16 Black Chicken Breeds {5 Have Black Skin!}

Many chickens come in black and these are some of the most striking and unusual examples of black chicken breeds. Five of these breeds have fibromelanosis — they are truly black inside and out with black feathers, skin, blood, organs, and bones.

And yes, they are eaten in many cultures. I’ve prepared the black-skinned Silkie chickens myself and can attest to their being very tasty. I’ll show you what a raw black chicken looks like towards the end of the article.

But let’s dispel one very pervasive myth right now:

There is no such thing as a chicken that lays black eggs — but there is such a thing as a black skinned chicken that lays BLUE eggs — and there are some breeds of birds and ducks that do lay black eggs too, and we will discuss them at the end.

Rather than being dull or plain, black chickens have plumage that can have the iridescent shine of a beetle under sunlight, or be deeply intense and very dark black.

Black chickens are a striking addition to your flock.

The iridescent beetle sheen of black chicken feathers, up close.
The iridescent beetle sheen of black chicken feathers, up close.
black orpington hen on a white background.
Black Orpington hen.

Black Orpington

  • Primary use: Dual-purpose (meat & eggs)
  • Size (Roosters): 8-12 lbs (and they can get MUCH bigger too)
  • Size (Hens): 6-8lbs
  • Egg production (Annual): 200-250
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg colour: Light brown
  • Origin: United Kingdom

As far as black chicken breeds go, this is the most beautiful. Granted I’m very biased as I also happen to adore and raise beautiful BBS (Blue/Black/Splash) English Orpingtons.

I’m putting them at the top of my list as they are a majestic example amongst black chicken breeds. The blacks are absolutely stunning with their iridescent black plumage and they are HUGE fluffy, meaty birds with wonderful dispositions.

black orpington rooster in a green pasture
My beautiful black rooster.

The English Orpington is available in different colors with black as one of the original colours. The black feathers have a ‘beetling’ green sheen that changes and shimmers under sunlight in a mesmerizing way. Being bred originally in England, the dark colour helped hide the soot from London street pollution.

See my (totally unabashedly biased) article on why Orpingtons make the best dual-purpose heritage breed to choose for your flock.

black australorp rooster with hen in green field

Black Australorp

  • Primary Use: Dual–purpose (meat & eggs)
  • Size (Roosters): 8½-10 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 6½-8½ lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 200-280
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg colour: Brown
  • Origin: Australia

The Australorp chicken is the Australian version of Britain’s Orpington chicken. The Black Australorp is a solid black chicken that was developed for both egg production and meat production and it excels at both.

These Australian utility hens have set several records in the poultry world throughout the last century for their egg laying capability.

They have beautiful, lustrous black feathers and can weigh between 6.5 and 8.5 lbs or more.

They are a peaceful and beautiful black breed chicken that will fit in well with most backyard flocks and homesteads.

See my article on the Australorp breed for more detailed information.

An all-black modern game fowl chicken on a white background.
Modern English black Game Fowl.

Modern Game Fowl

  • Primary Use: Exhibition/Ornamental
  • Size (Roosters): 5.5 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 4 lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 50
  • Egg size: Medium
  • Egg colour: White
  • Origin: United Kingdom

Amongst black chicken breeds, this one is quite bizarre looking for a chicken — in a beautiful way. A rare breed, the modern game fowl is primarily bred for its striking and eery beauty which resembles a crow or raven.

It does not provide much abundance in the way of eggs and meat. It’s definitely not for everyone! Several varieties are officially recognized including the moody black colour.

The modern gamefowl can be found at poultry shows and despite being a throwback to fighting birds in appearance, they are actually known for being quite docile and friendly.

a jersey giant rooster and three hens on pasture

Jersey Giant

  • Primary Use: Dual-purpose (meat & eggs)
  • Size (Roosters): 13-15 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 10lbs–13 lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 260
  • Egg size: Medium
  • Egg colour: Brown
  • Origin: USA

The Jersey Giant chicken lives up to its name — they are HUGE. Black Jersey Giants will have solid black feathers with a little green sheen. They originated in New Jersey in the 1800s. Their legs are also dark grey, almost black. They’re used for both egg production and meat production, albeit it takes them longer to reach harvest weight than other meat birds.

As adults, these giant chickens can weigh approximately anything from 10 to 13 pounds or more. They lay medium-sized brown eggs and have a good egg production rate, reaching up to 260 eggs per year under ideal conditions.

