At the moment, among breeders, exotic bird breeds are becoming more and more popular. More and more frequently we can see in different yards, chickens with the most original colors of plumage. Most often these birds serve for decorative purposes only. Some can also provide decent production.
A special representative of this type of bird is the Ayam Cemani breed. Chickens of the given breed have a deep black nuance with emerald notes. It should be mentioned that feathers are not the only parts of the body, but also the eyes, beak, ridge with beard, skin, meat, and bones.
In the open beak, you can see the hard tongue and palate, which are also black. Only the blood and liver have a specific red color in tissue, but they are also darker in hue than in other birds.
The Cemani comes directly from another breed in the area, the Ayam Bekisar, which is a hybrid between green junglefowl, Gallus varius, and red junglefowl, Gallus gallus.
The Ayam Cemani breed underwent a genetic mutation, which led to a rather rare condition, fibromelanosis. The activity of a dominant gene responsible for pigmentation or melanin synthesis in Cemani chickens exceeds the norm by up to 10 times. Thus, most tissues become hyperpigmented, turning black.
The area of origin of the breed is considered the city of Temanggung, located in the province of Central Jawa, Indonesia. “Ayam” translates from Javanese as “chicken”. While “Cemani” has a double interpretation: Most refer to the town of Cemani, located in the same province, Central Jawa. Others assume that the term translates as “absolute black”. The full translation would mean “black chicken”. In the Jawa province, there are several breeds with “Ayam” in the name, but only Cemani is black.
In Europe, the breed was introduced in 1998 by the Dutch scientist Jan Steverink, who visited Indonesia several times, initiated research into the origin and reproduction of this breed, and imported the first birds and eggs to the Netherlands for incubation.
Today, the breeding of Ayam Cemani chickens is more popular in the Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the UK, and The United States. The breed does not spread much because of its rarity and the high price induced by it, but also because the birds demand a warmer climate.
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There is no standard of the breed in its original form. Information about the origin and appearance is passed on to the inhabitants of Indonesia from generation to generation. The main requirement is absolute black color, practically on all body parts. On a gradation of shades, only 10 out of 10 is accepted, in other black breeds being only 5-7. Individuals with a small area of light color are not allowed in breeding so as not to alter the black color of the breed.
The most common myth about black hens is that they lay eggs with the same black shell. In the confirmation, there are numerous images of black-colored eggs. It is only fiction. The eggs of the Ayam Cemani chickens are cream or light brown. The yolk has the same yellow color as in all eggs.
The meat is really exotic. The deep shade of black makes it special. The skilled chefs include it in fascinating dishes, worthy of an appropriate price. The meat is very tasty and juicy, with little fat, classified as dietary.
Very often, black hen carcasses are offered for purchase at a high price, as Ayam Cemani chicken carcasses, but actually, they come from the Japanese silk hen, which reproduces well in industrial conditions and is cheaper to produce.
Do not be misled and check the inner part of the carcass. In Cemani all the tissues are black, while in Japanese silk, only the skin, and the organs have normal color.
The breed is not too capricious when it comes to maintenance conditions, but nevertheless, the characteristics of the breed are taken into account. For a better rate of fecundity, a male should nest with 5 females.
Cemani chickens get scared easily, do not trust people, and avoid contact with them. Thus, they will tend to hide or run away at every visit of the caregiver. When you enter the henhouse, you should do it with great care and slow movements.
For the walk, the birds will need a closed enclosure, including from the top. They can fly far enough and easily escape. The henhouse should be placed at a higher height compared to other species.
The Ayam Cemani birds come from an area with a very warm climate and will have a hard time coping with the cold. The henhouse must be insulated, as any form of air currents and excessive moisture is avoided.
On the floor, a layer of peat, hay, or sawdust with a minimum thickness of 10 cm should be arranged, which in winter extends to 35 cm.
The breed requires a free, properly fenced walking area. Without movement, its productivity, already small, will decrease even more. Regular cleaning work is required. Disease prevention measures shall also be carried out by immunization, taking into account the high cost of birds.
The dietary needs of Ayam Cemani black chickens do not differ significantly from that of other breeds of hens. At the diet’s base are cereals, bobbins, and chopped vegetables, with the addition of herbs, grass, and bran. The addition of protein flour and yeast is also needed.
During the summer, the birds are provided with access to green grass. In winter, instead of greenery, grass flour and corn silo can be used.