North Carolina State Fair

State Fair chicks euthanized

Posted October 27, 2010 6:44 p.m. EDT

— The adorable baby chicks that make their debut at the State Fair each fall have a very short life.

The chicks are among the more popular attractions at the fair, where children and adults line up for a chance to hold and stroke them.

When the fair is over, however, the chicks are euthanized with carbon dioxide. About 50 chicks were put down after this year's fair, which ended Sunday.

Sam Pardue, the head of the Department of Poultry Science at North Carolina State University, said the process protects other chickens and human health.

The chicks come from an N.C. State hatchery off Lake Wheeler Road, and Pardue said they cannot return to the farm because they may have been exposed to disease while being handled or from sharing a building with turkeys, ducks and other birds.

One sick chick could infect all of the other chickens at the farm, which are bred for their meat.

Pardue said the chicks would usually only live to be about 7 to 9 weeks old before being shipped to a processing plant and then packaged for supermarket sale.