No matter what kind of chickens you want to buy for your first flock, or what special edition you want to make to your existing one, there is a limitless variety of these special birds out there.
You can choose based on purpose, size, temperament and of course color!
For those who want a chicken that looks mysterious and dignified, or maybe even a little bit sinister, it’s hard to go wrong with black.
They even have a practical purpose, and may help to repel birds of prey. But no matter your reason for wanting them, you’ll have no shortage of choices. I will tell you about 21 black chicken breeds in this article.
|Chicken Breed||Size||Avg. Weight, lbs||Purpose||Eggs, Yearly||Egg Color||Egg Size||Broodiness|
|Ayam Cemani||Medium||5 to 6.5||Ornamental||75||Off-white||Medium||Moderate|
|Svarthona||Medium||4.5 to 5||Ornamental||100||white, off-white, pale yellow||Medium||Moderate|
|Kadaknath||Small||2.5 to 4||Ornamental||75||Cream||Small||Moderate|
|Jersey Giant||Extra Large||9 to 12||Utility||150||Brown||Extra Large||Low|
|Breda||Medium||5.5 to 8||Eggs||200||White||Large||Moderate|
|Orpington||Large||6.5 to 8.5 pounds||Exhibition, Eggs||200+||Brown||Large||High|
|Java||Large||7 to 9.5||Dual Use||150||Brown||Large||High|
|Ancona||Medium||4.5 to 5.5.||Eggs||220||White||Medium or Large||Very Low|
|Cochin||Extra Large||10.5 to 13||Exhibition||150 to 180||Brown||Large||High|
|Black Australorp||Large||6.75 to 9||Dual Use||250+||Tan, Brown||Large||High|
|La Fleche||Large||7 to 8||Exhibition||180||White||Large||Very Low|
|H’Mong||Medium||5.5 to 7||Utility||100||Off-White||Medium||Moderate|
|Langshan||Large||7 to 10||Exhibition||120||Dark Brown||Large||Moderate|
|Sumatra||Small||3.5 to 5||Exhibition||100||Ivory||Small||Extreme|
|Black Shumen||Medium||4.5 to 5.5||Exhibition||165||Light Gray||Medium||Very Low|
|Hamburg||Small||3.5 to 5.5||Exhibition||175||White||Medium||Low|
|Crested Polish||Medium||4 to 6||Exhibition, Utility||120||White||Small||Low|
|Silkie||Small||3 to 5||Exhibition, Hatching||100||Off-White, Tan||Small||Extreme|
|Valdarno||Medium||5 to 6.5||Exhibition||150||Light Brown, Tan||Medium||Moderate|
|Crevecoeur||Medium||6.5 to 7.5||Exhibition, Utility||100||White||Medium||Moderate|
All Black Chicken Breeds
There’s black, and then there is black! The following breeds are very special because they are truly all black, inside and out. Feathers, skin, combs, wattles, eyes, beak, muscles, and even their very bones.
If you want a bird as black as black can be, pick one from this short list.
1. Ayam Cemani
One of the most famous chickens in the world due to its rarity and extraordinary cost, with adults usually going for several thousand dollars, the Ayam Cemani is some seriously prestigious poultry.
Medium-sized and only topping out at about 6.5 pounds, making them easy to handle,
These birds are nonetheless difficult to breed, and raised predominantly for meat.
The only thing about these jet-black chickens that isn’t black is their medium, off-white eggs, of which they only lay around at 75 per year in batches of 20 or so.
These regal and mysterious chickens aren’t anything to be afraid of though: they are known to have friendly, endearing personalities.
A Swedish chicken, this is another bird that is black inside and out, and is believed to have been descended from the Ayam Cemani or Kadaknath, being first brought to Sweden by traders and sailors.
Though it looks very similar in overall color, size and weight, they are a little smaller overall with roosters rarely exceeding 5 pounds.
These birds are also known to lay many more eggs compared to their distant cousins: The eggs are small, white, off-white or yellowish in color, and hens tend to be somewhat broody.
Considered a livestock species of crucial cultural importance, the Svarthona has enjoyed the honor of having its genes interred in a gene bank to preserve them for future generations and also future breeding.
The last truly all black chicken on the list, the Kadaknath is an Indian chicken that is revered for its supposedly medicinal meat.
