In Asia, chickens with striking plumage have long been kept for ornamental purposes, including feather-footed varieties such as the Cochin from Vietnam, the Silkie from China, and the extremely long-tailed Phoenix from Japan. Asian ornamental varieties were imported into the United States and Great Britain in the late 1800s. Distinctive American varieties of chickens have been developed from these Asian breeds. Poultry fanciers began keeping these ornamental birds for exhibition, a practice that continues today. Individuals in rural communities commonly keep chickens for both ornamental and practical value.
Farm owners insist the non-toxic dye is harmless and temporary, disappearing as the animals grow their new feathers.
“It’s something we’ve done at Easter time for the last few years,” Phyllis Burney, fiancee of owner Anthony Schmidt, told BBC News Online.
“It’s mainly for the children. They are quite in awe when they come to the farm and see the multi-coloured chicks.