No Chicks for Easter Please
Parent to Parent by Patti Hermes –
Easter comes early this year, and with it the spring chicks. I had never heard of this practice until recently, but apparently giving live chicks to small children as gifts for Easter is pretty common.
And I can’t imagine whoever came up with such an idea!
First, yes, chicks are cute, for about a day. The typical feed-store chick usually starts to feather out and mature very quickly, losing the yellow fluff within weeks. Then what? Tiny little chicks are also fragile and defenseless, and small hands are not always gentle. Their bones can snap in a heartbeat, accidentally crushed to death. Second, they’re easy to care for! Not really.
You cannot keep them in a shoebox, as I overheard one parent say at the library. Thankfully, the librarian had materials ready to set her straight and hopefully saved some chicks from a horrible death. Chicks need a brooder, and they must be kept very warm, using heat lamps. When they outgrow the brooder, which will happen quickly, they will need a chicken coop with room to roam, and protection from any other family pets and/or predators.
Children could be at risk of salmonella contamination from handling infected chicks. Any type of gastrointestinal illness can turn serious in a moment in small children, so maybe the cute little chickies aren’t worth the risk. There are numerous web sites expounding on the virtues of raising chickens in your backyard. But many suburban municipalities and neighborhood homeowners’ associations forbid it.
If you don’t live in a rural area, before you get started, know what you’re up against, and have a back-up plan in place for the chickens in case you get shut down. One place you can start your new chicken-raising lifestyle is this article, How to Keep Chickens. Chicks, like all baby animals, grow up to be adults, with all the care and commitment that comes with it.
If the adults in the family aren’t ready for up to sixteen years of raising chickens in the backyard, then please, get your children a stuffed toy for Easter, and get books out of the library to help them learn about chicks. But leave the live ones for the petting zoo, please.