Whether you believe in its traditional role in folk medicine or not, what is true is that these chickens are surprisingly lean, and their meat does contain more vitamins and minerals than typical chicken.
Incredibly rare and expensive in the West, and thought to be descended from the Ayam Cemani above (though not conclusively proven) these chickens are slow to reproduce, typically laying only about 70 to 80 small, cream-colored eggs per year.
Hens are somewhat broody, and no wonder: the species is currently threatened.
The smallest of the all-black chickens on this list, hens typically weigh about 2.5 pounds (1.1 kilograms) with roosters topping out just a little bit over 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms).
Partially Black Chicken Breeds
Some chickens can be said to be black, even all black, but they aren’t truly black like the ones up above.
Maybe their feathers are just black from beak to tail, or maybe they have black skin and legs, but combs and wattles of a different color.
In any case, assuming you don’t want the novelty, or the expense, of any of the true exotics above, you will probably still find a lot to like on this list.
4. Jersey Giant
An iconic American chicken, and one that definitely rates its name! These massive chickens can top out over 12 pounds (5.5 kilograms) in the case of roosters, and even hens grow to an impressive 9 pounds on the high side.
With charcoal black plumage that is tinted with emerald highlights, these are definitely impressive birds.
Originally the premier chicken for meat production in North America, it has since been supplanted but remains as a popular heritage breed that is kept for eggs and meat alike.
Although overall production is somewhat low, averaging anywhere from 150 to 175 per year, the eggs are extremely large and brown in color.
A distinctive-looking bird with an even more distinctive gait, the Breda hails from Holland and is notable for its total lack of comb, oversized wattles and feathery feet. These traits make them ideally suited for survival in cold climates.
On the larger end of the medium size category, roosters usually top out around 8 pounds with hens just a little bit less at 5.5 to 6 pounds.
A decent dual-use breed, if eggs are what you’re after, you can expect around 4 large, white eggs weekly.
Known to be shy, bordering on docile, these are rarely the chickens in any flock to cause trouble.
Originally used as dual-purpose super layers in England where they were developed, Orpingtons are famous for a couple of reasons…
They were famously used as contributors to the genetics of the Black Australorp, and also for their fabulously happy, even temperaments.
Orpingtons only just qualify as a larger breed, with roosters averaging about 8.5 pounds (3.8 kilograms).
Although still raised for eggs today, the current production is nowhere near the historical standards of the breed; they still produce 200 medium to large-sized light brown eggs per year.
One of the oldest domesticated breeds of chicken in the world, the Java, despite its name, is actually an American breed, but one that was descended from imported Asian stock, hence the name.
An active dual-use breed that loves to free range and forage, Javas tend toward broodiness, and typically lay about 3 large brown eggs per week, or approx. 150 per year.
But despite their important legacy, the Java is critically endangered today, and the fact that they are slow-growing, large birds – with roosters maxing out at about 9.5 pounds – means they need all the help they can get.
A medium-sized breed originating from Italy and known for reliable, steady egg production, the Ancona is described as tough, active, and a very capable flier.
These birds have ebony black plumage with lightly spattered white speckles interspersed throughout entails that have white tips.
Keeping them contained is definitely the hardest part of managing them, but in return you will have an ample supply of around 220 medium to large white eggs per year, and hens will rarely, if ever, go broody.
Formally referred to as the Cochin China, the Cochin is a magnificent, large bird that features all-black plumage and shaggy, feathered feet.
Males and females alike are quite big, with roosters topping out at nearly 13 pounds, while females are right behind them at 10.5 pounds.
The Cochin is a pure showbird, and has been extensively bread and selected for beauty and other desirable physical characteristics at the expense of all others.
That being said, they are fairly good layers of large, brown-colored eggs and will typically lay right through the winter, typically producing between 150 and 180 eggs per year.
Also, the mothering characteristics of hens have not been bred out of them, and most tend to be fairly broody, good sitters and doting mothers.
10. Black Australorp
A utility Australian breed reared for both meat and eggs, the Australorp is perhaps most famous as a world record-beating egg layer.
First developed in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Australorp has been beloved by Western civilization since its introduction.
Black is a typical color for these birds, and their plumage is often the rich, glossy color of spilled ink which is in turn wonderfully set off by their bright, ruby-red combs and wattles.
