Ayam Cemani Egg Color, Breed Information, Care Guide



Ayam Cemani: A Black Beauty with Mystique

In recent years, Ayam Cemani has emerged as a captivating and mysterious figure in the world of poultry enthusiasts. This remarkable breed, originating from Indonesia, has earned its reputation as a mystical, all-black bird synonymous with the Dark Arts. However, it’s not just the enigmatic aura surrounding the Ayam Cemani that has piqued the interest of breeders and chicken enthusiasts worldwide. In this article, we will delve into the background, history, appearance, temperament, egg-laying capabilities, health, and suitability of the Ayam Cemani in your flock.

Background and History of the Ayam Cemani

The Ayam Cemani’s origins are shrouded in mystery. It is believed to have originated in Sumatra, although the original breed is now extinct. This unique breed is closely associated with the Kedu group of breeds from the central plains of Java and is thought to be an offshoot of the Ayam Bekisar chicken. The Ayam Bekisar, in turn, originated from crossing green jungle fowl with domesticated red jungle fowl. This crossbreeding was no easy feat, as certain combinations produced infertile offspring.

The Ayam Cemani’s name is a puzzle, as “Ayam” translates to chicken in Indonesian. At the same time, “Cemani” can refer to the ‘village of Cemani’ in the local dialect or ‘solid black’ in Sanskrit.


This breed, often considered a landrace bird, is anything but common. It symbolises wealth and prestige in its native Indonesia, where it is believed to bring good luck and is used in traditional medicine preparations. Additionally, it holds mystical significance, facilitating communication between the living and the spirit world and being used as a sacrificial bird in religious rituals. Consequently, its flesh is rarely consumed in Indonesia.

The Ayam Cemani made its way to Europe in 1998 when Jan Steverink, a Dutchman, imported these intriguing birds.

Ayam Cemani Appearance and Breed Standard


The Ayam Cemani is a visually stunning breed. Its all-black plumage, which exhibits a captivating beetle-green iridescence in sunlight, is a sight to behold. While not a large bird, the males typically weigh in at 4.5-6.5 pounds and the females at 3.5-4.5 pounds, making them a medium-sized breed. Their firm, muscular build, close-fitting feathers, and confident posture give them an aura of elegance and alertness.

Breed Standard

The American Poultry Association does not officially recognize the Ayam Cemani. Still, the US Ayam Cemani club is diligently working to establish a standard of perfection for this breed. The Dutch standard of perfection provides a benchmark description:

  • The bird should stand upright, appearing alert and almost ‘game-like.’
  • It has a medium-sized, slim, firm, and muscular body.
  • The broad breast and medium back slope gracefully from the neck, with long, strong wings and broad shoulders.
  • The tail is held moderately high, with powerful and muscular thighs.
  • Each foot should have four toes.
  • Feathers are entirely black, fitting closely to the body, and the skin, eyes, wattles, and comb are also black. No other colours should be present.
  • When exposed to sunlight, the feathers may display a striking beetle-green to purple iridescence.

Temperament and Disposition of the Ayam Cemani Breed

The Ayam Cemani is renowned for its friendly disposition. This breed, including the roosters, is known for its intelligence, gentleness, and obedience. Despite the occasional claim that they can be flighty, most Ayam Cemani owners find them easy to handle and low-maintenance birds. They exhibit remarkable winter hardiness, comfortably enduring cold Vermont winters when provided with suitable housing and shelter. Their heat tolerance is also notable, which is expected given their Indonesian heritage.

Ayam Cemani Egg Laying

The Ayam Cemani, while fascinating in many aspects, is not a prolific egg layer. They produce approximately 80 eggs per year, translating to about one egg per week. However, a unique behaviour is associated with their egg-laying patterns: they often go ‘offlay’ for extended periods. After laying 20-30 eggs, they may cease laying for up to six months before resuming their egg-laying cycle.

Surprisingly, these eggs are relatively large compared to the size of the hens, and they have cream-coloured shells with a slight pink tint. Contrary to some claims, they do not lay black eggs; such images are often misconceptions.

The broodiness of Ayam Cemani hens may vary, potentially depending on their specific bloodlines. Some say they aren’t broody, while others claim they can be. Regardless, when they decide to raise chicks, they tend to be excellent and caring mothers.

Common Health Issues of the Ayam Cemani Chicken

The Ayam Cemani is, for the most part, a robust and healthy breed. There are no notable health issues associated with them. However, one distinctive feature is the presence of a mutant fibromelanistic gene. This gene leads to an unusual accumulation of black pigment, resulting in black skin and tissues. The blood of the Ayam Cemani is red, though it may appear slightly darker than that of other breeds. In every other aspect, the Ayam Cemani appears free from the typical ailments afflicting chickens.

Is the Ayam Cemani Right for You?

If you consider adding Ayam Cemani to your flock, be prepared for a significant investment. Unsexed chicks can cost as much as $199.00, while sexed juveniles may reach $400.00. It’s not a choice for the faint of heart or those with budget constraints. This breed is described as friendly but not particularly ‘cuddly.’ They will take feed from your hand, making them far from stand-offish with humans. Many people acquire Ayam Cemani as pets or for their unique and attention-grabbing appearance.

In summary, the Ayam Cemani is a breed that has piqued the interest of chicken lovers worldwide. Its rareness is further compounded by stringent importation restrictions stemming from the threat of Avian Influenza. This mystical and alluring breed, known for its striking black plumage and fascinating history, may not be the most prolific egg layer. Still, its unique characteristics and enchanting aura make it a captivating addition to any flock.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How did the Ayam Cemani get its name?
  2. The name “Ayam Cemani” is a bit of a puzzle. “Ayam” means chicken in Indonesian, while “Cemani” can refer to the ‘village of Cemani’ in the local dialect or ‘solid black’ in Sanskrit.
  3. What is the egg-laying pattern of Ayam Cemani hens?
  4. Ayam Cemani hens are not prolific layers. On average, they lay around 80 eggs annually, with occasional pauses in their laying cycle that can last up to six months.
  5. Are Ayam Cemani chickens prone to any specific health issues?
  6. The Ayam Cemani is generally a healthy breed. They possess a mutant fibromelanistic gene, leading to black skin and tissues. However, they do not seem to be prone to common chicken ailments.
  7. What is the temperament of Ayam Cemani chickens?
  8. Ayam Cemani chickens are friendly, intelligent, gentle, and docile. Despite claims of being flighty, most owners find them easy to handle and low-maintenance. They exhibit winter hardiness and can tolerate heat, given their Indonesian origin.
  9. Why are Ayam Cemani chickens so expensive?
  10. The rarity and unique appearance of Ayam Cemani contribute to their high price. Breeding and maintaining the purity of their black plumage require meticulous care, making them a sought-after, albeit pricey, addition to flocks.

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