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Ayam Cemani Chicken

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Willem Hoekstra

The basics:
The Ayam Cemani is a very unusual chicken, known for its black feathers, black skin, black flesh, black internal organs and black tongue. The fibromelanosis (as the black flesh coloration is more formally termed) is a complex genetic trait resulting from a chromosomal rearrangement and it's believed that the Ayam Cemani, or its immediate ancestor, is the founder for all the world's black-fleshed chicken breeds.

In Europe and North America, the Ayam Cemani is considered a separate breed, but in Indonesia it's considered only as a subtype, Ayam Kedu Cemani of the Ayam Kedu breed. Partly this is because in Indonesia the breed is considered to have arisen in the 1920s Mr. Tjokromihardjo from Grabag, Magelang, a town in Central Java. However, black-fleshed birds had been brought to Europe from Indonesia in the 18th century by sailors of the Dutch East India Company (leading to the Swedish Black chicken) and black-fleshed fowl have been used as sacrificial birds in Indonesia and for traditional medicine in China for centuries. Thus the work of Mr. Tjokromihardjo was to stabilize and codify the breed.

This pure black bird has drawn considerable interest from fowl fanciers and scientists for their looks and their genetics. In 1998 the breed was re-introduced to Europe when it was imported from Indonesia by a Dutch breeder, Jan Steverink. It has become a popular poultry breed in the Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia and Czech Republic. It is now becoming more well known in the US and UK, with several breeders raising them.

Types: Largefowl
Varieties (Single Comb): Black, Black frizzled
Uses: Eggs, Exhibition
Weight: 3 - 6 lbs
Personality: The Ayam Cemani is a calm and affectionate breed, that enjoys perching on the shoulders of their owner. They are not territorial
Broody: No
Preferred climate: Warm
Handles confinement: Yes
Egg production: Poor (1/week)
Egg color: White
Egg size: Medium

What else you should know:
The Ayam Cemani is traditionally kept in cages, about 1 1/2 times the length and height of the birds. Ayam Cemani are roosting birds and will naturally roost in trees. If keeping them, they need to be supplied with plenty of above-ground roosting perches.

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