You’ve probably seen a black cat before. Maybe even a black squirrel. However, I’m willing to bet that until now, you’ve never even heard of, let alone seen, a black chicken. Yes, they do actually exist, and yes, they look utterly spectacular, so good in fact, that even I, who enjoys a roast chicken as much as the next man, would be aggrieved to learn that one of these rare beauties had been sacrificed to provide me with a Sunday lunch. Never before has there been such a fashion-astute breed of chicken, which has an all-black head to toe hue that I can totally get on board with. The species, known as Ayam Cemani, is totally black due to a condition called fibromelanosis, which leads to extra melanin seeping into the bird’s skin, tissue and bones when it is still an embryo. The condition is not harmful to the bird’s health.
As you might have anticipated, demand is high for the rare breed, but due to the risk of aviation flu, not many of the birds have left Indonesia, where the chickens first developed, and they are rarely eaten in their native country.
The bird has considerable status in Indonesia, having been used in rituals that might date as far back as the 12th Century according to Nautilus. The rare breed is sold in America, however be prepared to pay mega bucks for the privilege of owning your very own all-black bird, as Paul Bradshaw, the owner of Greenfire Farms, which sells the chickens, says that the first pair of birds sold for $5,000.
Bradshaw explains that artisinal chicken connoisseurs want “something special, with a story, something beautiful.” The Ayam Cemani breed certainly ticks all of those boxes, which might go some way to explaining their astronomical price tag. That, coupled with the fact that I’ve literally never seen such a good looking chicken. Who can blame them? Maybe if I had $5,000 lying around, I too would indulge in a ‘gothic’ chicken to accompany me as I went about my daily life.