Did you know that there are only 14 breeds of black chicken?
Many folks think of black as a drab or boring color.
However blackness can be seen as shades of iridescent greens and purples in the right light making the plumage unique and breathtaking.
We have gathered together every black chicken breed out there. While some of these breeds are solely black, several can be found in other color varieties.
Most importantly though these breeds make wonderful backyard chickens, so keep reading to find the black chicken for you…
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The Langshan is a large black chicken that can weigh up to 7lb.
They were originally known as Croad Langshans after Major Croad who first imported them to England in the 1800s. Since then the breed has been split into four distinct types – Croad, Modern, Australian and German.
All varieties are black and the Croad Langshans are still easily found in the UK and the US. The differences of the types lie in the conformation to standards.
While this breed is friendly and docile, do not expect them to cuddle you.
13. La Fleche
The La Fleche is an old landrace chicken.
They were first discovered in the 1400s in the village of La Fleche, near Paris.
This chicken is all black and has an interesting comb.
Because of their landrace history they are not very docile and their behavior is quite undomesticated and feral. The hens are not great egg layers either.
Overall they are not not a docile breed and are mainly kept as an exhibition bird.
Sadly the Crevecoeur is another heritage breed that is critically endangered.
This black chicken is easily recognizable by the wild crests on their head and beard. Roosters have a V comb which can be almost obscured by their crest.
They were originally bred for their tender white meat as they are not prolific egg layers.
She is very peaceful and will tolerate confinement well.
If you are looking to help with conservation efforts then maybe there is space in your flock for some black Crevecoeurs.
11. Svart Hona
Translated from Swedish, Svart Hona literally means black hen. It is thought that the original Svart Honas were imported from Indonesia.
She is one of the few true melanistic chicken breeds which means all her body parts are black.
It is a mystery why this little hen has not gathered more of a following here in the US. This breed is friendly and gets on very well with humans. They can lay 2-3 eggs per week and make great mothers to chicks.
Overall they are a small bird and only weigh around 3lbs.
Most Cochins come in a buff color however you can find them in birchen (black and white).
They are a cuddly and lovable chicken.
This breed has a long and regal history that dates back to the 1840s when they were presented to Queen Victoria who was an avid poultry enthusiast. Apparently she adored them and they became hugely popular in the poultry circles of the time. It has been said that the Cochin was responsible for the Victorian hen fever.
The original Cochins looked much different to the Cochins of today.
They were taller and not so fluffy.
However the Victorians crossed the Cochin many times with unknown breeds and produced the chicken we see today.
Cochins are a bundle of feathers from head to toe.
They enjoy nothing better than cuddling or lap time with their owners – they seem to train their owners to pamper and cuddle them. All this makes them ideal for kids to handle too.
You can find Cochins in either standard or bantam size however they are all equally as fluffy.
The Minorca comes from the Spanish island of Minorca
It is thought that the breed was taken to the island when the Moors invaded it almost 3000 years ago.
This chicken is all black with a bright red comb, but sadly they are in danger of extinction. They are very adaptable and rugged and can do very well in hot climates.
As a bonus the hens are excellent layers!
The very first Orpington were black in color.
This was a deliberate choice to hide the soot and general muck in the atmosphere of the late 1800s.
Soon after their creation they became an enormous success as an egg layer that could also be a good sized table bird.
The Orpington is the epitome of an English farm fowl: fat, content and docile. They are never in a hurry unless there is food involved.
Hens are wonderful layers and can produce 4-5 large brown eggs each week.
They are large, soft and cuddly which makes them a prime target for kids to hold and snuggle – the birds won’t mind a bit as long as they are raised to be held and petted. Overall this black chicken is a calm and docile breed that is not overly noisy which makes them a good choice for urban settings with close neighbors.
The Breda is truly a rare breed.
In the US there are only a handful of breeders and even in their homeland (Holland) they are considered rare.
Sadly worldwide this breed is considered critically endangered.
The history of this breed in the US is patchy. All that is known is that they used to be extremely popular around the time of the Civil War but then died away and became extinct in the US.
Bredas are unusual looking chickens to say the least. They do not have a comb and have a beak that looks like a crow. They also have vulture hocks and feathered feet. Their feathered feet give them a distinctive way of walking which has been described as paddling.
Of course they have black feathering, however this can sometimes be highlighted with white feathers too.