These are larger birds, with roosters maxing out at around 8.8 pounds and females usually tipping the scales on the high side at 6.7 pounds.
These birds’ historical egg-laying capability has tended to fall by the wayside in the interest of other utility features…
Still, it’s still nothing to sneeze at with hens laying around 250 light brown or tan eggs per year like clockwork, although individuals from certain lines will still lay an egg a day all through the year!
Also, Australorps are known for going broody but they are very good sitters and revert to being excellent mothers when they do hatch chicks, providing keepers with the best of both worlds whether you want to naturally expand your flock or not.
11. La Fleche
Exceedingly rare French chickens that are noted to be particularly sensitive to environmental conditions, today the La Fleche is bred today primarily as a historical breed for show and cultural significance.
They were imported to the USA in the early part of the 20th century, but the climate was here was mostly inhospitable to them, and the practice has largely ceased.
A particular physical characteristic, aside from their jet black feathers and ashy, gray legs, is the two pronged comb present on males and females which looks like a classical set of devil horns, and has given rise to the popular nickname of “devil comb”.
These birds tend to be on a larger end of the medium-size category, with roosters maxing out at around 8 pounds and females being around 7.25 pounds.
Despite being primarily a show breed only these days, females are capable egg layers, producing around 180 medium to large white eggs per year.
An incredibly rare and localized ethnic breed belonging to the H’mong people spread across Southeast Asia, these chickens are found in all kinds of colors, from ink black to an ashy gray to a black-to-white fade.
These chickens are also notoriously aggressive, and roosters will regularly fight each other to the death in order to establish supremacy as the alpha over a group.
These chickens are also notable for having black meat and bones, though other parts of their body may not be black at all.
A medium-sized chicken, they are relatively slow layers, usually only turning out about 100 medium-sized off-white eggs per year.
“Langshan” can actually describe a variety of breeds, but most descended directly from the Croad Langshan of China.
Stout, comparatively short and quite heavy, these burly birds usually top out at a little over 10 pounds in the case of roosters, but females are significantly lighter, maxing out at just a little bit over 7 pounds.
With soft, lustrous black feathers that run all the way down their legs to their feet, Langshans carry themselves in a distinctive U-shape, owing to their sloping backs, upright necks and upright tails.
Females are moderately broody, and it fairly capable layers, usually producing around 120 dark brown eggs every year.
A remarkable game breed that, as the name suggests, hails from Indonesia, Sumatra chickens were originally imported both the United States and Europe in the mid-19th century for the purposes of fighting.
Although long out of fashion and illegal in much of the Western society, these birds were not allowed to perish and have been kept alive as a showbirds because of their incredible plumage and dignified carriage.
Sumatra chickens are notable for a few things: magnificent, black feathers with an emerald sheen, long and wild tail feathers, a near complete lack of wattles, and multiple spurs on each leg in the case of roosters.
But, like many game birds, the Sumatra is a fairly poor egg layer, and females will rarely produce more than 100 small ivory-colored eggs a year.
It should be noted, however, that hens are incredibly broody and willl try to hatch every egg that they lay.
They also happen to be ferocious fighters when provoked, so it’s a good thing that these chickens rarely weigh more than 5 pounds!
15. Black Shumen
Another rare breed on the verge of extinction that hails from Bulgaria, the Black Shumen’s claim to fame is that it was once briefly crossbred with Rhode Island Red chickens.
Notable for their charcoal black feathers and forest green sheen, these are definitely good-looking birds at any rate!
They are smallish, around 5.5 pounds, but they are capable layers and mature quickly, meaning they are a decent choice for a legacy breed if you want a modest amount of eggs: hens lay around 165 medium, light gray eggs per year.
Not an unofficial breed, per se, the Ulikba is a catch-all category for Philippine chickens that are all black in color and believed to be of mixed descent from Kadaknath or Ayam Cemani chickens.
As you might expect, some might be truly all black, others partially so, and still others may only have black plumage.
Because of their reputations as mutts, these chickens had no special reputation until very recently when pure black chickens became highly en vogue elsewhere in the world.
This lead to farmers of particularly impressive specimens to start raising prices on live birds and eggs alike.
Production, characteristics, and other essential features obviously vary due to their mixed parentage.
