Black is a popular color for backyard chickens. In the past, it was common for breeders to start with a black chicken for new breeds before developing other color variants.
Today, there are breeds that are only composed of black chickens while others have one variant with solid black or mostly black plumage. A few all black breeds take this up a notch and have chickens with black skin, meat, and bones, in addition to black plumage.
The utility of black chickens is diverse with some making great table birds and others being some of the best layers you’ll come across. Black chickens have also been a favorite in exhibition circles for more than a century.
Some of the most stunning and expensive chickens in the world today are black. We have compiled a list of 21 black chicken breeds that you may want to get your hands on today.
21 Black Chicken Breeds
The black Orpington was the original Orpington chicken. This color was chosen for it with the hope that London’s soot and dirt would be less obvious on its plumage.
The Black Orpington is a calm breed that is popular as both a show bird and a pet. They are mostly quiet in the backyard and show little aggression, a trait that makes them popular with families with children.
With roosters that can weigh as much as 10 pounds, a Black Orpington will make an excellent meat bird. The hens of this dual-purpose chicken can also produce between 175 and 200 eggs in a year.
Black Orpingtons have a characteristic puffy look thanks to their fluffed-out feathers, some of which almost completely cover their legs.
The Croad Langshan is a chicken breed that originated in China. Although there are other plumage colors today, black was the original color of this chicken breed.
Croad Langshans are big birds with hens that weigh 7.5 pounds and roosters that reach 9.5 pounds. The quality of the meat from these birds is also top-notch and these two factors make them great meat birds.
Black Croad Langshan hens can lay up to 150 dark brown eggs in a year, laying well through winter. They are okay sitters but even better mothers to the chicks.
These easily tamable black chickens can be raised in both free-range and confined settings. Other Langshan chickens, i.e., Australian, German, and Modern, were derived from the Croad Langshan and also have black variants.
The black Jersey Giant was the first of these large New Jersey chickens. It was bred from black Langshans, black Javas, and dark Brahmas, resulting in one of the heaviest chicken breeds in the world.
Jersey Giants are surprisingly docile despite their imposing size and even the roosters rarely get aggressive.
Of all the color variants, Black Jersey Giants tend to be the heaviest and can tip the scales at 13 pounds. The hens can also reach 9.9 pounds, are good winter layers, and can give you as many as 200 extra-large eggs in a year.
Jersey Giants do well in cold weather but are poorly adapted to heat. Their size also means they need different features in coops such as lower roosting bars.
Australorps were developed from Black Orpingtons that were imported from William Cook’s stock in England. Black is the original color, and it remains the most widely kept color variant of this breed.
Australorps are famous layers and currently hold the record for most eggs laid by one hen in a year; 364. Your backyard Australorp will realistically manage between 260 and 280 eggs.
These black Australian chickens inherited the Orpington’s calm and child-friendly disposition. They love to forage and should be allowed to do this on occasion as they can get too fat in confinement.
Despite the focus on egg-laying, a black Australorp will still make an excellent meat bird. The hens can reach 6.5 pounds while the roosters can reach 9.5 pounds.
The Cochin is a breed with origins that go back to China and black was one of the color variants originally recognized in the US. The black Cochin’s feathers have a beautiful green sheen, and this bird is prized for exhibition.
A Black Cochin might be the largest bird in your backyard with hens that can weigh up to 11 pounds and roosters weighing 2 pounds more. The quality of their meat, however, has historically made them poor meat birds.
At 150 to 200 eggs per year, the black Cochin is a good layer but may take as many as 8 months to start laying. Cochins are highly favored for their personalities as they show very little aggression, are easy to tame, and won’t even wander far from home.
Also Read: Chicken Breads with Feathers on Feet
Java chickens are America’s second oldest breed of chicken, and the black variant is known for its striking green sheen.
Black Javas aren’t just beautiful, they are also good for both meat and eggs. The hen’s mature weight is 7.5 pounds and the rooster’s is 9.5 pounds.
The hens can lay as many as 180 eggs in a year. This may not be as high as other breeds, but they lay for much longer over the course of their 5 to 8-year lifespans.
Black Javas don’t usually get aggressive and are considered child friendly. They get along well with other chicken breeds and make great mothers to their chicks.
The Black Silkie is a special breed among black chickens.
