Ayam Cemani is a breed of chicken from Indonesia. They have a dominant gene that causes hyperpigmentation, making the chicken mostly black, including feathers, beak, and internal organs.
The breed originated from the island of Java, Indonesia, and have probably been used for centuries for religious and mystical purposes. The breed was first described by Dutch colonial settlers and first imported to Europe in 1998 by Dutch breeder Jan Steverink.
Currently, this breed of chickens is kept in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Ayam Cemani may have also been brought to Europe by Dutch seamen. It is also known as Kadaknath in India and is found in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The word kadaknath means god of vigour or Shiva. The Congolese Belgian philanthropist Jean Kiala keeps the largest collection in Africa with 250 breeding pairs. These are preserved in a breeding program by the African Ornamental Breeders Association (AOBA) in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Their beaks and tongues, black combs and wattles, and even their meat, bones, and organs appear black. The blood of the Ayam Cemani is normally colored. The birds' black color occurs as a result of excess pigmentation of the tissues, caused by a genetic condition known as fibromelanosis. This gene is also found in some other black fowl breeds. The roosters weigh 2.0–2.5 kg and the hens 1.5–2.0 kg. The hens lay cream-colored eggs, although they are poor setters and rarely hatch their own brood. Eggs weigh an average of 45 g.
The Ayam Cemani are commonly available in Indonesia, they are sold in the market according to their grade which depends on their size and the darkness of their meat and body. These chickens could range from $50 to $2,500 depending on the quality and breed of the chicken. The most expensive is the Indonesian King breed which costs up to $2,500.