Animal activists have long been critical of many Easter traditions, including dyeing Easter eggs and giving baby chicks away as gifts. Yet a less well-known trend of dyeing chicks has animal rights groups crying foul.
Although the practice has been around in some regions of the country for generations, its popularity is experiencing a mainstream revival. Poultry farmers claim the practice is safe, yet animal rights activists claim the procedure is stressful for the animals, who are either sprayed with dye as hatchlings or injected with dye while incubating.
Several municipalities and roughly half the states have laws against the practice, but the Florida legislature passed a bill overturning the 45 year old ban last month, purportedly at the request of a dog groomer wishing to enter a contest featuring colored and sculpted dogs.
“Humane societies are overflowing with these animals after Easter every year,” said Don Anthony of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. “This law has protected thousands of animals from neglect and abuse, and it shouldn’t be lifted on the whim of one dog groomer who wants to dye poodles purple.”
While many poultry farmers keep quiet on the practice of dyeing chicks, retired poultry farmer Peter Theer corroborates Anthony’s claim. He notes that he routinely told customers to return their chicks when children inevitably grew tired of them. “We sold a lot of them,” he said. “People buy whatever is available. They’ll usually take one or two of each color, maybe 10 or 15 of them. The kids get tired of it pretty quick.”
While the primary goal of dyeing chicks is to increase the number sold, some claim the practice has scientific and educational benefits. Wildlife management researchers have successfully used the technique to track birds as they leave their nest, and teachers have used it to show students how chickens’ feathers come in.
What do you think? Is dyeing Easter chicks harmless fun or harmful to chicks?