When most people think of chickens, the first image that comes to mind is a white or brown hen. These people would be surprised to know that wide varieties of chickens that only sport black feathers do exist. There are still many black chicken breeds available today.
While the simplistic beauty of an all-black chicken draws people’s attention, selecting a chicken because of the color of its feathers may result in choosing the wrong type of chicken for your needs. Chickens have been selectively bred for color and for different purposes. However, it’s important to understand that one chicken breed does not fit the needs of all chicken keepers.
By comparing some of the most popular black chicken breeds, you can be sure to find the right type of chicken for your flock’s goals. Here are the 5 Best Black Chicken Breeds, labeled according to their most utilized quality:
|Chicken Breed||Main Use||Temperament||Origin|
|Ayam Cemani||Ornamental||Docile and Calm||Indonesia|
|Silkie||Show Bird||Friendly and Gentle||China|
|Australorp||Dual-purpose||Docile and Calm||Australia|
|Jersey||Dual-purpose||Docile and Calm||USA|
1. Ayam Cemani – The Most Expensive Black Chicken
- Lifespan: 6 to 8 years
- Weigh:5 -6.5 lbs
- Egg Production: Less
- Egg Color: White
- Egg Size: Small
Originating in Indonesia, the Ayam Cemani chicken is the most expensive of the varieties of black chicken breeds. Some people pay over $1,000 for only one of these chickens!
Their solid black physical appearance is strikingly beautiful, resulting in them traveling from Indonesia to be kept in many other countries. Every part of the Ayam Cemani is 100% black due to its melanin pigment. Their feathers may have a gorgeous iridescent green tint in the sunlight, similar to beetles.
They are primarily kept as ornamental pets, partly because of their beauty but also because the hens only lay one egg per week. Although their entire anatomy is entirely black, their eggs are not black. It is not uncommon for these chickens to be advertised as black egg layers to obtain a higher price. Buyers beware; in reality, their eggs are white with a pink hue.
Indonesian culture says that the Ayam Cemani chicken brings its owner peace and good luck. They are also believed to have healing abilities; this chicken has many recipes, and eating them is believed to cure or improve health conditions. Read more about Ayam Cemani.
Silkie chicken – Best Black Chicken Breed for Families with Children
- Lifespan: 7 – 8 years
- Weigh:3 – 4 lbs
- Egg Production:Less
- Egg Color:Cream
- Egg Size: Tiny
Compared to the other most popular black chicken breeds, the Silkie chicken is the best black chicken for families with children.
Silkies are popular for families with children due to their very soft feathers and docile and friendly nature. While many are kept as pets for this reason, these hens have very strong motherly instincts and are known for their brooding habits.
These ladies are very optimistic; they will try to hatch almost anything they find that looks like an egg! Despite their outstanding mothering abilities, silkies do not lay many eggs; they tend to average four eggs per week.
The Silkie originated in ancient China, and when people saw these furry chickens, they quickly became popular worldwide. It’s brought throughout the world through trading.
They have been bred in shades of brown, solid black, and solid white. There are bearded and no-bearded varieties. All varieties of silkies have feathered feet, which make them look like they are wearing slippers. These hens sport bright blue ears and black skin; their meat is gray to black.
Silkies are only bred in one size; bantam, which is considered smaller than most breeds of chicken. Due to their size and their inability to fly, they are popular in small backyard flocks.
While the Silkie’s feathers are fun to pet, they are disadvantaged in colder climates. These hens have been known to succumb to death rapidly in wet and cold weather, making it crucial to have a warm indoor space during cold weather.
These hens do well in warm climates, but just like any other chicken, they need access to fresh water, shade, and fans if the temperature rises high enough. Silkie owners must be prepared to dry off their chickens when wet, as their feathers do not repel water effectively, and it is unhealthy for them to stay moist.
It may be lethal for them if allowed to stay wet in cold temperatures. If they are wet enough, they may require towel drying or even the assistance of a blow dryer! Read more about Silkie chicken.
Australorp – Best Black Chicken Breed for Laying Eggs
- Lifespan: 6 – 10 years
- Weigh:8 – 10 lbs
- Egg Production: Good
- Egg Color: Brown
- Egg Size: Large
The Australorp Chicken is the best egg-laying chicken among the most popular black chicken breeds. This breed is the Australian version of Britain’s Orpington chicken, one of the most commonly kept chicken breeds.
