When I was a child, my parents let me choose an “Easter chick” that I enjoyed playing with for a while. I brought it home, put it in a box, and cared for it (kept it with me at all times when I wasn’t at school). Each year after the chick had fully feathered out, my dad would take it to a farm. They all survived, were kept, and received a fabulous free-range life.

Those little yellow chicks were very cute and entertaining, but we were more attracted to the colored ones sold in the streets. My parents never let us buy them, saying that we should not encourage selling and buying them because the dye make them get sick and die young. They saw it as cruel for the chicks.

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The dye, which is often ordinary food coloring, is either injected into incubating eggs or sprayed onto hatchlings. Although hatchery owners say the practice is harmless, critics argue that spraying the birds with color is stressful and that dyeing the animals transforms them into novelty items that can be discarded when their colorful plumage disappears.

Some experts say that as long as the dye is nontoxic, the birds’ health isn’t affected, and there are scientific reasons to dye animals. Wildlife researchers often inject eggs with dye to track birds in the wild, and teachers have dyed chicks for educational purposes. However, animal activists are quick to point out that dyeing baby chicks for Easter isn’t educational, it’s simply to make money.

Animal rights workers say that the experience is stressful for the birds. They further object to selling animals at too young an age.

On the other hand, a more important concern should be highlighted: The cute little birds can carry salmonella and each year send dozens of children to the doctor’s office.

It is not recommended getting chicks for Easter gifts if they’re not going to be a part of a backyard flock. Chickens are farm animals, they’re not pets.

So for this season, before buying those chicks, think through what they’ll do with them when it becomes a chickens, or even loud roosters.

Happy Easter to all….

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