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Ayam Kedu/Cemani

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Resolution, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry to take so long to respond.

    1. The Cemani is not a breed per se. It is a morph or mutation that arises from Ayam Kedu and other uniquely Indonesian landrace type breeds.
    Given the high value placed on the morph, it certainly has been the focus of a great deal attention by Indonesian selectionist poultiers.
    I'll try and follow up with this post -extrapolate- on what I'm learning about what it is that constitutes a "breed" in ancient countries where chickens have been domesticated for at least ten thousand years, versus a few hundred years. We need to realise that westerners received a very different sort of domestic stock than what one deals with in some eastern country where the greater percentage of the entire history of the domestication event, and subsequent refinements has taken place.

    Generally speaking, relatively small populations of chickens arrived in Europe at any given time. Consequently, advancements in selective breeding was enabled by relative genetic homogeneity- that is- it took a short time to arrive at genetic homogeneity in European populations under the attention of poultiers there. European birds have traditionally been kept in enclosures that protect them against inclement weather and predators- freezing temperatures. There are no wild junglefowl in the forests adjacent to villages and random hybrid roosters don't often show up and cross pollinate as it were, every hen in the vicinity...

    Conversely, domestic fowl in Asia have triple the number of predators and a very different set of conditions including captive environments to deal with.

    In Western countries we think of breeds as set varieties that invariably produce more of the same. It's difficult for us to comprehend the intrinsic value of land races.
    That doesn't mean a land race can't be select bred into something we consider an established domestic breed but it's important to understand what factors are in place.
    In this instance, I've taken imported land race stock and went to the process of select breeding to establish a subbreed that can be depended upon to produce more of the same. I'm not a hereditary geneticist and do not have more than a grasp of much of what a good number of contributors here are keenly aware. What i do comprehend is something about the molecular makeup of the focal stock and selective breeding strategies that hereditary geneticists have established in the maintenance and refinement of specific mutations.

    To be clear, my stock are derived of a composite between Ayam Kedu Hsiang subbreed, Ayam Kedu Cemani subbreed and Ayam Kedu Bali a bantam breed that tends to produce more Cemani morph than the larger stock but is too small for ceremonial and meat production purposes.

    2. Every chick hatched from Cemani parents is not phenotypically like its parents. It may be Hsiang ( similar to "partridge"), pearl, white or black with pink bones rather than black. Some local strains of the Kedu produce a higher percentage of the cemani morph than others, with some poultiers being celebrated for their stock. This likely comes down to a specific bird or birds that throws this mutation consistently. As soon as that bird passes on, the poultier is often at a loss attempting to replicate or replace prior successes at producing the morph.

    Breeding related cemani interse, that is sibling to sibling or father to daughter, will often produce a higher percentage of the black boned morph. However, it should be noted clearly that even over a few generations, breeding genetically related cemani morphs together produces some significant % of frizzled silky mutants. These specimens tend to not thrive. Breeding these related frizzled silky cemani mutants together for more generations produces some percentage of birds expressing polydactylism. The inbreeding is not necessarily the origin of the extra digits but increasing the % of specific mutations linked with the condition seem to increase it.

    3. The Ayam Kedu is equally Dutch as Indonesian in origin. Ayam Kedu during the Dutch hegemony of the Indonesian island of Java , could be defined as Nieuwe Bataafse or New Batavia. Ayam Kedu earns its name from the region of Kedu Plain Java Indonesia. . Indonesian serf under the administrative powers of Dutch landholders, developed large-bodied, dual purpose fowl under mandate of the Dutch to provide white eggs and succulent pink meat for the European colonialist. By necessity, these composite fowl had to be able to thrive in Indonesian environmental conditions while also being highly productive. They managed this by recombining Mediterranean breeds ( carried by the Dutch to Indonesia) and crossing these consistent egg and meat producers with native Indonesian landraces that thrived in Indonesian climatic conditions. The region of Kedu Plain was of particular strategic militarily significance to the Dutch East Indies company.

