Every spring, the demand for Easter chicks and bunnies increases at hatcheries and farms – and chicks are hatched at increasing rates to ensure that supply meets this demand. In the U.S. alone, 9 billion baby chickens are raised for food. Worldwide, this number tops 50 billion. This loss of life is compounded by the demand for Easter chicks. Every year, countless baby chicks are sold to consumers looking to give their children a living Easter gift. Animal welfare societies nationwide condemn this practice.
Sadly, chicks given to children as Easter presents often succumb to injuries sustained from improper feeding, housing, and care. Many of them are abandoned in the wilderness and very few of these chicks ever make it to adulthood.
But how did Easter – a holiday that celebrates rebirth and provides a time to reflect and a reason to rejoice – become synonymous with mass-producing and selling baby animals?
Easter is a time to gather around our families, both human and nonhuman. For some, the holiday conjures up images of bright, carefully hidden eggs, Easter bunnies (both real and chocolate), and baskets laden with candies. At Pasado’s Safe Haven, Easter is a time to celebrate and respect all life in a loving and cruelty-free fashion. Regardless of our beliefs or backgrounds, animals are sewn into the fabric of this holiday. From donkeys to ducklings to bunnies to baby chicks, these animals, both imaginary and real, remain integral parts of the celebration. Irrespective of your beliefs or background, Easter can be a time to compassionately celebrate cruelty-free living.
With the recent case of Daizen Farms and the deaths of 40,000 hens, now more than ever consumers need to practice compassionate consumption every day of the year. While eggs and chicks are emblematic of the Easter holiday, these hens were seen as commodities, not as the sentient beings that they were. And not so long ago, chickens were subjected to a different interpretation of celebrating the holiday. For years, grade schools in Washington State had participated in kindergarten “embryology” projects, with expectant students watching as chicks hatched from eggs that had been incubated in classrooms.
While the intent of the project was to teach by visual example, the end result was often tragic for the animals and traumatic for the children. The incubators would fail, the cord would get bumped out, and, inevitably, many chicks perished. Those chicks who did survive the experiment found themselves with caretakers who hadn’t realized the constant care that was required. Both baby chicks and baby ducklings require almost continuous monitoring during their first few weeks of life, and this is a task that can be overwhelming in the face of inexperience.
More than 1,000 of these chicks were discarded annually, “set free” in the country where they were ill-prepared to face the perils of the wild. Unlike wild birds, domesticated birds are unable to cope with the risks of predators, inclement weather, and foraging for their own food, and setting them “free” is essentially a death sentence.
But this year, there is much to celebrate. Thanks to the dedication of the Pasado’s Safe Haven staff, these animals are celebrating another Easter where they are free from this cruel fate. Pasado’s illuminated the risks behind the handling of baby chicks and baby ducklings, revealing ethical and health-related concerns that facilitated the discontinuation of the project. Pasado’s notified the school districts that chicks often carry harmful bacteria called Salmonella. According to the CDC, each spring there are cases of children who become infected with Salmonella after they have received a baby chick or duckling for Easter. Fortunately, schools are no longer participating in a project that endangers the life of animals and risks the spread of contagious bacteria.
For the chicks who may be purchased at feed stores, pet stores, and hatcheries, we hope that families follow suit – and find other wonderful ways to celebrate the holiday. You and your family can enjoy a plant-based Easter morning brunch, exploring together recipes that are humane and delicious. You can also fill holiday baskets with seasonal flowers like marigolds, daffodils, or Easter lily bulbs, which are symbolic of the season. And if having a living reminder of the holiday is truly important to you, consider planting a garden, complete with flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Each spring, your garden will be an integral part of your Easter holiday, truly celebrating rebirth.
In the spirit of the holiday, it is fitting to have our animals at the center of our homes and hearts. When we gather with our friends and family, it is important to remember the animals in our households and beyond.
Reconsider purchasing live animals like chicks, ducklings, and bunnies. An impulsive holiday act can easily become a fifteen-year commitment, and animals purchased for one Easter are likely to last for the next ten to fifteen Easters. Instead, consider an animal sponsorship at Pasado’s Safe Haven. Animals who have suffered abuse and neglect are given a second chance at life, and you can aid in an animal’s symbolic rebirth. Can you help an animal to celebrate Easter? Donate to save a life by clicking here.
Thank you – and Happy Easter, from all of the animals here at Pasado’s Safe Haven!