The Ayam Cemani has certainly had people talking excitedly about it over the last few years.
It’s a complete blackbird, both inside and outside and, as you could imagine, it’s been connected to it’s Dark Arts, especially in the country it is from, Indonesia.
In the present they are still a uncommon bird and are difficult to acquire (reputable US breeders are sold out until the year 2019! ).
This article we’ll examine the birds that are fascinating and different and help you decide whether they are needed in your flock!
Background and History of the Ayam Cemani
The origins of Ayam Cemani are vague, to put it mildly. It could have was born in Sumatra in Indonesia, where the breed’s origins are now extinct.
Ayam Cemani is a breed of dog. Ayam Cemani is often associated with a breed called Kedu in the plains central to Java.
The theory is that it’s an offspring that of Ayam Bekisar chicken which is found on a tiny island in Indonesia.
The Ayam Bekisar was born from the pairing of the green fowl of the jungle with domesticated red fowl.
It was a difficult procedure because certain crosses could result in infertility.
Incredibly, this fowl is a bird with an incredibly distinct crow. It could be heard by sailors to serve as foghorns on ships – a custom that is which is still practiced in the present.
Even the name has confused meanings: Ayam means chicken in the Indonesian language, but Cemani can either mean the ‘village of Cemani’ in local dialect or ‘solid black’ in Sanskrit. You can take your pick.
It is said by some folks to be a landrace bird, but there is evidence that it was a developed breed at some point. It is not a chicken of the ‘common people.
People of wealth and community standing have these birds as status symbols and take great care of them.
They are thought of as good luck charms, with the blood and other parts of the bird being used in traditional medicine preparations.
The Ayam Cemani has magical powers and facilitates communication between the living and the spirit world.
As such, it is used as a sacrificial bird to please the gods. Its’ flesh is rarely eaten in Indonesia.
They were first imported to Europe in 1998 by a Dutchman named Jan Steverink.
Ayam Cemani Appearance and Breed Standard
Ayam Cemanis is a striking sight. Their all-black feathers have a beetle-green iridescence in sunlight that is stunning.
They are not an overly large fowl; the boys weigh in around 4.5-6.5lb, with the girls coming in at 3.5-4.5lb, respectively, so more of a medium-sized bird.
In appearance, they are strong and muscular with close-fitting feathers, not unlike a game bird. They strike a confident pose and are always alert.
As of now, the Ayam Cemani is not recognized by the American Poultry Association. The US Ayam Cemani club is currently working on a standard of perfection for this breed.
The standard description below is from the Dutch standard of perfection.
- The bird should stand upright, alert – almost ‘game-like.
- The body is of medium size, slim, firm, and muscular.
- It will have a fairly broad breast and a medium back, which slopes from the neck. The wings are long and strong, arising from wide shoulders.
- The tail is held moderately high. Thighs are powerful and muscular. The bird should have 4 toes to each foot.
- Feathers are all black and are close-fitting to the body. Skin, eyes, wattles, and comb should all be black. You should see no other color.
- The feathers may show a beetle-green to purple iridescence in sunlight.
Temperament and Disposition of the Ayam Cemani Breed
Cemani’s in general seems to be a friendly and likable bird. They are intelligent, gentle, and docile – including the roosters.
Ayam Cemani breed has been described as flighty, but most people who have them or raise them say this is not so. They are easy to handle and low maintenance fowl.
They are quite a winter hardy shaking off the Vermont winters easily when given the appropriate housing and shelter.
Since they originated in Indonesia, it will go without saying that they can tolerate heat pretty well also.
Ayam Cemani Egg Laying
The Ayam Cemani is a fairly poor egg layer. On average, they will lay around 80 eggs per year, which is around 1 egg per week.
They do seem to go ‘off lay’ for an extended period of time. Apparently, they will lay 20-30 eggs and then stop laying.
This can be up to 6 months, and then they will start all over again!
Compared to the size of the hen, the eggs are quite large, and they are cream-colored with a very slight pink tint (not black).
I have seen several photos that show black eggs – rest assured, these are fake eggs.
Some folks state they aren’t broody, and yet others say they can be broody. This may be due to differences in the bloodlines obtained.
They tend to make good mothers and care well for their chicks.
Common Health Issues of the Ayam Cemani Chicken
There’s no health issue that I’ve been able to find However, this is the best spot to discuss the fibromatosis that is present in the Ayam Cemani.
The bird is affected by a mutation the fibromelanistic gene, an inherited gene that creates excess black pigment.This abnormally high level of melanin causes the skin and the tissues appear black.
Three other birds are the only ones to have this trait genetically Three other birds only carry this genetic trait – it’s the Silkie and Svart Hona from Sweden and the Kadaknath chicken from in the Madhya Pradesh region of India.
Blood is red, but it is believed that it is darker than usual, even though the bone marrow appears black.
In all other respects In all other ways, it is a healthy bird. Ayam Cemani is a healthy and sturdy bird.
It does not seem to be prone to any particular chicken ailment.
Is the Ayam Cemani Right for You?
If you would like to add a couple of these black beauties to your flock, you had better save your pennies.
An unsexed chick from them will set you back $199.00, or a sexed juvenile is a cool $400.00 – not for the faint of heart or anyone short of funds!
Of course, you can get cheaper birds, but they will usually be of inferior quality – as always, buyer-beware.
Described as friendly but not particularly ‘cuddly,’ so it is not really a lap chicken. They will take feed from your hand, so they certainly are not stand-offish with people.
Many people buy them as pets or eye candy – they certainly are unusual and noteworthy.
The Ayam Cemani has probably been around for a hundred years or so, at best guess, but has only come to the attention of chicken lovers fairly recently in the 1990s.
Since that time, they have captured the imagination and hearts of many folks.
Contributing to the rareness of the bird is the ongoing threat of Avian Influenza.
As much of the breeding stock comes from Indonesia, the US importation restrictions are severe to prevent further disease outbreaks.
|Country of Origin||Indonesia|
Do you have any of these black jewels? Let us know what you love about them in the comments section below…