for Ayam Cemanis should be comfortable and spacious. After all, their active nature requires a lot of room to move around and explore.
In order to get you started, set aside about four square feet of space per chicken inside the coop. Doing so will encourage a healthier habitat for your Ayam Cemanis, which means more content fowls and better eggs.
When considering roosting, provide a minimum of 12 inches of space per chicken. This way, they can rest comfortably on their perches at night without having to crowd one another or fight over a limited room.
Meanwhile, with their eggs being quite large compared to their medium size, nesting boxes should ideally measure 12x12x18 inches. Yet, for every four Ayam Cemani hens, be sure to have one nest box available.
Additionally, when it comes to the outdoor run, aim for at least eight square feet of space per chicken to let your birds wander and exercise freely.
Generally speaking, Ayam Cemanis are hardy chickens that can tolerate both hot and cold temperatures. Yet, special care requirements come into play when dealing with chicks.
For one, they should be kept in a brooder, maintaining a cozy environment of around 95 °F. Each subsequent week, this temperature should be lowered by five degrees.
Specifically, using a heat lamp is one way to give your chicks the right amount of supplemental heat, as Ayam Cemanis aren’t known for their broodiness.
However, be sure to place this lamp out of reach of curious hatchlings. You would not want to risk having one get burned by accident.
When they reach six weeks of age, having developed their first set of true feathers, your Ayam Cemani chicks can easily handle temperatures that humans commonly find comfortable.
How Much Does an Ayam Cemani Cost?
For those of you who are interested in the striking Ayam Cemani, understanding the costs is essential. Generally, the price range for anything related to this unusual breed falls between $10 and $5,000.
First, if you’re looking to buy eggs, the average cost per egg is around $10 to $60.
As for chicks, anticipate prices between $40 and $200. Both sexed and unsexed or straight-run chicks are available for purchase in the United States.
Meanwhile, Ayam Cemani pullets and cockerels usually sell for $200 to $400 each. They are nearing maturity, and thus, their price is relatively high compared to younger chickens and eggs.
Finally, adults, with their full majestic appearance, come at a premium — around $2,000 to $3,000 each. They are already fully grown with excellent black feathers; it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your needs.
Places to Find Ayam Cemani Chickens for Sale
For enthusiasts looking to add the Ayam Cemani breed to their flock, it’s best to find legitimate and reputable sources. After all, these fowls are rare and pricey, and you don’t want to get ripped off.
Here are some trusted places to purchase Ayam Cemani eggs and chickens:
- ACBA Breeder Directory – The ACBA is a well-known club dedicated to Ayam Cemani chickens. It boasts a list of commendable breeders throughout the United States, ensuring you get fowls that adhere to their proposed Ayam Cemani breed standard.
- Sugar Feather Farm – Situated in Vermont, Sugar Feather Farm is a small hatchery dedicated to raising rare and heritage breeds. They offer a variety of Ayam Cemani chickens for sale, including eggs, chicks, and fully-grown hens and roosters.
- Black Witch Farm – Black Witch Farm is a Pennsylvania-based breeder of Ayam Cemani chickens. They do not offer adult hens or pullets, but they do have chicks for sale at a starting price of $45.
- Gypsy Shoals Farm – Located in Alabama, Gypsy Shoals Farm is another trustworthy source of Ayam Cemani chickens. This hatchery’s pricing starts at $100 per chick, and they ship across the United States.
When searching for Ayam Cemani chickens for sale, prioritize breeders with a good reputation. Avoid potential scammers, especially on platforms like Craigslist, and ensure you’re investing in healthy birds.
Is the Ayam Cemani Breed Right for You?
The Ayam Cemani is a good choice for anyone who wants to add something unusual to their backyard coop. The breed’s distinctive all-black appearance can surely turn heads when it’s time to show off your birds.
It’s well-known for being robust too. Whether cold or hot, this chicken can cope with its surroundings. In other words, it won’t have any issues thriving in your local climate.
However, one must weigh these chickens’ drawbacks as well. First, because Ayam Cemanis are so rare, expect them to be expensive and hard to find. In fact, a pair can cost as much as $5,000.
Moreover, they’re not the best choice for those searching for prolific egg layers. Their laying rate is just two eggs per week, resulting in only around 100 eggs yearly.
Considering these factors, think deeply about your poultry goals and resources. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you want from your chickens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are Ayam Cemani So Expensive?
Ayam Cemani chickens indeed carry an expensive price tag, sometimes reaching up to $5,000. Their rarity contributes significantly to this cost.
In addition, they’re one of the few breeds boasting black chicken meat. This trait has led to increased interest and demand, causing their prices to rise even further.
So, if you’re considering raising Ayam Cemani chicks, be prepared for a hefty initial investment.
Is Ayam Cemani Good to Eat?
Yes, the Ayam Cemani is good to eat. While its black meat might look unusual, it tastes similar to regular chicken meat.
However, bear in mind that some chicken enthusiasts argue that Ayam Cemanis offer a richer flavor and might even be more nutritious than other breeds.
Is Ayam Cemani Chicken Blood Black?
A common misconception about the Ayam Cemani is that its distinctive black coloring extends to its blood. In truth, despite its black feathers, skin, bones, and organs, its blood is red, just like other chicken breeds.
The Ayam Cemani is a breed that captures attention with its unique appearance and rarity. Native to Indonesia, this all-black chicken, inside and out, has become a sought-after breed in various parts of the world.
However, note that despite their overall dark coloration, Ayam Cemanis produce cream-colored eggs. Therefore, the myth that their blackness extends to their eggs is just that — a myth.
Regarding personality, they’re the opposite of what you might expect from dark-colored birds: they’re calm and friendly. Yet, their flighty nature can make them hard for kids and beginners to handle.
All in all, choosing to raise Ayam Cemanis is no small decision. You need to weigh the pros and cons, compare them to other breeds, and make sure you have the right space and facilities available before bringing one home.
If you have any thoughts on the Ayam Cemani breed, please share them in the comments!