They are a shy breed, however once they get to trust you they are delightful.
Just remember that they are a heritage breed, so they will grow slower and won’t reach their full stature until the second year.
The Silkie is a very special chicken.
They are usually kept for their looks or for companionship.
Just like the Ayam Cemani, the Silkie is a true melanistic breed. They have black skin, organs and muscles. In fact in some parts of the world this makes them a magical delicacy.
Although she is a poor egg layer she is happy to sit on any eggs and will hatch and raise them.
Silkies can be found in lots of colors but black is fairly common. Their feathers lack the ability to hook together and so this makes them very susceptible to cold and wet conditions. If Silkies get soaked they should be dried off or blown dry with a hair dryer.
Overall they are extremely friendly and make perfect lap chickens for anyone. Read more about Silkies in our complete guide here.
5. Jersey Giant
Jersey Giants come from New Jersey State and were bred to rival Turkeys.
While this breed did not catch on as well as their creators would have liked, the breed endured and has recently become a popular backyard breed.
You will find this breed in three different colors, but black is the most common.
They are dual purpose and were originally bred for the meat but the hens will lay around 3 extra-large brown eggs a week.
Overall Jersey Giants are very easy going and friendly with their keepers. This black chicken is not noisy either so they can be kept in an urban setting without the worry of upsetting the neighbors. They will do better in cooler climates and tolerate confinement well although they do love to free range.
The Australorp was created using Orpingtons.
Back in the 1800s Orpingtons were shipped from the UK to Australia. They were well received, however, the Australians wanted a chicken that laid even more eggs.
After a few years of effort they created the Australorp.
Australorps come in a variety of colors but the most well known variety is black.
They can be shy initially, but once they get to know you they will show that they have great personalities that shine through. Expect them to be docile and friendly, they will even tolerate being picked up and carried around. They are also quiet which is a must have if you have neighbors close by.
If you are looking for a black chicken that can lay lots of eggs then this is the breed for you.
Australorps are excellent layers and can lay between 4-5 eggs per week.
Read our article Australorp: egg laying, colors, characteristics and more for more information.
The Sumatra chicken comes from the island’s of Indonesia including Java, Borneo and Sumatra.
They can still be found there today.
In the US this all black chicken is mostly kept as an ornamental or exhibition fowl.
The males have long flowing tails and a regal demeanor, whereas hens are smaller and lack the flowing tails.
Unfortunately they are not very sociable with people and their demeanor is more suited to a game bird personality.
The Java chicken is the second oldest American breed.
They were bred using chickens imported from the Far East.
At one point you will see this hen on many farms and pastures but with the rise of the industrial hen the Java has become a victim of fast food. She is a slow grower so has been cast aside by the poultry industry.
However she makes the perfect homestead hen.
They are good foragers and enjoy free ranging although they will tolerate confinement well enough. Hens will lay around 3 large brown eggs a week and are also known for their broodiness.
She can have black or black and white feathers that shine green in the sunlight.
Overall this is a clam and docile hen that is in need of conservation and makes a fantastic backyard chicken.
1. Ayam Cemani
When you think of a black chicken, chances are you think of this one.
The Ayam Cemani is black through and through.
This breed has been blessed with the melanistic gene which produces a high amount of melanin. This means they have black skin, feathers, organs and bones.
In their homeland of Indonesia they are often used in rituals as it is thought that they have magical powers (including the ability to speak with the spirits).
They have only recently been imported to the western world in the 1990s.
Since then they have become very popular here in the US and they can cost up to $200 per chicken.
However they are not very good egg layers. They lay their eggs cyclically, which means they will lay around 30 eggs or so then stop laying for a while before the start up again. In this manner they produce around 80 cream colored eggs each year.
Which Is The Best Black Chicken For You?
Some of the breeds mentioned here are quite rare and in need of conservation and breeding.
Others, like the Orpington, are perfect backyard chickens that suit most people.
The perfect breed will depend on why you are getting black chickens.
Some black chickens are friendly and lay lots of eggs, whereas others will prefer to be on their own.
Sadly, several of these breeds will face extinction in the near future if new poultry enthusiasts are not found to carry on the work of conservation. Farming has lost a tremendous amount of genetic diversity over the last fifty years or so and it is vital to try and retain what little is left.
Let us know which breed is your favorite in the comments section below…