Chickens are playful animals who love cuddles, and in situations of trust, adult chickens have even been known to move in tight for a soft squeeze from their human caretaker. This can be highly endearing when it’s on the animal’s terms and in a safe environment. But forcing chickens into this type of activity, with no oversight or regulation as to how they are handled or treated is a recipe for abuse. Sadly, some entrepreneurial folks are more than willing to exploit these highly intelligent and sensitive beings with little regard for their well-being in order to make a quick buck. Worse yet, they’re imposing this reckless negligence and endangerment on the smallest and most vulnerable of the bunch: three-day-old baby chicks.

Such a scenario is about to play out in Brevard County, Florida, as The Green Marketplace in Cocoa plans to rent out 100 baby chicks for Easter. For $30, the company is allowing anyone to take home a box of two baby chicks for two weeks. Participants are provided detailed instructions for their care, but zero oversight or enforcement of those guidelines, which means there’s no saying what these babies might endure.

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Mary Hise, who owns The Green Marketplace, claims this is as good for the birds as it is for the families that participate. She says that because these chicks come from a hatchery with no contact from their mother hens, this activity allows them to be “mothered by these kids.” But we’re pretty sure that being manhandled by an over-eager three-year-old isn’t anything close to being cared for by mom.

Mother hens develop strong, protective bonds with their unborn chicks, and in a perfect world, they would be able to continue that relationship well into the chick’s life. Sadly, animal agriculture and hatcheries that support ploys like this one from The Green Marketplace prevent these animals from ever experiencing such joys.

It’s bad enough that these three-day-old chicks will never see their mother hens nor know the depth of love their mothers hold for them. As we see with other orphaned species, including human children, that in and of itself can be traumatizing. But to then be exposed to oblivious mishandlings, overstimulation in the name of “cuddles,” or possibly purposeful and cruel mistreatment can negatively affect these birds long after the two-week rental period expires – because these intelligent animals have terrific memories. Moreover, because chickens are known to pass down cultural knowledge from generation to generation, any psychological suffering they endure could have an impact on their kin as well.

Like rabbits, chickens are not good Easter gifts or toys, and parents need to be aware of how harmful this set up can be for the animals. So, please, share this information and speak up for these baby birds so that others may become better informed. The fewer people who sign up to rent baby chicks this year, the less likely the company will be to make such an irresponsible proposal next year.

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Image source: Waqar rauf Zafer/Shutterstock

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