Chicks by Mail?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by skyblu, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. skyblu

    skyblu Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2013
    Devon, UK
    I've just read 2 threads about chicks dying following being mailed out to their new prospective keepers. I'm sure that there are rarely ideal climatic conditions for them to travel in - often too hot or too cold. From what I understand, they are not being delivered by the company sending them, they seem to be travelling via some sort of courier or mainline postal service - is this really the case? Are the carriers aware that live creatures are on-board? what happens to them if they break down/crash/get delayed? are they carriers who are trained to deal with livestock on-board? Are the vehicles equipped to combat the weather conditions within the cargo area?

    I'm in the UK and I've never come across this before - so please don't just shoot me down for questioning this. I really am interested to know why it is done this way. I can only find a very small amount of places in the UK that will even deliver live chickens of any age - and if they do, it is with their own fully trained drivers (trained in animal health practices), in their own trucks which are either heated or ventilated accordingly. I'm finding it really hard to believe that chicks are basically just put in a box and posted out...please tell me this isn't the case
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Yes, they are put in a box and mailed. Obviously it is a specially designed box and a specific class of mail. It is done with day old chicks so they have a couple of days of yolk to live on before they actually need to eat and drink. Hatcheries ensure there are enough chicks that they will keep each other warm, or a heat pack is provided. Local post offices typically call the recipient the day they arrive, often at hours like 5 or 6 AM, to pick them up. Hatcheries put phone numbers on the mailing label. At most post offices you can tell the postmaster a day or two ahead that chicks are coming, and they will watch out for them, and call you, and allow pickup hours before the post office is officially open. The vast majority of them arrive alive and well. Like any postal service, occasionally a package is mishandled, probably misdirected in most cases, and the chicks die, or some die. It's hardly perfect. But it's been going on for decades -- and there is no alternative here except to pick them up yourself.

    Older birds are also sometimes shipped. I'm not familiar with how this is done.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I lived in London for a year many decades ago. There were a whole lot of differences between your Postal System and ours way back then. I’ll guess there still are. It’s a little hard to compare then with those differences.

    Our postal service is our only mainline shippers that will accept living chicks. Fed-Ex and UPS won’t carry them. No need to repeat too much of what Flockwatcher said. She got it right.

    The vast majority of the shipped chicks arrive alive and healthy. A truly vast majority. We have different hatcheries that may hatch 80,000 to 100,000 chicks each week in season. I don’t know how many of these are actually shipped through the mail, but a whole lot of them are. With this many, of course you will occasionally have a few problems. Freak weather events especially can mess it up. And if you are one of the people it happens too, you are not going to be happy.

    For the vast majority, it is not anywhere close to a brutal or barbaric practice. It is a pretty efficient system.
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    The Post Office(s) generally DO call for pickup because the box of cheeping chicks or peeping ducklings, goslings, turkey poults are very noisy and can drive 'em nuts throughout the day. :D

    I've had the workers express great relief upon my arrival, BUT they've been hopeful to see the live chicks and jumped at the chance when I've offered to open the box to show them off.

    This also helps document any losses. I've never received an order with dead chicks, but have never ordered any during winter months.
  5. skyblu

    skyblu Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2013
    Devon, UK
    thanks very much for your responses and information. I guess in the end it comes down to the vendors acting responsibly and maintaining good animal welfare practices to minimise risks: these don't seem to have done - not even a heat pad I wonder how many others they've sent out like this?

    As Flockwatcher says - 'it's hardly perfect', but I guess it is workable if those companies bear in mind that they are dealing with living creatures and not just a commodity. They'd be better off dealing in something mineral or vegetable if they can't even be bothered to take basic precautionary measures to ensure that they are not inflicting suffering.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by