    It should be remembered that eggs were not as significant in the Indonesian diet as they were by Dutch colonialists that did not favor the salty fish paste Indonesians are so fond. During the Dutch period, populations of Chinese ethnics grew exponentially and so the market for chicken meat grew exponentially as well.

    The Kedu region was very significant over the entire span of Indonesian history.
    Before the Dutch arrived, Kedu Plain was the centre of Javanese culture.
    Chickens are a huge part of Indonesian culture. This did not change upon the arrival of Dutch colonialism. If anything chicken production increased during this period and many strains of well-established, traditionally Indonesian breeds became modified or "improved" to meet the demands of new, ever-burgeoning populations of foreign residents ( Dutch, English, Chinese ethnics and etc.).
    This equally Dutch and Indonesian Ayam Kedu "New Batavian" would come to be a very significant- go to dual purpose breed -which it continues to be to this day.

    Eventually, the Dutch would built Jakarta, which was the home of Dutch Colonial rule throughout Indonesia.
    They knew the city of Jarkarta as Bataafse Republiek AKA Batavian Republic The Batavian Republic (Dutch: Bataafse Republiek) was the successor of the Republic of the United Netherlands. It was from Batavia that Dutch ships laden with Indonesian goods were launched. Thusly, the Ayam Kedu came to be associated with New Batavia in much the same way as many diminutive breeds are associated with the Port of Bantam,( also in Java Indonesia).
    Indonesians refer to this land race as the Ayam Kedu because it was originally generated in and around the Kedu Plain. But ex patriots living in Indonesia, Guyana, Barbados and etc. call the large black kedu subbreed as New Batavian.

    4. The New Batavian fowl was an integral progenitor of some of our most important American chicken breeds. New Batavians first started to appear in the American south in the early 1800's. That phase of the landrace was probably, to some degree, phenotypically different from the next generation. The first generation may have been a bit more Indonesian, more game fowl than Mediterranean by the nature of trade at the point in history. Gamecocks were big business and anything from the Spice Islands was considered of the highest and most exotically mysterious quality. This well-designed then New-Heritage breed was particularly well-suited for life on plantation in the Dutch West Indies. The second phase of the New Batavian was likely a much more established dual purpose breed by the time Dutch Colonialists made their first major exodus from Indonesia, settling in the rural United States where they contributed a great deal to American agriculture, including poultry farming.

    We should be clear here that this was the large black Ayam Kedu that arrived, not the Cemani. There would have been very little interest in black-boned fowl at this point in colonialist history. White or pink flesh was desired and large white eggs. Mediterranean stock recombined with Indonesian gamecock and Chinese chicken breeds arriving from the Gulf of Tonkin were at the foundation of the Kedu stock that arrived here in the USA and it was select bred from that point to the market and aesthetic of the American.

    Once well refined and introduced to the United States, the New Batavia/Ayam Kedu would be further developed as the Black Java.

    5. The Cemani is a further refinement of the Kedu.

    While Dutch, English and North Americans were developing the New Batavian Java, to become the most important meat breed of its time, Indonesians were artificially selecting for something radically different. They were selecting for black bones and brown eggs. I'll follow up in my next post about the diversity of traditional Indonesian chicken breeds and how their continuing and dynamic refinement of native land races differs from that of European enterprise driven selective breeding.
    fer9us likes this.

  2. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:We're sending out birds appropriate for founder flocks. We'll never have large amounts as we have just a few cemani hens. They're not prolific layers.
    The only birds that will leave the property are proper Cemani morphs.

    At this point all available birds are sold. Nevertheless, we will attempt to hatch through the winter as the birds will be housed in a commercial grade greenhouse. There are eggs in the incubator now but we'll encourage all hens to set and rear their own chicks with the next clutch. In my opinion, it's critical that we allow hens to take a break in 'production' and allow them what nature has designed of their bodies. Besides laying eggs for us- they will need to eventually produce clutches for themselves. While the hen is incubating and then rearing her chicks her body goes through the necessary regenerative metamorphosis- from the inside out and this prepares her for beginning the cycle all over again several weeks later. In my experience it seems to keep her producing fertile eggs over a longer more productive life span.

