The Ayam Cemani chicken breed is known for its striking, all-black appearance. From its black feathers to its black beak, comb, and even internal organs, the Ayam Cemani has a uniquely dark coloration. This has led some to wonder if the eggs laid by Ayam Cemani hens are black as well. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Ayam Cemani egg color and what accounts for this chicken’s exotic look.
What is the Ayam Cemani Chicken?
The Ayam Cemani is an uncommon and relatively modern breed of chicken originating from the island of Java, Indonesia. In Indonesia, Ayam means “chicken” and Cemani means “totally black” in Javanese. True to its name, the Cemani chicken has a dominant gene that causes hyperpigmentation (fibromelanosis), making it entirely black including its beak, tongue, comb, wattles, toes, feathers and even its internal organs and bones. This dark coloring is caused by an excessive amount of melanin pigment.
The breed was first documented by Dutch colonial settlers in Indonesia during the early 19th century. Cemanis were brought to Europe in 1998 and later introduced to the United States and Australia. Today, they are mostly an ornamental breed but are also raised for their meat which is considered a delicacy in their native Indonesia.
Ayam Cemani Egg Color
Despite their uniformly black appearance, Ayam Cemani hens lay surprisingly normal colored eggs. Ayam Cemani eggs are a tinted creamy light brown color, sometimes with a light pinkish hue. The egg color comes from pigments deposited onto the eggshell as it passes through the hen’s oviduct. While the Cemani’s tissues and organs contain excess black melanin, this pigment does not affect the color of the eggshell.
Several factors determine egg color including breed, genetics, and diet. The Ayam Cemani originates from tropical Indonesia where chickens produce tinted eggs with light brown pigment. As a pure breed, they will consistently produce eggs with this light brown tint. Diet can also influence egg color by providing pigments from certain feeds. However, they do not produce dark brown or black eggs.
What Causes Black Eggs?
For a chicken to lay black eggs, it must have the genetic trait to produce eggs with a dark brown or black shell. Very few breeds have this trait. Examples include:
- Some strains of Marans and Welsummers lay very dark chocolate brown eggs.
- The Dongxiang and Lushi chicken from China lay darker brown eggs.
- The Swedish Black Hen lays darker brown eggs.
- The Chilean Araucana can lay blue or green eggs.
The Ayam Cemani does not have the genetics to produce black egg shells. Their light brown egg color is typical for most breeds originating from Asia and Indonesia.
Ayam Cemani Egg Production
The Ayam Cemani is not the most productive egg layer. On average, hens will lay around 60-100 cream-colored eggs per year. This is considered lower than average compared to other chicken breeds bred specifically for egg production. For example, a single Leghorn hen can lay over 300 eggs per year!
There are a few reasons why Ayam Cemanis lay fewer eggs:
- They are bred as an ornamental breed, not for maximum egg production.
- They tend to go broody more often, stopping egg laying for weeks.
- Their black combs and wattles can be prone to frost damage in cold climates.
- As a slim, tall tropical breed their energy goes more towards foraging than egg production.
While not champion egg layers, Ayam Cemanis do produce a moderate amount of eggs each year. Their exotic look and rich black meat make up for their lower egg output.
Uses for Ayam Cemani Eggs
While Ayam Cemani’s lay cream-colored eggs rather than black, their eggs are still perfectly edible with some unique properties. Some ways to use Ayam Cemani eggs include:
- Eating – The eggs have a rich, creamy flavor ideal for frying, poaching, baking, and scrambling.
- Hatching – Fertile Ayam Cemani eggs can be hatched to produce purebred chicks.
- Crafts – Their beautiful brown and pink tinted shells can be used for blown eggs, dioramas, and other decorative crafts.
- Nutrition – The eggs provide protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Interesting Facts About Ayam Cemani Eggs
- While not black, their shells are a richer brown than white leghorn chickens.
- Their shells are thicker than commercial store-bought eggs.
- The egg yolks are not black, but remain the usual yellow-orange color.
- The breed is thought to have originated from a wild jungle fowl in Indonesia.
- Black is very rare in chickens, with the mutation originating in Asia.
- Their black coloration is caused by fibromelanosis – excessive black melanin pigment.
- The hens enter lay around 5-6 months old.
- As a slim bird, the eggs are smaller than chicken breeds bred just for laying.
- The Ayam Cemani is known as the “Lamborghini of poultry” for its exotic appearance.
The Ayam Cemani is a unique, all-black chicken gaining popularity for its exotic look. However, despite their darker pigmentation, Ayam Cemani hens lay cream-colored eggs rather than black. Their eggshells have a light brown tint typical of their Asian origins. While not prolific layers, Ayam Cemani’s do produce a moderate number of rich-flavored eggs each year in addition to their rare black meat. So while their eggs may not be black, they are still a delicious dark treasure from this striking chicken breed.