Despite their big size, they show a proclivity for brooding and are very friendly chickens.

a black sumatra rooster on a green pasture

Black Sumatra Chicken

  • Primary use: Ornamental (some egg laying capabilities)
  • Size (Roosters): 5lbs
  • Size(Hens): 4lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 100
  • Egg size: Small
  • Egg colour: White
  • Origin: Indonesia

An exceedingly rare and beautiful black chicken breed, the black Sumatra chicken has a majestic appearance, with pure black plumage that has the unique ‘beetling’ green lustre, and a gorgeous long tail! These birds command attention.

Even when fully grown, black Sumatra chickens are petite birds, weighing about 4-5 pounds. Their structures are too small to produce enough meat to make it worthwhile to the average homesteader, but they are fairly decent egg layers that lay about 100 eggs annually.

Nothing extraordinary in the laying department, especially when compared to some other breeds (you can read my article on the best egg layers), but not as low as other ornamental breeds either. Many people raise them for both their striking appearance and eggs too.

Cochin

  • Primary Use: Dual-Purpose (Meat, & Egg-Laying)
  • Size (Rooster): 7 lbs – 13 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 7 lbs – 11 lbs
  • Egg Production (Annual): 160-180
  • Egg Size: Medium
  • Egg Colour: Light Brown
  • Origin: China

Cochins are another chicken breed that comes in black. They are extremely fluffy, friendly, and pretty large birds with adorably feathered feet. They resemble Orpingtons in many ways until you look at them closely.

There is both the standard large and bantam variety available and the breed is very popular for chicken showing and exhibition due to its fluffy plumage.

La Fleche

  • Primary use: Dual-purpose(meat & eggs)
  • Size (Rooster): 7lbs – 8lbs
  • Size (Hens): 6 lbs – 7 lbs
  • Egg Production (Annual): 150-200
  • Egg Size: Large
  • Egg Colour: White
  • Origin: France

An extremely rare breed of French dual-purpose chicken that is named for the town it originated from.

This is an all-black chicken breed with a unique comb and white lobes. They are not very docile due to their landrace history and their temperament is quite undomesticated and feral. They are purported to taste great though.

Black Java Chicken

  • Primary use: Dual-purpose (eggs & meat)
  • Size (Roosters): 9 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 7lbs
  • Egg production (Annual): 150+
  • Egg Size: Large
  • Egg Colour: Brown
  • Origin: USA

A critically endangered and rare breed of American origin — the Java Chicken is an excellent dual-purpose bird that thrives on pasture and is a great forager to boot.

The Java chicken is the second oldest American chicken breed, the first being the striking black and white Dominique chicken.

It is responsible for the development of both the Plymouth Rock and the Jersey Giant chicken breeds.

Black Javas are a great heritage breed choice for your homestead or small flock backyard chicken flock. They are good egg producers, laying a good number of very large brown eggs each year. The hens tend to go broody and make excellent mothers too.

Croad Langshan

  • Primary use: Dual-purpose (eggs & meat)
  • Size (Roosters): 7 lbs -11 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 5 lbs – 7 lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 150
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg colour: Brown
  • Origin: China

An excellent egg layer and meat bird, the Croad Langshan is also very suited to pasture raising.

The Croad Langshan chicken breed is unlike any other. They are very large with beautiful black plumage that has a distinctive green gloss (beetling).

Popular chicken breeds like the Orpington and the Australorp were developed from this breed! The Croad Langshan lays approximately 150 eggs per year, and they frequently go broody and will hatch their eggs.

The majority of their eggs are huge and brown, however, some of these chickens produce an incredible plum-coloured egg that is just stunning!

Black Wyandotte

  • Primary Use: Dual-purpose (meat & eggs)
  • Size (Roosters): 8 lbs – 9 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 6 lbs – 7 lbs
  • Egg Production (Annual): 200-220
  • Egg Size: Large
  • Egg Colour: Brown
  • Origin: USA

The Wyandotte comes in 9 officially recognized colours, and one of the originals is black. This breed was named for the indigenous Wyandot people of North America. The breed is an excellent dual-purpose bird and forager.

You can read more about the breed in my article on Wyandottes which has pictures of many of the stunning colors this chicken comes in.

