Although the 17th-century French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes absurdly claimed that nonhuman animals are machines, the perception of the
chick and the egg as symbols of birth and the renewal of life persists. And while the hen has been degraded to an “egg-laying machine” by egg
producers in our day and age, the view of the mother hen as the essence of nurturing and protective motherhood survives in our thoughts. Was not the mother
hen invoked in St. Matthew 23:37 to express the spirit of yearning and protective love, and did not the ancient Roman historian and biographer Plutarch
write praisingly of the mother hen in De amore parentis [parental love]? He said:
We have before our eyes every day the manner in which hens care for their brood, drooping their wings for some to creep under, and receiving with joyous
and affectionate clucks others that mount upon their backs or run up to them from every direction; and though they flee from dogs and snakes if they are
frightened only for themselves, if their fright is for their children, they stand their ground and fight it out beyond their strength.
Easter still awakens in many people an awareness of baby chicks and their mothers, although sadly more archetypally than literally in our de-natured,
industrialized society. The modern Easter experience is mainly of eggs detached from their maternal source, nested in cellophane straw in Easter Baskets
and churned out mechanically for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll and for children’s Easter Egg Hunts.
Ironically, today’s children look for eggs that were laid by a hen imprisoned in a wire cage in a mechanized building and most baby chicks they see
are in miserable batches in boxes at feed stores like Tractor Supply and Agway.
While the average customer passing by sees cute baby chicks, most do not recognize the suffering these birds are experiencing in being in bright lights and
noise, with no place to hide or rest the way chicks would normally do, periodically throughout the day, by running under their mother hen’s wings and
being comforted by her care. Any sense of a parent bird carefully tending her young is lost when chicks are hatched in a mechanical incubator and displayed
as if they were inanimate objects instead of living beings with needs.
Most surviving chicks are doomed to a life expectancy of a few days or weeks spent miserably. Young chicks need nurturing and rest. They are difficult to
feed in a store and can suffer from starvation and dehydration that is not even noticed by the employees or by those who buy a little chick for a child who
quickly loses interest.
If you enter a store with baby chicks for sale in a bin, please complain to the manager and urge them to stop selling chicks. If you can stick to it, tell
them you will no longer shop there until they stop. Complain to the store’s headquarters, and write a letter to the editor of your local paper to
educate readers about the cruelty these birds are suffering as throwaway “Easter” toys.
323 Lockhouse Road
Westfield, MA 01085
Contact Tractor Supply:
Tractor Supply Company
Attn: Customer Solutions Center
200 Powell Place
Brentwood, TN 37027
What Else Can I Do?
Please choose compassionate vegan alternatives to eggs. As you can see by looking at the Agway and Tractor Supply websites, the hatchery business is big
business, and chicks are as cheap and expendable in this business as toothpicks. For Ethical Easter Eggs, check out https://www.eggnots.com: “Created to bring the Easter coloring experience to children & families affected
by egg allergies, as well as vegan households.”