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Live chicken mailing?!


Ausmumof3
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from watching various youtube homesteading channels it seems it is a thing in USA. they pack day old chickens into a box and mail them express

 they also seem to do turkeys, ducklings , and geese. 

I don't think it is something that is done in Australia.

 

edited to add I think homesteading is the USA term for what we would call living self sufficiently , or living off the land

Edited by Melissa in Australia
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If we read the same story, I actually live in the state where this happened.   And yes, it is a real thing.   People have been doing it for years.

I think I have heard about them arriving in the mail dead before, it just happens sometimes.   I'm not sure if it's worse this year, or they are just trying to make a story.

I've never ordered chickens, but FWIW I have had absolutely nothing turn up late in the mail recently.

We're the easternmost state in the US and have a lot of rural areas (....but probably not as rural as Australia!).    That's why they mail them, as far as I know. 

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I personally cannot imagine participating in this but I have known about it ever since reading a book or article by Joel Salatin of Pollyface Farm. IIRC, he was explaining why this is perfectly fine for shipping poultry. I would never do this, though. 

I have not had trouble with mail delivery this year. 

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It had not occurred to me that it was strange.  It’s a real thing and can be the only way to pick out certain breeds. 
 

Now I am thinking — why did I not think this was strange before?  Of course it is, lol.  
 

I had something delivered express recently, from one state away, and it arrived in less than 12 hours.  (Recently — but before the recent post office stuff?)
 

My impression is people are usually ordering from a fairly small area, not from across the country, and the shipping times are really fast a lot of the time, they could be known to be less than 12 hours if people know what time the mail goes out and what time it arrives certain places, and my impression is that this is known and taken into consideration.

 

Edited by Lecka
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It’s the only way to get chickens locally & everyone who keeps chickens does it that way. It’s very very common.  Newly hatched chickens are ok without food/water in transit, as long as they arrive on time.
sometimes you can buy them at feed stores but they were also shipped via mail to the feed store

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Yep, it’s the standard way of acquiring chicks here. I read somewhere we’ve been getting them through the mail for 100 years or so. 
 

This is definitely an unusual event, that so many are arriving dead. Mail delays have actual consequences, you know.

Edited by MEmama
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I’ve mail ordered chicks before. I can’t do the same for fish. I’ve seen the shipping crates at our local fish store, so I know it’s all the same for the fish.

 I have definitely seen slower mail the last month. I was nervous because a family member always has sent a birthday card with money to arrive exactly 1 week prior. This year nothing came by the time of the birthday. I didn’t want to call and ask if they had sent something and  might be a lost gift. I also know they would be highly expecting thank you card in return but never bring that up to us. A card did eventually  arrive so I’m glad I didn’t have to assume that there should have been a card and start follow up. 

Edited by Acorn
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3 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Ok I just read that due to the mail delays people have been having chickens turn up dead.

so is this really a thing?  I’ve heard of people ordering chickens by mail before but I always assumed it was just a phrase to describe some other kind of shipping I guess.

This is a thing.

My sister got her chickens through the mail a few times

I order live food through the mail for our bearded dragon. So far all has been well but I know some reptile breeders are refusing to ship currently 1) Heat but also 2) the mail delays mean they can't be sure the reptile will get there in time to still be healthy. You just leave a note asking for it to be held at the post office (with phone number) and then go over there and pick it up right away when they call to let you know it is in.

 

Edited by vonfirmath
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It's a thing, it's reprehensible, and it should be illegal. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. 

I have a canary, and it is very clear to me that she experiences stress and fear just like any other animal.

Boo.

We're definitely experiencing problems with our mail delivery here in rural Indiana. It's ridiculous. Some days we receive no mail at all. And because it's a small town, I know that our postal workers are extremely stressed out by how the mail is piling up.

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We've gotten mail order chicks a few times (including this past spring), and we've never had any not make it to us alive. I've read that the numbers that die going through the mail is about the same as if they never left the hatchery. And I imagine if you buy them at a feed store they get to the feed store under pretty much the same kinds of conditions (I doubt there's a friendly local farmer driving them over in a pickup truck in most cases). Ordering them means we can pick from a big variety of different breeds. We've always done just a few at a time; they come overnight mail in a little box with straw and holes in it, and the post office calls you as soon as they get there to go pick them up. It's all very exciting, really. 

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I know it is a thing because we live really & the 4H kids order their chicks this way. One 4H champ has problems every year with one or more chicks dying on the way, some years through freezing to death.

