Prized Chicken Breed Has Jet Black Skin and Dark Meat

Kadaknath is an Indian chicken breed popular for the quality of its meat and eggs, but primarily because of the black color of the skin and its dark-colored meat.

Chicken meat is the world’s most consumed form of protein, with over 98.5 million tons consumed every year. But one has to wonder if it would be as popular if the color of the meat was black. Naturally-raised, free-range chicken tends to have a darker color than the intensely-reared broilers most of us consumed, and I’ve noticed that the color alone tends to put people off. But that’s not even the kind of black meat I’m talking about. Kadaknath, a breed of chicken raised in several Indian states, has jet black feathers and skin, and truly dark meat that is allegedly of much higher quality than broilers.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Also known as Kali Masi, Kadaknath chickens originated from the tribal-dominated Jhabua district Madhya Pradesh, but are now raised in many states of India, including Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Its strange-looking flesh is sought after by health-conscious meat eaters, because it has much higher-quality protein and a significantly lower fat content.


Kadaknath chicken meat sells for Rs. 1,000 to 1,200 per kilogram, which is at least three times more expensive than broiler chicken meat, with live birds going for above Rs. 850 per kilo. The quality of the meat is just one of the factors influencing the price, with the time and effort required to raise the birds being the most important one. It takes just 45 days for broilers to gain an adequate weight for commercialization, while Kadaknath birds take about 8 months.


Although there are stories and doctored photos going around online which suggest that the blood and eggs of Kadaknath chicken are also black, which is simply not true. It’s just the feathers and skin that are truly black, while the meat and bones are considerably darker than most other chicken breeds.

While Kadaknath chickens are a rarity outside of India, they are not the only dark meat chickens in the world. Chinese silkies are also famous for their dark grey skin and meat.