New to Ordering Chicks by Mail...


6 Years
Aug 10, 2013
Barnesville, PA
And I have a very silly question, but it is one that is really concerning me.

I'm ordering 15 pullets from Cackle Hatchery. 5 Speckled Sussex, 5 Easter Eggers, and 5 Welsummers. I'm planning on raising them all to a few weeks old and then giving all but one or two of each to my Aunt. Reason being I can only accommodate at most 4 to 5 more chickens with my current setup but had to get their minimum order of 15 chicks for shipping.

So my big question is how exactly do they pack them for shipping? I'm assuming all together so they can snuggle and keep each other warm. (unlike the tropical fish I've ordered countless times that come packed neatly in their own separate and labeled breather bags)
If the chicks do come, as I'm assuming, all packed together, how in the WORLD am I going to tell them apart? Or do I just have to wait till they start feathering in to tell which is which breed?
They'll all come in the same box to keep each other warm and you'll have to wait till they feather. Those breeds will all look like chipmunks as chicks. After a little while the EEs may develop muffs and as adolescents the Welsummers and Sussex feathering will begin to be very different.
Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
I know the EE's we hatched and raised this past summer were chipmunk colored except for two white ones. And I kinda had a feeling with the Speckled Sussex and Welsummers having more "traditional" base coloring they'd probably be chipmunk colored as babies as well.

So this means I will have to not only make preparations for a brooder for fifteen newborn chicks but also a larger area to raise fifteen chicks up to about a month or more old till they have enough of their adult feathering that I can tell which is which and pick out the ones we want to keep.

Well on the bright side I'm sure it's going to be exciting and loads of fun watching them grow and change into their final breeds. ^_^
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Mine came in a box divided into quadrants with quarter sized holes in the sides and lid. They put about 5 birds in each quadrant so they are enough to keep each other warm but not so many that they would get trampled.

Something I learned the hard way- just because the hatchery ships birds so that they can get there in 2 days doesn't mean the postal service can do it. Mine missed the one truck per day that comes to my post office. They sat in a post office three hours away for a extra 12 hours and then had several more hours until they were finally delivered. Over half perished.

I had done my research and ordered from a very reputable hatchery, but once they hand the box over to the postal service they can't do any more.

Consider ordering from the closest hatchery possible and maybe do some research on the USPS shipping routes to help make sure you'll get your birds in good condition.

I felt so guilty.
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I don't have much to say as I've never had chicks mailed in nor have I owned Sussex or Welsummers before, but EE's don't always look like chipmunks.

I find often they are darker, almost black, with eyeliner (or sometimes without), they can be chipmunk ranging from very light, almost white, to darker, closer to the black. They can be white chicks, or they can be reddish, which usually feathers in half white/half red, or any variation. Basically, if any of the chicks don't look like welsummers or sussex, they have got to be the EEs, but probably you'll still end up with 2+ that you can't tell are EEs without fluffy face (muffs) and the leg coloring.

Furthermore I think that SS are a bit darker up top and have light bellies, more like a RIR with chipmunk patterning than the EEs, which in my experience are more like white leghorns with chipmunk patterning. I think Wellies are the same way.
If you don't really need that many chicks, why not order from another hatchery that has a smaller order? Meyer Hatchery and MyPetChicken both will let you order as few as 3 chicks. However, you should order very soon before the cold temps set in. Fewer chicks means less heat. I have used Meyer in the past and all arrived ok. I believe MyPetChicken uses Meyer to fill most of their orders.

Or even better, check Craigslist right now. In my area in Maryland, there are chicks from lots of different sources. You might have to drive a little to get what you want, but you can guarantee that they will arrive home, something that the Post Office cannot do. I recently had the Post Office misplace a shipment of Cream Legbars that I had ordered from Green Fire Farms. The Post Office found it at the sorting facility the next day, but some did not make it. Just some advice: be prepared for more chicks than you order to arrive. So if you do end up going with the 15 order, you might end up with 5 extra sent as "packing peanuts". And the extras may or not be the same breeds that you ordered.
Most hatcheries will mark chicks by breed/sex if you ask them to. You usually have to call them on the phone to ask them yo do it. I actually like to order at least twice as many chicks as I want to wind up with in case of loss or surprise roos. If you are only ordering 15 they will usually come in a small box that is one compartment.
I ordered from and I have nothing bad to say! My first order was for 8 chicks and they were shipped on a Monday and I received them on Tuesday morning. A week later I ordered 4 more chicks and the shipment was the same.
Both orders were shipped in a vented box with a heat pad. I can't wait to order more!

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