The Rare Black Chicken That Lays Light Pink Eggs

No, it isn't a chicken merely going through its teenage goth phase. The Ayam Cemani is a rare Indonesian poultry breed that's all black — and we mean all black. From the feathers to the beak to the comb to the flesh to the internal organs, this chicken is black inside and out, according to Wide Open Pets.

Given the chicken's odd appearance, it's not surprising that folklore has risen up surrounding its existence. In its homeland of Indonesia, The World reports that the Ayam Cemani is rumored to have magical powers and, as such, the fowl has been used in religious and mystical practices, for centuries. Indonesian shoppers are always on the hunt for the rarest black-blooded Ayam Cemani (hint: they don't exist), but even the red blood is coveted for its supposed healing qualities.

But the Ayam Cemani chicken's striking look is simply pure science. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology explains that it's caused by a pigment mutation known as fibromelanosis, resulting in the chickens' dark hue and hyperpigmentation. The facts, though, hardly keep the hype at bay; Ayam Cemani chickens have been called the "Lamborghini of chickens" and even dressed up in pearls and ribbons for photo shoots (via The World). Most of this hype regarding the chicken's so-called luxury status, though, is in the Western hemisphere. For those who believe in the chicken's mystical powers, pearls and ribbons are not necessary; a simple bamboo hen house will do.

Ayam Cemani chickens lay pretty eggs, too

Additionally, despite all the hype, these chickens don't fetch the high price you might think (via The World). While Western outlets claim an Ayam Cemani can go for thousands of dollars, in Indonesia, the real price is usually lower than $100 (unless a seller can convince a poor sap that the chicken actually does have the fabled black blood, in which case they may be able to snag a higher price). In Indonesia, many buyers purchase the chickens for their blood only, and then the farmers are left to harvest the carcasses — which they report taste just like regular chicken, according to The World.

In the United States, hobby farmers have begun breeding the all-black chickens more for novelty than anything else and, since the breed is still very rare in the U.S., breeders do demand a higher price for adult chickens, closer to the $300 mark (via Wide Open Pets). The breed is really used just for show, though, and in terms of actual usefulness, such as laying its light pink eggs and providing meat, it's lackluster — but then, most U.S. buyers aren't looking for those qualities in an Ayam Cemani. As Smithsonian Magazine writes, "Somebody who plunks down $1,500 for a Williams-Sonoma chicken coop, they want an artisanal chicken breed. They want something special, with a story, something beautiful." They don't want a layer or a broiler, they want an Ayam Cemani.