Chick shipping catastrophe

By Matt Reese

Winter’s wrath is plaguing much of the country, causing shipping headaches nationwide and a first-ever challenge for Meyer Hatchery in Ashland County for delivering newborn chicks or “lives” throughout the country.

“Basically the U.S. Postal Service put an embargo on air shipments for ‘lives’ last week that basically made it so we couldn’t ship orders for this week. USPS is the only carrier for ‘lives’ and birds have to be shipped in 72 hours or they are not viable any more. The Postal Service ended up extending it to the end of next week, which makes 2 weeks in a row where we are unable to ship anything,” said Meghan Howard with Meyer Hatchery. “I understand why they did it this week. There were double-digit negative temperatures in a huge part of the country and we had hundreds of thousands of people without power. There was ice and devastation in Texas, so we understand. But we are an essential business providing egg producers and meat producers with chicks and it is very important to get things shipped out. We are not able to stop the hatching process because of the shipping embargo.”

While weather was the cause behind the first week of the shipping shutdown, backed up merchandise shipments are being blamed for the second week of cancelations. So far, Meyer Hatchery was able shift the chicks around to compensate for the challenge. Some shipping of “lives” is done by truck, as well.

“This is the first time this has happened and we had to come up with some ideas. We ended up using a lot of the birds from last week for our breeder flocks, so they will be our future egg layers for the following season. We did have a lot of pick-up orders and we always sell some right out of the store. We were able to make do. We also started a bunch for pullets, so they will be adults we’ll be selling later on in the season,” Howard said.  “Moving forward, USPS needs to put a priority of ‘lives’ over merchandise.” 

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3 comments

  1. The time he graduates, he’ll have the equivalent of about one full work-year of time as their employee.

  2. February 21, 2021.
    Finishing-up your message by saying USPS needs to change its policy doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been shipping chicks knowing they were at high risk of dying from prolonged exposure to the cold temperatures and no food or water available.
    As of this moment, my order of chicks from you has been in transport since last Wednesday, from the information I’ve pieced-together.
    Roughly 96 hours since hatching and counting… it was 16 degrees here in Virginia last night, where I believe the chicks I ordered spent the night. I’ve been trying to contact someone at your hatchery since yesterday morning;email, Facebook, here, no response so far. I’m appalled.

    • Wow! I wrote my senators and congressmen and told them hatcheries would send hatchling birds through the mail knowing the trip would take too long. Once the embargo is lifted, they will send chicks that they know are too old to survive the trip. Those poor birds! I’m a farmer in Virginia, too. It has been far too cold if the chicks were shipped at a normal speed without a heat pack. And a heat pack wouldn’t last 96 hours. Packages marked Live or Perishable should ALWAYS take priority. The hatcheries can’t un-incubate the eggs that they started 3 weeks ago. The chicks will hatch and the hatcheries aren’t equipped to feed and brood them all. This embargo will result in the deaths of MANY rare and endangered breed poultry.

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