    Here's what one may expect from a good clutch of Kedu landrace eggs. Four or five colour types hatch from most pairings. After hatching, the respectivet colours are segregated into different colour types. Respective segregates are traded or sold under the name of their colour. Often times, the number of tines in their combs will define them further and this distinction will be added to their descriptive name. These Pelung Kedu are of a distinct breed type-comparable to saying a gamefowl is Bancavoid or Malayoid or a Leghorn is Mediterranean. Pelung is the breed type, Kudu is the region in which they were "improved" during Dutch Colonial period.
    Pelung breed type are easily distinguishable from all others breed types. They are lanky, quite large with long backs and horizontal conformation ( you chicken judges please correct me as to the correct terminology and vernacular please.) But their combs and wattles are enormous. The legs and neck are very long akin to that of gamecock races but the posture is horizontal and the wings are not particularly substantial. Nevertheless, the Pelung Kedu is a landrace. Colour types one produces rarely breed true to colour - conformation yes- but colour only rarely and voice somewhere in the middle. It's not in the interest of the Indonesian poultier to only produce one colour from a clutch. It can be done by taking individuals of one of the colour types and select breeding them in complete genetic isolation. Because of phenotypic polymorphism hard wired into their genetics, it will take a while to select breed them to type. It can be done but one has to be patient. This why the New Batavia is significant to western poultiers and its descendant the Black Java even more so. Each represents a different level of selection- a different level of utility expressed with consistency.

    Ayam Pelung Kedu
    1. Traditional Indonesian land race breed type the Pelung Kedu met certain requirements unique to Indonesians-while adapted for conditions of life there.

    Kedu New Batavia
    2. Dutch Colonialists required different levels of utility from the Pelung Kedu and imported a Mediterranean breed type to accomplish this objective via selective breeding.

    3. The Dutch Colonialist exodus from Indonesia carried New Batavia to England; the northern eastern coast of South America, the Dutch West Indies and eventually to North America, particularly the eastern seaboard.

    Black Java
    4. North Americans select bred New Batavia stock genetics into the great American Black Java, a distinct, well defined breed produced through successive generations of selective breeding.

    Kedu Cemani subbreed

    Ayam Hitam Limahong

    5. Concurrently, Indonesians select bred New Batavia stock with a Malay/Philippines breed type called Hitam Limahong (Black Pirate) selected for black plumage or particularly bright plumage and fierce disposition. It's not a strictly Indonesian breed type but it has been used increasingly in efforts to select for Cemani.

    Just as the Dutch colonized Indonesia, the Spanish colonized the Philippines.

    Merchant class Chinese ethnics moved between colonial ports. The black boned fowl was/is more economically significant to Chinese ethnics than to either Indonesian or European consumers. Generally speaking, the Chinese use black-boned fowl for medicine; Indonesians for ceremonial sacrifice and Europeans as exotic curiosities. Hindu Sultans carried the Cemani to Sumatra where it was recombined with fighting games to produce the Sumatran.

    Yeonsan Ogye (Black Crow Fowl)
    6. Hindi and Chinese merchants imported Hitam Batavia Limahong to Korea where they became the genetic foundation of the Crow Fowl.

    Tomaru Niigata
    7. Korean merchants carried Black Crow Fowl to Japan where they were recombined with the Dutch Indonesian New Batavia. The composite would become the genetic foundation of the Tomaru


    "hsian tulang naga" (Dragon Bone)

    8. The genetic repository of all this stock - that is recombination via self-selection of mates without selective breeding- what would happen to a flock of any of the above black boned fowl left to their own designs produces the "Hsian Naga" (Dragon Bone), known as Daitomaruigari Cemani in Japan. This stock was generated during Japanese occupation of Java and came be to favored as fighter, long tail and long crower amongst the generation of Japanese educated Indonesians that would eventually demand their independence from all colonialist rule.

    Hutan Tulang Bali
    9. There is a diminutive version of the Hsian Tulang Naga Naga, often slightly crested called Hitam or Hsian Tulang Naga or Tulang Bali.

