Two day old New Hampshire Red chicks. Suffolk police cited...

Two day old New Hampshire Red chicks. Suffolk police cited several business for selling chicks too young for legal sale as Easter approaches. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Only days before Easter, three Suffolk County businesses have been charged with misdemeanor offenses for selling days-old baby chicks in quantities less than those allowed by state law.

The newborn birds, officials said, are often sold to individuals who use them as decorations or give them as gifts during the holiday, then get rid of them in parks where the chicks can die.

State Agricultural law prohibits the sale of baby chicks, ducklings, other fowl, and bunnies that are under two months of age in quantities less than six or those that have been artificially colored with dye. Violations are punishable with up to one year in jail and a $500 fine.

“Sometimes, these animals are also dyed bright colors which can cause illness and death to the animal," said Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney. "I remind everyone that animals are not toys or merchandise."

In recent weeks, the District Attorney's office, working with Suffolk police, said they investigated businesses that were illegally selling baby chicks. 

Misdemeanor citations were issued to:

  • Long Island Poultry in Calverton, which sold four baby chicks to undercover detectives on March 3, officials said. Business owner Wayne Meyer said many customers don't want six baby chicks and end up discarding the excess animals in the woods or ponds "and then we end up rescuing these animals all across Long Island. So the actual law is ridiculous. It creates a lot of abandoned animals," he said. 
  • Raleigh Poultry Farm in Kings Park, which sold three baby chicks to detectives on March 23, authorities said. Business owner Catherine Raleigh said she was not aware of the citations and that the company always sells only six or more baby chicks.
  • Agway of Port Jefferson in Mount Sinai, which prosecutors contend sold two baby chicks to detectives on April 3. Minutes later, authorities said the business sold four additional baby chicks to another detective. The business declined to comment.

All three business received citations on Tuesday and are due to appear in Suffolk County First District Court on April 24. 

John Di Leonardo, executive director of Humane Long Island, said baby animals require daily care and safe housing but that "impulsive customers" put them in Easter baskets and later abandon them in local parks.

“The only animal that belongs in an Easter basket is a stuffed animal or one made of chocolate," Di Leonardo said.

Information about the illegal sale of baby animals can be sent to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at


Latest videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months