Have you ever heard of the Kadaknath chicken? This unique breed is found only in India and is known for its black meat. Prized for its many health benefits, this strange poultry has garnered attention from all over the world.
But what are the origins of this unusual bird? How does it compare to other breeds?
We’ll cover its history, uses, characteristics, and even provide some pictures so you can see what this bird looks like for yourself. By the end, you’ll know everything there is to know about Kadaknath chickens!
Quick Facts about Kadaknath Chicken:
|Breed Name:||Kadaknath chicken|
|Place of Origin:||India|
|Uses:||Meat, eggs, medicine, sacrifice|
|Cock (Male) Size:||1.8–2 kg (4.0–4.4 lb)|
|Hen (Female) Size:||1.2–1.5 kg (2.6–3.3 lb)|
|Color:||Black/gray, some varieties have white and gold|
|Egg Production:||105 eggs a year|
|Egg weight:||40 grams|
|Sexual maturity:||180 days|
Kadaknath Chicken Origins
The Kadaknath chicken is a native breed of India that originated in the forests of Madhya Pradesh. It is also called “Kali Masi”, which translates to “fowl having black flesh.”
This chicken is believed to have been around for centuries and was used for both meat and eggs. The bird was only recently discovered by the outside world and has since been gaining popularity.
The high consumption of the revered meat quickly impacted populations, until the breed became rare. The local governments formed a Kadaknath breeding program1, for families in poverty.
Kadaknath Chicken Characteristics
The Kadaknath chicken is best known for its black meat, which is a result of its pigmentation. This breed is also known for being very lean, as there is very little fat on the bird.
The eggs of the Kadaknath chicken are the only thing with any color and are usually a creamy white.
The Kadaknath chicken is considered to be a good flier and is known for being very active.
This breed has a low fertility rate and are poor brooders, so reproduction takes some time. This only adds to the rarity and cost of the meat produced.
The Kadaknath chicken is most commonly used for its meat, which is said to have many health benefits. The bird is also sometimes kept as a pet or used in religious ceremonies.
The meat of the Kadaknath chicken is very lean and low in calories. It is also high in protein, iron, and other minerals.
There is some science behind the health claims of this black flesh, though. The pigmentation is caused by high levels of melanin, which are synthesized by the amino acid Tyrosine.
This amino acid is particularly important in the production of hormones and protein building. Kadaknath chicken also has a higher protein level and lower cholesterol than traditional meat breeds.
Some people believe that Kadaknath chickens can be used as a medicine, and it is sometimes consumed to help with problems like anemia and asthma.
The eggs of this breed are also sometimes used in folk medicine, with tribes using the blood as a disease cure and the meat as an aphrodisiac. It is also considered sacred and routinely used in sacrifices.
Appearance & Varieties
The Kadaknath is a small chicken, with hens weighing only 1.2–1.5 kilograms (2.6–3.3 pounds) and roosters 1.8–2 kilograms (4.0–4.4 pounds). They are entirely black, from their feet to their eyes, to their wattles.
After the success of the initial breeding program for the breed, there are now three recognized varieties of Kadaknath chicken:
The black coloration of Kadaknath is not matte, the feathers have a green iridescence. Their legs, nails, beak, tongue, comb, and wattle are all grayish black. Even their meat, organs, and bones are gray.
The Kadaknath chicken is found naturally only in the forests of Madhya Pradesh, India. They are well adapted to hot, humid climates and do not do well in cold weather.
They are kept in small numbers and are not widely distributed.
There is no current estimate of population numbers, but the breed is considered rare.
The Kadaknath chicken is a forest bird and therefore prefers to live in trees. They make their nests in hollows and lay their eggs there.
Are Kadaknath Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?
The Kadaknath chicken is a good choice for small-scale farmers for a few reasons. First, they are very hardy and can withstand hot, humid conditions. They also do not need much space, as they are a small breed.
Another advantage of Kadaknath chickens is that they are very low maintenance. They can live off of insects and do not need much in the way of housing or equipment.
Finally, Kadaknath chickens are good foragers and can help control pests on your farm.
However, The Kadaknath chicken is a forest bird and, therefore, very shy and difficult to rear in captivity. They are also known to be good flyers.
This breed is exclusive to India and cannot currently be sourced anywhere else.
Featured Image Credit: VP Praveen Kumar, Shutterstock