Is it okay to mail order chicks? The explosion of backyard chicken keeping is thanks largely to the hatcheries that make ordering chicks anywhere in the country a cinch. But is it okay to ship live chicks through the mail?

| 24 Feb 2017 | 02:27

The explosion of backyard chicken keeping is thanks largely to the hatcheries that make ordering chicks anywhere in the country a cinch. But is it okay to ship live chicks through the mail?

The truth about those more ‘humane’ eggs

When people get to know chickens, they find they have unique, vivid personalities just like dogs and cats. Unfortunately, there are drastic differences in the way these species are treated. The main dividing factor dictates dogs and cats as pets and chickens (and their eggs) as food. Sadly, chickens do not receive the same rights that our companion animals enjoy, though they are also sentient individuals who require and deserve just as much protection. What’s more, we would all be horrified if the tables were turned and our pets faced the conditions that chickens routinely endure.

Some people, shocked by the horrors that layer hens face on factory farms, seek out “humane” alternatives. The mail-order industry is a popular answer — people like the idea of sourcing eggs from their own flock, so they know where their food is coming from. Sadly, this causes much more harm than people realize. Most people would be outraged if days-old puppies or kittens were crammed into cardboard boxes and shipped across the country without food, water, and protection for days at a time. Sadly, this happens to baby chicks each day. These fragile babies are handled with less care than inanimate objects. In some cases, their future guardians fail to claim them at the post office, and it is rare that they survive the return trip. Even those picked up can arrive sick or deceased.

Since roosters cannot lay eggs, most are slaughtered at the hatcheries. Some are mis-sexed or included as packing material to cushion the hens from harm. This happens to millions of roosters each year. Since many areas are not zoned for roosters, the majority are abandoned or slaughtered as soon as they start to crow. As for the girls, “spent” hens are typically destroyed once their egg production declines and replaced by younger hens.

The reality is that no matter where they spend their lives, chickens used for eggs are valued for the commodity they can produce, rather than the magnificent individuals they truly are. Farm Sanctuary instead advocates rescuing or symbolically adopting a chicken at sanctuary. Together, we can create a compassionate world for all chickens when we value each being as someone, not something.

Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary National Shelter Director

The farm-to-table movement depends on us

The growth of the farm-to-table movement wouldn’t be as successful as it is today without the mail order chick business. McMurray Hatchery has been at the forefront of backyard poultry, assisting our customers with their choice of a sustainable and healthy lifestyle through our selection of chicks. Hobbyists and average consumers desire transparency in their food and rely on the mail order chick industry to supply them with wholesome bird options as an alternative to buying eggs or meat from a large produce supplier.

McMurray Hatchery has been in the mail order chick business for 100 years, working with consumers and the US Post Office to provide a seamless transaction from start to finish. But it hasn’t been without hard work.

We love what we do, and we want our customers to have a positive experience with us. Throughout our 100 years in the industry, McMurray Hatchery has always been mindful of implementing existing shipping standards and we work very closely with post offices and postal routers nationwide. We contact the Post Office three days prior to a shipment to make sure transportation is available, after which we track each and every package to guarantee delivery. Each week we send a report to the post office detailing any complications to avoid future difficulties.

Our customers are our highest priority, but our chicks are the center of our business. In our efforts to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality products, our shipping boxes have been designed specifically for live chick delivery. The sidewalls are slanted with standoffs to ensure proper air circulation and the ventilation holes are adjusted depending on the season. In the early spring months, insulation and layering are added to the box for comfort, while in colder temperatures, 72-hour heat packs can be added to boxes with smaller breeds.

Our extensive experience of over 100 years in the mail order chick industry gives us the confidence we need to continue to supply our customers with healthy and viable chicks. We’re committed to staying on top of the business and supporting our customers’ mission for healthy living.

Bud Wood, president, Murray McMurray Hatchery