Walk into any rural farm supply store this time of year and you'll hear the familiar "peep peep" flooding the sales floor as the latest batch of newly hatched chicks arrive. Fuzzy little chickens, ducks, and turkeys may appear to be bouncing around playfully, drawing in crowds to admire their cute little antics.
Synonymous with Easter, the presence of these little birds may tempt buyers to make an impulse purchase without putting much thought into the commitment required to raise them. In the past, it was not uncommon to see baby chicks dyed in a variety of colors for the Easter holiday to be sold as presents to children... fortunately due to improvements in animal welfare laws this practice has been widely outlawed. Unfortunately, despite improvements in the animal industry and the widely available access to information online, impulse purchase of pets as gifts just because they're "cute" and "cheap" continues to run rampant in all areas of animal industry.
Despite their common availability - chickens are not necessarily easy, or cheap pets. Although baby chicks may sell for as little as $2/ea, the costs required to obtain the appropriate housing, feed, and equipment can add up to hundreds - even thousands of dollars. Another factor many new chicken owners fail to understand is that chickens may not be allowed in all towns due to zoning regulations and laws surrounding livestock. If some of those cute peepers grow up to become roosters who will crow Loudly at of dawn, causing disruptions to neighbors and potentially triggering a violation. People who purchase chicks as pets may find themselves faced with the difficult decision of having to find new homes for their birds when they realize they're unable to keep them or become overwhelmed with their care.
Sadly - the situation for chickens has never been a great one, and billions of chicks are sold annually, often to unprepared owners. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic stressed an already overwhelmed network of rescues and sanctuaries as pet keepers hoping to get eggs out of their own back yards feverishly purchased chicks - often not realizing it would take months before they'd begin to see any return on their investments. The result of this was a huge surge in the supply of unwanted birds: roosters, and other poultry who's owners simply could not meet their needs or were not legally able to continue to keep them. Although the situation may be worsened from the pandemic - it is not a new occurrence, and every year there will continue to be a need for responsible and caring homes for unwanted poultry.
As keepers, we are responsible for the safety, health, and happiness of those animals we chose to bring into our homes. Please always consider the amount of care and commitment you are able to give to an animal before purchasing it.