About a month ago, my partner shared with me his interest in a chicken breed that has recently been brought to the US from Indonesia. He said these birds were unique in that their coloration was all black. I pointed out that my black australorp was all black, but Bernard said, “not like these birds”. We then did an image search, and this is what came up:
These are not photo shopped. The birds are all black, from beak to toe. Now here’s where it gets really cool, the meat is black too!
So, we ordered some, and here they are! These 6 babes are about three weeks old now, and well on their way to becoming Leafhopper Farm’s first breeding chicken. This means we are using a pure genetic stock for production. Why Ayams? Well, it’s unique to this area, and a visual oddity, which catches the eye. They are also layers, producing a cream colored egg. (the only thing not black about these birds). I’m also very excited for the opportunity to observe and learn about this breed, as there is little to no info available for their temperament. I’m making a concerted effort to spend more time handling and taming these birds, as they are from Indonesia, though these were bred in California. Their genetics are still on the wilder side, and so far, they have shown extra sensitivity, being more aware than their more domestic cousins. Notice the one bird in this picture who is looking right at the camera.
In the photo below, there are two birds showing the difference in sizes and, most likely, sex. The larger bird has a very erect tail, and in my “chick sexing test” he showed typical male behavior. This test is easy, you take the chick and gently turn it over onto its back in your hand. If it kicks a lot and tries to turn back over, it’s a rooster. If it relaxes into your hand at rest, it’s a hen. This larger male struggled, while the smaller female rested without a fight. We’ll see if the test holds true as the birds mature.
Ayam Cemani chickens are rare in the US. Leafhopper Farm will capitalize on the exotic look of these chickens, as well as their dual purpose nature, as great foragers and egg layers. The eggs are a cream color, the only thing not black about these birds. Their coloring comes from a genetic mutation, which only affects the color. Everything else about this bird is typical chicken, even the flavor of the meat.
Because we’ll be breeding these birds, they will be kept separate from the other chickens for now. I’ll have to make a better portable coop. I’ve picked out an A-frame design and hope to have it ready by April to get the birds out on the land. They are showing a great interest in scratching, which means they are going to be great foragers. Not all domestic chickens are good at this, so I’m excited to see such a drive in this breed. These black beauties will be a rare treat to see at the farm.