    Each selection group or breed type is equally valid. They provide(d) different functions for different cultures at different times in history.

    I must digress for one moment. A week or so ago I wrote something in a private email to a valued contributor on this forum that I regret. It was something to the effect that it frustrates me that western poultry enthusiasts determine what is valid about the origins of breeds in contrast to what peoples native to regions chickens come from might have. That was just stupid. It was insensitive, rude and counter productive given that the individual is very knowledgeable, much more than I on the majority of the genetics in question here, the genetic hereditary information, which I barely have a comprehension of. The genetic origins of breeds- the cultural origins I comprehend readily but the genetics in question are a complete mystery. I wish I could take what I wrote back but I can't. I'm writing this opus now, partly because the forum member wrote to me for information about black boned fowl. And I write this little missive because I can't help but find myself distracted with the fact that a person much more knowledgeable than myself who could really be invaluable in the discussion of selective breeding is absent. If you are out there, I sincerely apologize.

    Moving on...

    Ayam Pelung Kedu type Hsian .

    A shrewd poultier will purchase Pelung Kedu Hsian to produce Cemani as Cemani are exceedingly expensive and difficult to come by. Cemani, tend to hatch most consistently from Hsian colour type. People will be quick to define Hsian as "partridge". In future postings I'll attempt to explore what is known about this phenotype as there is a disconnect in my mind between what constitutes "wild-type". Regardless, for now, it should be noted that the Hsiang Kedu subbreed is for all intensive purposes, the equivalent of 'wild type' amongst Cemani hatchings. Many Pelung Kedu Hsian are the result of recombination between the modern Hsian Naga
    and the old traditional Ayam Pelung. That recombination would be akin to breeding a Cornish Game back to an Asil.


    Jeruk Sayap

    Pasir Putih Sayap Hitam

    Merah Darah

    Sayap Hitam

    The above are photos of some of the different strains of what we could define as "pure" old type, traditional Pelung Kedu breed type. Cemani morph can and do hatch from any of these but selection for the Cemani morph has jumped the rail so to speak in that since the 20th century, selection for the Cemani mutation has relied heavily on recombination with the aforementioned Philippines breed type, itself derivative of recombination of Tonkin chicken breed type with Philippines Red JF and an old Mediterranean breed type imported by the Spanish. I know that's a bit complicated and even convoluted- but what we have here are mirror phenotypes working simultaneously through the selection of respective peoples ( native Indonesian and Chinese ethnic Indonesian), both producing the Cemani morphotype. When the morphotypes are recombined with one another they do not necessarily produce more Cemani but these composites are the blood stock of Sumatran, Korean and Japanese black boned fowl that have been further refined and bred to type for centuries. What I'm trying to impart here is that the black boned Pelung is one kind of "Cemani"; the black boned Pelung Kudu is another sort of Cemani; the Korean's Yeonsan Ogye Crow Fowl is yet another.

    When someone says they have Cemani we have to reflect on the genetic origins of respective strains produced by different subbreeds.


    White birds hatch from Hsian and Cemani fairly frequently called Ayam Pelung Kedu Putih. There is a much rarer gold iridescent version of white called Ayam Pelung Kedu Mutiara. It's valued more than even the Cemani.

    When the prize Cemani is purchased by an Indonesian poultier it is more often than not going to end up being bred back with Pelung Kedu breed type birds.

    So we can readily appreciate how complex the issue is with regards to founder stock. A single Cemani can be bred to type to any of the Pelung Kedu and produce Cemani.
    That progeny is going to produce some % of Hsian regardless.

    I'll try and describe the role of Green Junglefowl hybrids in the creation of the original Pelung and in novel creation ( that is creating a black bone or pearl mutant in the first or second generation) of Mutiara and Cemani in a future posting.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
    fer9us likes this.
  3. andreaj48

    andreaj48 In the Brooder

    Feb 17, 2017
    Can you tell me the source of all this information? I may have the dragon bone cemani
  4. fer9us

    fer9us Chirping

    Apr 17, 2015
    Love this post ...
    Great info

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