These chickens are bred in bantam and large varieties. In the sunlight, their feathers are iridescent. They are known for their graceful walk and love to forage around their yards.
The Australorp can live in various climates, both cold and hot. However, they tend to do better in cooler temperatures and are less tolerant of heat. They are generally very easy to care for and pretty hardy chickens.
Australorp chickens are reliable egg-layers among the most popular black chicken breeds. On average, Australorp hens lay approximately 4-6 eggs per week.
Australorp chickens are also extraordinary for families with children. They have very sweet personalities and often follow their owners around the yard. Some even enjoy sitting on their owner’s lap and being cuddled.
Australorps can be a bit shy, and it is not uncommon for them to be victims of bullying by other chickens. Be sure to carefully choose flock mates to avoid them being bullied by bolder breeds of chickens. Read more about Australorp Chicken.
Jersey Giant – Best Black Chicken Breed for Meat
- Lifespan: 8+ years
- Weigh:11 – 15 lbs
- Egg Production: Good
- Egg Color: Brown
- Egg Size: Large
The Jersey Giant Chicken is the best chicken to raise for meat among the most popular black chicken breeds. As you probably guessed from their name, these chickens were bred to be the biggest. They are being produced to their “giant” size was done to replace or compete with turkeys.
Out of the black chicken breeds and most American chicken breeds, the Jersey Giant is the largest specimen, with hens growing to weigh approximately 10 pounds and roosters growing to about 13 pounds!
In addition to being a good chicken to raise for meat, the Jersey Giant is also kept for their eggs. Happy Jersey Giant hens may lay up to 3-4 eggs per week. Luckily for Jersey Giant keepers, they are gentle giants with a docile nature. Children often enjoy assisting with their care, and many families keep them as pets.
These chickens tolerate cold weather better than hot weather. They enjoy having the ability to forage around their yard. While this would not be safe for most varieties of chickens due to their size, Jersey Giants are less likely to become the next meal of a bird of prey, and as a result, many owners give them the freedom to explore.
Jersey Giants are rarely raised for meat commercially because it takes them approximately eight months to reach their maximum mature size. As a result, they are kept mainly by small hobby farmers or backyard chicken keepers. Since this breed is less common, it would be a unique addition to your flock. Read more about Jersey Giant Chicken.
Svart Hona – Best Rare Black Ornamental Chicken Breed
- Lifespan: 5-8 years
- Weigh:3 – 5 lbs
- Egg Production: Good
- Egg Color: Dark Brown
- Egg Size: Medium
Svart Hona chicken is a rare and special breed from Sweden and has become quite popular with backyard poultry fans. These gorgeous birds are called “black hens” in English because they have jet-black feathers, even on their skin.
Aside from being eye-catching, people love these chickens because they can adapt well to various climates and environments. They’re also known for being tough little critters.
Although Svart Honas do not lay as many eggs as other breeds, gourmet chefs seek after them thanks to the dark reddish-brown shell color, which gives it unique characteristics.
Svart Hona chickens usually get along great with humans since they’ve been raised primarily as companions for centuries, but be wary: when the brooding activity gets intense or unduly disturbed –these creatures may show aggression, especially when protecting their nests. Read more about Svart Hona.
Additional Black Chicken Breeds
If you are interested in researching other black chicken breeds to add to your flock, here is a list of other varieties to explore:
- The Orpington Chicken
- The Cochin Chicken
- The Minorca Chicken
- The Marans Chicken
- The Sumatra Chicken
- The La Flèche Chicken
- The Langshan Chicken
- The Breda Chicken
- The Java Chicken
Before bringing home the first of the black chicken breeds you come across, research what each variety was bred for to ensure that you add the proper chicken to your flock. With these 5 Best Black Chicken Breeds, your search can start now!
Based upon the most common reasons people keep chickens and the most commonly found black breeds of chickens:
- If money is no object and you plan to keep your chickens as ornamental pets, consider the strikingly beautiful Ayam Cemani chicken.
- If you have children who want to help care for the flock and would like a few fresh eggs, you cannot go wrong with a friendly Silkie chicken.
- If you want to keep chickens to have farm fresh eggs daily, the Australorp chicken is the breed you want to rule the roost.
- If you plan to raise chickens for meat or just want some big friendly chickens and occasional farm fresh eggs, the Jersey Giant will give you the most meat to put on the menu.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.