If you are a farmer living in Kenya and you are constantly losing a large percentage of your chickens to predatory hawks, what do you do? You've tried everything, but because you are raising free-range poultry there are limits on how to protect your flock. The answer – paint the chickens purple.
Fortunately, for the farmers, hawks find this camouflage technique confusing. The hawks do not associate the colour purple with chickens and confuse them for a popular ornamental bird that locals keep as pets – a bird that hawks are not interested in. As a result, the hawks now ignore the chickens. The Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture has authorized the use of an organic, purple food-based dye which does not harm either the chicken’s meat or eggs.
“I am no longer keeping vigil over the chicks. Previously it was a task for me to keep watch and scare off the hawks,” says one farmer. “I want to have as many as I can since managing the chicken on free range is less laborious and there are enough termites for them to feed on. With the chicken dye, I am sure of an intact brood.”