Meet a critically endangered breed!
They are Yeonsan Ogye, a very rare breed of fibromelanistic (black-fleshed) chicken from Korea. I was lucky to find one of the few remaining pure flocks in the US.
Yes, they have black skin, black bones, and dark gray meat! No, they don't lay black eggs (no breed of chicken does, any black egg pics you see are duck eggs).
Black chicken is a delicacy in Asia. This breed is ancient, dating back almost a thousand years, and is said to bring health and stamina to those who eat it. Championed by Lee Hyeong-Heum, who was the first to serve them to the king, they became reserved for the dining pleasure of the royal family. They passed out of favor when the Joseon Dynasty ended in the late 1800s. Soon after in the Japanese Occupation, all things traditionally Korean were discouraged, and the Ogye floundered. At this point only the Lee family were keeping the breed intact. In 1980 the Yeonsan Ogye were listed 265th Natural Korean Monument, a national treasure.
Today, the fourth-great granddaughter of Lee Hyeong-Heum, named Lee Seung-Sook, is the only breeder of the Ogye in Korea. In 2011, the Korean government finally recognized their role in preserving the natural and culinary heritage encompassed by the Yeonsan Ogye and started subsidizing the farm as a way to protect the future of the black chicken species. Soon after, Slow Food International gave the species international recognition by officially placing it as a part of Korea’s Ark of Taste. There are now around 3,000 Yeonsan Ogye in Korea, most of which reside at the Lee conservation farm.
Fortunately for us in the US, a gentleman and his wife moved from Korea to the United States (year unknown, mid-1900), bringing with them a foundation flock as part of their Korean heritage. There are now a very small handful of Ogye breeders in the US (fewer still with lines pure to this imported flock, and not crossed with Cemani).
We have obtained 24 chicks from a breeder who can trace her flock directly back to the original import. We are excited to continue the preservation of this endangered breed!