These chickens have fluffy plumage that has a silk-like texture. They also have black bones and skin, a quality they share with breeds like the Ayam Cemani.
The size of Silkies has led to a bantam classification in some countries with roosters only reaching around 3 pounds at maturity. Even so, Silkies are still a gourmet dish in certain Asian cuisines.
Silkies don’t make great layers as they can only manage 100 eggs in a good year. However, this often-broody hen has proven to be an excellent mother to many modern layers.
Silkies are famously kept as ornamental chickens thanks to their friendly nature.
The Black Sumatra chicken is named for the Indonesian Island it originated from and was initially imported to the US for cockfights.
The Black Sumatra has beautiful black plumage, and the body and tail all have a nice green sheen. These birds have graceful long tails, multiple spurs, and faces that range from purple to black.
With roosters that only weigh 5 pounds at maturity and hens that lay roughly 100 small eggs each year, Black Sumatras are mainly kept as ornamental birds. These chickens also feature the rare black skin and bones.
Black Sumatras are less ideal as backyard chickens as they are easily startled, dislike being handled, and are really good at flying.
White Faced Black Spanish
As their name suggests, this chicken breed has a white face and earlobes which give it a very distinct look. Their black plumage has a beautiful green hue and their tails, while shorter, have a similar flow to them as the Black Sumatra’s.
These chickens originated from Spain but their current look is attributed to development carried out in Great Britain.
The White Face Black Spanish hen can lay approximately 180 large eggs in a year.
These birds don’t like confinement and prefer to roam. They are also notoriously fragile because of the breeding that produced the larger white earlobes and are today critically endangered.
Despite having been around since the 18th century, the Black Breda is not a chicken you’ll come across easily outside the Netherlands. It is unique in that it has no comb.
Black Bredas along with other variants of this breed were facing extinction due to the rise of hybrid chickens. Thanks to conservation efforts, there is still hope for this dual-purpose bird.
Black Bredas can typically weigh between 7 and 8 pounds but some specimens can reach 10 pounds. The hens are said to lay 180 eggs in a year.
Bredas are docile birds that are suitable for children despite their large size but also remain alert. Their heavy feathering which extends to their legs and toes along with their lack of a comb makes them hardy in cold conditions.
Black Minorcas were once abundant on the Spanish island of Minorca which gave them their name. Today, it is at risk of going extinct on that island but can be found in greater numbers in other countries.
Black Minorcas make wonderful ornamental birds thanks to their black plumage with its green gloss. Their large white earlobes are striking, and sometimes this white color spreads to their faces.
There are different strains of these breeds with some laying a lowly 140 eggs per year and others laying as many as 220 eggs. The Minorca’s eggs may be the largest of any chicken that lays white eggs.
Despite having roosters that weigh around 9 pounds, Black Minorcas aren’t typically raised for meat as their flesh is not juicy.
This black chicken breed of French origin was once famed for its fine meat but is rare today. The existence of this breed is said to go back to the 15th century but has seen a significant decline in numbers after World War 2.
La Fleche are medium sized birds with roosters and hens that reach 8 pounds and 6.5 pounds respectively. The hens are also decent layers capable of producing 220 large or extra-large eggs in a year.
These chickens have tight-fitting feathers that make them appear smaller than they are, and they also mature slowly. However, this slow growth is justified by La Fleche’s tasty meat which was loved in Anjou and Paris.
All La Fleches are black, and they have full tails that curve. Unfortunately, these birds haven’t historically adapted well to the American climate.
Cubalaya has the distinction of being the only chicken breed officially recognized in its country of origin, Cuba. This beautiful bird was bred from Sumatra and Malay chickens for sport, in addition to laying eggs and providing meat.
The solid black Cubalayas are some of the most common and they have the breed’s unique tail which angles downwards; known as lobster tail. These chickens also don’t grow spurs.
Despite also being bred for fighting, Cubalayas are very friendly toward people. Even the chicks are not shy about eating out of their owners’ hands and may sometimes not show necessary caution when facing a predator.
Male Cubalayas grow up to 6 pounds and take as long as 3 years to mature. However, the quality of their meat is high, and the hens also lay between 125 and 175 eggs each year.
The Kadaknath is another of those special black chickens that are literally black to the bone. This chicken is of Indian origin and the jet-black Kadaknath is one of three plumage varieties.
Kadaknath chickens have taken on a near-mythical status in some parts of India. Their meat and eggs are highly prized and command a premium price.