The ones at the farm store are cheaper but also more likely to not be what you specify (breed or sex) than certain mail order operations.

I don't agree with the practice but I do know many people who get them this way. We've had mail issues including lost or long-delayed domestic packages.

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Snakes and lizards are often shipped Fed Ex, as are other exotics.  They're very restrictive as to when they can be shipped (not too cold, not too hot) and have to be shipped overnight. All live animals that are shipped Fed Ex go through one station here, which has the job of opening, providing water, and feeding mammals and birds. One of my friends works in rewrap and says that they actually really like snakes because they are so easy, but birds are extremely difficult, since while they are supposed to be packaged so they do not have to be taken all the way out, about half the time they have to try to get a bird back in a new container because that wasn't done. There is also a person in my local herp group that is contracted to take animals when their packaging has been damaged and Fed Ex cannot find an inner label, while they track down where the animal is supposed to go. He also sometimes gets animals that have been shipped under false labeling (including, once, a Javanese Dragon Snake, which is a CITES listed endangered species) while Fed Ex figures out what to do (that one ended up in a zoo, and I suspect the shipper ended up with federal charges).

Fed Ex also regularly ships animals between zoos, but usually those travel with their own caregiver.

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So do they go through the sorting machines or what?  I just can’t imagine chickens getting through our mail alive.  
 

we have transport companies that specialise in moving chickens etc around the country.  It’s expensive.  If you want a rare type you either pay the cost for the proper animal courier or you order fertile eggs and incubate your own or you drive there and pick them out yourself.  A lot of which is not happening right now with border closures.

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32 minutes ago, MercyA said:

It's a thing, it's reprehensible, and it should be illegal. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. 

I have a canary, and it is very clear to me that she experiences stress and fear just like any other animal.

Boo.

We're definitely experiencing problems with our mail delivery here in rural Indiana. It's ridiculous. Some days we receive no mail at all. And because it's a small town, I know that our postal workers are extremely stressed out by how the mail is piling up.

I totally agree. It is amazing to me how many people are okay with the inhumane treatment of animals.

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1 minute ago, Ausmumof3 said:

So do they go through the sorting machines or what?  I just can’t imagine chickens getting through our mail alive.  
 

we have transport companies that specialise in moving chickens etc around the country.  It’s expensive.  If you want a rare type you either pay the cost for the proper animal courier or you order fertile eggs and incubate your own or you drive there and pick them out yourself.  A lot of which is not happening right now with border closures.

It's overnight mail, so it's not like mailing a letter or something. Our chicks spent less than 24 hours in a heavily padded box with 5 other chicks and were healthy, happy, and downright perky when we opened them up. I don't see how their experience would have been any different if they'd been transported any other way. Sitting in the dark huddled with other chicks is kind of what baby chick life is supposed to be like. I'm sure I'd feel differently if we hadn't always had good experiences, but I have extremely spoiled chickens, and all evidence is that they were perfectly healthy both emotionally and physically when they got to us. 

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We got our eggs to hatch this way and we got a catalog with it for chicks of various kinds,  I have thought about ordering bobwhites because they are dwindling in the wild and just letting them go in our forest--- but of course, providing grain or bird seed as usual that they could access too.

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15 minutes ago, kokotg said:

It's overnight mail, so it's not like mailing a letter or something. Our chicks spent less than 24 hours in a heavily padded box with 5 other chicks and were healthy, happy, and downright perky when we opened them up. I don't see how their experience would have been any different if they'd been transported any other way. Sitting in the dark huddled with other chicks is kind of what baby chick life is supposed to be like. I'm sure I'd feel differently if we hadn't always had good experiences, but I have extremely spoiled chickens, and all evidence is that they were perfectly healthy both emotionally and physically when they got to us. 

I think our mail must be a bit rougher and less reliable because it’s quite hard to get my head around that.  Express post is supposed to be 24 hours here but isn’t always, especially not to us outside of town.  And the temperature in the post office etc is not overly controlled.  I mean it might work but it also might not.

the article I read I can’t find now but it mentioned something like over 4000 chicks turned up dead.  

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1 minute ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I think our mail must be a bit rougher and less reliable because it’s quite hard to get my head around that.  Express post is supposed to be 24 hours here but isn’t always, especially not to us outside of town.  And the temperature in the post office etc is not overly controlled.  I mean it might work but it also might not.

the article I read I can’t find now but it mentioned something like over 4000 chicks turned up dead.  

Yeah, I wouldn't order chicks right now with everything that's going on with the post office. And I probably wouldn't feel comfortable with it if we lived in a more rural area, either, where things were likely to take longer even in normal times. 

