How to Dye a Baby Chicken

Two Parts:Inserting DyeCaring for the Eggs

Dyeing chicks is traditionally done to identify chicks from different groups of eggs. It is also done in many wildlife management studies. More commonly today, dyeing chicks is done simply to produce colorful chicks for Easter. While properly dyeing chicken embryos should not harm them, the practice may cause death to the unborn chick if done incorrectly. It's also illegal in some states, so proceed with caution.

Part 1
Inserting Dye

  1. Image titled Dye a Baby Chicken Step 1
    Use chicks in their 11th to 14th day of incubation. It is possible to inject eggs that have been incubated anywhere from 10 to 19 days, but the 11th to 14th period is ideal. Only one injection is necessary if done at this time.[1]
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    Sterilize the egg and needle. Sterilize the outside of the egg and the hypodermic needles. You do not want to introduce bacteria to the embryo which may harm it.[2]
    • Use alcohol pads of 95 percent isopropyl alcohol to thoroughly wipe down the egg and needles.[3]
    • Let the eggshell and utensils dry.
    • Make sure they not become contaminated while drying. For example, place them on a sterile gauze pad.[4]
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    Puncture the eggshell. With the hypodermic needle, slowly and carefully make a small hole in the shell about one half-inch from the small end of the egg.
    • Do not insert the needle too far as this will damage the embryo.
    • Use a different needle for each egg to ensure sterility.
  4. Image titled Dye a Baby Chicken Step 4
    Insert the dye. Extract .5 milliliters of dye from the bottle and insert the tip of the needle into the hole.Slowly and carefully inject the dye into the egg to prevent overflowing.[5]
    • Insert the dye just under the shell and membrane.
    • Use vegetable food coloring as the dye.
    • Use a different needle for each color to keep colors pure.

Part 2
Caring for the Eggs

  1. Image titled Dye a Baby Chicken Step 5
    Seal the hole. Close the hole in the shell with a small drop of melted paraffin, making sure to cover the entirety of the hole.
    • Paraffin can be found at many craft stores.
    • You can use an adhesive bandage if no paraffin is available.[6]
  2. Image titled Dye a Baby Chicken Step 6
    Insert dye and seal the hole within 30 minutes. Do not keep the eggs out of the incubator longer than 30 minutes for the safety of the embryos.
    • Embryos can be damaged if not kept at a high temperature.[7]
  3. Image titled Dye a Baby Chicken Step 7
    Return the eggs to the incubator. Chicks typically take 21 days to hatch.
    • Incubate chicken eggs between 99 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit with 50-65 percent relative humidity.[8]


  • Other birds, such as ducks and geese can also be dyed.
  • The chick will regain its natural color when it loses its down, or baby feathers.
  • Dyeing an embryo properly does not alter the chick's health, appetite, or growth.


  • Some states such as Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, California, Florida and New York have bans on dyeing chicks.
  • It is possible to injure or kill the unborn chick during the dyeing process.
  • State laws are changing so be sure to check the law in your state.[9]


Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable food coloring in concentrations of 2 percent or 3 percent
  • Alcohol pads of 95 percent isopropyl alcohol
  • 20 gauge hypodermic needles
  • Paraffin or sterile adhesive bandage

Article Info

Categories: Chickens