Ayam Cemani is a rare breed of chicken, which lives in the forests of Indonesia. These lively inhabitants of the archipelago are very unique – they are blacker than the night inside out. The literal translation of this chicken's name is “A completely black chicken”.
Besides having black feathers, they have black legs, toenails, beak, tongue, comb and wattles, black meat, black bones and internal organs. Their blood is very dark, but not as black as the rest of the chicken. Ayam Cemani are direct descendants of wild Indonesian junglefowl. It is believed that the original Ayam Cemani are already exstinct, and that these are hybrids mixed with Ayam Kedu chicken.
Sometimes these black chickens get caught or bought by the locals for the purposes of shamanic rituals and folk medicine. Ayam Cemani is believed to have magical powers. Warriors and shamans have always used Cemani chicken for sacrifice to bring luck and wealth.
In central and east Java, Sumatra and Madura there are breeding farms of Ayam Cemani. In 1920, these pure black chickens were described by the Dutch colonialists, and the first specimens of the bird and the egg were brought to Europe in 1998-2000 by Jan Steverink, a Dutch breeder. Only one hen hatched from the first batch of eggs, one rooster hatched from the next batch, and in 1999 two hens and two roosters were born into the European world. Since then, other breeders began to import and breed the most expensive and unique chicken in the world. In the USA, Paul Bradshaw breeds Ayam Cemani in Florida and sells them for $5,000 a pair. Although Cemani chicken is native to Indonesia, they are not cheap there as well – the price for a dozen fertile eggs starts from $300.
In Indonesia, you can visit Cemani farm in Karokrok village, Java. Besides Ayam Cemanis they have laughing chickens, jungle fowl and bekisar hybrid chickens.