Black Japanese Bantam

  • Primary use: Dual-purpose (eggs & ornamental)
  • Size (Roosters): 1 lbs – 1.5 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 0.88 lbs – 1.12 lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 80-160
  • Egg size: Very Small
  • Egg colour: Cream
  • Origin: Japan

The Japanese Bantam or Chabo is a breed of ornamental chicken hailing from Japan. And this is a true bantam breed, which means that there is no larger chicken counterpart that came first.

It is characterized by extremely short legs and a large, beautiful, very upright tail that reaches even higher than the top of the head of the bird.

You will not get much in the way of meat from these birds, they are strictly ornamental beauties that also provide a decent amount of very small pretty eggs.

The 5 Fibromelanistic Breeds

While many chickens can have black feathers, there are very few breeds of fibromelanistic aka black-skinned chicken breeds in the world.

Not only are their feathers black but so is their skin, and even insides. These breeds are very popular in Asian countries and very rare in North America where the appearance can be bizarre or even off-putting.

Some breeds express the fibro gene less than others. The Silkie, for example, can come in many feather colors and their flesh can have a bluish tint whereas the Ayam Cemani is the blackest creature on earth, a true inky black color.

What is fibromelanosis (frequently shortened to “fibro”) in chickens?

fibromelanosis is a genetic mutation, a complex rearrangement in the genome that occurred hundreds (or thousands) of years ago in a single chicken from which all known fibro breeds originate from.

This mutation is so complex and peculiar, that scientists are sure that it occurred once.

Most vertebrates have a gene known as endothelin 3, or EDN3, which, among other things, controls skin color. And when a normal chicken is developing, certain cells, like those in the skin and feather follicles, express EDN3, which triggers the migration of melanoblasts, or the cells that go on to create color.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/why-black-chickens-fibromelanosis

There is one notable exception, eggs. As noted, black chicken eggs do not exist. The pictures you see online are faked by unscrupulous people.

Chicken eggs do come in many colors though. There are shades or green eggs, blue eggs, brown eggs, and even purple and pink eggs.

Scholarly References:

  1. The origin and evolution of fibromelanosis in domesticated chickens: Genomic comparison of Indonesian Cemani and Chinese Silkie breeds

Let’s look at some pictures and facts about these beautiful and rare black-skinned breeds:

Kadaknath

  • Primary Use: Dual Purpose (meat & eggs)
  • Size (Roosters): 4 lbs – 4 1/2 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 2.5 lbs – 3 lbs
  • Egg Production (Annual): 100-120
  • Egg Size: Small
  • Egg Colour: Cream
  • Origin: India

The striking Kadaknath, also called ‘Kali Masi’ (“fowl having black flesh”), is an all-black chicken breed originating in India where it is a treasured meat bird purported to be the tastiest and healthiest of all chicken breeds.

It is also unusually iron-rich for chicken flesh.

Due to the popularity of the meat, consumption rates are very high, while breeding rates have been low. The Kadaknath is thus at risk of becoming extinct. Programs are underway in the bird’s native India to protect this unique heritage breed.

black silkie chicken

Silkie

  • Primary use: Dual-purpose (eggs & ornamental)
  • Size (Roosters): 2 lbs -3 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 1 1/2 lbs -2 lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 100-120
  • Egg size: Small
  • Egg colour: Cream
  • Origin: China

Silkies are an extremely popular Asian black chicken and they come in many colours. They resemble Pomeranian puppies to me with their fluffy feathers that look like fur more than actual feathers.

Silkies are known for being docile, gentle birds that are excellent at going broody and hatching out eggs laid by the rest of the flock (breed doesn’t matter to chickens!) and can be a great choice for this purpose if you do not wish to incubate and hatch your own eggs at home.

two silkies on a field, one is black and one is white

Because of their diminutive size, they are rarely utilized for meat in North America — at least not as a primary reason. And the egg-laying can be inconsistent too.

The flesh and skin of these chickens is completely black regardless of feather colour and they are prized in China for the taste of the meat and the health benefits — especially for women according to Traditional Chinese Medicine and tradition.

a close up of a black ayam cemani rooster head isolated on white background
The pitch-black Ayam Cemani chicken is black inside and out — even their bones and blood.

