10 Most Expensive Chicken Breeds in the U.S.

From Really Expensive to More Manageable, These Birds Top Many Must-Have Lists

by Rachel Porter
PHOTO: Ayam Cemani completely black chicken. Photo by Charlotte B.

Are you looking for one of the most expensive chicken breeds in the United States? If so, we’ve got you covered! Chickens, like many Instagram-worthy farm animals, can be quite expensive and bougie. Old Macdonald’s farm might have been more lucrative if he just focused on raising rare and exotic poultry. The National Chicken Council claims, “The chicken industry in the United States is one of the most successful sectors in agriculture.” But when it comes down to price per bird, the highest profit comes from looks and rarity, rather than their productivity or value in meat and eggs. 

Breeders and hatcheries are selling more per animal because of the rare and exotic qualities buyers are seeking. As with every industry, the more established the breeding program is, the higher the prices will be. The genetics, feedback from customers and pictures of multi-generations the breeder has produced is what determines how established a breeding program is.

The fascinating world of Fancy Chicken breeding is not new. The National Agricultural Library reports, “The goal of successful poultry breeding has shifted through time. The first chickens were bred for their ability to perform activities that had little to do with food production. Skinner’s history of breeds identifies chickens used for cockfighting as being historically the most valuable until the early nineteenth century (1974). Chickens bred for their appearance and performance in poultry exhibits were also more valued than the lowly birds used for meat and eggs”

Top 10 List of Most Expensive Chicken Breeds

Today’s market prizes these 10 breeds as the most expensive, exploring what qualities are driving up the prices for buyers. While value is a sliding scale depending on where you shop and when, these are notoriously ranked as expensive.

1. Ayam Cemani ($2,500)

This all-black bird is prized due to a rare condition called fibromelanosis, which causes an excess of dark pigment resulting in jet-black feathers, skin, flesh, organs and bones. The black color is 10 times the melatonin as other chicken breeds. Unsexed eggs can be purchased for $45 with a minimum of 12. Juveniles (6-12 weeks) $800 and adults are sold for $1,200-$3,000. With a nickname, “The Lamborghini Chicken” you know it’s going to be expensive.

2. Kadaknath ($2,500)

These chickens are often confused with Ayam Cemanis because of the black feathers from head to toe. However, they have a varying pigment of black. They also differ in size, temperament, egg production and meat production. Many are jet black, but the breed also incorporates penciled and golden. 

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3. Dong Tao ($2,000)

This breed is rare and hard to find. The demand rarely matches the need. They are prized for their easily recognized large legs and feet, which is easy to see why people call them the “Dragon Chicken.”

4. Deathlayer ($250)

Moving from the thousands price range to the hundreds, Deathlayers are the leaders for being the most expensive chicken breeds. This dramatic name comes from their ability to lay eggs until their dying day. Also sought for their striking appearance they charm with their black babydoll eyes, beautiful feathers and can be silver or gold varieties. 

5. Liege Fighter ($150)

Liege fighters are a large and muscular Belgian gamecock breed of chicken that was originally bred in the 19th century for fighting. They were bred to be powerful enough to overpower other fighting breeds and to fight using natural spurs instead of sharpened metal gaffes. Nowadays they are a great flock protector and generally friendly with their owners.

6. Olandsk Dwarf ($100)

Olandsk Dwarf chickens are true dwarf chickens. This means that they are not a miniature version of a full-size breed as you have with Bantam breeds. They are a landrace breed of chicken which are typically known to be hardy, disease-resistant and adaptable to changes. They are lightweight and display a beautiful combination of red, black, gray, brown and white multicolored feathers.

7. Swedish Black ($100)

The knockoff version of the Ayam Cemani might just be the Swedish Black moving this lower on the list of the most expensive chicken breeds. All physical features of the bird are black, although there can be a purple/greenish tint spotted in the sun. They are smaller and more cold-hardy than the Ayam Cemani. Despite the differences, it is still a fascinating and expensive bird.

8. Orust ($100)

Very hard to find, Orusts are beautifully spotted white and black from their head to feet. This beauty combined with their docile and easy-to-handle nature makes them highly sought after.

9. Pavloskaya ($86)

If crests are a trait you like, these birds will be sure to interest you. They have a beautiful crest and lacelike markings. They are very cold-tolerant (being from Russia). They have a great history where they have been brought back from extinction, which is something many enthusiasts enjoy participating in preserving. They lay very few eggs a year, making them more valuable.

10. Seramas ($77)

Coming in last on the list of most expensive chicken brees, Seramas are the smallest chickens in the world. A full-grown rooster is about the size of a pigeon. They are friendly and can be trained. They handle heat extremely well, as they are tropical birds. Their tiny stature and huge tails make a very intriguing look.

serama chicken breed
Serama chicken in the garden. Photo by Athok Fadhlin

Why the High Price?

Rarity, physical features and access to these birds are among the top reasons they are priced so high. If you are in the market to start investing in these types of chickens, here are a few shopping tips from top breeder, Chrissy Scheulen at Paragon Ridge Ranch:

  • Know your goals. Are you breeding or showing birds? Are you looking for dual purpose or sustainability? What features interest you?
  • Research your breeder. Make sure it is a reputable source who has been working on their program for a while. Breeders should be culling for traits to get to the best of the best. 
  • Shop smaller breeders. Commercial hatcheries and big box farm stores breed for quantity not quality.
  • Check online farm hatcheries, farmers markets and online sell groups.
  • Research the genetics of the parents.
  • Ask for photos of the birds and their environments.
  • Read customer feedback and reviews.

This article about the most expensive chicken breeds in the U.S. was written for Chickens magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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