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49 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

So do they go through the sorting machines or what?  I just can’t imagine chickens getting through our mail alive.  
 

we have transport companies that specialise in moving chickens etc around the country.  It’s expensive.  If you want a rare type you either pay the cost for the proper animal courier or you order fertile eggs and incubate your own or you drive there and pick them out yourself.  A lot of which is not happening right now with border closures.

No, the shipping for live chicks is quite high because is takes special handling. And the postmaster calls you as soon as the box arrives at the post office for you to run down there and pick it up. The chicks are in a well padded ventilated box. It’s overnight and the hatchery lets you know your chicks are on the way, be ready tomorrow. In fact you can select your delivery date.

ive done this before with no problems but wouldn’t right now.

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Springtime here is full of cheeping boxes at the post office and farm stores. Everyone is so excited to get their babies in the mail. Lol

I've heard some funny stories about bees, too. My doctor once had to run out after an appointment to pick up his box of bees from the post office. He was learning to do some sort of inflammation pain therapy using them. 
 

Here is an article on the chick fiasco from a local paper: https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/19/business/the-latest-problem-caused-by-delayed-mail-deliveries-dead-chicks/

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We've gotten crickets by mail. Those actually came to the house. I kind of hope we were early on our carrier's route, because I imagine they would have been quite annoying....

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12 minutes ago, dmmetler said:

We've gotten crickets by mail. Those actually came to the house. I kind of hope we were early on our carrier's route, because I imagine they would have been quite annoying....

We do roaches and worms. I can get crickets locally (though not as reliably as before the coronavirus)

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9 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

We do roaches and worms. I can get crickets locally (though not as reliably as before the coronavirus)

My daughter won a giveaway from Fluker's, so we used them to restock our cricket farm. Frogs go through a lot of crickets. 

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1 minute ago, dmmetler said:

My daughter won a giveaway from Fluker's, so we used them to restock our cricket farm. Frogs go through a lot of crickets. 

I'm not sure I've ever used any of their live stuff. Mostly Rainbow Mealworms.

I have a whole container of dried Fluker's that our bearded dragon won't touch. (I thought t'd make emergency rations if we couldn't get live during the shutdown but she's picky)

 

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We ordered a large supply of  frozen feeder mice for our snake last year and I had been wondering what the delivery driver thought of the box that said something like "Rodent Pro - Frozen Meat, Rush Delivery" on the side... he was probably glad it didn't say "LIVE RODENTS RUSH DELIVERY."  😁 

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1 hour ago, kokotg said:

It's overnight mail, so it's not like mailing a letter or something. Our chicks spent less than 24 hours in a heavily padded box with 5 other chicks and were healthy, happy, and downright perky when we opened them up. I don't see how their experience would have been any different if they'd been transported any other way. Sitting in the dark huddled with other chicks is kind of what baby chick life is supposed to be like. I'm sure I'd feel differently if we hadn't always had good experiences, but I have extremely spoiled chickens, and all evidence is that they were perfectly healthy both emotionally and physically when they got to us. 


We have ordered chicks this way.  Despite all the naysayers, it really is not inhumane treatment.

It is no different than if we had traveled to another state to pick them up - they wouldn't be running around our vehicle on the way home; they'd be in a nice cushy box with straw bedding and air holes.  We just pay someone else to do the traveling for us.
 

2 hours ago, dmmetler said:

Snakes and lizards are often shipped Fed Ex, as are other exotics.  They're very restrictive as to when they can be shipped (not too cold, not too hot) and have to be shipped overnight. All live animals that are shipped Fed Ex go through one station here, which has the job of opening, providing water, and feeding mammals and birds. One of my friends works in rewrap and says that they actually really like snakes because they are so easy, but birds are extremely difficult, since while they are supposed to be packaged so they do not have to be taken all the way out, about half the time they have to try to get a bird back in a new container because that wasn't done. There is also a person in my local herp group that is contracted to take animals when their packaging has been damaged and Fed Ex cannot find an inner label, while they track down where the animal is supposed to go. He also sometimes gets animals that have been shipped under false labeling (including, once, a Javanese Dragon Snake, which is a CITES listed endangered species) while Fed Ex figures out what to do (that one ended up in a zoo, and I suspect the shipper ended up with federal charges).

Fed Ex also regularly ships animals between zoos, but usually those travel with their own caregiver.


