Rescue Ducks & Chicks {and why you shouldn’t buy live animals this Easter}


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Easter is a time for new beginnings, but buying live animals like chicks, ducks, and rabbits as gifts is not the way to celebrate. While it may seem cute and cuddly at first, the reality is that these animals require a lot of care and attention. Before you make the mistake of buying a live animal as an Easter gift, here’s why you should reconsider and opt for a more responsible and ethical way to celebrate this holiday.

Why You Should Not Buy Live Animals for Easter

Buying live animals like chicks, ducks, and rabbits as Easter gifts may seem like a fun and cute way to celebrate the holiday, but it’s a decision that has serious consequences for both the animals and their new owners.

As you probably know, animals require a lot of care and attention, including proper housing, food, and medical care. Buying animals is not a decision that should be taken lightly, even for something as tiny as a wee little chick. I’t a long-term commitment to provide for any animal’s needs.

Sadly, many people buy baby farm animals without considering the long-term responsibility that comes with owning them. When the novelty of having a cute and fluffy chick wears off, they end up abandoned or neglected. This can lead to a heartbreaking outcome for the animal, as well as causing unnecessary financial and environmental burden for the community.

Moreover, buying live animals as Easter gifts is a bad idea financially and environmentally. It’s not only the cost of purchasing the animal but also the ongoing cost of caring for it adds up quickly. Additionally, these animals are often shipped from out-of-state, causing a significant carbon footprint and contributing to the unsustainable practices of the commercial breeding industry.

Overall, buying live animals as Easter gifts is not a responsible or ethical way to celebrate the holiday. Instead, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate Easter that don’t involve animal cruelty, such as attending an Easter egg hunt or participating in a community service project. Let’s make sure that our Easter celebrations are joyful and kind for everyone involved.

My Experience Taking in Animals Bought for Easter

Here’s how I ended up learning how to raise meat birds. A friend called me and told me the following story: “A neighbor came over tonight and said her teen daughter bought 6 chicks and 2 ducks without her permission. They cannot return them, so are looking for a home. They are about 3 weeks old. Not feathered out. Free! Not sure of breed or sex. Are you interested?”

I’m such a big sucker, I replied immediately – Yup. You see, my very own oldest daughter has been scheming. She would love to take care of her own flock of birds and sell the eggs. We think this would be a great project for her {I have such a high demand for my own eggs that I cannot keep up} and the thought of 6 free chicks for her to take care of was very appealing. I’ve been dreaming about adding ducks ever since I got my own chicks last year, so I thought 2 cute little ducklings would be perfect. And I’m also a sucker for free. Who am I kidding?

Anyway, Kelli was thrilled and said she and her husband John would be out with the birds on Saturday. I didn’t tell my kids, because I have learned the hard way that often these things go wrong. Better not to over promise! So, Kelli called me on Saturday and said the birds were absolutely NOT as described.

They were living in horrible conditions – stuck in a tote in the basement with no access to natural light. Very small living quarters. Very little access to food and water. AND – older, bigger, and way uglier than described and almost completely feathered out. You don’t have to take them, she said. We can call the whole thing off.

cornish cross meat bird - rescued ducks and chicks

Jeeze – how could I say no at that point? I told her to bring them out. We have room. I hate to hear about animals suffering. And I hoped they would still be useful.

Rescue Ducks & Chicks {and why you shouldn't buy live animals this Easter}

Long story short, John and Kelli showed up with the birds and we saw first hand what Kelli meant. The ducks are almost completely grown. The chicks were the absolute ugliest things I’ve ever seen.

We put them in the box we used last year when we started our own chicks, and the ducks immediately jumped out ran around my kitchen. Always thinking on his feet, my husband grabbed a bunch of cardboard and made the box taller. Yes, this is a picture of my modified red-neck chicken box. Hey, it works!

Anyway, the chicks have HUGE feet. They have a weird bald spot and really big “shoulder” areas. They are seriously ugly. I’ve had chicks before. We understand about the awkward teenage stage. But these were much worse.

I stared at them and said to Kelli, “They must be meat birds.” They are like no egg laying chick I’ve ever seen. Kelli told me I could still change my mind. They’d take them back. But I tell you what.