Ayam Cemani

  • Primary use: Ornamental
  • Size (Roosters): 4.4-5.5lbs
  • Size (Hens): 3.3–4.4lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 60-100
  • Egg size: Small
  • Egg colour: Cream
  • Origin: Indonesia

The Ayam Cemani is a stunning example of a black chicken breed. This is “The King of Chickens” and the breed stands out in terms of both beauty and uniqueness.

Commercial hatcheries do not sell the Ayam Cemani and procuring good stock from a reputable and honest private breeder can be very pricey.

Ayam Cemani rooster and hen.

They are well-known for being completely and utterly black in every way. Their skin, feathers and even tongue are pitch black. Their bones and blood and bone marrow is similarly a dark inky colour.

They are kept as a decorative breed primarily for the fortunate few who own them, and they are a sight to behold. Of course, you can also eat them and their eggs too.

Svart Hona

  • Primary Use: Egg-laying
  • Size Rooster): 7lbs
  • Size (Hens): 5lbs
  • Egg production (annual): 250
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg colour: Off-white
  • Origin: Sweden

Svart Hona literally translates to “black hen” in Swedish. The first Svart Honas are supposed to have been imported from Indonesia before being developed into the beloved Swedish bird we know today.

This breed is sociable and gets along well with people. They are phenomenal egg layers and go broody as well.

Fibro Easter Egger

Primary use: Eggs
Size (Roosters): Unknown
Size (Hens): Unknown
Egg production (Annual): 200-260
Egg size: Medium – Large
Egg colour: Blue, green, etc.
Origin: USA

An exciting new hybrid chicken that is fibromelanistic and lays BLUE eggs! From the look of the bird on the hatchery website, it definitely has some Ameraucana in it. I’m guessing a black Ameraucana crossed with an Ayam Cemani or similar.

From the breeder:

The Fibro Easter Egger is a new and exciting designer chicken belonging to a unique group with Fibromelanosis (hyper melanin or hyperpigmentation) and will present with dark feathering, skin, or features. Fibro Melanistic is a genetic mutation that causes the chicken to have increased melanin. The degree of black feathering with Fibro Easter Eggers will vary as will secondary colors but the skin, legs, and lobes will all be black colored. They’ll lay 4-5 eggs per week and the eggs will range from olive green to turquoise blue and occasionally rose or brown. Generational offspring may lay eggs that are green, blue-green tinted, white, or even pale blue with white speckling.

https://www.meyerhatchery.com/

Black Skinned Chicken Meat

a raw whole silkie chicken

Black chicken meat can be very bizarre if you’re not used to it.

I saw my first black-skinned chicken in a Chinese grocery store in Toronto and, naturally, I had to buy it and cook it. The chicken came plucked and gutted but every part, from the head to the feet, was attached.

I braised the chicken in various spices and the resulting meat was very flavorful.

I will perhaps post a recipe with more photos soon. I’ll make sure to update this article when I do with a link to the recipe.

Do Black Chickens Lay Black Eggs?

No. That is a myth that follows certain black chicken breeds around, the Ayam Ceyami particularly. Black chicken eggs do not exist. There are, however, other birds that do. Cayuga ducks will lay an egg with a black bloom although the colour fades as the laying season goes on and the intensity of the black colour varies greatly. There are also a couple of wild birds that lay a black egg.

Do Black Chickens Have Black Skin & Flesh?

Some do. Most black chicken breeds do not have black skin or flesh underneath their black feathers. Their skin is just the same pinkish-yellow hue you are accustomed to. However, there are some notable exceptions (as noted above in the breed list) and they owe that unusual internal black colouration to something called fibromelanosis, a rare genetic mutation of hyperpigmentation believed to have originated in China.

Do black chickens get hotter than white chickens?

Yes. Black chickens will get hotter than white or lighter-feathered chickens. It is very important that your black chickens always have access to cool drinking water, dust baths, and shade in the summer.

How do black chickens taste?

Black-skinned chicken breeds taste like regular chickens. How a chicken is raised has more impact on flavor than breed or color. So whether a chicken is free-ranged or pastured in a tractor set up makes a difference. The feed they receive makes a difference. Age matters greatly to taste too.

Are Silkies (black chickens) really more nutritious?

Maybe. They may have more iron in their flesh and higher levels of an antioxidant called carnosine. In Chinese medicine TCM the black skinned silkie is considered beneficial for women’s health particularly.

a flock of chickens on green pasture.

The Ultimate Guide to Homestead & Backyard Chicken Keeping 

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