My daughter recently got a pet snake this way.  They were very restrictive on the weather for the entire shipping route.  The snake was shipped ground with special handling, in a snake-bag, in a padded container with airholes.  She went out in the evening, and got here the next morning.  We were at the pick-up center before she was, to make sure she wasn't in the box any longer than absolutely necessary - probably 10 hours total.  She spends much, much more time than that sitting in her dark hide.

I wouldn't order any live animals, or anything time sensitive from USPS right now.  We live in a rural area, so do a lot of online shopping, and we have definitely seen a delay in packages and other regular mail getting to us in the past three weeks or so.

Edited by Amy in NH
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41 minutes ago, Amy in NH said:


We have ordered chicks this way.  Despite all the naysayers, it really is not inhumane treatment.

It is no different than if we had traveled to another state to pick them up - they wouldn't be running around our vehicle on the way home; they'd be in a nice cushy box with straw bedding and air holes.  We just pay someone else to do the traveling for us.
 

Shipping chicks via the post office is actually quite different than riding for a few hours in a climate controlled vehicle while being watched over and cared for by an attentive human. 

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5 minutes ago, Selkie said:

Shipping chicks via the post office is actually quite different than riding for a few hours in a climate controlled vehicle while being watched over and cared for by an attentive human. 

So do you think the only humane way to get chicks is to either raise them yourself or pick them up from a farm or hatchery within a few hours drive? We've done that before but were limited to sex linked breeds since we can't have roosters. And they turned out to be not very nice chickens--fine for a bigger farm with a bunch of chickens (eventually we gave them to someone who had just that) but not for someone who wants pets who lay eggs like we do. I'd be happy to drive to pick up chicks if I could find a hatchery nearby that could sex chicks for us, but I don't think there is one (I've looked). Aside from that, the option is feed stores, and I'd be very surprised if the chicks they sell there are transported under better conditions than my hatchery chicks (and they're certainly not treated with more care once they arrive at their destination). 

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Mailing chicks isn't any thing new. The book, Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell, recounts the true story of a little girl who was "mailed" to her grandmother. Since they didn't have a postal rate for mailing children (and no rule they could find against it at the time), they charged the same postage rate for mailing baby chicks. This happened in the early 20th century so mailing chicks was already a thing back then. Not really wanting to get into the debate of whether or not it is humane, just pointing out it has been done this way for more than a century and not just as a modern convenience.

Dh's grandma is a mail carrier, and a rural mail carrier at that. Birds come through her route all the time. A lot of people on her route will call her to let her know they are expected chicks on X day. She lets them in the PO as soon as the package arrives, even before the PO usually opens to pick up their birds. She never delivers them to the door in her hot truck. They stay in the air conditioned PO until the person that ordered them picks them up. That is standard procedure for packages that contain live animals. Most people are eager to get their birds/animals so they never stay in the post office for long. Most packages of birds, or any animal sent in the mail, don't spend much time at all waiting to be picked up.

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36 minutes ago, Selkie said:

Shipping chicks via the post office is actually quite different than riding for a few hours in a climate controlled vehicle while being watched over and cared for by an attentive human. 


Why do you think it costs extra to ship them?  Because they aren't put in the uncontrolled back of the truck with all of the other parcels.  The problem comes when they arrive at a transit center where packages are moved from one truck into another, and the climate is not controlled for a short time. 

The current problem is because, with the stupid political crap going on, the post office is no longer able to guarantee overnight delivery, and live animals would sit in the transit center for too long instead of moving directly to the next destination.

Do you think I'd have my eye on chicks while I'm driving?  Not shut off the car while I'm stopped at a rest area or to eat at a restaurant?

Lemme guess: You're a vegan, and any relationship we have with animals is inhumane in your opinion?

Edited by Amy in NH
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People I know on a farm in my area get their yearly baby chicks sent by mail direct from hatchery. But only in early spring when it is cool, and sent by a more high cost next day air system.  They know when delivery is expected and get the chicks at post office rather than a carrier having to have them all along rural route. 

 

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8 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Ok I just read that due to the mail delays people have been having chickens turn up dead.

so is this really a thing?  I’ve heard of people ordering chickens by mail before but I always assumed it was just a phrase to describe some other kind of shipping I guess.

LOL - it's really a thing.  You can order chicks (usually a minimum of 12-15 so they can maintain a warm temp) or hatching (fertilized) eggs or adults.  It's a very popular thing because not everyone has a hatchery close and even if you do, you might want something exotic. 😉

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49 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

Mailing chicks isn't any thing new. The book, Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell, recounts the true story of a little girl who was "mailed" to her grandmother. Since they didn't have a postal rate for mailing children (and no rule they could find against it at the time), they charged the same postage rate for mailing baby chicks. This happened in the early 20th century so mailing chicks was already a thing back then. Not really wanting to get into the debate of whether or not it is humane, just pointing out it has been done this way for more than a century and not just as a modern convenience.