A Kadaknath rooster will only weigh around 4.4 pounds and the hens produce no more than 140 eggs per year. The eggs lack the distinctive black color that shows up in all other parts of this chicken.
Like most black chickens, the Kadaknath’s feathers have a green iridescence. However, even the variants without solid black plumage have black meat, blood, organs, blood, tongues, wattles, and combs.
This black chicken is of Spanish origin and despite having been a popular layer in the past, it has become rare due to the spread of hybrids.
These chickens are medium-sized with males that reach about 6.6 pounds. Their plumage is solid black, but their feathers also carry a green sheen.
Castellana Negra chickens are excellent layers and can produce as many as 225 eggs in a year. They are highly adaptable birds that are also resistant to diseases.
The Ayam Cemani holds the distinction of being the most expensive chicken in the world. Some individuals of this breed can cost thousands of dollars.
This rare chicken breed is from Indonesia and is one of the few chickens that have black meat, organs, bones, tongues, beaks, combs, etc.
In Bali, these all black chickens are popular for cockfighting due to their more muscular thighs while in Java they are popular pets. Outside of Indonesia, these birds are sought after by collectors who prize them for their rarity.
Ayam Cemanis can cost up to $6000 within their native country depending on quality. Due to import restrictions and other challenges, some of these chickens will cost as much as $10000 in other parts of the world.
The eggs of these birds are expensive too and can cost as much as $16 each.
The Transylvanian Naked Neck is a unique chicken due to the absence of any feathering on its neck. The black Naked Neck chicken is one of several color variants of these birds.
Naked Necks are popular dual-purpose birds that are good for both meat and egg production. The roosters can get up to 8.6 pounds and the hens provide around 150 light brown eggs in a year.
Despite the lack of neck feathering, Naked Necks can handle cold climates reasonably well. Their lack of feathers means they can handle hot climates much better than other breeds.
Naked Necks are great at foraging and resistant to many poultry diseases.
These Swedish chickens are believed to have descended from either the Kadaknath or Ayam Cemani. They are considered a different breed today having adapted to survive the different climate in the north.
These chickens still have black skins and connective tissue.
The modern Svarthöna chickens descended from a group that was imported to Sweden in the 19th century. The roosters weigh about 4.4 pounds and the hens lay small eggs with large yolks.
The plumage of these birds is black but also has a green metallic sheen.
The Hmong is yet another Asian chicken breed with the rare gene that causes hyperpigmentation similar to the Ayam Cemani.
The Black Hmong is native to several countries in East and Southeast Asia. It is mainly raised by the Hmong hill tribes in this region.
These chickens can weigh 5 to 7 pounds when mature and their meat is popular in countries such as Vietnam.
The Blue Andalusian breed from Spain is famous for its blue chickens that give the breed its name. However, there is a small percentage of these birds that are black.
These chickens have almond-shaped white earlobes and white skin.
Their typical blue plumage is the result of dilution of the gene that causes black plumage. When two Blue Andalusian chickens are mated, there is a 25% chance the chicks will be black instead.
Black Andalusians are mainly kept for eggs and can produce around 165 eggs in a year. Their eggs weigh between 70 and 80 grams and are classified as jumbo or extra-large.
This breed is commonly found in black although other variants exist. It is a historic breed with French origins that’s related to La Fleche.
Crèvecœur’s are currently endangered and was thought to have gone extinct after World War 2. These birds have crests, beards, and V-shaped combs.
Crèvecœurs are kept for both eggs and meat. The hens can lay as many as 150 medium or large eggs, but it is their high-quality meat that is the main attraction.
Their crests make them targets in mixed flocks and they are usually not aggressive. They make good pets if handled from an early age.
It’s difficult to overstate the popularity of black chicken breeds. Many heritage breeds today have a black variant and some are only made up of black chickens.
The aesthetics of black chickens is great but many of these birds have more to offer than stunning good looks. Breeds like the Australorp have unmatched laying abilities while the meat of breeds like La Fleche are rated higher than most.
The Ayam Cemani and similar breeds take their black game to another level featuring all-black insides including their meat and bones. You may have to pay thousands of dollars to get your hands on one of these.
Although some of these birds are listed as endangered or facing extinction, many have also been making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts. If you were hoping to add a black chicken to your flock, there may not be a better time.