Are Dyed Chicks Just Short-Term Rental Birds?

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In a classic holiday outrage story, The New York Times brings news of animal rights' groups opposition to the practice of dying chicks for Easter presents, but the practice also looks less like a chicken catastrophe and more like an opportunity for farmers to double-dip on chicken sales. The main objection to selling multicolored chicks as holiday novelties comes from the fact that kids tire of them quickly and they're cast aside. But one smart farmer told the paper he took the birds back after their pet appeal wore off. Per The Times' Jennifer A. Kingson:

Until he closed shop in 2008, Mr. Theer sold dyed Easter chicks every year, always telling customers to bring the birds back if their children grew bored with them (which happened routinely). “We sold a lot of them,” he said. “People buy whatever is available. They’ll usually take one or two of each color, maybe 10 or 15 of them. The kids get tired of it pretty quick.”

After they're returned, we assume the chickens go for sale as full-grown birds for meat or eggs. Farmer Peter Theer didn't say what, if any kind of reimbursement he gave families who returned their birds but unless he gave a full refund, the whole rent-a-chick thing sounds like a nifty side business to regular chicken farming -- if a little hard on the birds.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.