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Protest or Protect – Shipping Chicks

September 8, 2014

blogchicksIt’s not unusual anymore to get requests to sign some petition on or elsewhere. The topic varies and usually comes with someone, or a group of someones, who just learn of something that sounds horrible. Rather than going to ask, they gather with others who may or may not have preconceived views that are more opinion than reality.




Consider this one –

A post on Facebook today had me livid and I felt compelled to start a petition.

The original post is here


Yesterday I was at the post office and heard the familiar sound of newly hatched chicks. They were calling out from inside a pair of cardboard boxes on the counter. No mama. No food. No water. Yes, the shipping of live, day-old baby chicks is a booming business in the States. I noted that the boxes had a website address for Here’s what the company has to say about the ordeal the chicks go through:

“When you get them home, be prepared: one or two may have died in shipping or may be on their way out. Some chicks are born less hardy than others and can’t withstand the stress and cold temperatures involved in transporting them around the country. Most hatcheries, in fact, prepare for that by including an extra bird or two for free. Care for the weak birds as best you can, and bury the dead…”

The site goes on to warn parents not to open the boxes in front of their children because of the trauma of seeing dead and dying baby animals….

It’s quite hard to believe that this business is perfectly legal.

This company *is* transparent – sometimes chicks die. They prepare the new owner for the possibility that a chick might have died. MyPetChicken caters to the backyard chicken movement. If you order from Cackles, Murray McMurray or others they have a minimum shipment of 25 chicks…the reason for this is warmth. Unfortunately, sometimes chicks die, sometimes they fade out and that happens if home or in transit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“No mama. No food. No water.” Horrible! But wait – let’s stop emotion just a moment and think – just a moment. If you are ordering baby chicks do you expect the mama? Do you have a mama at home to adopt them? Experience here is not all older hens are welcoming of baby chicks and many attack them. They are hatched, raised, live and die without knowing their mother. Within a couple of days they eat, drink and survive , with luck, under a heat source that keeps them at 95* for the first week, decreasing 5 degrees per week until they can handle cooler temperatures.

Before a chick hatches, they draw up the yolk which provides the nourishment needed for the first day or so. Most chicks at home don’t eat that first day (I’ve had a couple of exceptions but not many!) Even if offered water, most don’t drink that first day, sometimes two.

Not all babies live. Even humans, as well as cattle, foals, lambs, puppies, rabbits – and chicks. Sometimes they seem strong then die. Sometimes they live. Sometimes there’s no explanation.  The fact that chicks are mortal offends the delicate sensibilities of those whom, it seems, think if they love it enough it will live. If they love small farms enough they’ll thrive even if they do nothing, when in fact this is protecting us to death.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout shipping many rare breeds will cease to be – extinct. If breeders cannot transport chicks to other breeders, the breeds die.

Without shipping small farms that order chicks can no longer do so without driving to the hatchery – which will no longer be able to survive just the small local areas.

Those large scale operations that hatch hundreds of thousands of birds and distribute to barns of 30,000 – what some call “factory farms” – they don’t ship birds postal service so aren’t affected by a ban on shipping. Small farms ARE affected.

Sometimes birds die. Sometimes there’s a delay on an airport runway and they get cold, or sometimes a box gets lost and it’s too late when found. But for tens of thousands of birds, they go to their new homes by fast shipping – post office. It fits the birds most of the time they arrive safely.

These demands that no birds die aren’t realistic – perfection isn’t. In most city commutes there’s an accident and often someone dies – that doesn’t mean we ban the automobile. We can restrict phone, texting, drinks, distractions but have not yet eliminated all risk.

We can’t eliminate all risk on raising animals either. Elimination of breeds is not an answer to some birds that die – and may or may not be due to shipping.

With infinite information at their fingertips, why is the first reaction “I need to start a petition and end this” rather than “I need to learn if this is true and the whole story”? The whole story matters. Details matters. Food choices matter.

Elimination of food choices matter.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2014 8:15 AM

    My husband & I saw this petition somewhere on Facebook & were so disturbed by the uneducated, hate-filled threats to the hatchery that we actually did a whole podcast episode on it. (


  1. How Are Chicks Shipped? | Food, Farm, Life Choices

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