Decades ago before the term “heritage chicken” became well-known in the Philippines, there are already a lot of “ulikba” chickens scattered around the country. Every time we see a chicken with black skin, we Filipinos call it “ulikba” and it became the standard all over the country.
What is Ulikba Chicken
Ulikba is just a term used to describe black skin. When referred to a person, this is offensive. It’s like calling someone “Negro”, or “Ati” in Bisaya, or “Mangyan” – all racists words referring to indigenous peoples. In short, “ulikba” means black. Ulikba when referring to chicken is not a breed but an identification of a black-meat chicken.
The origins of ulikba chicken are unknown but since ulikba is not considered a breed and not included in our Philippine native breeds, this means that ulikba came from other countries. Whether it is from Indonesia (Ayam Cemani), India (Kadaknath), or China (Silkie), there is no literature that could prove its origin.
Since Indonesia is the closest to the Philippines, especially in the Southern part, it is believed that ulikba came from pure-breed Ayam Cemani. Ulikba has different colors, especially when crossed to native chickens, or other chicken breeds.
What is Ayam Cemani Chicken
Ayam Cemani is pure Indonesian bred. Ayam means “chicken” in Indonesian, while cemani (originally a Javanese word) means “thoroughly black” (down to the bones).
Their beaks and tongues, black combs and wattles, and even their meat, bones, and organs appear black. The blood of the Ayam Cemani is normally colored. The birds’ black color occurs as a result of excess pigmentation of the tissues, caused by a genetic condition known as fibromelanosis. This gene is also found in some other black fowl breeds. The roosters weigh 2.0–2.5 kg and the hens 1.5–2.0 kg. The hens lay cream-colored eggs, although they are poor setters and rarely hatch their own brood. Eggs weigh an average of 45 g.
Other Chicken Breeds with Black Meat
Kadaknath, also called Kali Masi (fowl having black flesh), is an Indian breed of chicken. The Kadaknath is popular for its adaptability and its grey-black meat, which is believed to infuse vigor. Its color is caused by melanin. The breed is considered to have originated from the Kathiwar Alirajapur jungles in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh.
The roosters weigh 1.8–2 kg (4.0–4.4 lb) and the hens 1.2–1.5 kg (2.6–3.3 lb). Kadaknath hens’ eggs are brown with a slightly pink tint. They are poor setters and rarely hatch their own brood. Eggs weigh an average of 30–35 g (1.1–1.2 oz).
The Silkie (sometimes spelled Silky) is a breed of chicken named for its atypically fluffy plumage, which is said to feel like silk and satin. The breed has several other unusual qualities, such as black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot, whereas most chickens only have four. They are often exhibited in poultry shows and appear in various colors. In addition to their distinctive physical characteristics, Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. It is among the most docile of poultry. Among Silkies, the Chinese White Silkie is the most popular and grown as a pet. The male weighs 0.9kg to 1.3kg while Females weigh 0.6kg to 0.9kg.
Difference Between Ayam Cemani and Ulikba
Ayam Cemani is purebred and black and usually medium to large with males weighing 2 to 2.5kgs while females usually weigh 1.5 to 2kgs. Their skin is extremely dark. Ayam Cemani price depends on the quality with pure breeds ranging from P800 to 1500 per day-old-chick.
Ulikba chicken comes in different colors. There are also ulikba with black plumage especially when crossed with blackbirds like Black Australorp but their skin is lighter than the pure Cemani. Ulikba is far cheaper compared to Cemani with day-old chicks that can be bought from P150 to P250.
Can we Call Ayam Cemani Ulikba?
People who don’t know what Ayam Cemani is called the bird Ulikba and there is nothing wrong about it. The term Ayam Cemani is used primarily during buying and selling in order to point out that the bird is purebred and not a mixed ulikba. On the other hand, it is misleading to sell an ulikba and call it Ayam Cemani.
What to Look When Buying Ayam Cemani
When buying an Ayam Cemani, make sure the color of the chicken is all black and its skin is dark black. The quality and price of Ayam Cemani depend on its blackness. If it is black but not dark, it’s definitely not a purebred Cemani.