Chicks Thru the Mail – Part 2: Bittersweet

The babies have arrived and you can be sure that I’ll be posting pictures soon.  I have a big pile of fluffy, peeping sweetness under my brooder lights right now and I’m thrilled about that.  But things did not go entirely as planned or expected, so I must tell that story first.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ordered my chicks from My Pet Chicken, an internet poultry and poultry product merchant with a good reputation. One of their claims to fame is that you can order small numbers of chicks. Most hatcheries only ship large numbers of chicks because they need a certain number to maintain thermal mass so the chicks don’t get too cold. My Pet Chicken ships with a “heat source” which is basically a fancy name for one of those pouches that generates heat due to a chemical reaction. I chose to go that route because I could choose a wide variety of breeds all at once to start my flock. While most of the breeds I chose are available locally, finding them all at once would be difficult.

My chicks hatched and were shipped Priority Mail from Ohio last Monday. I fully expected them to arrive at my post office by Tuesday morning.  Only the Post Office handles chicks, by the way. FedEx & UPS won’t ship live animals. Something I did not know and that was not made clear on the My Pet Chicken website (though it is very clear on the USPS web site) is that Priority Mail is guaranteed to arrive “within 72 hours” of when it is mailed. Keep in mind that 72 hours is the outer boundary for chick survival without food or water.

I was concerned when the chicks didn’t arrive on Tuesday and was very concerned when they hadn’t come by Wednesday.  My chicks did not arrive until Thursday.  Five were dead on receipt and one more died within a few hours of receipt. Two more died during the course of the afternoon. Two more died Thursday night. I lost nine of sixteen chicks within a day of receipt. I was devastated.

As I discussed in my May 30 post, I also had three Silkie chicks on order at Houle’s Forest Lake store, and when I went to Houle’s on Friday, I was able to get some additional “spur of the moment” chicks. Thus, a week into this, I have 20 happy, healthy, lively chicks – seven from My Pet Chicken and thirteen from Houle’s.  Houle’s, by the way, gets their chicks from an out-of-state hatchery – through the mail.

In the meantime, I’ve had several conversations with the folks at My Pet Chicken. They honestly seem to be as disturbed about this as I am. I can report this about my shipment: 1-For reasons nobody can explain, it took three days for the chicks to arrive here from Ohio. In that same period they report that they shipped chicks to California that arrived overnight. Also, they’ve told me that nobody else reported dead chicks from their Monday shipment. 2-The weather during the time the chicks were shipping was unusually cool. 3-The heat source was left out of my shipping box, thus the chicks spent the first three days of their lives at room temperature or cooler.  Considering these three facts, I’m surprised any of the chicks survived.

My Pet Chicken has refunded me for the dead chicks and a prorated shipping charge. They offered to ship more chicks to me.  I declined.

That’s the story. The epilogue is that I am enjoying my babies tremendously. I spend way too much of my day just watching them. The My Pet Chicken originals are a week old today and are already developing little wing feathers. After the rocky start things are going to be OK!

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