I recently received some Twentse chicks from Greenfire. Same issues as before, but a little bit different...
Nine chicks shipped on Monday afternoon. I knew exactly when they would be arriving so I was at the Post Office bright and early on Wednesday morning. The total time in transit was only 36 hours, minimizing handling, delays, etc. I clipped the tie-wrap right there in front of the Postmaster to find six chicks upright with three trampled down and covered with GroGel. I harshly criticized the USPS handling of packages as this was not the first (or second...) time I have had bird issues or losses.
Luckily, and I believe this is due to minimizing total time in transit, all nine chicks were still alive. I rushed home and put the six healthy chicks in my brooder. They seemed lethargic and exhausted (unlike my recent shipment of Isbars), but I introduced them to water and feed. I examined the three trampled chicks to find they were a bit cold and now suffered from splayed legs. My hypothesis is that they got jostled pretty early on, got bumped into the GroGel cups and got sticky (which doesn't help with movement) and cold (the gelatin will slowly rob the chick of body heat due to evaporation). Mostly immobilized, the other chicks either willfully or accidentally stepped on them over and over. Good times, right?
The three splayed leg chicks are sitting in the bottom of my incubator, in isolation...but warm, so they can recuperate. I'm using the split Band Aid method of gently binding their legs together. I have some water and feed with them; the water has an electrolyte and vitamin powder added. They don't seem super-stoked about being hobbled, but they are perky (most likely thanks to the solution - something I now HIGHLY recommend).
I'm sure GroGel provides a solid electrolyte and nutritional supplement...but only when eaten by the chicks. If it isn't eaten, if it is placed somewhere that the chicks can fall into it, it becomes a huge liability. My recommendation is one of the following:
1. Request GroGel be withheld from shipping. If the chicks are day old, and especially if transit time is as short as it is for me, they will be just fine without it. After all, they should still be absorbing their own yolk sacs.
2. Shippers should affix some kind of modified lid on the GroGel cups, sufficient to allow access via the chicks beaks...but also prohibiting them from falling into the cups.
3. Greenfire glues the cups to the side of the box to prevent them from getting knocked around. My suggestion to them was to use TWO CUPS, glued bottom to bottom to look like an open-ended hourglass. The top cup gets GroGel, the bottom cup gets glued to the box bottom. This way the GroGel is still accessible to the chicks, but the possibility of them walking through it or creating body contact is minimized.
If I ship chicks, I would only provide GroGel upon request. And if I did include it, I would use the methodology of #3 above.