Egg shipping problems and pressure changes

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by KYTinpusher, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. KYTinpusher

    KYTinpusher Master Enabler

    4,468
    393
    286
    Sep 3, 2011
    Northern KY
    Today I candled all 15 of the eggs that are still developing in my incubator. It is day 15 and I was specifically looking at the air cells to see if they looked large enough. On most of the eggs that were shipped, it was difficult to tell if the cells were the right size because they were misshapen, like this:

    [​IMG]

    I believe the above egg was subjected to a rather severe pressure change during shipping.

    The cells in the eggs from our own chickens were normal. While this is not surprising, it did get me to thinking (always a dangerous thing! [​IMG] ) I did a search about pressure changes and eggs, but only found a couple of posts that brushed on the subject.

    I know that USPS has a bad reputation for playing rough with shipped eggs and causing the problems. While it may be true on occasion, I think overall it is not their fault (no I don't work for USPS) - I will explain why and I hope we can start a discussion going on how to pack eggs for shipping that may help alleviate a lot of the problems.

    Most eggs that are shipped are done so either priority or express, which means most likely they are going to go by air, unless they are staying fairly close. Traveling by air, the eggs will be exposed to fairly rapid pressure changes. Just how rapid and how much the pressure changes is very dependent on the individual aircraft(and pilot) that the package ends up on. Most people who have flown are familiar with the ear-popping that can happen during a climb or descent due to the changes in cabin pressure. The pilots of passenger flights usually work hard to keep the effect of these changes on the passengers to a minimum by making "low profile" or shallower climbs/descents. Most passenger airplanes will also avoid turbulence like the plague. We often joke at work that airline pilots do not like to get their airplanes wet because they try not to go anywhere near a rainstorm, which also helps them avoid most turbulence. All of this makes for a pretty comfortable ride for the passengers and any luggage/packages that happen to be on board.

    But most USPS packages do not fly on passenger airplanes, and freighters can be a whole different story. This is a subject I happen to know a bit about. I won't go into all of the specifics, but it is not uncommon for freighter aircraft to make "high profile" or rapid climbs/descents. Not all freighter flights are pressurized, either, and even though unpressurized flights don't climb too high, it is probably enough to damage an unprotected egg air cell. Most freighter pilots are not afraid to get their airplanes wet, either. They will usually go straight through light and moderate weather and turbulence - they are more concerned with being on time than on being comfortable. On occasions when I have offered to vector them around the weather, their response has been, "Thanks anyway, but packages don't complain!" The pressure changes under these conditions can be rapid and drastic. This would play havoc with the eggs' air cells and I would imagine it could even cause eggs to explode given the right circumstances.

    So, how do we package eggs to withstand these conditions? The eggs would need to be enclosed in a rigid, airtight container and well cushioned. A container that could withstand the kind of pressure changes that we are talking about might be rather expensive, relatively speaking, but could probably be used many times, making it well worth the investment, especially if hatch rates on expensive breeds could be increased significantly. When I used to breed bettas (fish), they would often be shipped in small styrofoam coolers. Many shippers would give the buyer a credit if they returned the empty cooler and outside shipping box in useable condition. The same could be done for a special egg shipping container.

    So, does anyone have any ideas about what could be used?
     
  2. pete55

    pete55 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,743
    77
    171
    Feb 19, 2011
    Suffolk, UK
    Hi

    I've had similar air cells with shipped eggs but did not travel by air. It appears ther main problem is rough handling. The membrane detaches and the aircell appears mis-shaped tending to follow the contours of the developing chick. It appears the chick rises up in the middle and the aircell drops away on the sides giving the abnormal appearence. I've still had them hatch though.

    However you make an excellent point about shipping by air and the pressure changes the eggs are subjected to. Futhermore are they held in the cabin or in the hold? It would be nice to have more answers especially as I'm hopng to import some hatching eggs from the States next year.

    Pete [​IMG]
     
  3. KYTinpusher

    KYTinpusher Master Enabler

    4,468
    393
    286
    Sep 3, 2011
    Northern KY
    Hello Pete,

    I believe most if not all packages are carried in the hold. I could be wrong, but most freighters only have a cockpit and a cargo hold, except for the long-haul freighters that have a small cabin for the extra crew to rest during a long flight.

    I am curious, have you checked into the regulations for importing eggs from the States? Is it complicated?
     
  4. pete55

    pete55 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,743
    77
    171
    Feb 19, 2011
    Suffolk, UK
    Hi

    I think it should be fairly straight forward as long as they're in batches of no more than 20 eggs. Obviously certification and permits will be required at both ends but for the UK the rules are more relaxed for these smaller shipments [​IMG]
     
  5. pete55

    pete55 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,743
    77
    171
    Feb 19, 2011
    Suffolk, UK
    Hi

    I think it should be fairly straight forward as long as they're in batches of no more than 20 eggs. Obviously certification and permits will be required at both ends but for the UK the rules are more relaxed for these smaller shipments [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by