Astoundingly, the Governor of Florida has signed a bill overturning a 45-year-old ban on dyeing baby chicks.
We’re told that this extraordinary step backward was at the behest of a dog groomer who wanted to enter a contest featuring colored and sculpted dogs.
Chicken ranchers say the color that’s used to dye baby chicks is a harmless food dye and that it wears off in a few weeks and is replaced anyway when their permanent feathers grow in.
One way of coloring the chickens is to inject the dye right into the egg. “You take regular food coloring and inject it into the egg on the 18th day of incubation,” said Peter R. Theer, a retired Texas poultry rancher. “They take 21 days to hatch.” Theer has a guide to doing this on his Web site.
Other ways are to spray the chicks or dunk them in a pool of dye.
The bigger problem with all this is its purpose: to sell baby chickens as Easter gifts to children. The fascination with having a pink chicken – possibly a fluorescent one – wears off sooner even than the dye, and the new pet is discarded. Chickens who are part of a natural flock, by comparison, have a lifespan of at least seven years.
The new law doesn’t go into effect until July, and animal protection organizations will now be working to go back to Florida legislators in hopes of tweaking the bill so that the dog-grooming/coloring lady can touch up her dogs without baby chickens having to be subjected to this archaic practice.