11 Beautiful Black Chickens

Berit Watkin
Berit Watkin / Berit Watkin

If you live in an area where livestock is grown, you usually see chickens that are either white or various shades of brown, with an occasional oddball black chicken. There are quite a few breeds of chicken that are black, or mostly black, and some even have black skin and meat! Let’s meet some of these attractive black chicken breeds.

1. Ancona

Photograph by Festina lente.

The Ancona breed originated in the town of Ancona, Italy, although it is now more popular in England and America. Its distinction is the black color with white accents. In a prime specimen, every fifth feather has a white tip.

2. Valdarno

The Valdarno was originally bred in Italy in 1905. It is not to be confused with the Valdarnese, which is a white hybrid. The Valdarno chicken is known for its hardiness and high-quality meat.

3. Orpington

Orpington chickens were first bred by William Cook in Orpington, England, in 1886. It was an attempt to replicate the size and egg-laying capabilities of American chickens with white skin that the British preferred (American chickens tended more to yellow skin at the time). The black Orpington was the result, and became quite popular. Kent later bred the chickens in different colors, which also became popular.

4. Silkie

Photograph by Flickr user normanack.

Silkies are very popular among those who want to raise chickens as pets, because they are so soft and fluffy. They are also gentle and trusting. They do not tolerate wet weather well, as their fluffy feathers are not waterproof the way other chickens’ are. Silkies come in several different colors of feathers: black, white, gold, and gray, but all have black faces and skin, and their beaks, legs, and meat are dark gray or grayish-blue. They also have five toes, while most chickens have four.

5. Black Shumen

Photograph by Dr lukanov.

The Black Shumen chicken is a rare breed that is native to and named after the Shumen region of Bulgaria. It has white skin, black feathers, and a pronounced red comb. Its feathers have a green sheen.

6. White-crested Black Polish

Photograph by Flickr user Berit Watkin.

The White-crested Black Polish chicken is an ornamental breed from Poland. They are mostly show chickens. These chickens are meek, and can make good pets, although they have somewhat-obscured vision due to the crest of feathers on their heads.

7. Minorca

Photograph by Erik Fitzpatrick.

The Minorca chicken originated on the Mediterranean island of Minorca and was popularized in Spain. They were once rather small, but have been bred to be much bigger than their ancestors.

8. Sumatra

Photograph by Flickr user Melissa Wilkins.

The Sumatra chicken is from Sumatra, as you may have guessed, but it is also native to Java and Borneo, where they live in the wild as well as on poultry farms. Wild Sumatra chickens come in several colors, but black with red is the most prevalent, and the most favored by poultry farmers. They have long, flowing tail feathers. The Sumatra chicken was once bred and sold for fighting, but now are mostly sold for exhibition.

9. Kadaknath

Photograph by Arulnathan.

The Kadaknath chicken is a breed native to Madhya Pradesh, India. It is traditionally black, but golden and mottled breeds have been developed. Still, all Kadaknath chickens have black meat -and even black bones!

10. Ayam Cemani

Photograph by Kangwira.

The blackest of all the chickens is the Ayam Cemani. It is native to Java, Sumatra, and Madura Island in Indonesia. Due to fibromelanosis, a genetic condition that causes hyperpigmentation, these chicken have black feathers, skin, beaks, claws, and meat, which you can see here. The only part of the chicken not completely black is its blood, which is darker than a normal chicken’s blood.

11. Swedish Black

Photograph by Linn Kangas.

Bohuslän-Dals Svarthöna, or the Swedish Black chicken, was originally bred in the counties of Bohuslän and Dals in Sweden. It originated when the Ayam Cemani was crossed with local chickens, so it has the same all-black pigmentation, even the meat, but it is much smaller than the Indonesian breed.

I think black chickens are lovely, but I don't know if I could bring myself to eat black chicken meat. Could you?