The rare black chicken also known as the Ayam Cemani, is now growing in its popularity due to its unique pitch black colour found on its external and internal body organs.
Found in the Asian nation of Indonesia, the Ayam Cemani chicken breed is completely black from both head, feathers and feet to internal organs, including skin, flesh and bones.
The name Ayam Cemani itself directly translates to “thoroughly black chicken”, where Ayam means “chicken” in Indonesian, while cemani means “thoroughly black”
Myths behind the rare black chicken
According to Asian mythology dating back to over a thousand years ago. It is believed that the Ayam Cemani chicken were the chicken of only the rich and famous. Apart from their rare appearance, they were also known throughout Asia for possessing magical powers. Their blood was believed to also be black, which brought good luck as well as wealth.
What has science got to say about this condition
According to scientists this condition is called fibromelanosis.
Fibromelanosis is a mutation in domestic chicken known for centuries in Southeastern Asia and Europe, expressed with abnormal accumulation of the dark pigment melanin in the dermis and connective tissue formations of the avian body.
These chicken can trace their mutation to a single bird that may have existed thousands of years ago.
“We have evidence that it is a complex rearrangement in the genome,” states Leif Andersson, a geneticist at Uppsala University in Sweden.
“The mutation underlying fibromelanosis is very peculiar, so we are sure that it occurred once.”
About the fowl’s pigmentation
Most vertebrates have a gene known as, endothelin 3 (EDN3), which is mainly responsible for skin colour.
When a normal chicken is developing, certain cells, like those in skin and feather follicles, express EDN3, which triggers the migration of melanoblasts (cells that go on to create colour).
However, in the black chicken condition, who are actually hyperpigmented, all their body cells express EDN3, creating up to 10 times as many melanoblasts, that in turn make the internal look dark.
“It’s a mis-migration. If you express too much endothelin 3, and in the wrong places, the pigment cells migrate to the wrong places,” states Leif Andersson.
While these creatures might appear as common chicken, but they actually cost a lot. Greenfire Farms, a company that sells these rare chicken breed to the public, has priced an adult chicken at about $199, whereas a juvenile male or female black chicken about $400.
Despite being too pricey for a fowl, many people have been purchasing them, not only for meat but also for a sense of pride in possessing the world’s rarest unique chicken.