We put those birds in our red-neck chick box, under the lovely glow of natural light, gave them organic chick starter and water, and all 8 of those birds ate and drank like there was no tomorrow. In fact, they ate most of the day. I couldn’t send them back.

But I was worried about the chicks. So I turned to social media Instagram & facebook – my go-to sources for all things homesteading. I posted pictures and starting asking other people. I also googled Cornish meat birds and decided that’s what they must be. And my sources concur. It would appear we are the proud new owners of 4ish week old Cornish meat birds. In a way I’m glad. We have been kicking around the idea of raising meat birds, but honestly, the idea worries me a little. Now that we have them, we have no choice.

Rescue Ducks & Chicks {and why you shouldn't buy live animals this Easter}2

My daughter was sad that they aren’t egg layers. The kids are all a little apprehensive about the idea of meat birds, but I think it will be okay. We’ll give these birds a good life. A much better life than they had stuck in a box in a dark basement. The have a nice big box. They have food. They have water. They’ll get to go outside and scratch around. The chicks have settled into life in the barn and appear to be doing well.

Rescue Ducks & Chicks {and why you shouldn't buy live animals this Easter}

And the ducks have moved outside. I spent the day on Sunday cleaning out my chicken coop. It’s really a two stalled hog shed, and my chicken flock lives in one side. I had been storing hay, food, and supplies on the other side.

Rescue Ducks & Chicks {and why you shouldn't buy live animals this Easter}3

The ducks are really messy and seemed to be stressing the chicks out a bit, so we put the ducklings outside in the other side of the chicken coop. They are having such a fun time swimming in a tiny pool of water and learning what the ground feels like. I can’t wait to open up the yard and let them roam. And we’re all in love.

Not all rescue birds have a happy ending like this though.

Alternatives to Buying Live Animals for Easter

If you’re looking for alternatives to live animals at Easter, there are plenty. Here are just a few of the ways you

Stuffed animals:

Children can still have the joy of holding and cuddling with a soft, cuddly stuffed animal without the added responsibility of caring for a live animal.

Easter crafts:

Encourage creativity and imagination with Easter-themed crafts that are fun for the whole family to make together.

Make Your Own Waldorf Play Silks is a fun spring craft

Easter eggs:

Instead of a live animal, give children the opportunity to dye and decorate Easter eggs. It’s a fun and interactive activity that doesn’t require any long-term care. We have lots of fun ways you can decorate Easter Eggs on the blog. Check out these posts:

Use Natural Easter Egg Dyes to Create a Beautiful Rainbow of Eggs

How to Dye Easter Eggs with Kool-Aid

Easter-themed books:

Give the gift of reading with Easter-themed children’s books. This is a great way to encourage children to learn more about the holiday and its traditions.

Gardening supplies:

Teach children about the importance of growing and nurturing plants by giving them gardening supplies like seeds, pots, and soil.

So, do me a favor. Don’t buy live animals in the spring because you think they’re cute or to give as gifts this Easter season. They are breathing, feeling animals. They deserve nice homes. They grow big. They get ugly. They eat a lot. They poop a lot. They take care and commitment.  Unless you’re ready to take that on, walk on by the cute little balls of fluff and get a nice chocolate bunny instead. Please tell all your friends.

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. You guys are amazing! Thank you so much for doing right by these living creatures.

  2. I have a chicken coop with 12 spoiled chickens that are better trained than my dogs plus 4 ducks. (chickens are remarkably easy to train! Ducks not so much.) I bought 2 chickens 4 years ago and have not bought any sense. So how did I end up with so many? Neighbors! They buy chicks and ducklings for their kids for Easter. A few days after Easter I start getting “Mystery boxes” on my front door step. Some of them survive, some of them are too far gone when I get them.

    Since next weekend is Easter, I will spend the day setting up the brooder box, etc. and waiting. Last year I got 10 meat chickens, 6 layers and 2 ducks with a 60% survival rate. What I can’t figure out is: What did they do with them before they started abandoning them on my doorstep?

    1. How wonderful of you to take in the chicks. I hate to think about all the others. I’m so sad to see our local farm store getting in a huge shipment of chicks on Wednesday – just days before Easter. Why do people think buying living creatures for a holiday is a good idea at all?