A beautiful, picturesque black and white chicken hailing from Holland, or alternately from Hamburg, Germany depending on who you ask, the Hamburg is a small to medium-sized breed which tops out at just under 5.5 pounds for roosters and hens are significantly smaller at about 3.5 pounds.
Although the exact origins are unknown, what is known is that this is a particularly old and venerable breed, originating at some point in the 14th century.
Good producers of small, glossy white eggs, females are known to be only slightly broody, which is good because you can expect them to produce around 175 eggs per year.
18. Crested Polish
One of the most remarkable and beautiful chickens on this list is the medium-sized Polish, or Crested Polish.
As the name suggests, the most notable physical characteristic of these birds is the immense, drooping crown of feathers adorning their heads.
These feathers are so big they actually restrict the poor bird’s field of view, and this can lead to them being nervous and easily startled.
Although highly popular on the show circuit for obvious reasons, the breed was originally created for egg production, a quality they maintain today.
Even though females tip the scales at just a hair over 4 pounds, they will typically produce around 120 small white eggs every year.
It hardly compares to some of the modern, high-production domestic breeds, but if you don’t want many eggs and just want a marvelous-looking chicken, it is hard to go wrong with the Crested Polish.
For many readers of this list, the silkie is a chicken that hardly needs an introduction.
They earned their name from the absolutely luxurious, satiny, fluffy plumage that covers their entire body from the top of their head to the top of their feet, and also notable they have black skin and bones, but bluish wattles and beaks.
A perennial favorite on the show circuit, these small, 3 pound chickens are still halfway decent egg layers, and hens produce around 100 off-white or tan-colored eggs every year.
However, there is no domestic chicken that is more likely to go broody than the Silkie, and as a rule, hens will attempt to hatch every egg that they lay, and after hatching they prove to be extremely caring and attentive mothers.
This tendency towards constant broodiness has led clever keepers to employ Silkie hens as surrogate mothers for the eggs of other breeds, and sometimes even other species of birds!
Another Italian breed, and yet another breed that was pushed to the very precipice of extinction, I’m happy to report that the Valdarno is making a recovery as of today.
A medium-sized dual-use breed weighing about 6.5 pounds, for roosters, and only a little bit less at about 5 pounds for hens, these are chickens of entirely conventional appearance, though their feathers are notable for having a distinctive matte appearance as opposed to the glossy sheen of other breeds.
These chickens tend to be somewhat high-strung and energetic, but they are capable layers of particularly dense and, supposedly, highly flavorful eggs: You can expect about 150 light brown or tan eggs every year from one of these hens.
A severely endangered French breed, and another crested chicken that has a prominent V-shaped comb buried under all those feathers on their heads.
These chickens are also notable for being bred previously sold as a meat birds, as their meat is supposed to be of exceptional quality.
On the heavier end of the medium size category once again, males usually weigh about 7.5 pounds, with females weighing only slightly less at around 6.25 to 6.5 pounds.
Rarely encountered beyond France, though they are making a slow comeback.
If you do get your hands on one of these impressive crested chickens and want to use it for egg-laying purposes, you can expect about a hundred medium-sized white eggs per year.
Best Beginner-Friendly Black Breeds
Are you a beginning chicken keeper, and know only that you want a black breed and nothing else? Don’t worry: I have three great recommendations for you that won’t let you down.
The Silkie chicken, described above, is not just famous for that fabulous plumage but also for their amazingly warm and endearing personalities, and also for being excellent mothers to their chicks.
Assuming your silky isn’t defending a clutch of eggs in preparation for hatching, you can rest assured that these personable birds will be just another member of the family.
The Jersey giant, despite its huge and somewhat intimidating size, has a reputation for patience, endurance, and calmness with people.
These are also hardy, healthy birds that rarely suffer from any serious maladies, a combination of traits which makes them ideal for the first time owner so long as you aren’t afraid of them when you do need to take control.
One thing to keep in mind is that Jersey Giants, as patient as they are, like to get their way with chickens that are smaller than they are when in a mixed flock. Even so, they often act as peacekeepers more often than bullies.
The Orpington is another famously easy-going chicken, and sometimes they are said to act more like dogs than chickens!
Many Orpington owners report that their birds bond with them quickly, and are always happy to see them. Orpingtons rarely cause trouble, and are hardly ever truly aggressive.
There is a lot to like about them considering their overall utility, good looks and good attitudes- a perfect beginner bird!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.