Dh's grandma is a mail carrier, and a rural mail carrier at that. Birds come through her route all the time. A lot of people on her route will call her to let her know they are expected chicks on X day. She lets them in the PO as soon as the package arrives, even before the PO usually opens to pick up their birds. She never delivers them to the door in her hot truck. They stay in the air conditioned PO until the person that ordered them picks them up. That is standard procedure for packages that contain live animals. Most people are eager to get their birds/animals so they never stay in the post office for long. Most packages of birds, or any animal sent in the mail, don't spend much time at all waiting to be picked up.

Plus the take the yolk into their abdomens in those final hours of hatching and the abdomen closes and seals around it (and is why you NEVER "help" during the final parts of hatching) so they are well nourished for up to three days.  It's same day shipping so the biggest concern is really that they might get chilled - hence minimums for chicks.

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3 hours ago, Amy in NH said:


Why do you think it costs extra to ship them?  Because they aren't put in the uncontrolled back of the truck with all of the other parcels.  The problem comes when they arrive at a transit center where packages are moved from one truck into another, and the climate is not controlled for a short time. 

The current problem is because, with the stupid political crap going on, the post office is no longer able to guarantee overnight delivery, and live animals would sit in the transit center for too long instead of moving directly to the next destination.

Do you think I'd have my eye on chicks while I'm driving?  Not shut off the car while I'm stopped at a rest area or to eat at a restaurant?

Lemme guess: You're a vegan, and any relationship we have with animals is inhumane in your opinion?

Sadly, chicks dying during shipment is nothing new. I know this because I have lived in a farming community for the majority of my life, grew up on a farm, and spent the first couple decades of my life caring for chickens.

I can only speak for myself, but if I were transporting chicks in my vehicle, I would be checking on them and I wouldn't be leaving them in the car if it meant they would get too hot or cold.

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4 hours ago, kokotg said:

So do you think the only humane way to get chicks is to either raise them yourself or pick them up from a farm or hatchery within a few hours drive? We've done that before but were limited to sex linked breeds since we can't have roosters. And they turned out to be not very nice chickens--fine for a bigger farm with a bunch of chickens (eventually we gave them to someone who had just that) but not for someone who wants pets who lay eggs like we do. I'd be happy to drive to pick up chicks if I could find a hatchery nearby that could sex chicks for us, but I don't think there is one (I've looked). Aside from that, the option is feed stores, and I'd be very surprised if the chicks they sell there are transported under better conditions than my hatchery chicks (and they're certainly not treated with more care once they arrive at their destination). 

I don't know all the available options, but assuming I wanted chicks and the only way I could get them was to have them shipped this way, then I would not be getting chicks.

I agree that feed stores are not a good option, either - at least not where I live.

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Yes it is a thing and in fact we just sent a domestic bird express mail cross country recently.  We checked the temperatures along the route to ensure it wasn't forecast to be too hot, the bird was shipped in a special bird carrier (has to meet certain specifications), was shipped early in the week to eliminate any possibility of sitting in a postal facility over the weekend, and was in transit under 48 hours due to one end of the journey being rural - it would have been 24 hours otherwise.  The bird arrived just fine.  I'm sure it was stressful for the bird and I felt bad about that, but its new living situation is ideal.  We had no other way to get the bird to its destination.

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7 minutes ago, TrixieB said:

Yes it is a thing and in fact we just sent a domestic bird express mail cross country recently.  We checked the temperatures along the route to ensure it wasn't forecast to be too hot, the bird was shipped in a special bird carrier (has to meet certain specifications), was shipped early in the week to eliminate any possibility of sitting in a postal facility over the weekend, and was in transit under 48 hours due to one end of the journey being rural - it would have been 24 hours otherwise.  The bird arrived just fine.  I'm sure it was stressful for the bird and I felt bad about that, but its new living situation is ideal.  We had no other way to get the bird to its destination.

I get that.  Sometimes finding homes for roosters etc is hard and I might be willing to do it if I thought it was the difference between one finding a good home and ending up in the pot.  (And yes I eat chicken and I’m fully aware that it makes no sense but I still like to try find homes as much as we can.  And I do try to only buy from the more reputable chicken producers.). 

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