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Is It Legal to Dye Baby Chickens?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

As Easter approaches, some traditions may call for dyeing baby chickens in pastel greens, blues, and yellows.

But not only is the practice of dyeing Easter chicks questionably moral, it may be illegal in your state.

Chicks Colored While Incubating

The process of dyeing baby chicks is fairly invasive. According to Wikihow, while a chick is in its 11th to 14th day of incubation, the egg is punctured with a hypodermic needle and colored dye is injected. The egg is then resealed with melted wax and the chick is incubated until it hatches.

The New York Times also notes that chicks can be "sprayed" with the dye once they hatch, and both are methods that poultry farmers consider "harmless."

But some state lawmakers disagree.

Florida's Ban on Dyeing Chicks

Florida had a 45-year-old ban on dyeing animals that was lifted on July 1, 2012, much to the dismay of animal rights activists. The ban had upset some dog groomers in the Sunshine State who were worried about being prosecuted for coloring pampered pets.

Various celebrities have been criticized (and publicized) for arriving on the scene with pink-and-purple pups, and dog salons wanted the option to be open to them.

But one year later, the Florida legislature amended the state's animal cruelty laws to once again prohibit the dyeing of certain animals -- specifically rabbits and chickens. Since July 2013, Floridians have been barred from coloring or dyeing an animal under 12 weeks of age or "a fowl or rabbit of any age."

Dyeing chicks in Florida can land you in jail for up to 60 days.

Other States' Laws

While other states may not have specific laws relating to coloring chickens, every state has laws addressing animal cruelty. Some states' laws are weaker than others, but coloring animals without legal advice is flirting with criminal penalties.

In California, it is a misdemeanor to dye or color chicks, rabbits, or ducklings, while in Massachusetts it is only punishable by a $100 fine.

Even practices which have colorable uses, like dog tattooing, are likely to stir up trouble with local law enforcement. Dyeing baby chickens for fun, on the other hand, gives no benefit to the animal and is arguably cruel and unnecessary.

Our advice: Stick to dyeing eggs, not chicks, this Easter.

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